φρονέω (phroneo) ~ mindset, frame of mind, attitude

φρονέω (phroneo) ~ mindset, frame of mind, attitude

The Greek concept of φρονέω (phroneō) encompasses the frame of mind, mental attitude, and mindset.  It is not about individual thoughts, as much as the entire mental approach to all of life.  Our reaction to every circumstance we encounter reveals our mental attitude.  The Bible teaches that a humble frame of mind is the key component to genuine fellowship.  Additionally, it describes Spiritual maturity as functioning with the mindset of Christ.

Part One ~ Philippians 2:3, 5-8
Introduction

We are beginning a seven-part study on the Greek word φρονέω (phroneo, Strong’s 5426), another Greek word used in Scripture to describe the function of the mind. 

 

Definition

The verb φρονέω (phroneo) is translated as savourest, thinkest, mind, understood, and even affection.  When joined with other words it is also translated highminded, likeminded, and is part of the compound word humble minded.  The meaning of φρονέω (phroneo) has to do with the frame of mind, mindset, mental attitude.

 

Usage

φρονέω (phroneo) is used nearly thirty times in the New Testament, all but three instances are found in Paul’s writings.  φρονέω (phroneo) can be used to describe a mind focused on the things of man, the flesh, and the human; or one focused on the things of Christ and the Spirit.

 

Meaning Part One ~ Philippians 2:3,5-8

Our textual basis for part one in our study of φρονέω (phroneo) is Philippians 2:3,5-8.  The theme of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is fellowship; and in chapter 2, Paul is focusing on the most important element of fellowship, φρονέω (phroneo).

 

Humble-Minded

Paul presents a humble frame of mind as the main ingredient necessary for genuine fellowship among believers.

 

Doing nothing according to strife or vain-glory, but in humble-mindedness, esteeming one another as being better than themselves.

                                                                        Philippians 2:3

 

The phrase humble mindedness comes from the compound Greek word ταπεινοφροσύνη  (tapeinophrosunē, Strong’s 5012).  This word is made up of the adjective ταπεινός (tapeinos, Strong’s 5011), which means humble, lowly; and the verb φρονέω (phroneo), which means frame of mind.  It is literally a humble frame of mind, which denotes a frame of mind that is lowly, other centered, and does not draw attention to self.  Paul goes on to explain how this humble frame of mind functions using a detailed example.

 

Command

In verse 5, Paul begins with a command and then names our example:

 

For let this mindset be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

                                                                        Philippians 2:5

 

The command – Let this mindset be in you – is in the passive voice. The passive voice designates the subject is receiving the action, not doing the action.  Thus Paul is commanding us to be receptive to God’s process working to create in us a mindset – an attitude, a view of life – which was also in Christ Jesus.  Whatever frame of mind He had, whatever approach to this earthly life He took, that is what He desires to work in us.

 

Mindset of Christ

What was the Lord’s frame of mind?  What was His attitude and approach to this earthly life?  Paul goes on to describe this for us in verses 6-8:

 

6)  Who, while existing in the form of God did not consider it robbery to be equal to God:

7) But emptied Himself, having taken the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men:

8) And having been found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even the death of a cross.

                                                                        Philippians 2:6-8

 

Verse 6 ~ Considered

Paul says that Jesus “existing in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal to God” (Literal English Translation).  The word translated consider (ἡγέομαι, hēgeomai, Strong’s 2233) means the leading thought of His mind.  And the word translated equal (ἵσος, isos, Strong’s 2470) means exact same in qualities, character, and attributes.  At this time, Christ was existing in the very essence and substance of God because that is who Christ is.

 

Verse 7 ~ Emptied

Paul uses a conjunction of sharp contrast to show a change in circumstances.  Verse 7 tells us Jesus “emptied Himself, having taken the form of a slave, having become in the likeness of men” (LET).  The word translated emptied (κενόω, kenoō, Strong’s 2758) means to empty, to make useless or vain.  It means Jesus did not carry His reputation with Him.  While still being all that God is – possessing the same qualities, character, and attributes – He became flesh and functioned as a slave in service to all of humanity.

 

Verse 8 ~ Humbled

In addition to taking on the form of a slave, Jesus “humbled Himself, having become obedient until death, even death of a cross” (LET).  The word translated humbled (ταπεινόω, tapeinoō, Strong’s 5013) means humble, make low, abase.  When Jesus came, He chose the low road, humbling Himself even to the point of death on the cross.

 

Putting it All Together

In summary, Paul commands believers to submit to the Lord as He creates the same mindset Jesus had toward this earthly life in us.  Paul, using Jesus as an example, tells us exactly what that mindset looks like.  While being equal to God, Jesus approached His Incarnation with humble mindedness.  He emptied Himself of His glory, took on the outward appearance of a man, functioned as a slave to all mankind, and submitted to a humiliating death on a cross.

