“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
“Whatever” is an expression today often used to indicate “I am no longer hearing you.” For example, you are giving an opinion and perhaps even in mid-sentence the person you are speaking to interrupts with, “whatever.” The word is usually accompanied by a rude attitude. It may be followed by “who cares,” “speak to the hand,” or “get a life.”
“Whatever,” in Philippians 4:8, is of course, not to be taken as an empty or vague expression. It is, rather, a challenge to the reader to consider the many excellent and praise worthy things about which we should think: whatever is true, whatever is right, etc.
We must remember that the Philippian Christians to whom Paul is writing are probably suffering some persecution as was common for early believers. Paul alludes to it when he says to them “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” (Philippians 1:29).
Twould be easy for their minds to be burdened by worry, fear, and many anxieties. When Paul tells them in chapter four to “rejoice in the Lord always,” and “be anxious for nothing,” I can imagine some of them rolled their eyes and responded, “whatever!” Of course, we today would never receive these admonishments that way.
Paul gives his readers a mental, emotional and spiritual exercise. Think about these things: pure, true, lovely, good, excellent, right, honorable, and praise worthy things. Look around for these things. Meditate on them.