Philippians 4:1-3 – UNITY IN THE BODY
“Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Before we get into our passage (v. 4-7), its important to look into the context of what Paul was saying directly before the verses that we want to study. Paul deeply loves the Philippian body, as evidenced by his tender introduction in this passage with the phrases found in verse 1: “whom I love and long for, my joy and crown”. Although he dearly loves them, he also is not afraid of confronting areas of sin in their lives because he knows that disunity in the Body is dangerous and ungodly. Richard R. Melick, Jr. states that the problem of unity “is the first specific problem of the church, but Paul may have been concerned with it from the beginning of the epistle.”[i] (He is referring to the church in Philippi.) This can been seen with Paul’s pleas in 2:1-4 about thinking of others more highly and before yourselves. Do you find it interesting that the disagreement that is happening is between two women in the church? What is encouraging about this mentioning is that these women could have been important and influential leaders in the church, and this possibly may have been why Paul thought it necessary to bring up the matter of their arguing. He wanted them to be right before the Lord and each other so that they could effectively lead and serve in their local body. What is not encouraging is the fact that their personal problems were negatively affecting the church. Let us not be the kind of believers that stir up trouble, hold grudges, or harbor bitterness that can be poison to the Body of Christ!
TRUTH #1: Paul deeply loved his fellow believers, and as an overflow of that love, he made a grand effort to encourage them in the faith, even if it meant pointing out areas of sin in their lives.
TRUTH #2: The Church should work to help its members be reconciled and restored to right fellowship with each other and with the Body.
APPLICATION: How are you doing in the area of encouraging the brothers and sisters in your life? Do you shy away from confronting someone with hard truths that they may need to hear? Although it is hard for us (especially those of us who struggle with wanting to be people-pleasers) to confront others because that can be uncomfortable, if it is done in a loving, gentle, and Christ-like way, it can be beautifully healing and very loving. What are some ways that you can lovingly encourage other believers in your life?
FURTHER STUDY: Read Philippians 2:1-4. What specific attitudes and actions did Paul call the Philippian believers to implement? How can you personally be obedient to God in these areas?
[i] Robert R. Melick, Jr., Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, New American Commentary, Volume 32, (Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1991), 146.