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LESSON 9: THE NEED FOR FAITHFULNESS IN THE LORD
by Dr. Fred Wittman
The Philippian church had communicated financially with Paul in prison at Rome. He did not let up nor give up in proclaiming The Gospel. But in prison he was persistently faithful to The Lord. He wanted his readers to persist faithfully in The Lord. But there was a problem between two ladies in the local church, Euodias and Syntyche. An evident difference existed between them. They needed to be separately and individually encouraged in order that there be unity or oneness of mind.
Unity has been stressed throughout this Epistle. But this is the apex of his appeal to them. There is that need for the local church to be stirred to unity and to continue on in faithfulness working together in The Lord and in the labor of Christ. In order to continue faithfully in Christ, an attitude of faithfulness is necessary. No matter how much work is done for The Lord and how involved a local church may be, it is necessary to manifest an attitude of faithfulness. When pressures are great and tension is high there is a tendency to quit. Satan’s greatest tool is discouragement and he knows how and when to use it most effectively. The Philippians were concerned for Paul and were threatened by depression and discord. There is always a need for faithfulness, but even more so under such conditions.
I. FAITHFULNESS IN THE LORD EXHORTED (v. l).
“So that, O my beloved and longed for brothers, my joy and victor’s crown, so continually stand fast in 0Lord, O beloved ones!” (Phil. 4:1).
“So that” or “therefore” looks back to the previous verses and calls upon The Truth stated to be a reason for the exhortation to follow. Because our citizenship is in Heaven and we look for our Savior to come. Because we shall be changed, we anticipate splendorous glory so that we keep standing firm in The Lord. That which is joyously expected prompts a relationship to Christ, which is maintained come what may.
A. The Significance of Endearing Terms (v. 1a).
With such endearing terms Paul wrote to the Philippians because they meant so much to him. These terms convey Paul’s inner feelings for the Philippian saints. They are full of meaning.
1. “My beloved and longed for brothers.”
Because these brethren (masculine term that includes women disciples as well) were dear to him, he called them dearly beloved. He longed to see them. He cannot forget them even though they are at a great distance from him and years have passed since he saw them. Eleven years had passed since he met Ludéeah (Lydia) and her household servants, the demon-possessed maiden, and the jailor and his household--the first converts in the city of Philippi. Many others were added to their number as the local church grew. Paul had a long remembrance of their consistent faithful communication and fellowship in The Gospel. Now he longed to see them again. His heart yearned for these dearly loved people.
2. “My joy and victor’s crown.”
It’s very interesting how much these Philippian saints meant to Paul, not only in a personal way, but in a spiritual way. ‘Victor’s crown’ is one word in Greek from which we get the name of Stephen, the first martyr. The Philippian brethern were a crown to him. His expression for them is that of ‘those leaves weaved into the wreath’ that is awarded to the victor in the athletic contest. These Philippian Christians would be his reward or the seal of his apostleship. They are not only the cause of joy in his heart but also the crowning of his ministry in Philippi, the reward for his labor among them.
Paul psychologically prepared his readers for the admonition he was about to give them by using endearing terms.
B. The Scope of Standing Firm (v. 1b).
He exhorted them to stand fast in The Lord! He urged them, Contemplate the scope of continually standing firm. Keep on firmly standing, not as in other references “in the faith” but “in The Lord.” Previously Paul called upon them to strive together and stand fast “in one spirit with one soul” (1:27). But now the exhortation is to stand fast in The Lord. Consider The Lord! He was victorious over the temptations, the onslaughts, and the attacks of His enemies. He overcame the attacks of the devil in His temptation. He was an overcomer in His crucifixion and in His resurrection-ascension. When we stand fast in The Lord, we are standing fast in the power of His might as we face the battle and continue in the work of The Lord.