 

Conclusion

φρονέω (phroneo) is an important concept that describes another aspect of the intimate process between believers and the Lord.  As the Lord develops a frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneo) like Christ’s in us – one that approaches the material things of this life in moderation and places the needs of others above ourselves – then we will experience genuine fellowship.  Moreover, when we have arrived at this place in the Spiritual growth process – where what we want no longer matters and we stop insisting other believers (and even churches) conform to our expectations – then we will be functioning as servants like Christ.

 

Notes

– Phroneō is the English font spelling of the Greek word φρονέω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Two ~ Philippians 3:13-20

Last week we began our study of φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), another word from the Greek New Testament having to do with the thinking processes of the mind.  It expressly has to do with the attitude of the mind, or the frame of mind.  Our study last week was taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians in which he deals with the theme of fellowship and presents that the main ingredient necessary for genuine fellowship among believers is a humble frame of mind. 

 

In Philippians 2:5, Paul uses the passive voice of the imperative mood to command believers to “Let this mindset (φρονέω, phroneō) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The passive voice used here indicates that the believer cannot produce the mindset that Jesus had; rather the Lord must develop it in us as we continuously go through the trials and experiences of life.  In Philippians 2:6-8, Paul describes the Lord’s mindset: Jesus, while being God, emptied Himself of His glory and humbled Himself as He took on human form and functioned as a slave.

 

This week we continue our study of φρονέω (phroneō) from Philippians 3:13-20.  In preceding verses, Paul presents his religious pedigree which could have been used as a means of promoting himself within the framework of the existing religious system.  He describes his attitude toward that pedigree in Philippians 3:7-9 where he says, “What things were gain to me, these things I have considered loss on account of Christ.  But indeed therefore I am also considering all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; on account of whom I suffered loss of all things, I consider them to be rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ, and I might be found in Him not having my righteousness which is from law, but which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith.”

 

In these verses Paul describes the new frame of mind with which he approaches life.  His attitude now is that his stature in Judaism and all his earthly accomplishments are worthless. He considers the pursuit of the knowledge of Christ to be his focus and the only thing of value in his life.  Paul goes on to present in Verses 13-20 the pattern believers are to follow using his own life and walk with the Lord as an example.

 

13)  Brothers, I myself do not count myself to have taken hold; but one thing I do, on the one hand forgetting the things behind, and on the other hand stretching out to the things before,

 14)  I pursue according to the mark based upon the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

In Verses 13 & 14 Paul says he does not consider that he himself has arrived at perfection, but shares that his purpose in life is to forget the things that are past and stretch forward to the things before; those things being “the mark based upon the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.” 

 

15)  Therefore as many as are mature, we should have this frame of mind (φρονέω); and if your mindset (φρονέω) is on anything differently, even God will reveal this to you;

16)  Nevertheless, unto which mindset we arrived, walk by the same rule, have the same frame of mind (φρονέω).

 

In Verses 15 and 16, Paul applies his teaching.  In Verse 15, he presents his own approach to the accomplishments of his life as the frame of mind, or mindset, that all believers should have when they reach maturity in Christ.  In Verse 16, Paul is taking into consideration that not all believers have reached maturity.  He is instructing believers at every level of maturity to continue to walk according to the rule presented, in pursuit of the frame of mind he has just described.

 

17)  Brothers, become fellow-imitators of me, and observe the ones walking this way, according as you have us as a pattern.

 

In Verse 17, Paul gives a command that believers are to become imitators of him and that we should observe, (σκοπέω, skopeō, Strong’s 4648) or fix our eyes upon, those who are walking with the same frame of mind that Paul has.  We have in him a pattern of the frame of mind of one who is a mature Christian.

 

18)  For many are walking of whom I was often saying to you, and now I say even weeping, they are the enemies of the cross of Christ;

19)  of whom the end is destruction, of whom the god is the belly, and the glory is in their shame, the ones having a mindset (φρονέω) on earthly things.

 

In Verses 18 & 19, Paul says that there are many who are enemies of the cross of Christ.  They prefer to deny the cross rather than to deny themselves.  Instead of following Christ in taking up their cross daily, they embrace a religion of positive thinking devoid of the cross, devoid of the realization of the necessity of the crucifixion of the flesh.   Paul says that the end of such people is destruction and describes their frame of mind, or mindset, as being upon earthly things, not upon the things of Christ. 

 

20)  For our citizenship exists in heaven, from where we also wait for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Verse 20 gives the reason it is necessary for our attitude and frame of mind to be transformed, “For our citizenship exists in heaven, from where we also wait for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Being that we are citizens of heaven, our mindset should be on the things of heaven not on the things of the earth.

 

Paul has presented that we must enter into fellowship together the same way Jesus entered into this world.  In spite of being the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus put the glory of that aside to become a human being and to function as a slave.  Paul also presents his own life as an example to us.  He leaves all of his accomplishments in Judaism and his religious pedigree behind; as he follows Christ, he chooses the low road so that he can take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of him. 

 

As believers we are to press “according to the mark based upon the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  In order to mature into the purpose for which we are called, we must submit to the Lord’s humbling process, no longer asserting ourselves and our rights, but being sensitive to how our lives might be used by the Holy Spirit to reach out and touch the lives of others.

