Summary: 1)The Elements of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:1) 2) The Essence of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:2a), 3)The Expression of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:2b)
It’s not too difficult to see the effect of strife. Internationally, we see conflict and hostage taking. In North America, we just came out of a hockey lockout after many months of people not working. In Canada, native blockages have meant disrupted travel, and shipping. In Ontario, many teachers have eliminated extracurricular activities for Children. The more and more we personalize the situation, when we see strife in our communities and families, we must all point the fingers on ourselves. Human nature as it is, is selfish and ultimately destructive. Even when we can somehow maintain outward order, inward strife, begins to rot from the inside.
To be sure, the church of Philippi was characterized by many excellent qualities. By all appearances they were doctrinally and morally sound. Paul calls its members, “my brothers, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown” (Phil. 4:1). Warmly he praises them for their fellowship in the gospel and for their generosity (Phil. 1:5; 4:10, 14–18). But there was some trouble on the Home front. Did some of the members see too much of each other? Were they getting on each other’s nerves? Were some beginning to exaggerate the weaknesses and to minimize the virtues of other church-members? Brothers attacking or even just belittling each other make a sorry spectacle before the world. Their inner spiritual growth is hindered and their witness to the world is weakened. (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 5: Exposition of Philippians. New Testament Commentary (98–99). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.)
In Philippians 2:1–2 Paul gives what is perhaps the most concise and practical teaching about unity in the New Testament. In these powerful verses, he outlines a formula for purposeful spiritual unity that includes the necessary elements on which a unity of purpose must be built. We see: 1)The Elements of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:1) 2) The Essence of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:2a), 3)The Expression of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:2b) Through them, he clarifies why believers should be of one mind and spirit, what is meant by one mind and spirit.
1) The Elements of Purposeful Unity (Philippians 2:1)
Philippians 2:1 [2:1]So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, (ESV)
The “So/therefore” connects what Paul has just said at the end of chapter 1. The point is that, “Because we have the divine injunction to be of one mind and spirit (1:27), So/therefore, something must occur.
The Greek particle ei (if) here introduces a first-class conditional clause, which is the translation of a conditional particle referring to a fulfilled condition. One could translate “since,” or “in view of the fact.” The four things mentioned in this verse are not hypothetical in their nature. They are facts (Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English reader (Php 2:1). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.).