"And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus". Philippians 4:7 ESV. [understanding-Strong's 3563].

e.g. How can Christians have the mind of Christ and yet not understand the peace of God?

"'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV. [mind-Strong's 3563].

The understanding in Philippians 4:7 is extensive: "all" understanding.

6 Answers 6


It is important in understanding "understanding" in verse 7 to keep it connected to verse 6 where, rather than trying to figure everything out we are much safer trusting God.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7

It is not that the peace of God cannot be fully comprehended (although that may certainly be true) but that the peace of God is far superior at allaying anxieties than the totality of human reasoning ability.

The Greek noun ειρηνη (eirene) is the equivalent of the familiar Hebrew term שלום (shalom), from which stem names like Solomon, Absalom, Jerusalem and Islam. This noun in turn comes from the verb שלם (shalem), which means to be whole or complete.

Together with the preposition υπερ (huper), meaning over or beyond: the verb υπερεχω (huperecho), meaning to hold over or to "out-have" or be superior. In the classics this word is used in the sense of having authority or power over (somewhat similar to the verb mentioned above, προεχω, proecho).

The adjective πας (pas) declines into the more familiar forms παν (pan) and παντος (pantos) and expresses oneness, wholeness or totality. It is used both in singular form and in plural, both with and without the definite article.

The noun νους (nous) describes the intellectual mind: the artificial cognitive processes in our brain that allow us to make a synthetic world, which is separate from the natural world and the natural cycles to which the whole rest of the biosphere is subjected.

Thus, it is the completeness or oneness of God, which is superior to the totality of human cognition, that guards (keeps in check) our hearts (disposition) and minds (deliberations) in Christ Jesus.

This verse immediately follows an exhortation to not be anxious (or careful) for anything and that anxious word is:

The verb μεριμναω (merimnao), meaning to care or be filled or encumbered with many cares and concerns. The idea behind the negativity of this verb is the same as that behind the parent noun: a mind that is focused on God is focused on the oneness of all things, and enjoys the obvious fact that all things work together for the good of those who love God. People who worry a lot probably also worry about a lot of different things, which probably means that they have no knowledge of God, or else that their once-clear understanding of God now sits behind a thick layer of dust and sand that covers most of it up. Ergo, a person who worries about a lot of things is like a house divided against itself.

We can either think and live as if our lives are hidden with Christ in God (peace/oneness) or we can flail about by our own devices (anxiety/separation).


The operative word in Phil 4:7 is νοῦς (nous - a word that come directly into English with the same meaning and spelling) which according to BDAG means (in this instance):

the facility of intellectual perception (a) mind, intellect as the side of life contrasted with physical existence, the higher part of a human being that initiates thoughts and plans, eg, Rom 7:22, 23, 25 (b) understanding, mind as a facility of thinking, eg, Luke 24:45, Rom 13:18, ... which surpasses all power of thought Phil 4:7 ...

Thus, Paul is effectively saying in Phil 4:7 that the peace of God is beyond understanding, or surpasses anything which humans are capable of fully grasping. This is consistent with another of Paul's statements in 1 Cor 2:9, 10

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Thus, there are clearly things beyond our human minds to grasp or understand. The "peace of God" is said to be one such.

Now about the other passage in 1 Cor 2. Let me quote it context:

14 The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone’s judgment. 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?”d But we have the mind of Christ.

This passage perfectly illustrates the important principle, "Spiritual things are spiritually discerned". That is, we cannot understanding anything about the Bible and spiritual things without the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as John 16:13, 14 makes clear.

Even so, there are some things that we, before we get to heaven, will never understand. We are not God and thus cannot ever fully understand God. This is stated again in Isa 55:8 -

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,”


Paul was speaking of God’s peace, not human peace. Human peace is only experienced in the absence of problems. Therefore, those who only know human peace don’t experience it very often, and to a lesser degree. God’s peace is independent of circumstances and infinitely greater in supply than any problem we could ever have. God has given us His supernatural peace to enjoy.

Notice that peace is the result of casting our care upon the Lord through prayer and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). Through faith, we cast our cares on the Lord, and then God’s peace comes.

All Believers have peace; it is a fruit of the Spirit that is always present in the born-again spirit. (Galatians 5:22). Care will blind us to God’s peace. When we eliminate the care, the peace flows. We need to allow God’s peace to protect our hearts and minds. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15).