 

Notes
– phroneō is the English font spelling of the Greek word φρονέω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Three ~ Matthew 16:21-24
Introduction

We are continuing with part three in our study of φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), another Greek word used in Scripture to describe the function of the mind. 

 

Definition

The verb φρονέω (phroneō) is translated as savourest, thinkest, mind, understood, and even affection.  When joined with other words it is also translated high-minded, likeminded, and is part of the compound word humble minded.  The meaning of φρονέω (phroneō) has to do with the frame of mind, mindset, mental attitude.

 

Review

Our first two studies in this series came from the second and third chapters of Philippians and had to do with Paul’s theme of fellowship.

 

Review ~ Meaning Part One

In Philippians 2:5, Paul commanded believers to submit to the process of having their frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) changed.  Paul taught it is necessary for a believer to have his approach to life changed so the things of this world would not hold more value than they should.  Because nothing of personal desire should interfere with the fellowship between believers.

 

Review ~ Meaning Part Two

In Philippians 3:12-20, Paul used himself as an example.  He expressed that while he has not completely arrived, he is continually pursuing the process of a renewed approach to this earthly life.  His attitude now is that he considers all earthly things garbage and loss so that he might gain Christ.  He goes on to say, in Philippians 3:15, that all mature Christians should have this same frame of mind or attitude (φρονέω, phroneō), effectively presenting his frame of mind as the pattern of transformation for all believers.

 

Meaning Part Three ~ Matthew 16:21-24

Paul also explains there are many “enemies of the cross of Christ” who are setting their frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) on earthly things (Philippians 3:18-19).  Because our interpretation and application of the Word of God is influenced by our mindset, it is essential to understand mindset is shaped either through the Truth by the Spirit of God, or through the logic and the reason of the flesh.  In this week’s study we explore Matthew 16:21-24 in order to gain an understanding of those whose frame of mind is on earthly things.

 

Minding the Things of God

The sixteenth chapter of Matthew records when Jesus and His disciples come to the region of Caesarea Philippi and He asks His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of man is?”  The disciples tell Him that some people think He is John the Baptizer; other people think He is Elijah; and even others that He is Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  Then Jesus asks them, “But who do you yourselves say Me to be?”  Peter confesses, “You Yourself are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus tells Peter that his understanding has not come from human opinion, but rather was given as revelation from His heavenly Father. 

 

Preservation of the Flesh

After this exchange, Jesus tells His disciples about the suffering He will soon face explaining that He must go to Jerusalem where three things will happen; He will suffer many things, He will be killed, He will be raised from the dead. 

21)  From then Jesus began to show to His disciples that it is necessary for Him to go away unto Jerusalem, and to suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised the third day.

Peter’s response to Jesus’ information follows:

22)  And after Peter had taken Him aside, he began to rebuke Him, saying, “God be merciful to You, Lord; this will never happen to you.”

The man who had just received revelation from God now steps forward to correct Jesus’ understanding.  He takes Jesus aside, rebukes Him, and tells Him that this will never (double negative) happen to Him.

 

Minding the Things of Man

In response, Jesus rejects Peter’s attempt to take charge and points out some very important lessons:

23)  But having turned, He said to Peter, “Go behind Me, Satan, you are an offense to me; because you do not have your mindset (φρονέω, phroneō) on the things of God, but the things of man.”
24)  Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone is desiring to come behind Me, let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross, and let him follow Me.”

 

Proper Relationship

Jesus remains in charge of the situation and establishes four important principles for a proper relationship with Him.

 

Principle One ~ The believer must have a proper alignment with the Lord.

The first thing Jesus does in response to Peter is to turn and command the one influencing Peter to get behind Him by saying, “Go behind me, Satan.”  This shows that proper alignment in our relationship with Jesus is to follow behind Him. 

 

Principle Two ~ The believer’s mindset must be framed by the Spirit of God.

Jesus tells Peter that he is an offence to Him.  The word for offense is σκάνδαλον (skandalon, Strong’s 4625) and represents anything placed in a person’s path that would cause him to stumble or fall.  The Lord’s path is to the cross.  Satan is influencing Peter’s mind in an attempt to place a stumbling block in the path of Jesus, to keep Him from the suffering and death of the cross. 

 

Principle Three ~ The believer’s frame of mind must be on the things of God, not on the things of man.

Jesus pointedly told Peter that he did not have his frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) on the things of God, but on the things of man.  The Greek word for man is ἄνθρωπος (anthropōs, Strong’s 444) which means human.  Jesus is telling Peter that his frame of mind is on the things of the human, not on the things of God.  It is necessary for us to understand the importance of this teaching.  Peter, who has just received revelation from God, is now functioning under the notion that he is receiving revelation from God no matter what he is thinking.  A few minutes earlier, God the Father was influencing his understanding, but now Satan is influencing him to take Jesus aside and rebuke Him because Jesus is talking about going into Jerusalem to suffer and die.  The mind of the flesh does not believe in nor will it accept suffering as part of God’s plan.  Peter is defending the flesh even to the point of rebuking Jesus Himself.  His frame of mind is bent toward human logic and reason, not toward the spiritual things of God. 