Remember Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians (1 Cor.15:58). “So then, O my beloved brothers, become staunch+ ones, unshiftable+ ones all the time being in abundance in the work of The Lord, being aware that your& wearisome labor is not vain in 0Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58 APT). Let come what may, keep on firmly holding your ground in The Lord. Stand fast in The Lord!
II. UNITY IN THE LORD EXHORTED (v.2).
“I entreat Euohdéeah^ and I entreat Soontóokhay^, Continually mind the same~ thing in 0Lord!” (Phil. 4:2 APT).
Once again Paul returned to the subject of unity. But this time it is the climax of his appeal and exhortation. This time two individuals are named. Two ladies are singled out and admonished, Mind the same thing in The Lord.
A. What Does The Exhortation Imply?
Paul used the verb with each name thus emphasizing the importance of what he was saying to each one. Had he used the verb once it still would apply to both of them. But by using the verb with each name he emphasized the need for each one to respond. Also because he singled out each one and admonished each one separately he indicated there was a difference between them. There were problems which was affecting the whole local church because of those two women. They held the key to local church unity.
B. What Does The Exhortation Implore?
He implored them to “keep minding the same thing in The Lord.” He has used this verb φρνέω - mind throughout the Epistle. He used it in 1:7, 2:2,5; 3:15,16,19; 4:2,10. Note specifically 2:2, “. . . fully fulfill my /joy! so that you& continually mind the same~ thing and continually have the same love, joined souls, ones continually minding the one~ thing.” Here Paul uses the verb in the purpose infinitive to express his thought. Therefore he is referring to the purpose for his admonition. He admonished them in order that they be of the same mind in The Lord. These women are referred to in verse 3 (below) as those who strove together with Paul in The Gospel. Here Paul uses the feminine form of the relative plural pronoun. In order for this to be true, each one had to be in the same mind with Paul back when they struggled at the beginning of The Gospel in Philippi in the late Winter of A.D. 50-51 (Acts 16:12-40). Now they need to get back to that same mind that they had with Paul with one another. They needed to keep minding the same thing and they needed help to do so. Paul implored them to maintain unity in faithfulness.
III. ASSISTANCE IN FAITHFULNESS ENTREATED (v. 3).
“And I ask you& also, O legitimate yokefellow, take hold together with these^, whoever^ struggled[in contest] together with me in The Gospel! [in company]with Kláymays also and the remaining fellow workers of mine, whose /names |are| in Absolute Life’s 0Book[Volume]” (Phil. 4:3 APT).
A. Who Is Entreated? ‘O legitimately-born yokefellow.’ This one was a regenerated disciple of the apostle. The word γνήσιος relates to his birth relationship. Some people have made the suggestion that yokefellow is a name of an individual, Syzygus (Súhzuhguhs). Others have posed that possibly Paul addressed Luke or some other faithful companion who has been with him in labor as a genuine or true yokefellow. We need not get side-tracked here. Whether Paul referred to an individual by the name of Syzygus (Súhzuhguhs) or to some faithful companion, he entreated the one who was in proper relation to himself, who had put on or taken the yoke of labor. Since they had taken the yoke together they were in the work of The Lord. Together the one he entreated was one who was presently at Philippi and had proven that he was a genuine worker together with Paul in the ministry back in the beginning of the proclamation of The Gospel in Philippi. Therefore he could be trusted to assist Paul.
B. What Is Entreated?
“. . . take hold together with these^, whoever^ struggled[in contest] together with me in The Gospel! [in company]with Kláymays also and the remaining fellow workers of mine, whose /names |are| in Absolute Life’s 0Book[Volume]” (v. 3 APT).
