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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2)

Paul knew that the biggest danger in the next spiritual battle would not be the strength of the enemy but the weakness of the Christians. And there were glaring weaknesses in the church in Philippi. They may not have thought that these issues were weaknesses, instead they may have regarded them as issues that revealed their strengths. But for Paul, they were like gaps in a line of soldiers that would let the enemy through. But how does Paul the leader deal with the problems in the church? He makes two appeals: first, he appeals to two quarrelling ladies and then he appeals to a particular man.

In verse 2, Paul appeals to Euodia and Syntyche to cease their squabble. We can see that their quarrel has led them to being mentioned throughout church history as a bad example of Christian relationship. I wonder if they would have had their disagreement or allowed it to continue if they had known that subsequent generations of believers would know they had had their difference of opinion. Millions of believers have gone to heaven knowing that two of the residents of the Philippian church had a quarrel, but they have gone to heaven without knowing if the two ladies were ever united once more in heart while they were members in the church in Philippi.

Something similar can happen in every church. It is very rare for a disagreement between two believers to be kept quiet. Sooner or later it becomes public, normally through the disputants themselves. In the same way as the disagreement between Eoudia and Syntyche is public knowledge, others in an area know that local believers have fallen out. What they also need to hear is that those who were separated have come together again. 

Usually such disputes are caused by the devil, and the best way to defeat him is for those he tempted to sin to respond by confessing their faults one to another. When they do so, it is not a loss or a sign that the devil has won; instead it is a victory over him and a closing up of the ranks that let him in. By dealing with the problem they act like soldiers of Christ.

It is also important to realise that disagreements, even small disagreements, grieve the Holy Spirit. These disputes and quarrels can hinder the work of the Spirit. It is evident that Paul regarded the division as very serious because he begged each of the ladies to cease their action. We only implore a person when it is a serious issue.

Yet the solution to the difficulty was straightforward. 

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