Philippians 4:4-5 (NASB)
⁴Rejoice in the Lord always [meaning at all times, also when tears are closer than a smile]; again I will say, rejoice! ⁵Let your gentle spirit [i.e. your moderation] be known to all men. [For] The Lord is near [or the Lord is at hand]
The NASB translates this as “The Lord is near” (location),
and the KJV translates it as “The Lord is at hand” (time).
Well, which is it?
In the Greek text the word ἐγγύς eggus (pronounced as: eng–goos’) is used.
This word is found 30 times in the New Testament, and is rendered in the Amplified Version with nigh (13x), at hand (6x), nigh at hand (4x), near (4x), from (1x), nigh unto (1x), and ready (1x)
The meaning of the word is “near” (of place and position) as used in Luke 19:11; John 3:23; 6:19,23; 11:18,54; 19:20; and Acts 1:12.
It also is used to describe those who are NEAR access to God, like the Jews, and those who are alien from the true God, and the blessings of the theocracy, i.e. Gentiles, as used in Ephesians 2:1; and Isaiah 57:19.
And it is used to describe those who are brought NEAR to the blessings of the Kingdom of God. As in Ephesians 2:17. (The Rabbis used the term “to make nigh” as equivalent to to make a proselyte).
So this makes clear how the NASB came to the rendering of the word by the word NEAR.
Well then, what about out the translation of the King James version. Are they wrong?
No, for the word has a second meaning, which has to do with time.
In this case it speaks of times imminent, and soon come to pass as in Matthew 24:32; 26:18; Mark 13:28; Luke 21:30,31; John 2:13; 6:4; 7:2; 11:55; and Revelation 1:3; and 22:19.
Or of the near advent of persons, like Christ’s return from heaven, as in Philippians 4:5.
It speaks of something or somebody
• at the door, as in Matthew 24:33 and Mark 13:29
• near to being cursed as in Hebrews 6:8
• or soon to vanish as in Hebrews 8:13.
So both can be used, and both are true.
The Lord is always near us, and the time of His return is also near, at hand.
And because we know that the Lord is always near us, we can rejoice and treat others with gentleness.
He is also near us when we gather with other believers in His name.
He is very near us.
Not just like a friend who is always walking next to you.
But even much closer.
Through His Holy Spirit, He lives IN us.
And in the other meaning He is also near, because His return is at hand.
Therefore we should, like He showed us, have the attitude of a servant. And like He commanded us spread the Gospel among friends, and to people all over the world.
One of His mysteries is that He, because He lives in us, can work through us.
And besides this, because of the knowledge that He is coming again for us, we can be joyful. Full of joy.
Are you feeling like you are reading it, but you are standing at the sidelines? This doesn’t have to be like that.
This gladness, this joy, this hope for a great and beautiful future is for you as well.
All that is needed is your decision to repent, that is to make a 180° turn in your life, to take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
He died for you too, and the joy that the Gospel offers is for you too. Will you accept His gift of redemption now? And follow Him now as your Lord and Savior?
You too can have a personal, and very close relationship with Him!