Paul asked a regenerated child of God in the faith, a yokefellow he led to Christ, to help Euohdéeah and Soontóokhay to get things right. ‘Take hold together’ is the translation of one Greek word that means “to seize the opportunity and take hold together.” Paul entreated that they help together in order to bring about that unity that was so needful between these two ladies. Perhaps he would need to bring them together to sit down and resolve their differences. Whatever he needed to do, he must help them. Paul left the means of helping them unstated. This trusted yokefellow must think what he will do to help them. Euohdéeah and Soontóokhay had previously struggled together with Paul in The Gospel some time in the past. He followed this relative clause with a genitive plural absolute to describe Kláymays (Clement) and other fellow-laborers of Paul who had remained behind when he Séelahs, and Timothy departed to Thehs-sahlohnéekay. He classified them in the group of ‘the remaining fellow workers.’ They also struggled together with Kláymays (Clement) and with other fellow-laborers of Paul. The only struggle that Paul experienced in Philippi, recorded by Scripture, was in the beginning of the proclamation of The Gospel in Europe in late Winter A.D. 50-51 (Acts 16:16-40). Therefore these women may have been household servants of Ludéeah (Lydia) whom Paul met at the prayer meeting by the riverside. Paul entreated that his fellow laborers together with Syzygus (Súhzuhguhs), Help these women to be of the same mind in order to be faithful in labor.
Paul called attention to “my other fellow workers whose names (are) in the book of life.” He does not name those fellow workers whom these women helped in the work of The Lord. But by reference to them Paul acknowledged that they along with these women were faithful to The Lord in the work of The Lord at the outset and were still remaining at Philippi since the beginning of that local church.
A difference between two ladies at Philippi indicated a need for unity. These ladies had been involved in the work of The Lord with Paul and others. There was a need to restore unity and harmony between them as well as to restore unity in the local church before factions developed. An attitude of faithfulness in The Lord will prompt restoration of unity and prevent Satan from defeating the local church through discouragement. Paul used endearing terms when he appealed to the Philippians and exhorted them to keep firmly standing ‘in The Lord’ in faithfulness. He also exhorted unity as he earnestly admonished Euohdéeah and Soontóokhay separately and individually to keep minding the same thing ‘in The Lord.’ He inteated one who was a legitimately-born (regenerated) yokefellow to help these women bring about unity. The means to be used was left up to the mediator. Everything necessary in order to bring about unity and faithfulness must be done. Only those who have an attitude of faithfulness in The Lord will be able to assist in resolving differences and restoring faithfulness in others. Do not leave to others this matter of developing an attitude of faithfulness! Every true child of God is responsible to develop this attitude. Christ has promised rewards for faithfulness: a crown of life (Rev. 2:10) and ruling over cities (Luke 19:12-18). Likewise there are consequences for lack of faithfulness. You must decide if you will develop and demonstrate an attitude of faithfulness ‘in The Lord’. The Lord is counting on you to help others resolve differences and restore unity and faithfulness. You can do three things to demonstrate faithfulness:
1. You can resolve any differences you may have with other Christians;
2. You can resolve to keep standing firm in The Lord yourself; and
3. You can help retain unity in your local church by continually minding the same things in The Lord.
Who will demonstrate an attitude of faithfulness in The Lord? Who will help others to resolve differences and restore unity and faithfulness? Will you?
Now consider the practical aspects of our study.
1. Why did Paul admonish the Philippians to demonstrate an attitude of faithfulness?
2. How did Paul employ psychology in his attempt to admonish the Philippians to demonstrate an attitude of faithfulness.
3. What was the scope of Paul’s exhortation to faithfulness in Philippians 4:1-3?
4. How does Paul’s exhortation to unity relate to demonstrating an attitude of faithfulness ‘in The Lord’?
5. What does the exhortation to the legitimately-born yokefellow imply concerning Euohdéeah and Soontóokhay?
6. How does the exhortation to the legitimately-born yokefellow relate to faithfulness?
7. How can you demonstrate an attitude of faithfulness in assisting others to be faithful?
8. What three steps can you take to demonstrate faithfulness? things ‘in The Lord.’)
How will you demonstrate an attitude of faithfulness in The Lord?
What steps will you take to demonstrate faithfulness in The Lord?
To what extent will you go to be faithful and to encourage faithfulness in others?
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