When you think of what should distinguish the Church from other gatherings what comes to mind? There are a number of things that should set apart a local church body from other groups. Paul, in the midst of his very encouraging letter to the Philippians, says this in Phil 4:2-3,
“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 in the book of life.”
Seemingly out of nowhere, after Paul’s exhortations for unity in the church (2:2), he brings up an apparent quarrel between two of the faithful and influential women in the church! Paul compliments them for the service, but also encourages them rather than commands them to “agree in the Lord.” This implies that they may have had a legitimate difference of opinion, but their lack of agreement was causing division in the church. As a loving brother, Paul pleads with them to come to an agreement in the Lord.
According to Zodhiates, the word for “agree” describes an “activity…(which) involves the will, affections, and conscience.” These women had to bring their wills, affections and consciences into alignment in the Lord.
Why would this be important? As Barclay notes, “A quarreling Church is no Church at all, for it is one from which Christ has been shut out. No man can be at peace with God and at variance with his fellow-men.”
The more I thought of this sudden issue brought up by Paul I realized that we know nothing else about these women. The additional words of Barclay on this passage are very challenging. He says,
“It is a grim thought that all we know about Euodia and Syntyche is that they were two women who had quarreled! It makes us think. Suppose our life was to be summed up in one sentence, what would that sentence be? Clement goes down to history as the peacemaker; Euodia and Syntyche go down as the breakers of the peace. Suppose we were to go down to history with one thing known about us, what could that one thing be?”
Father, how would someone summarize my life in one sentence? That is a very challenging thought! Will you help me to be a loyal, faithful and sacrificial servant of your church and not allow me to be the source of any quarreling or division. Instead, help me to model the unity you desire and also help to keep it in the local church in which I serve.
Following Jesus with you,