 

Principle Four ~ It is necessary to reject one’s self and the flesh in order to be positioned behind Jesus.

Jesus specifically says that anyone desiring to come behind Him must do three things: deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.  The Greek word for deny is ἀρνέομαι (arneomai, Strong’s 720) and means to reject.  Jesus says it is necessary to reject one’s self because the mind of the flesh always wants to command God or tell the Holy Spirit what to do.  That command will always be for the benefit of the flesh and makes it impossible to follow behind Jesus.

 

Take Up Your Cross

According to the Lord, it is also necessary to take up one’s cross.  In order to understand this, we must understand two things about the suffering and death of Christ. 

 

(1)  First, the suffering that Jesus experiences before He is nailed to the cross is not for our redemption.  All the mockery and suffering that He endures at the hands of sinners is to show His followers what to expect from the world.  With this understanding, Peter writes his first epistle to encourage believers to submit to the suffering the world administers because this is grace with God.  He is teaching that the Lord ministers His grace to those who suffer on His behalf.  In I Peter 2:21, Peter writes, “For unto this you were called; because Christ also suffered on behalf of us, leaving an example for us, in order that you might follow His steps.”  The Greek word for example is ὑπογραμμός (hupogrammos, Strong’s 5261) which means a writing that has been made for people to copy.  An example would be a teacher who writes the alphabet for students to trace or copy.  Jesus suffered and left an example or pattern for believers to follow.

 

(2)  The second thing we must understand about the death of Christ is the fact that He died on the cross in substitution for, not only the penalty, but also the punishment for my sins.  He died my death.  Therefore, I have died.  I am to take up my cross and follow behind Him in His steps.  In order to do that, I must reject my flesh and myself.

 

Importance of Understanding φρονέω (phroneō)

The concept of φρονέω (phroneō) is essential to understanding Christian maturity.  Through these scriptures, God is teaching that a person can approach the Word of God with a mindset that has been formed and established by an understanding from out of the flesh and not from out of the Spirit of God.  The person who has a mindset that has been developed by the flesh will interpret and apply the Scriptures in a way that is favorable to the flesh.  This person will even understand and present a teaching of Scripture that will promote fleshly happiness and well being.  This person will interpret that a God of love would never allow the flesh to experience hardship.  Of course, this contradicts the Word of God.  Paul says in Philippians 3:18 that people with this mindset are “the enemies of the cross of Christ.”  This does not mean that they deny the work of Christ on the cross, but rather they deny that believers must follow Christ in experiencing hardship, rejection, and even physical suffering through our identification with Him. 

 

Conclusion

In order to follow after Jesus, to have the frame of mind necessary for Christian maturity, we must allow our minds to be transformed by the Word of God and by the ministry of the Spirit of God.  We must understand that our view of life and the teaching of the Word of God needs to come out of a frame of mind that has been established solely on the truth ministered by God’s Spirit through His Word.

 

Notes

– phroneō is the English font spelling of the Greek word φρονέω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Four ~ Philippians 4:2-7
Introduction

This week we return to the Book of Philippians in our study of φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), a word that describes a person’s mindset or frame of mind.  It has to do with the attitude a person has regarding the things of this world.

 

Review

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is fellowship.  He presents the necessity of having our frame of mind changed so that we will be able to handle the things of this world with moderation.  Accordingly, he gives a command in Philippians 2:5 concerning φρονέω (phroneō): “Let this mindset (φρονέω, phroneō) be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”  Paul then presents the Lord’s approach to the earthly, material realm as one of leaving glory and choosing the low road from an earthly perspective, even to the point of submitting to the suffering of the cross.  Next, in Philippians 3:13-16, Paul uses his own mindset as an example to clarify what he is saying about φρονέω (phroneō).  He explains that he considers all earthly accomplishments, including holding to his Jewish pedigree as status, as nothing more than garbage compared to the prize of reaching the goal of knowing Christ.  He says that mature Christians will have this same mindset toward the value of earthly things (verses 15-16); but those who have not yet reached maturity should still walk by the same rule of maturity since they have his example to follow.

 

Meaning Part Four ~ Philippians 4:2-7

The next part of Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church, verses 2-7 of Chapter 4, is an application of his teaching on φρονέω (phroneō):

2)  I encourage Euodia, and I encourage Syntyche, to have the same frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) in the Lord.
3)  And I ask you also, genuine comrade, help them, who contended together with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

It is obvious from the text that two women in the church in Philippi are not getting along.  After giving the command to have the same frame of mind or attitude as the Lord, and after presenting his own approach to life as the example of spiritual maturity, Paul applies his teaching to these two women; they are to have the “same frame of mind” (the present infinitive form of φρονέω, phroneō) in the Lord.  Each of these women is to interact with the other from out of the same mindset that the Lord had, not according to human reasoning and desire.  Paul lists four commands for these ladies, and for the rest of the body of Christ, that comprise having the “same frame of mind” in the Lord.

 

First Command ~ Verse 4

Be satisfied in the Lord always; again I will say, be satisfied.

