Harmonious Humans

Bible Reading: Philippians 4:1-9

Philippians 4:1-3, “Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.  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.”

To dwell above with saints we love, O that will be glory.  To dwell below, with saints we know, well that’s a different story.”

As long as we live in this sin-cursed world, there will be disagreements, as was the case with these two sisters in Christ in the church of Philippi.  Paul wrote from prison to appeal to the two that they might live in harmony in the Lord, as some friction had developed between the two of them.

It is very possible for true believers who are even actively serving Christ to have disagreements.  Even as Paul and Barnabas once disagreed as to whether they should take Barnabas’ nephew along on a missionary journey.  In the end, they decided to part ways.  We get the impression that we have here a disagreement of a different kind.  The fact that it has come to Paul’s attention, far away in prison as he was, suggests that it may have been something that threatened even the well-being of the church. It’s amazing how rapidly small fires of tension can spread to cause widespread destruction!

We don’t know the details of the particular problem between Euodia and Syntyche.  Likely, it was the source of much discussion and possibly even gossip that these two active servants were not getting along.  Their names are maybe helpful.  Eudoia means “prosperous journey.”  Syntyche means “to happen, chance.”  Someone has noted that Eudoia means “traveling” and Synthche means “accident”, so that when you bring the two together it results in a “traveling accident” of disagreement.  Others have poked fun at them inasmuch as Eudoia sounds a little like “odious” (smelly) and Syntyche sounds a little like “soon-touchy,” so you have the combination of one who is smelly in her relating to others coming across someone who is very touchy about such matters.  We don’t know.  But that Paul gives no specific instructions regarding a change to be made in faith or practice of either would lead us to believe that it to be of the standard fare of the kinds of disagreements that take place among humans.  They are commonplace.

What is at the source of such things?  It’s not hard to figure out.  It is because of sin we are naturally prone to division and disagreements.  Historically, the fall of man happens—as we read of it in Genesis chapter 3—then in the very next chapter we read of the first disagreement, and even murder.  So, the experience of these two women was nothing new.  It was nothing outside the norm.  We recall in the letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about some of the various kinds of disagreements that were going on there.  

God’s purpose is for unity amongst His people (Psalm 133:1; John 17:22-23; Romans 15:5-6).  God has made us one. We are to be diligent in working to preserve it (Ephesians 4:1-6), keeping in mind that unity is essential if we are to fulfill our God-given purpose (Philippians 1:27).  God calls us to live in harmony with one another.  That’s only possible as we collectively endeavor to keep in step in the Spirit, practicing Christ-like love and exercising forgiveness (Galatians 5:25; Colossians 3:12-14).

The NASB translation of this verse uses the word “harmony,” and that gives us a great word picture of what is being called for here. Harmony represents the combination of simultaneous musical notes in a chord, producing a pleasing or congruent arrangement.  A. W. Tozer has commented on this, “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” Harmony is the result when we are each in tune with Christ. And that’s not just a blessing to those so bound, it is essential to maintaining a credible witness before the lost. Every effort should be undertaken to preserve, and when necessary, restore it! Have you a broken relationship in need of repair? Take the matter to the Lord in prayer, and take steps to make it right.


Our God has made us one —
In Him our hearts unite.
When we, His children, share His love,
Our joy is His delight.

Our God has made us one —
His glory is displayed.
For as we build each other up
Our love becomes His praise.

Our God has made us one —
In sorrow and in joy;
We share the cross of Christ, our Lord,
In Him we now rejoice.

Our God has made us one —
One Church to bear His name;
One body and one Bride of Christ,
And with Him we shall reign

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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