Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 RSV

Thought control is clearly the practice Paul enjoined here.

If people would live correctly in God’s sight, let them think of those qualities which possess POSITIVE value.

Thinking of such things will lead to speaking of them, as exemplified in the lives of associates, thus contributing to the joy and unity of Christian fellowship.

The strong word [LOGIZOMAI] Paul used here, translated take such things into account is Paul’s way of saying, “Let such things shape your attitudes.”

Of special interest in Paul’s list given here is the word [ARETE], translated “virtue.”

This is found nowhere else in Paul’s letters and in only two other New Testament references (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3), despite the fact of its being “a frequent word in classical and Hellenistic Greek.

Paul seems studiously to avoid this common heathen term for moral excellence.

From this it can be interpreted that Paul’s meaning is: Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men, etc.

Paul’s introduction of virtue and praise after the hypothetical “if there be any” indicated that these last two words occupy less firm and important ground than the others (due, of course, to pagan conceptions of what the terms meant).

Despite the above, however, this writer holds this list of desirables in the highest respect, the words in their commonly accepted denotations and connotations standing for the very greatest human excellence known to man.

God help all people to let their thoughts dwell upon such things as Paul enumerated here.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8 RSV

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