In verse four, Paul presents the first command concerning a proper approach to the situations of life.  The Greek word translated be satisfied is the word χαίρω (chairō, Strong’s 5463) and is generally translated rejoice in most English translations.  This word is used to express the gratification or satisfaction of the soldier who is involved in war.  It is also used to describe the satisfaction of an athlete when he participates in the Coliseum games.  Paul is commanding that believers find their satisfaction in the Lord, rather than in getting their own way.

 

Second Command ~ Verse 5

 Let your yielding be known to all men.  The Lord is near.

The next command is presented in verse five and deals with a believer’s value system.  The key word used here, ἐπιεικής (epieikēs, Strong’s 1933) is translated yielding.  A believer is to be known for moderation and yielding, not for his indulgence in the things of the world or his insistence on getting his own way.  Each Christians’ value system is revealed by how he responds to circumstances that do not go his way.  With the proper mindset, a believer is able to deny himself and yield to the Spirit of God ruling in the Body of Christ.

 

Third and Fourth Commands ~ Verse 6

Do not be anxious for one thing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Paul gives the third and fourth commands in verse six.  He tells believers that they should “not be anxious for one thing.”  The word translated anxious is the Greek word μεριμνάω (merimnao, Strong’s 3309) and is literally the occupation of the attention of the mind.  Paul commands that we are not to allow even one thing of this material realm to consume us, because it will preclude us from unity and fellowship in Christ.  Instead, we are to be yielding, finding our satisfaction in what the Lord wants.  Rather than being anxious over things, we are to let our requests be made known to God through prayer and petition.  Instead of insisting on our own way, we are to pray to God leaving all things in His hands and submitting to His will as He exercises it within the Body of Christ.

 

Result

The end result of having these four commands governing our lives is found in Verse 7:

And the peace of God, which is surpassing all perception, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God, experienced within ourselves individually and within the Church at large, is based upon each Christian having a mindset (φρονέω, phroneō) wherein he finds his satisfaction in the Lord and in what the Lord wants.  The believer must approach the things of this earthly life in moderation, yielding to the Lord’s moving of unity in and through the Body of Christ.  The mindset each is to desire is to be at peace with the Lord and with the rest of the Body of Christ.  This is only possible when individual Christians desire the Lord’s will above their own.

 

Notes

– phroneō is the English font spelling of the Greek word φρονέω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Five ~ Colossians 3:1-4
Introduction

We are continuing with part five in our seven-part study of the Greek word φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426).

 

Definition

The Greek word φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426) is used in the New Testament to describe a person’s mindset or frame of mind.  It has to do with the mental attitude a person has toward the things of this world.

 

Review

As we covered in previous articles, Paul used φρονέω (phroneō) multiple times in Philippians:

Part One ~ Philippians 2:3, 5-8

… to impress upon believers the necessity of submitting to the Lord’s transformation of their mindset into one like His own.  Paul reminds the Philippians that when the Lord came in the flesh, while being God, He humbled Himself to become the servant of all.  He voluntarily laid down His life for the sins of the world; a world that did not want Him nor His provision for their sins.

Part Two ~ Philippians 3:13-20

… to present himself as the pattern of the attitude toward life that a believer must have.  Paul explains that he places no value on personal achievement and religious status so that he may gain Christ.

Part Four ~ Philippians 4:2-7

… to encourage two women in the Philippian church.  Paul applies the command given in Philippians 2:5 and his example given in Philippians 3:13-16 to Euodia and Syntyche, telling them “to have the same frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) in the Lord.”  He is emphasizing the need for believers to have the same approach to earthly things – one of putting aside personal opinion and wanting what the Lord wants.  If a believer places too much value on what he wants in this life, unity in pursuit of the Lord’s will cannot be accomplished.

 

Meaning Part Five ~ Colossians 3:1-4

This week we are going to study what Paul has to say to the Colossian church regarding φρονέω (phroneō).  Our study is taken from Colossians 3:1-4:

1) If therefore you were raised with Christ, be seeking the things above, where Christ is sitting at the right of God;
2) Be setting your frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) on things above, not things upon the earth.
3) For you died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.
4) Whenever Christ should appear, who is our life, then you yourselves will also appear with Him in glory.

 
Risen

In verse 1 Paul describes the believer as one who has been raised with Christ.  This resurrection description of salvation once part of the mystery of Christ hidden in times past is now revealed by the Holy Spirit.  When a person experiences the saving graces of the Lord, he is literally raised from the spiritual dead.  He is made alive together with Christ.

In response to this spiritual birth and new life, Paul gives two commands (in the present tense designating continuous action):

First Command

Those who have experienced salvation are to continually seek the things above where Christ is.  They are not to be seeking temporary, earthly things.  

Second Command

The believer is to be continuously setting his frame of mind on the things above, not on the things of earth.

Through these commands Paul is expressing the absolute necessity for every believer to have his frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) focusing and meditating on the spiritual things of Christ and not on the physical things of earth.

