“So then, my dear brothers, whom I am longing to see, my delight and crown, continue to stand firm in the Lord. I exhort Euodias and I exhort Syntyche to live in harmony as sisters in Christ. And I earnestly request you, my true teammate, to continue to help those women who toiled by my side in spreading the Good News, as did Clement and other fellow-workers whose names are in the Book of Life.” ( paraphrased)
Paul refers to the Philippians as his “crown” (KJV). Wherever Paul uses this word, it always refers to a conqueror’s crown, rather than a king’s crown. It is the wreath or festal garland worn by a winner in Olympic Games. This term of endearment is another hint of the joy and satisfaction this church brings to Paul.
He urges the Philippians to “stand fast” in the Lord. A military command is derived from this phrase, for to “Stand fast!” means hold your present position and remain in your place. This is not the only time Paul urges believers to stand, for we are instructed to:
Stand in the Gospel – I Corinthians 15:1
Stand in grace – Romans 5:2
Stand fast in the faith – I Corinthians 16:13 and II Corinthians 1:24
Stand fast in our liberty in Jesus – Galatians 5:1
Stand against the wiles of the devil – Ephesians 6:11
Stand fast in one spirit – Philippians 1:27
Stand mature and complete – Colossians 4:12
Stand fast in the Lord – I Thessalonians 3:8
Stand fast and hold on to godly traditions – II Thessalonians 2:15
Paul encourages them to continue in the Lord. This complements Jesus’ exhortation, “He that shall endure to the end shall be saved” (Mark 13:13).
We must stand fast doctrinally, by not compromising Biblical standards.
We must stand fast when temptation comes, by looking to God’s Word for guidance.
We must stand fast spiritually, by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
We must stand fast in our daily communication with God, by not neglecting our prayer life.
We must stand fast in the Lord, by a perpetual attitude of gratitude.
In the previous chapter, Paul gives us a wonderful reason to stand firm: Jesus is coming (3:20-21). Knowing our future is an incentive to remain steadfast in Christ, for we must maintain our relationship with Him in order to receive our reward.
It is likely that Epaphroditus brings news of the disagreement between these two women to Paul in prison. In this letter Epaphroditus carries back to Philippi, Paul makes an appeal for two ladies in the church to work in harmony.
Paul does not give details concerning their dispute, only their gender. We know nothing about these two, but it is possible they are deaconesses or women of influence. It is clear they are godly women, for he indicates they are co-workers with him and their names are in the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5, 20:12). The names of these women are significant. The name Syntyche means “fortunate” and Euodias means “fragrance.” As we realize how fortunate we are to know Him, we will be more disposed to be a sweet fragrance to the Lord and to others.
Some assume the letter to the Philippians is specifically written to address the contention that exists between these two women of God. While it is true Paul addresses the need for harmony and unity throughout the letter, it is doubtful his sole intent is to correct two disgruntled ladies. Paul is never so timid in his writings that he accentuates the positive aspects of a church, only to touch lightly on monumental problems. It is more plausible he mentions the need for them to “be of one mind in the Lord” as an illustration of the love, unity and joy he desires for the entire church. Paul knows if these women can picture their heavenly destination, reconciliation should not be a problem.
This passage proves conclusively that women as well as men can be a positive or negative influence within a congregation. Although Paul addresses men more often than women in his writings, both genders need exhortation and correction. Paul does not take sides in their dispute, but encourages both of them to walk in love. He seems certain if they become “of the same mind in the Lord,” a harmonious relationship will result.
EXHORTATION – STUDY QUESTIONS
1. Compare Philippians. 2:2 with 4:2. What does Paul want these women to do?
A. be of the same mind
B. bring food to Paul in prison
C. go to Ephesus to visit Timothy in prison
D. love their husbands
E. none of the above
2. When Jesus appears, what will we receive?
A. a white robe
B. a scepter
C. a harp
D. a book of life
E. a victor’s crown
3. According to Romans 11:20, we stand by:
4. The foundational source of contention among people is: (Proverbs 13:10)
EXHORTATION – REFLECTION
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR COUPLES:
1. Like Euodias and Syntyche, do you and your spouse have disagreements? If so, what is the primary method you use to resolve them?
2. What specific steps did you take to resolve your last disagreement?
3. Although they had a disagreement, these two women worked side by side with Paul in spreading the Gospel (v. 2-3). How can the awareness that you and your mate are co-workers for Christ, destined to wear crowns of victory, help neutralize disputes between you?
4. Read Philippians 4:1. Are you standing firm for your marriage? Is your marriage on a more solid footing than a year ago? If so, in what specific ways?
ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS:
1. Like Euodias and Syntyche, do you have disagreements with others? If so, what is the primary method you use to resolve them?
2. What specific steps did you take to resolve your last disagreement with someone?
3. Although they had a disagreement, these two women worked side by side with Paul in spreading the Gospel (v. 2-3). How can the awareness that you and another Christian you disagreed with are both going to be in heaven together help neutralize disputes between you?
4. Read Philippians 4:1. Are you standing firm in Christ? Are you more stable as a Christian than a year ago? If so, list the specific ways.