Friday, July 09, 2021

2021.07.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:2–3

Read Philippians 4:2–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the apostle now address (Philippians 4:2)? What does he implore them to be? In Whom? What does the apostle call the one he addresses in Philippians 4:3? How intensely does he speak to him? What does he so urgently want the true companion to do to the women? How does the apostle describe the women? Who else labored with him? What does the apostle say about all of their names?

Two prominent women, instrumental in the planting and/or growth of the church, having had a falling out. There are two reasons why the apostle would deal with this so publicly. 

First, this situation in Philippi has been repeated in many a congregation since. By carrying the apostle along to address the situation in the letter to the church, the Spirit has preserved for us a record of the importance of dealing with such conflict, as well as an example of how to do so. Second, such conflicts are never, ultimately, private. They disrupt the fellowship of the whole body and harm the whole body. 

“Be of the same mind in the Lord,” he says (Philippians 4:2b). This pulls together so much of the teaching of the letter. Not only are we all to have the same mind as is in Christ by preferring others to ourselves (Philippians 2:2–5), but we are to be imitating the mature mind that does not consider itself to have attained but strains forward in Christ (Philippians 3:15)—a mind that counts one another as a great part of the joy and crown of the last day (Philippians 4:1). 

So, it is not just the same mind as one another that he urges, but the same mind as himself, the same mind as all the mature, indeed the same mind as Christ Himself. How does the apostle pursue this with these two prominent women of the Philippian church?

First, he pleads and presses. Our translation says “implore” (Philippians 4:2a). Others say “entreat” or “urge,” but it is the verb form of “paraclete.” He repeats the verb for each woman; his duty is to each one. He is coming alongside them as one who has been called alongside them. They are in spiritual need, and he cannot and will not ignore that need. Having set up verse 2 with the terms of endearment in Philippians 4:1 colors his appeal with affection, but it is an urgent appeal.

Second, he petitions others. “companion” here may be a proper name, “Syzygus,” which means “yoke-fellow.” Whether or not it was his name, it was his character, for the apostle calls him “true” (Philippians 4:3). Euodia and Syntyche had labored with the apostle in the gospel. Clement and others had also worked with him. Now he was asking Syzygus to work with him and to help these women. He adds petitioning others to pleading. He adds enlisting help to affectionate urging.

Third, he sets before them gospel promise. Jesus told us not to be proud of attainments but that our names are written in heaven (cf. Luke 10:20). As the apostle has listed off some names, he reminds them that all the rest of the names can be found together in one book, the Book of Life. Those who are living for and laboring for heaven, ought to have their attitudes shaped by what we are looking forward to in that glorious state (cf. Philippians 3:20–4:1; Colossians 3:1–4). If our names are next to one another in the Book of Life, we should strive toward that unity on earth.

In the next passage, we will be commanded to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4). A big part of that rejoicing is viewing those alongside whom we labor, and for whose sanctification we labor, as our beloved and longed for joy and crown (Philippians 4:1). That’s worth the efforts that we see the apostle put forth in this passage, and which we ought to put forth ourselves. 

How are you laboring to eliminate conflict in your own life? How are you helping others?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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