 

Reason

Paul uses the word γάρ (gar, Strong’s 1063) to introduce his statement in verse 3.  Γάρ (gar) is a word used to express the reason for a writer’s preceding comments; hence, Paul uses it here to link his preceding commands with his reason for giving them as stated in this verse.  Two factual statements comprise Paul’s reason for giving the preceding commands:

1)  “you died”
(He doesn’t say that you must die, but that you have already died);

and

2)  “your life has been hidden with Christ in God.” 

The perfect tense has been hidden is used to convey the concept that a believer’s life stands hidden in Christ now based upon a past action.

 

Response

The moment a person receives Christ, he dies to himself.  From that point on, the believer’s life is and always will be hidden with Christ in God.  Therefore, based on the fact that we have died and that our lives have already been hidden in Christ, Paul teaches that we should not be seeking the things of the old, dead life, things that are temporary and perishable.  Instead, we are to set our minds on the things of Christ, allowing His Spirit to transform our minds.  This, in turn, changes the way we think about and approach this earthly life.

 

In Glory

Paul then presents the future glory of the saints in verse 4.  Whenever Christ returns we will also appear with Him in glory.  And we will be with the Lord forever.

 

Conclusion

It is extremely important that we heed these teachings of Scripture.  They repeatedly emphasize that we Christians are to focus on submitting to the Lord so that our attitudes are transformed into the mindset (φρονέω, phroneō) of the Lord.  This is important because the New Testament is very clear in stating that the believer will enter into heaven as a new creation with a mind that has been transformed during his time here on the earth (see I Corinthians 3:5-15 and II Peter 1:3-11).  Thus it is essential the believer seek the ministry of the Holy Spirit for His life through the Word of God; thereby gaining a mindset (φρονέω, phroneō) able to perceive and function under the influence of Christ.

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Part Six ~ Romans 12:3-16

In the past five studies, we have gained insight into this important word and concept.  Last week we looked at Paul’s letter to the Philippians where he instructed believers to submit to the Holy Spirit as He matured their mindset or frame of mind into the mindset of Christ so that the Body of Christ would be able to function in true fellowship and under the true leading of the Lord.  To this end, Paul exhorted Christians to find their satisfaction in the Lord, not in the things of the world or in pursuing their own way.  The Philippian Church is not the only one to receive this teaching.  Paul addresses this same issue in his letter to the church at Rome; therefore, this week’s study is taken from Romans Chapter 12:3-16.

 

In Chapter 12, Paul addresses the believer, the one who has received all that God has done for him through Jesus Christ (as presented in Romans 1-11).  Paul presents the response to the Lord each believer is to have for all of the mercies Christ has shown toward him.

 

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul presents one encouragement and two commands.  In verse one, Paul encourages believers to present their bodies as living sacrifices.  In verse two, Paul expresses two commands.  He says that believers are to be continually not being fashioned by the age in which they live, and at the same time they are to be continually being transformed by the renewing of their minds.  The word for mind is νοῦς (noos, Strong’s 3563) which describes the perceptive abilities of the mind.  Paul is saying that believers are to be continually involved in having the perceptive abilities of their minds transformed.  Paul uses the rest of the chapter to present the concept of true fellowship among believers and the relationship they should have with non-believers.  Our study word, φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), is found in verse 3 and in verse 16.

 

3) For I say through the grace which has been given to me, to everyone being among you, not to set your frame of mind on high things beyond what is necessary to think, but to set your frame of mind toward being sober minded as God divided to each one a measure of faith.

 

Beginning with this verse and continuing through verse eight, Paul addresses the issue of a believer approaching his or her function in the Body of Christ with a “sane” frame of mind.  In verse 3, Paul teaches that a believer is to not set his frame of mind on high things that go up and beyond reality.  The Greek word for setting one’s “frame of mind on high things” is ὑπερφρονέω (huperphroneō, Strong’s 5252).  It is a compound word derived from ὑπέρ (huper, Strong’s 5228) a preposition meaning “above,” and φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426), the frame of mind.  The verb form used here denotes an action – the setting of the frame of mind on things above and beyond reality, thinking too highly of one’s self.  Paul’s exhortation is found at the end of the verse where he says, “Set your frame of mind toward being sober minded.”  The Greek word for “sober minded” is also a compound word, σωφρονέω (sōphroneō, Strong’s 4993).  It comes from σώζω (sōzō, Strong’s 4982) “to save, to deliver,” and from φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426) the frame of mind.  Σωφρονέω (sōphroneō) expresses the idea of being sane or in the right frame of mind.  To be “sober minded” is to think with a frame of mind that approaches life with sound, sane judgment.  In the context of this verse, Paul is referring to the believer’s perception of his own function or place within the Body of Christ.

 

The next phrase in verse three defines what Paul means by thinking soberly, “As God divided to each one a measure of faith.”  The message of Romans 12:3 (continued through verse 8) is that a believer is to function in the Body of Christ with the realization that God measures faith to each one for their function and purpose within the Body of Christ.  It is interesting that Paul does not present a lack of faith as being their problem; but rather the problem believers face is having a frame of mind wherein they think of themselves above and beyond reality, actually going “beyond” faith – the faith that God gives to each one for their ministry with and among believers.

