World English Bible translation
4:1Therefore, my brothers, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. 4:2 I exhort Euodia, and I exhort Syntyche, to think the same way in the Lord. 4:3 Yes, I beg you also, true yoke-fellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, Rejoice! 4:5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 4:6 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 4:7 The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Paul has taken several opportunities to encourage the Philippians to "think the same way in the Lord." Being united in heart and mind is one of the continuing themes of this letter. This is so much true that many have concluded that there may have been some serious disagreements beneath the surface at Philippi that Paul is attempting to deal with in this letter. Today's Scripture may be the key to understanding this letter if this theory is true.
In this passage Paul deals with a disagreement between two Christian women, Euodia and Syntyche. Paul exhorts Euodia and Syntyche by name to get along with one another. He even calls on another Philippian, what is translated here as "true yoke-fellow," to help these women to be united in their faith. This title, "true yoke-fellow," may also be a name that might be translated, "the loyal Syzygus." Even though Paul is rebuking Euodia and Syntyche somewhat in this passage, he takes the opportunity to praise them both as well. Paul writes that they have labored with him for the sake of the gospel and seems to include them in the group of people "whose names are in the book of life." These are not false teachers who work against the way of Christ. These are fellow Christians who have trouble getting along with one another just as people in present day churches sometimes have problems getting along with one another.
And Paul encourages these Philippians to rejoice in all things. There are several enjoinders in this letter to find joy in the Christian life. We have been redeemed by Christ and brought into the family of God. Certainly there will be trials and difficulties as we continue to live in this fallen world. But above all things, there is reason for joy and hope. Just as we can have peace in the midst of tumult in Christ, we can have joy in the midst of the sorrows of our lives through Christ as well.
And Paul explains to them how they can experience joy. They must be gentle with all people and live with a sense of the nearness of Christ. Above all, they should not allow themselves to become anxious about the cares of this world. Whenever they have worry or concerns, they should make their request known to God through prayer. They should pray with thanksgiving and hope. When they pray in such a way, the peace of God will be with them. Their anxieties and concerns can be left in the arms of a loving and caring God whose power and authority is beyond the understand of human beings.
Christians argue with one another. Christians become anxious about the future and about the concerns of their life. Christians worry. Paul deals with each of these tendencies in this passage with care and concern for the Christians within his charge. In God's eyes we are perfect in Christ. In this life, we struggle towards perfection, sometimes moving forward, sometimes slipping behind.
Will you leave your cares of today in the arms of your caring and loving father?
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