Philippians 4:8, NIV:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

In the Greek, are all those attributes mutually inclusive?

In other words do all conditions have to be met? E.g. What about if something is true but not a good report?

  • Welcome to BH. I have edited your question only to highlight the quotation and to show you how that highlighting is done. Please feel free to edit or remove, as you wish.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 10:49
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    Firstly great first question and welcome to BH. A small attention to detail, it would have helped if you had used the same English translation throughout your whole question. You might have used the KJV instead of the NIV or vice verse because you bring into your question “good report” as it’s translated in English KJV and it’s not the phrase used in the NIV text you’ve chosen to quote. Granted it’s a question about the Greek but it would have helped prevent initial confusion. Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 14:08
  • In this related link to the Talmud, the angel Gabriel is exiled for 21 days and is whipped 60 times with a flaming sword because he knew better than to speak directly about judgment. One must employ circumlocution and euphemism about such matters: "Moreover, after you already did it, do you not have knowledge of the principle: One should not deliver a report about destruction? If one is sent on a mission of destruction, he should not deliver a detailed report of its success but should only hint at it." hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/44009/20832
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 13:35
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    That's not what "mutually inclusive" means. That expression means "not mutually exclusive", that it is possible for something to match more than one of the categories at the same time. In this case, it's obviously possible to be both "true" and "right" for example. Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 16:29

4 Answers 4


First, I do not think it appropriate to apply the strict rules of Greek logic to every statement in the Bible - they are simply not written that way.

IF Gal 4:8 were written in Greek logical terms the language would be very different anyway. It would need to be something like: "what ever, is pure AND honorable AND right", etc. Instead we have:

Whatever is true, whatever, is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if there is any excellence and if any praise - think on these things.

Thus, they are separate categories and the sentence structure appears to require that there be six categories of things worthy of meditation as follows:

  • Whatever is true and excellent and praiseworthy
  • Whatever is honorable and excellent and praiseworthy
  • Whatever is right and excellent and praiseworthy
  • Whatever is pure and excellent and praiseworthy
  • Whatever is lovely and excellent and praiseworthy
  • Whatever is admirable and excellent and praiseworthy

The verse ends with a neuter pronoun "things" and picks up in the next verse with another pronoun that refers back to the things in verse 8. So the things in 9 are the same things from 8. In 9 it is added that we should be doing these things. So a "report" may not fit the profile of the kind of things being spoken of in this context.


Paul may not be giving a fast rule that every Christian must only think upon these things listed. For example,he does not mean if a Christian did consider something true but it happened to be a bad report they have failed to keep this command of Paul. The context is speaking of gaining peace from God. In vs. 6,7 Paul tells the Philippians to be anxious of nothing and to let all their requests be made to God and they will have the Peace of God. Then in vs. 9 he also shows how to gain this peace. Therefore this list of things to consider is what should be predominantly on the Christian mind to have this peace. The Greek word translated 'think upon' can mean consider. It has the sense of applying advice that will benefit one, not a hard fast rule that has no leeway.


Are the criteria for what a Christian should ponder given in Philippians 4:8 mutually inclusive?

The answer is " Yes" all those attributes are inclusive, for Paul finishes his verse by writing "think about such things". Rather than letting our minds being dominated by matters of the flesh, we must let our minds and hearts come under the influence of the spirit and thrive on things of the spirit.

What are they? Paul writes:

Philippians 4:8, NIV:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Paul listed eight moral qualities. Our thinking and conversations on such matters must measure up to the moral qualities cited by Paul,they deserve our attention so let us consider them in turn.

"True" means being truthful, upright, and trustworthy, something that is real, not merely giving the appearance of being so.

"Noble" refers to things that are dignified and respectful. It evokes a sense of reverence, something that is lofty, noble, and honorable rather than vulgar and low.

"Righteous" means meeting God’s standard, not man’s. Worldly men occupy their minds with unrighteous schemes, but Christians are to think on and take delight in things that are righteous in God’s sight..

"Pure" means chaste and holy not only in conduct "sexual or otherwise" but also in thought and motive. “The wisdom from above is first of all chaste," says James. Jesus, who is “pure,” is the perfect example for us to consider.​

“Lovable” is that which incites and inspires love in others. We are to “consider one another to incite to love and fine works,” rather than put our minds on things that arouse hatred, bitterness, and contention.

"Admirable" means not just being “reputable” or “of good report” but also, in the active sense, being upbuilding and commending. We set our minds on things that are wholesome and upbuilding rather than demeaning and offensive.

"Excellent" basically means "goodness" or “moral excellence,” in line with God's standards.

"Praiseworthy" things are truly so if the praise comes from God or from authority duly recognized by him.​

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