 

In verses 9-13, Paul presents the function of love (ἀγάπη, agapē, Strong’s 26) among believers.  Most English translations have handled the Greek of this section by adding commands so that the text would make sense.  However, according to the Greek diagram of this section, verse nine starts off with a statement, not a command: “Love is without hypocrisy.”  This statement is followed by verses 10-13 in which Paul presents 11 areas, using mostly participles, to show how love is to function.  A command is found in verse 14 where Paul commands Christians to “Bless the ones that are persecuting you, bless and do not curse.”  He goes on to explain what he means by saying, “to rejoice with the ones rejoicing and weep with the ones weeping.”  Then, in verse 16, Paul adds this admonition about the believer’s approach to persecutors:

 

16) Having the same frame of mind toward one another.  Not setting the frame of mind on high things, but associating with the humble.  Do not become wise from yourselves.

 

Paul uses the verb φρονέω (phroneō) once again to describe the mind-set a believer is to have, only this time he uses it in reference to a believer’s approach to those who are persecuting him.  He says that the believer is to have the same “approach” or “frame of mind” toward one another not setting his frame of mind on high things, but rather associating with the humble or lowly.  The “high things” would be an attitude of pride exhibited against those who administer the persecution.  Instead of “rising up” in pride against those who are persecuting, we are to “go along with” or “associate” with those who are humble or made low.  The believer is to submit to the humbling process and is not to think more highly of himself than is necessary.  He is to make his association with those who are being humbled. 

 

Most of Paul’s ministry to other believers centers on bringing sane, sound thinking to the Body of Christ.  To that end, he commanded, “Do not become wise from yourselves” (Romans 12:16).  The word for wise is φρόνιμος (phronimos, Strong’s 5429) which is the adjective form from the root word φρονέω (phroneō).  Paul completes this part of his teaching by commanding believers to not allow their frame of mind to be developed from themselves and from their own lofty view of themselves; but rather they are to submit to the growth process that develops their frame of mind through sound, spiritual thinking represented by the same lowliness of mind with which the Lord approaches life.

 

Paul’s letters to the churches tell us that the early Church had to deal with going “beyond” faith more than they had to deal with not having enough faith.  In Romans 12:3, Paul expressed that God gives each of His children a measure of faith to enable them to function within the Body of Christ.  This is the Lord’s provision, by His Spirit, for His work.  The early Church had the same problem as we do today.  Many modern Christians think that the Lord ascended into heaven and left us to do His work for Him until He returns.  Many today are caught up in their own abilities and “gifts.”  They function within the Body of Christ from the mindset that they are God’s specially anointed messengers.  They exhibit an attitude of being far above other believers in importance.  Consequently, our churches suffer fractions and disputes; they lack the strength of true fellowship and the Body of Christ appears disjointed and weak.  It is my hope that these studies will help each of us understand the instruction of Scripture so that we submit ourselves to the maturing process administered by the Holy Spirit, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought, functioning humbly in true fellowship under the true leading of the Lord.

 

Next week we will see from I Corinthians 4 how Paul ministered this same concept to the Christians in Corinth.

 

Notes

– phroneō is the English font spelling of the Greek word φρονέω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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Part Seven ~ I Corinthians 4:6-16 =NEW=
Review

So far we have studied this important word from Paul’s teachings in Philippians, Colossians, and Romans.

In Philippians 2:5, Paul says, “Let this frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  

In Philippians 3:13-16, he presents his own manner of thinking as an example of the frame of mind a mature believer must have. 

In Colossians 3:2, Paul says, “Be setting your frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) on things above, not things upon the earth.” 

In Romans 12:3-16, Paul teaches that the problem believers face is having a frame of mind wherein they think of themselves above and beyond reality.  They are actually going beyond the faith God gives them for their ministry with and among believers.

We understand from these teachings that a believer’s frame of mind must be changed so that he is able to mentally approach this earthly life in the same way as Christ.

 

Introduction

The frequency with which Paul uses the word φρονέω (phroneō) in his letters to different churches highlights the importance of this teaching to the early church at large.  This week we are going to study what Paul has to say to the Corinthian church regarding φρονέω (phroneō, Strong’s 5426). 

 

Meaning Part Seven ~ I Corinthians 4:6-16

Paul makes it clear in I Corinthians 3:1 that he is sending a corrective letter to a carnal (fleshly) church.  He presents the fact that they are abnormally carnal because, after having first been fed with the milk of the Word, they should now be ready for the meat of the Word, but they are not.  Paul describes their carnality in I Corinthians 3:3-7:

3)  For you are still carnal.  For where there is jealousy and strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal and walking according to man? 
4)  For whenever someone should say, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
5)  Therefore who is Paul?  And who is Apollos?  But ministers through whom you believed and to each one as the Lord gave.
6)  I planted; Apollos watered but God was giving growth. 
7)  So that neither the one planting is anything nor the one watering, but God giving growth.

