2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Firstly, Paul encourages the Philippians to have unity in order to stand firm. Now in the context of Philippi, there were probably two important leaders—Euodia and Syntyche who had a disagreement. Euodia means ‘fragrant’ and Syntyche means ‘with fortune’ or ‘pleasant’. We don’t know if these were representative names or real ones.
Paul encourages them to ‘have the same mind in the Lord. He uses the same word that he uses in Phil 2:2 when appeals to them to have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus. This of course is a lot more profound than just agreeing about a certain issue; it is to do with having the same attitudes. To stand firm in the Lord is not simply to shake hands on one issue but to really be united in thinking about the cause of Jesus Christ. In chapter 2 we see that Christ’s attitude was to look to his own good but to the good of others.
Paul even goes as far as to ask his ‘faithful yoke-fellow’ or ‘companion’. This could have been a person—Clement—or even the Church itself. It is felt by some that because no name is given that it is probably the church as a whole. If it is the church itself, then to ‘help these women’ will involve not taking sides in a dispute but to be a ‘peace-maker’; in the words of the beatitude, to be a child of God.
This is further emphasised with Paul’s use of ‘together language’. The prefix in Greek for ‘together’ is ‘sun’ or syn’. We have words in English such as ‘synergy’ (working together) or ‘synthetic’ (put together) or even ‘synoptic’ (looking at from the same perspective). Not only have these people ‘sunhylhsan – contended together’ with Paul but they are his ‘sunergwn – fellow workers’.
Standing firm in the Lord is not an individual exercise. It is not possible at all if we are in conflict and disagreement. This, of course can be applied on the individual level but also on the church level. We cannot stand on our own and we surely will not stand if are divided.
How is this cultivated? Unity is not a warm fuzzy feeling; it is a decision not to harbour ranker, or grudges. These must be brought out by honest speech in love. Confession to God. Ephesians 4:15, ‘speak the truth in love.’
If we are to stand firm as Christians together we need to make sure that we are standing firm in unity. How often to we say we forgive yet actually there is still something underneath that we are not willing to let go of. We need forgiveness and reconciliation.