Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

Philippians 4:2-3

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. Our text speaks of a grave problem existing in the church at Philippi.

1. The problem was not centered around any doctrinal issue but a personality clash between two members.

2. Two women were at odds with each other. These two were influential, active, and well-known in the local congregation. Some unmentioned clash had erupted the harmony and these two had begun pulling in different directions.

3. Evidently these two had refused reconciliation and the disruption had spread as far as Rome to the ears of Paul.

4. Such a situation is always sad--Each thinks she is right the other wrong; she is due an apology, the other a cool shoulder; she was due all of the attention, the other none; she was due recognition and service, the other humility and servitude!

II. It is unfortunate that we observe such happenings even in our modern era.

1. The pity of all such is that these disruptions occur all too frequently. Such are comical in Satan's eyes and tragic in the eyes of our blessed Lord.

2. Because of trifles the church is rent asunder; each faction determined that they are right and the other is wrong -- if honesty were told they both are wrong to an extent!

3. Such disruptions ruin our joy and happiness, spoil the gladness of Christ, and add to Satan's glee.

4. And carefully note that it is not always the women who deal such damage to the church. Just as often it is the men of the church! We ALL must beware!

III. We need to be impressed with the emphatic teaching of Scripture concerning unity in the church. 

1. Throughout Philippians we have observed this emphasis (1:8, 27; chapter two in its entirety;3:16; etc.).

2. There are other texts added to this list: Ps 133:1; Ep. 4:15, 16; I Jn 3:18; 4:7, 21).

3. Once again we observe that true joy can never be found unless we live in unity with ALL of our brethren!

4. Consider this joyous unity as stressed by Paul.


I. We note the IMPORTANCE of unity (v. 2, 3).

A. Unity is an essential element in the Christian life.

1. Consider the emphatic tone of Paul as he said -- "I exhort"' "I entreat." Other translations include -- "I plead"; "I beg"; "I urge."

2. Paul wanted his readers to know that unity was a most essential factor -- it is not to be treated with indifference or disdain.

3. The importance is stressed in the fact that unity results from love. It is love which signifies that we are the sons of God (I Jn 4:7). Here is the evidence that we are saved -- we promote and sustain unity!

B. The importance of unity is stressed by considering the tragic consequences arising from disunity. 

1. Disunity will cause stress which will outweigh all other good service (Eccl 10:1).

2. "Their disagreement was doing harm to themselves and to the church. The indulgence of unkind feelings impairs the spiritual life and checks our growth in holiness. The dissensions of Christians are a grievous hindrance to the spread of the gospel. Mutual love was to be the mark of Christ's disciples; alas! how often there has been more hate than love!" (Pulpit Commentary).

3. Those who refuse to settle personal difference do not realize that they not only quarrel with each other but also with God; not only do they suffer but the whole church suffers!

4. "A Christian shows his selfishness and his disregard for God when he disturbs the body of Christ to gratify his own and gain his ends. He ought to be willing to bear and suffer wrong rather than defile the temple of God" (Lipscomb, p. 218).

C. Do you see the importance of unity? Are you willing to put self aside and work with all members to provoke and sustain unity?

II. We note the BASIS for unity (v. 2).

A. We should seek to be of the "same mind".

1. Other translations read "agreement".

2. 1 Co 2:16b -- We need to have the mind of Christ and all personal conflicts will cease.

3. We need to be in harmony with others (Philip 2:2; Ro 12:16; 15:5; 2 Co 13:11).

B. We should understand the significance of being "in the Lord" and the duty of promoting unity.

1. Christ is our model -- He encouraged unity and set the pattern for us (Jn 17:11). Do we follow his example? "Let them think as the Lord thinks, do as the Lord does, and submit to his supreme guidance in the sphere of their Christian labors" (Pulpit Commentary).

2. If we would form attitudes that are "in the Lord" all disruptions of unity would cease!

C. This basis means that we should seek unity not on our terms but on the Lord's. Not with carnal attitudes but spiritual! 

III. We note the PROMOTION of unity (v. 3).

A. This wonderful unity is no accident -- it must require some struggle and efforts.

1. Togetherness results only from our united effort!

2. In order for unity to exist it must be "helped."

B. Consider the aspect of "helping" others to find unity in the midst of conflict.

1. The person who helps is one who is a true consecrated servant of Jesus Christ. S/he possesses an abundance of love and radiates it to others. 

2. The need for helping unity is clearly seen.

a. "The word 'help' in the text penetrates like an SOS signal . . . Someone needs to answer it. Will we?" (Taylor).

b. Study Exodus 17 and you will see Aaron and Hur illustrating how we can help. Do we look for ways to help others? Are we assisting those who struggle under the pressures of daily living?

c. How wonderful it would be if every member could have the word of 1 Co 16:15 spoken about them! "helpeth" -- "addicted."

IV. We note the REASON for unity.

A. In the immediate text -- for the labor of the gospel.

1. United we are able to spread the gospel message quickly and effectively.

2. Divided our impact is stymied and often non-effective.

3. Because we labor in the greatest work on earth we should be united!

B. Briefly review other reasons from this book which should prompt us toward unity.

1. Because of a common citizenship (1:27; 3:20).

2. Because of a common position --"in the Lord."

3. Because of maturity (1:9-11).

4. Because we share the attitude of Christ (2:5).

5. Because we are servants to each other (2:4).

6. Because we are pressing to the goal (3:14).

V. We note the RESULTS of unity (v. 3).

A. All who promote and sustain unity in the church will have their names found in the book of life!

B. Those precious saints who labor for unity will receive an eternal reward! (Mt 5:9). Those who add to the disruption of harmony will have their names blotted out (Rv 3:5).


I. By Paul's own admission these two women had been effective workers for Christ.

1. "Isn't it sad that the only thing we know about these two, whom Paul refers to as women who labored with him in the gospel, is that they can't get along with each other and can't reconcile their differences" (Pentecost).

2. "All the good which Euodia and Syntyche accomplished in their church--and probably it stacked up as tall as a mountain--remains eclipsed by the story of the personal conflict" (Taylor).

3. This unfortunate conclusion can be seen in the concluding chapters of hundreds of God's saints. They, because of some petty, personal conflict, are remembered not for the good but the bitter!

II. Let us be careful that we will continually promote the unity of the brotherhood. May we remember that as God's child we are peacemakers, willing to forego personal advantages in order to sustain unity!

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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