“I urge Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true yokefellow, to help these women who have labored with me for the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Paul, The Apostle of Grace
In Philippians 4:1, Paul concluded his message about the righteousness that comes by faith alone in Jesus alone, telling the Philippian believers: “that is how you must stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” Paul’s heart was to see them stand firm in what the Lord had done for them, receiving his righteousness by faith, rather than seeking to achieve righteousness through the religious and moral works put forth by the false teachers, whom Paul called “dogs, those workers of evil, those mutilators of the flesh!” (Philippians 3:2).
In Philippians 4:2-3, Paul writes of a disagreement between two women, Euodia and Syntyche, whose lives had been impacted by the grace of God, resulting in them working hard with Paul, Clement, and the rest of Paul’s fellow workers in getting out the good news of grace (gospel) in the city of Philippi. More than likely, Paul learned of this issue between Euodia and Syntyche from Epaphroditus, whom the Philippian believers had sent to Rome to care for Paul while he was in prison (Philippians 2:25; 4:18).
These two women would have been among the ones in Philippians 1:3-8 whom Paul enjoyed grace with and whom he loved dearly and deeply. Because of his relationship of grace with Euodia and Syntyche, his affection for them, and working with them in sharing the message of grace, it would have bothered Paul to hear from Epaphroditus that there was a problem between them. He desired to see the issue resolved and the relationship restored.
Paul strongly encouraged Euodia and Syntyche to resolve their problem and restore their relationship in the Lord. By the phrase “in the Lord”, I believe Paul meant that since both of their lives had been changed by the grace of God that came through Jesus, then they should allow God’s grace to be the starting place for reconciliation. Even though they had their differences, they had in common the Lord Jesus Christ and his grace, which they had received. It was this commonality of grace in the Lord, which would be the source for resolving their problem and restoring their relationship.
To mediate between his two dear friends, bringing them to them table of grace for reconciliation, Paul encouraged his yokefellow to intervene. Paul does not call this yokefellow by name, but it would be someone with whom he worked side by side in getting out the good news of grace, someone he thought of highly, and someone who also knew both Euodia and Syntyche. This yokefellow may have possibly been Epaphroditus, who Paul was sending back to Philippi (Philippians 2:25-26).
Regardless of who this yokefellow was, his or her role as mediator would be to listen to both Euodia and Syntyche, seeking to understand how each felt about the problem, then reminding each of God’s grace to them in the Lord which reconciled them to God. Through this reminder of grace, both Euodia and Syntyche would remember how the Lord had poured his grace upon them, extending to them unconditional love and acceptance, and unlimited forgiveness. This would become the motivation for reconciliation between Euodia and Syntyche.
Loving as the Lord loved...accepting as the Lord accepted...forgiving as the Lord forgave, and extending grace as the Lord extended was Paul’s consistent instruction in his letters to those who were involved in relational problems. Paul wanted people to give to one another the same grace God had given to them (Romans 15:7; Ephesians 4:31-5:2; Colossians 3:12-15). Through this grace, problems could be resolved and relationships could be restored.
There are times in our lives when we are much like Euodia and Syntyche. We have a disagreement with someone. The issue can become a major problem in our relationship. We begin to harbor resentment, anger, bitterness, and revenge in our hearts. We argue. We fight. We divide.
It is during these times that we need to be reminded of the grace God has so kindly poured upon us through Jesus...his unconditional love and acceptance, and his unlimited forgiveness. Once we are reminded of his grace toward us, we are then strengthened to pour his grace upon others. Just as we have been the objects of God’s grace in our sins, others become the object of our grace in their sins.
We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people. The only way we can maintain relationships with one another, since we are all such imperfect people, is to give to others in their imperfections the same grace God has given to us in our imperfections. When we do, problems can be resolved and relationships restored, which is reconciliation. And the motivation for reconciliation is grace.
So who is the person you are in disagreement with? Who is the person you are divided from? Who is that person you once enjoyed a good relationship with? Remind yourself that you are unconditionally loved and accepted by God with unlimited forgiveness from him. Remind yourself of the grace God has poured upon you. Now go give his grace away...love as he has loved you...accept as he has accepted you...forgive as he has forgiven you...grace as he has graced you. Seek resolution to your problems, restoration to your relationships, letting the motivation for this reconciliation be the same grace that God gave you in the Lord.
NOTE: This is a continuation of my teachings through Philippians. For the other teachings, click below.