Summary: an exposition of Philippians 2:1-11
Islington Baptist Church August 11, 2001
On Friday morning I called Chris Stockwell’s office. Chris Stockwell is one of our local Members of Parliament. I asked his secretary to confirm for me whether or not I had the proper understanding of this office “Party Whip”. Within each political party in Canada today there is appointed a person who is given the title of “Party Whip”.
I discovered that the term originates from the 1700’s. In the 1700’s in America, various fox hunts were held. One of the members of the fox hunt was called the “Whipper in”. His job was to keep the fox hounds together, orderly and in line. Naturally, he had a whip.
Today’s Party Whip’s don’t carry a real whip but their job is similar in some respects to the “Whipper in” of the fox hunts of long ago. In addition to making sure party members show up for Parliamentary meetings, the Party Whip is to make sure that when it comes time to vote at various meetings that all the party members vote the same way and give the impression that the party is totally united.
As you can probably guess, making sure everyone in their party votes the same way is a big job—at times requiring a gentle hand and at other times requiring a firmer hand.
One of the ultimate responsibilities of the Party Whip is that unity in the party is maintained.
Unity is so important to the function of any organization or group. Unity is especially important in the church.
Jesus knew that unity would be an issue for his followers, this is why we have this prayer of his from John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”
The central command that Paul gives to us in v.1-11 is found for us in v.2 “fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind”
This command, which concerns the unity of the church, is often repeated in the repeated in the scriptures.
In Ephesians 4:3 it says “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”
In Romans 15:5-6 it says “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Jesus Christ, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”
Before we get to the unity command of v.2 and Paul’s other commands that relate to unity we must first consider the basis for being united. Verse 1 provides us with reason enough to remain united together as the children of God.
In v.1 Paul strings together 4 sentences that begin with the word “if”
1. If there is any consolation in Christ/ if there is any comfort in Christ
2. If any comfort of love—referring to God’s love for us
3. If any fellowship of the Spirit / with the Spirit
4. If any affection and mercy
Paul appeals to us that we be united on the basis of these 4 things and our experience of them in Christ.
1. On the basis of the grace of Christ and the comfort we have in knowing him we are to be united
2. On the basis of the love of God that we have experienced we are to be united The love of God which resulted in his sending of his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us sinners. Our love for each other is to abound more and more. We to love each other deeply.
3. On the basis of our being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who helps, empowers, acts as a guarantee of our salvation, we are to be united
Verse 1 is a basic Trinitarian text: meaning that all 3 members of the Godhead are mentioned together: Christ, Father (mention of his love), Spirit and the fellowship we have with Him. See also II Cor. 13:14 for a parallel “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”