Summary: Exposition Of Intervention
Text: Philippians 4:2-3, Title: Intervention, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/11/12, AM
A. Opening illustration: A discipleship book that I am very found of describes the stages of the Christian life
in NT terms: lost, infant, young believer, mature believer. And when they get to mature believer, they also
speak of them as a spiritual parent. The implication there is that spiritual parents are supposed to be having
spiritual children (not in the Mormon way), but one possible shortfall of this approach is that people think that
they need to be very mature, a super Christian, or someone called to ministry to disciple others. When in the
bible and on the mission field, the first thing that new believers do is go and tell and begin to make disciples.
B. Background to passage: mark of a growing disciple—making disciples. We have seen that growing disciples
are marked by increasing spiritual fruit, faithfulness in spiritual disciplines, actively sharing their faith,
modeling biblical lifestyles, increasing in the knowledge of God, and have a strong commitment to the
church. Today we look at making disciples. There are many passages about Paul, Peter, James, and John
making disciples. Even some about Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, and Silas, but I wanted to find one with
someone a little less known. In fact, this person is completely unknown. But they embody what it means to
be making disciples. Paul asked the true yoke fellow to intervene in the lives of two ladies in the church.
C. Main thought: So what does that mean? How do you make disciples
A. The Situation (v.2-3)
1. Very little is known for sure about these women. Commentators vary on many issues, but here is a list
of things that we can be fairly certain of: these women were church members, not outsiders. They were
friends, at least at one time. They were well known in the congregation, probably long time members
(the church had only existed about 13 years. The dispute wasn’t doctrinal, but it was significant enough
for Paul to mention, and to require a third party to intervene. We also know that these two women were
ministering with Paul while he was there. So these two ladies were at odds over something related to
church or personality, and Paul asked some guy to help. We only know that a masculine pronoun is
used, so even though several think that this is Paul’s wife, it has to be a man. People have suggested
Epaphroditus, Timothy, Luke, and others. Some have even thought that this was a proper name.
Obviously everyone in Philippi knew who he was talking about. But the word means genuine companion
3. Illustration: we all know church situations that end up like this.
4. This is a reminder of the damage and danger to the church caused by broken and strained relationships.
Good people have serious issues sometimes that they need help with. It’s OK, get help. So why am I
connecting this fight and making disciples? Because what the true yokefellow is doing is discipleship.
What is a disciple? A follower of Christ. So when we are told to make disciples, it is much more than
sharing our faith. Making disciples is about helping people to be better followers of Christ.
B. The Evaluation
1. These two women were active in the church. They had a relationship with each other and with our
yokefellow. Based on this relationship, Paul asked him to seize or grab them and help them work it out.
And the church is supposed to support this process. Lots of applications to the church, but that’s for
another sermon. Think about the process of discipleship that Jesus and Paul used.
3. Illustration: talk about me and the relationships I have with deputies, with coaches, with college students,
with church members, with older pastors, with family.
4. So what does making disciples require? Relationships. A believer must have relationships in order to help
others follow Christ better. It requires time. Sometimes this is more formal and intentional, sometimes it
is more casual and unplanned. A believer must spend time with those he is trying to help. This can take
a lot of forms from written communication, Skype, Facebook, porch sitting, working together, recreation,
dinner dates, etc. And the mindset is not that the other person is a project, but that we are all on a journey
pursuing Christ together, and a major method of growth is rubbing shoulders with other believers,
engaging in stimulating conversation, bearing burdens, sharing joys. A danger of our electronic, security
system, air conditioned, email, cell phone society, is isolation. Even in churches, especially larger ones,
deep relationships can be overlooked, intentionally or unintentionally. But there needs to be a mindset in
us that all of our relationships are to be making disciples and being made disciples.