After ministering to them about their carnal frame of mind that emphasized human accomplishment as success, Paul summarizes his presentation and shows them their real need in I Corinthians 4:6-16, our focus for this week’s study.

 

Verse 6 ~ Examples

In verse 6, Paul uses himself and Apollos as examples to the Corinthian Christians.

6)  Now these things, brothers, I transferred unto myself and Apollos on account of you, in order that in us you might learn to not set your frame of mind (φρονέω, phroneō) above what has been written, in order that you are not puffed up  on behalf of one against the other.

The examples are meant to impart two things:

1)  That they might learn not to let their thinking go above (or beyond) what has been written in God’s Word.  When Paul ministered to believers, he had only one motive: to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5).  This is one of the most important concepts taught in the Bible.

2)  That they might not be puffed up with pride, elevating one person above another.

 

Verse 7 ~ Given

In verse 7, Paul asks three questions: 

7)  For who makes you to be different?  And what do you have which you did not receive?  And if also you did receive it, why are you boasting as not having received it?

The Corinthians’ frame of mind was one of thinking the anointing of God made them to be something special.  By asking these questions, Paul is directing their attention back to the fact that everything they are and everything they have has been given to them by the Lord.  A believer’s function in the Body of Christ is based solely upon the ministry that God supplies.

 

Verses 8-9 ~ Carnality

In verses 8-9, Paul presents the current frame of mind of the carnal believers in Corinth.

8)  You are already satisfied; you already became rich; you reigned as kings apart from us; and I wished that indeed you did reign, in order that we ourselves also might reign with you.
9)  For I suppose that God displayed us the apostles last as appointed to death; because we became a spectacle to the world, and to angels and to men.

They are glorying in the flesh and reigning as kings here on the earth.  Paul presents this behavior as coming from out of the carnal mindset of pride.

 

Verse 10 ~ Contrasts

In verse 10 Paul presents three contrasts between the carnal attitude of the Corinthians and his own attitude toward himself and the conditions of his earthly life.

10)  We are fools on account of Christ, but you are wise (φρόνιμος, phronimos) in Christ; We are weak, but you are strong; you are glorious, but we are without honor.

The word translated wise is the adjective form of our word (φρονέω, phroneō).  Paul is pointing out that their mental approach to this earthly life was going above and beyond the reality.

 

“Super” Apostles

We learn from II Corinthians 11:5 that some came into Corinth presenting themselves as “Super” Apostles.  They were pointing to Paul’s “deplorable” lifestyle of suffering and hardship as proof that he was not empowered to be an Apostle.

 

Verses 11-13 ~ Circumstances

In verses 11-13 Paul lists ten things about his circumstances in this earthly life.

11)  Until the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed and are being beaten, and wandering homeless,
12)  and we labor, working with our own hands; while being verbally abused, we speak well of; while being persecuted, we bear up under it;
13)  while being blasphemed, we encourage; we became as refuse of the world, until now the scum of all things.

From a human viewpoint, Paul was not very successful.  However, Paul is attempting to show the Corinthian church what is carnal and what is spiritual, so they can correctly discern between the two.

 

Verses 14-15 ~ Children

In verses 14 and 15, Paul expresses the heart behind his warning.

14)  I write these things not shaming you but warning as my beloved children.
15)  For if you should have myriads of tutors in Christ, but not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I myself fathered you through the gospel.

 Paul says he is ministering to them as a Father to his children whom he cares for.

 

Verse 16 ~ Command

In verse 16, Paul ends this section with a command.

16)  Therefore, I encourage you, become imitators of me.   

Reinforcing the presentation this passage started with, of himself as an example, Paul now commands believers to use him as the pattern of spirituality.

 

Putting it All Together

To carnal believers, Paul was neither anointed nor successful.  They were gauging spirituality based on the appearance of his flesh and the condition of his circumstances.  This puffed up frame of mind with an emphasis on the physical parallels the mental approach of many Christians today.

Man’s natural frame of mind is to judge the moving of the Spirit of God based upon the physical realm.  But Scripture tells us that is not the way God looks at things.

Jesus said in John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

In Samuel 16, when Samuel was sent to Jesse’s house to anoint the next King of Israel, he looked upon Eliab, the oldest son and said, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed is before Him.”  But the Lord corrected Samuel telling him, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7 KJV)

And here in I Corinthians 4, Paul presents that he took the low road just as Jesus did.  He presents his frame of mind and attitude toward the physical realm to be the same as the Lord’s, as exhibited in Jesus Christ.

Paul is trying to impress upon believers that they must learn to make sound judgments from a spiritually mature frame of mind.  That is, a frame of mind that has been developed with a proper view of the reality of the physical realm in which we live.  There is no greater need in the Body of Christ today – where bigger is better and large numbers are believed to be the indication that God is working – than to hear and understand this important lesson being taught by Paul.

 

Notes

– phroneō is the English font spelling of the Greek word φρονέω.
– All Biblical quotes contained herein are a Literal English Translation of the Bible produced by BTE Ministries – The Bible Translation and Exegesis Institute of America.

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