I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are written in the book of life. ~Philippians 4:2-3 (ESV)
There are some things in life worth dividing over. The gospel itself causes division between true believers, false believers, and non-believers. But under the gospel umbrella of true believers there is far, far less that is worth dividing over. Toward the end of his letter, Paul called two ladies in the church at Philippi to unity.
We don’t know what their problem with one another was exactly, but it was an issue that Paul didn’t see as worth the fight.
These were two ladies who were very dear to him in the church. They were two women who worked hard, side by side with Paul, to see that the gospel spread throughout their city. They were two women who through Jesus and their gospel ministry had more in common than apart. So, it pained Paul to see them divided.
He called them out personally and publicly by name, as is sometimes needed when private resolutions do not work, and this seems to have become a public dispute at that. He pleaded with them: Be unified! Agree in the Lord! He wanted them to see the bond of love in Jesus as greater than whatever issue they faced.
More than this, he called others in the church to help. Commentators differ in opinion on the identity of this “true companion.” Paul may have been writing to a man named Syzygus, who possibly could have been an influential leader or at least had great influence over the life of these women. He may have been writing to another but unnamed dear friend of his in the church who had such influence. Or Paul may have been speaking to the church as a whole. Whichever interpretation we take, the point remains the same: These women needed the encouragement of someone other than Paul in this as well.
We learn from these two verses that whenever we see division in the church of Jesus, we cannot keep silent. Jesus said in John 17:21-23 that our unity (founded on the gospel, not contrary to it) is part of our witness to the world. So, we urge and we plead and we work with others to bring about the richness of a Christ-centered unity in the churches where we worship and serve.
New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.