Summary: Paul writes his letter to the Philippian believers for several reasons, one of which was to break up a fight between two sisters in the church...
Paul writes his letter to the Philippian believers for several reasons, one of which was to break up a fight between two sisters in the church.
According to the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, fighting among people is usually over a piece of land.
Tolstoy wrote of a man who was told he could own as much land as he could walk around from sunrise to sunset.
He started at a leisurely pace, but as his ambition grew, so did his pace. Soon, his walk became a run and his run became a sprint. His body overheated. He stripped off his shirt and abandoned his boots, but would not slow his pace. By sunset, he had reached the very place where he had started.
He had driven himself to possess all the land. He lunged to reach the starting point, and there he collapsed and died. He wanted all the land and yet all he ultimately possessed was the 6 by 2 foot plot where they buried him.
Fighting in the church is usually over land, and the piece of land can be anything from a spiritual issue to the color of pew cushions. When a church becomes embattled, it is because her people have become territorial. The people are fighting among themselves to get what they want and no one is concerned with what God wants.
In order to squelch the squabble, Paul begins with the main characters of the brawl; afterwards he works his way out perhaps to people who were in her circle of friends. Lastly, he addresses the church at large.
1.) Paul pleads with the individuals involved:
Phil 4:2 - I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
Paul begs, beseeches, and implores these women by name to stop their strife. The Greek word for “implore” or “plead (NIV)” is parakaleo, meaning to "to call alongside." This word is related to the Greek word for the Holy Spirit.
In essence, Paul is trying to bring peace in a situation where there is strife—Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit does for us?
Paul wants these women to “break it up” to “chill” and to “calm down.” But even more than exhorting these women to “peace and quietness” in the church, he wants them to be a peace with each other—thus he pleads with them “to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
The word “mind: here is phroneo, fron-eh'-o; and means to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion. It means to interest oneself in; set the affection on.
Paul writes, “…be of the same mind…” He wanted these women to interest themselves in the same thing; to set their affections on the same thing. The arena of their interests, affections and opinions was to be “in the Lord.”
You can be interested in a lot of things but if your interests do not match your brother’s interests or if your sister’s affections do not match your affections there is going to be disharmony and friction. This is true in marriage or business relationships, etc.
This is why Paul says,
2 Cor 6:14 - Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
2 Cor 6:15 - What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
2 Cor 6:16 - What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?…
Paul pleads with these women to “to be of the same mind in the Lord.”
2.) Paul pleads with their circle of friends or a common friend:
Phil 4:3 - And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
No one knows the identity of Paul’s “true companion” mentioned in this verse. Some speculate it could have been Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, or Epaphroditus.
We are not to waste time trying to determine who this was and miss the point Paul was making: “help these women…”
Sometimes people who are in disagreement need some help to resolve their problems.
Sometimes people who are at odds with one another need a referee, an umpire, a mediator, or an arbitrator.
Paul writes, "…help them/these" In the Greek, the thought is “help them both” - "Help in the work of their reconciliation." (Alford) Obviously, something had caused the relationship of these two women to become estranged and reconciliation was long overdue.
Paul writes, “Help them both.” He wasn’t taking sides. He didn’t say “Help Euodia, because Syntyche is not walking with the Laud.” He didn’t say, “Help Syntyche because girlfriend Euodia is psycho.”