Farewell To The Philippians

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Philippians 4:1-3

Living in Harmony

Paul closes his letter to the Philippians with a very affable and personable farewell to them. He begins his farewell in verse 1 with the conjunctive adverb “therefore,” which links together his commentaries from chapter 3 with his observations in chapter 4. He serenades them with his heartfelt and genuine expression of Agape love by calling them his “joy and crown.” Paul uses the Greek word Stephanos for a crown that described the crown given to a winning athlete during the Greek games. To win that crown was the peak of the athlete's ambition. Special guests wore that crown at festive events, or during at a banquet, in ancient Greece. It is as if Paul said that the Philippians were the crown of all his toil. They are his festal crown at the final banquet of God.

At the end of verse 1, he exhorts them lovingly, to “stand firm in the Lord in this way.” In KJV, it says, “stand fast.” The Greek word Paul uses for “stand fast” is Steketee that was used for a soldier standing fast in the heat of battle, while the enemy is surging down upon him. Paul wants to make sure the Philippians are rapture-ready. Whereas the Philippians were experiencing difficulties as they contended with heretics and pagans, Paul is encouraging them to stand fast as valiant soldiers in the Lord’s army.

Paul abruptly changed the topic to make a personal plea to Euodia and Syntyche to settle their differences. “These two women were the source of some quarrel in the church. Instead of taking sides or trying to solve their problem, Paul gently told them to be of the same mind in the Lord.” In this way, they would be standing fast against the spirit of division the enemy often uses to wreak havoc in Christ's body. Paul uses the Greek word phroneo for the English “to be of the same mind.” That phrase means to live in harmony. The harmonious relationships within the Philippian would indeed be a crown to Paul.

In verse 3, Paul enlists the help of “his true companion” to help Euodia and Syntyche resolve their dispute so they can live in harmony. It is not clear who is that “true companion.” Nevertheless, that person is asked to help these women reconcile. That request is crucial to the unity of the Philippian church and personal to Paul because these women were faithful workers with Paul in the gospel's work. Paul specifically mentioned Clement as one who also helped him in the work of the gospel. We are not clear who that Clement is because that was a popular name in the Roman world. Scholars have identified a Clement who was a notable leader of the church in Rome and wrote two preserved letters to the church in Corinth. However, no indication is the same Clement that Paul is talking about.

Application

Paul was determined not to allow any ungodliness and dissension to strip the Philippians of their eternal inheritance. He feels personally vested in their spiritual maturity and reminds them of his love for them. Such a language and godly attitude should be more evident among believers today. Spiritual leaders should have a special bond with the people they are called to serve. It is that type of connection that causes a leader to pray earnestly and fervently for those they lead.

Where that type of spiritual bond is evident, there will be no abuse. Dissension and strife cannot ferment where there are harmony and agape love. Whereas, there will always be cases where some people are not in one accord with one another. There is yet a need to remind believers that a house divided cannot stand.

Such is the message Paul conveys elegantly to Euodia and Syntyche. He reminds them their dissension is contrary to God's will and toxic to the gospel's proclamation. The enemy cannot prevail against a united church of Jesus Christ. Therefore, believers have to put aside their differences and cutline unity for the kingdom's sake.

Wherever unity quarreling between believers is stifling the harmony in the body, godly leaders should intervene. After all, we all have a stake in a unified Church. The Lord Jesus is coming back for a Church without spots and wrinkles. All believers must iron out their differences to remove all sinful wrinkles that can easily beset the fellowship in Christ's body.

Prayer

Blessed Lord, soften our hearts so we can be of the same mind in the Lord.

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