Summary: Paul speaks about the importance of peace in our lives.
Paul’s theme in this passage is peace. In verses 2-3, his focus is on peace with others; in verses 4-7, he speaks to peace within; and in verses 8-9, he talks about peace with God.
Part of the reason why Paul turns to the theme of peace has to do with two women in the church at Philippi whose conflict with each other was threatening to disturb the peace. But I think that Paul had another reason for emphasizing peace. In Colossians 3:15, Paul tells us:
“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always].” - Colossians 3:15 (Amplified)
Paul says the peace of Christ indicates whether or not I am safe in God’s will or out of His will. Just like an umpire tells the baseball player if he is safe (and still a viable player in the game) or out (and no longer a viable player); the peace of Christ indicates whether or not I am in the will of God and whether I am a viable player in the work of the kingdom. Let’s notice what Paul says about peace in this passage.
1. Peace with others - vs. 2-3
Paul begins this section of Philippians by addressing a conflict between two warring women - Euodia and Syntyche. Let’s see what we can learn about this conflict by what Paul does and does not say.
A. What Paul does not say.
1) Paul does not say this was a matter of heresy. If it were, we know Paul would have addressed this head on, as he does in his other letters.
2) Paul does not say this was a matter of overt sin. Again, if it were, he would have addressed it head on (1 Corinthians 5:1-13).
B. What Paul does say.
1) He calls these two warring women out by name - v. 2a
2) He tells them to “build a bridge and get over it.” - v. 2b
3) He calls on the church to no longer put up with it - v. 3a
4) He says they were committed to cause of Christ - v. 3b
5) He says they had a good reputation - v. 3c
6) He says were both believers - v. 3d
What we can glean from what we are told and not told about the conflict between these two ladies is that the cause was apparently something that was a small matter, as opposed to some heresy or overt sin, but the differences they had about it had grown to such a point that it had involved people in the church in taking sides on the matter, and Paul saw a potential threat to the Philippian church family as a result.
Have you ever known of conflict between two respected believers that made you wonder, “How did this happen?” That’s what occurred here. I would suggest this happens in churches today just like it happened at Philippi - worry was allowed to turn into warfare. Let me explain.
Two believers have a concern about something in the church. But rather than trust it over to God, they take the responsibility upon them selves. This leads to worry. As they worry, they roll things over in their mind until they come up with a plan to address the matter. Since they are not trusting God, but have taken it upon themselves, the plan will involve some form of manipulation to get things accomplished. Since manipulation involves people, others are “recruited” to assist in the plan. It is at this point that polarization can take place - especially when you have more than one person who refuses to trust God with a matter. At this point, the matter has reached the point of warfare and has the potential to hurt the fellowship of the church. This is what apparently happened with two respected believers named Euodia and Syntyche; and it can happen with any of us today.
That’s why Paul emphasizes the importance of peace in this passage. He would have us understand that if there is a lack of peace with others, that’s an indication of a lack of peace within; and if there is a lack of peace within; that’s an indication of a lack of peace with God. With that in mind, let’s notice what Paul says about having . . .
2. Peace within - vs. 4-7
Peace within comes from knowing I am living in such a way as to have no regrets. It’s described as “blameless” (Philippians 1:10; 2:15). If I am to prevent worry from escalating into warfare with others, then I need to take steps to prevent worry from being a habit in my life.