Euodia and Syntyche

Choose to Agree

I plead with Euodia and Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. Philippians 4:2

The community of Christians in Philippi was especially dear to the apostle Paul, who established a church in that city on his second missionary trip (Acts 16:6–40).

The theme of his letter to the Philippian congregation is living joyfully regardless of our circumstances. But near the end of the letter, he addressed two women by name—Euodia and Syntyche—who were not living in joy. He described them as Christians “who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel” (v. 3), which suggests they were leaders in the church and perhaps also in the community.

Unfortunately, the two women were at odds with each other. Did they disagree about the color of the rug in the meeting room? Was one recognized for service while the other was ignored? Were either of them the victim of rumor or gossip? Did one fail to meet the other’s expectations?

Paul didn’t identify the conflict, and that’s probably good because the nature of the conflict didn’t matter. Far more important was the division their disagreement caused in the church.

So the apostle called on the whole congregation to “help these women” because the reputation of the church and of Jesus Christ was at stake (v. 3).

Satan loves to cause disharmony in a church, and as this passage illustrates, just one disagreement between two people can cause great damage.

How can we avoid a similar problem? Paul addressed unity earlier in his letter: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4). Humility. Consideration. Selflessness. He also advised, “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (2:14). Kindness. Gentleness. These are the tools God gives us to prevent conflict in our churches.

We won’t know until we get to heaven if Euodia and Syntyche used those tools to resolve their disagreement. I hope they resolved the issue, forgave each other, and continued their faith journey with joy.

How about you? Is there a disagreement with another Christian you need to settle? Ask God to help you move past your hurt feelings and resolve the issue with humility and kindness.

Dig Deeper

What tools does Paul list in Philippians 4:4–8 that would have helped resolve the conflict between the two women and unify the church at Philippi? How could these tools help you?

Read Matthew 18:15–20. What principles about resolving church conflicts does Jesus give in this passage? What are the rewards of unity according to verses 19–20?

What caused division in the church at Corinth according to 1 Corinthians 1:10–12? How is that sort of conflict present in the body of Christ today? How can we avoid those kind of divisions according to 1 Corinthians 1:26–31?

Denise K. Loock

This devotion is part of our series on Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

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