Regarding your inflection to 1 Corinthians 2:16 … Some can’t believe this. What they experience at times proves they don’t have the mind of Christ, so what’s right–their experience or what God says?

A believers ‘new born-again spirit’ is a completely new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). We actually have the mind of Christ. Our born-again spirit has been renewed in knowledge after the same image of Him that created us (Colossians 3:10). We have received an anointing in our spirit so that we know all things (1 John 2:20).

So through the spirit, or ‘in’ the spirit, Believers have the mind of Christ, while [obviously] our physical brains do not. This is why the renewing of our (physical) ‘mind’ is so important (Romans 12:2).

So when considering the term ‘understanding’, we need to differentiate between our ‘carnal thinking [understanding], and that which we can experience via the ‘spirit’. In both your passages, Paul is referring to that which believers have, and can [learn to] access via their spirit. And that is all ‘accessed’ via Faith.

  • @C.Stroud It was differentiating between the understanding we can may have. ‘Natural’ (academic) understanding vs spiritual understanding (revelation).
    – Dave
    Commented Nov 8, 2021 at 18:24

Philippians 4:

7 And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding [G3563], will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The operative word is G3563 νως, Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

  1. the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining; hence, specifically,
    a. the intellective faculty, the understanding ...
    b. reason ...
    c. the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially: 2 Thessalonians 2:2.

  2. a particular mode of thinking and judging: Romans 14:5; 1 Corinthians 1:10; equivalent to thoughts, feelings, purposes

What does "understanding" mean in "the peace of God which surpasses all understanding" Philippians 4:7?

The word refers to human understanding by the human mind.

On the other hand, 1 Corinthians 2:

16 For who has understood the mind [G3563] of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind [G3563] of Christ."

This explicitly refers to the mind of the Lord, not a human mind, but a spiritual mind.

How can Christians have the mind of Christ and yet not understand the peace of God?

If you have the supernatural mind of Christ, you will understand the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding.

I actually practice this :)


 And the peace [ἡ εἰρήνη] of God, which surpasses [ἡ ὑπερέχουσα] all [πάντα] understanding [νοῦν], will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7, ESV)

In the Septuagint (LXX) εἰρήνη translates the word שָׁלֹֽום.

Figure 1. Hebrew words εἰρήνη translates in the LXX (generated with Logos Bible Software)

enter image description here

Note the Old Testament passage:

Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, 13 and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel. (Num. 25:12–13, ESV)

Why בְּרִיתִ֖י‬ שָׁלֹֽום, my covenant of peace? The verb form שׁלם (be completed) is used in the Law (Torah) for make restitution, pay in full. Thus, the covenant of peace is a covenant of reconciliation involving atonement.

He shall also make restitution [יְשַׁלֵּ֗ם] for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven. (Lev. 5:16, ESV)

Figure 2. The senses of שׁלם as used in the MT.
enter image description here

ὑπερέχω means it's superior and exceeds. νοῦς means mind more often in the New Testament than mental attitude (=understanding). Thus, this says the "peace of God" exceeds our mental capability, our intellect, volition (will), and emotions. The atoning work of Jesus Christ does that. His atoning work is the "peace of God." שָׁלֹֽום (shalom) as a greeting has the idea of well being or wholeness. Again this fits the idea of the atoning work of salvation. Think about answering the question: "Why did Jesus have to die for us?" We can explain the atonement based of what it means as revealed in the Scriptures. But, there is a sense about it that we don't understand, intellectually, why God willed it, and how God could bare to do it.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:6–8, ESV)


Life of a believer seems to be a progression upwards into Christ Our head. Having the mind of Christ.

Along the way we are taught how to keep our eyes on Him in the midst of life's problems , perplexities, sorrows that can overwhelm us.

Therefore we are given instructions in Philippians 4:7

6Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, surpassing all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This keeps the flesh from overruling our emotions and minds by God giving us His peace in the midst of anxieties that are part of the world we live in.

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus".

This is how the peace of God guards our heart…

Definition of a guard. : to guard keep, as by a military guard.

a sentinel, guard") – properly, to guard (keep watch) like a military sentinel; (figuratively) to actively display whatever defensive and offensive means are necessary to guard.

Praying without thanksgiving can sometimes be overlooked and therefore we don't always get the peace that we long for.

Thanking Him completes our prayer that He heard us and His peace takes away the anxiety.

Glad to be reminded of this.

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