The Letter To The Philippians, Part 13

Philippians 4:1-3
Let’s begin with intentional reading.

  • Read Philippians 4:1-3 and consider the following:
    1. Did you notice anything in this set of scripture you have never noticed in the Bible before?
    2. Did you read any familiar verses? Which ones?
    3. Were any of the verses you read meaningful to you today? Why?

Paul begins chapter 4 with loving and affectionate words for the Philippians.  In fact, the opening verses are some of the most tender that Paul writes in all of scripture.  In verse 1, Paul says that he loves and longs for the Philippian church. Paul longed for the spiritual development and relational growth of the Philippian church.  He was completely focused on spiritual pursuits, and through his dedication to ministry and the grace of God, he saw fruit from his efforts.  In fact, Paul goes on to call the Philippian church his joy and crown. The Greek word used for crown here is stephanos, and it means a garland. Paul is conveying the message that the Philippian church is his reward - like that received by an ancient Olympian.

Brothers and Sisters,  Philippians 4:1 could very easily be one of those “fly over” verses we skim before we get to the more familiar parts of this chapter, but there is a beautiful principle that Paul reveals here.  In verse 1, we see that the greatest desire of Paul’s heart was for spiritual things.  Even more beautiful, we see that God granted those desires in the church at Philippi. It’s very easy to give our hearts permission to love and long for the things of this world, and often we are unsatisfied and disappointed when those longings go unfilled. However, when the longings are our hearts are for spiritual things, God grants those desires.

  1. Consider this: are the objects of our love and longing something the Lord could reward us for? OR, are the objects of our joy and our longing of our hearts thigs that are worldly and selfish?
  2. Read Psalm 37:4. What is the condition for receiving the desires of your heart? What connection do you see between this verse and what Paul writes in Philippians 4:1?
  3. Read proverbs 4:23. Why is it so important for believers to guard their hearts?  If we let the guard of our hearts down, how can our focus on spiritual things be distracted?  What practical steps can we take to guard our hearts?

Paul follows his words of affection for the Philippian church by addressing a broken relationship between not only 2 faithful believers, but between 2 faithful workers in this new church.
  1. Given the nature of his comments in verse 1, why would a significant disagreement between members of the Philippian church cause Paul concern?

Philippians is unique in that Paul doesn’t speak into doctrinal issues, but he does address relational ones.  Had the disagreement between Euodia and Synctyche been doctrinal, Paul’s authority as an apostle would have settled the matter. Instead, Paul implores both women equally to solve the matter since disunity among believers can damage the message and the work of the church.  For 21st century readers, it may seem like Paul is intruding into a personal matter between 2 women, but the root of what he is addressing is their attitude toward one another.  The Word of God not only addresses how we act and what we say, it’s also concerned with what we think.  Using these 2 women as a backdrop, let’s explore the impact our thoughts and attitudes toward our brothers and sisters in Christ can have on the Church.
  1. Read Philippians 4:2. Does Paul take sides in the disagreement? Does Paul chastise either or both women for their opinions in whatever has caused the disagreement? Where does Paul ask Euodia and Syntyche to find their agreement?
  2. Review Philippians 2:1-4 then read Romans 15:5, 2 Corinthians 13:11, and 1 Peter 3:8. Paul is not naive to think that believers would always agree on everything, but he gives clear instructions on how to handle matters when disagreements arise. What do these verses tell us about how believers should handle having different opinions? When it comes to the church, what should the primary goal of all believers be?  If brothers and sisters in Christ stay focused on the Lord and strive for unity, how divisive are disagreements?
  3. Since Paul calls Euodia and Syntyche to resolve their conflict, what does this indicate about believers who are at odds with each other? Is there any excuse for believers to remain unreconciled?

This short set of 3 verses lends a beautiful insight into Paul’s desire for the bothers and sisters of the church in Philippi to remain spiritually focused. Knowing the deepest desire of Paul’s heart is for the spiritual growth and unity of the churches he has ministered to makes these 3 verses more impactful.  As 21st century believers, there is little doubt that Paul would have the same call to unity for us as he did for the church in Philippi.

Be blessed.  Be a blessing.



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