Practical pastoral issues 4:1-9

i] A personal appeal for unity


Paul personally addresses two female members of the Philippian congregation and encourages them to come to a common mind as fellow Christians. To this end he encourages an unnamed associate to help in this regard.


i] Context: See 1:1-11. Partition theories abound for Philippians and these have prompted the argument that this passage originally followed on from 3:1a, and that 3:1b-4:1 is part of a separate letter. All this is very interesting, but little more than conjecture. What we now come to is the Perorartio, a concluding recapitulation and application of the main themes. This presents as a word of encouragement, v1, a particular reference to a number of individuals, v2-3, general concluding exhortations, v4-9, and a word of appreciation v10-20.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: A personal appeal to unity:


steadfastness, v1;

unity, v2-3;

joy and peace, v4-7;

good living, v8-9;

A word of appreciation, v10-20.


iv] Interpretation:

Nothing is known of Euodia and Syntyche, but they were obviously members of the Philippian congregation and were at odds with each other. Mentioning them in a general letter to the church indicates that their disagreement is no longer personal, but is now affecting the unity of the church as a whole. Paul obviously has a high regard for them, referring to them as fellow-workers "in the cause of the gospel." They, along with Clement, are mentioned only here in the New Testament as recorded in "the book of life." The idea that the name of a child of God is indelibly recorded in heaven finds its origin in the Old Testament and is further developed in the New Testament, cf., Ex.32:32-33, Ps.69:28, Dan.12:1, Lk.10:20, Rev.13:8, 17:8.

As for the unnamed "true companion", we can only speculate as to whom Paul has in mind. He may well be the person who receives the letter on behalf of the church; this would make him its "bishop", or even better, Paul's representative in the church, so Fee. Bruce speculates that he is Luke, the author of Luke-Acts, so also Fee, contra Delling who opts for Silas. Lightfoot suggests Epaphroditus, while O'Brien posits Syzygos. Clement of Alexandria even argued for Paul's wife (why not???). From the Acts "we" passages, it is possible to infer that Luke "was in Philippi for part or most of the time between the first evangelization of the city and Paul's brief visit to it before setting out on his last journey to Jerusalem", Bruce. For this reason, Luke is the best contender, although it is all rather speculative.

Silva notes that these two verses illustrate the important principle of "corporate responsibility" within the Christian fellowship. In Australian Pub culture (a "pub" is where a person goes to have a drink of beer) if two blokes are having an argument at the bar the last thing you do is get involved and try to break it up since it's very likely they will both turn on you. The same best-not-to-go-there attitude prevails in church culture, but here Paul is telling the church to get involved and sort out the problem. In v3 it is not clear who is to sort it out; it may just be Paul's "true companion." The point is clear though, for the life of the Christian community, problems are best sorted out.

Text - 4:1

A personal appeal, v1-3: i] An appeal to remain steadfast in the Lord, v1. It is unclear whether this verse is intended to conclude the exhortation commenced in 3:17, or introduce the next passage. Reumann suggests that the whole of 4:1-9 draws on the consequences from what precedes, namely 3:2-21.

w{ste "therefore" - thus, so that, in order that. A consequential sense seems best; "well then", Moffatt.

epipoqhtoi adj. "long for" - [brothers of me beloved and] longed for, cherished, deeply desired. Hapax legomenon; once only use in the NT. The adjective serves as a substantive.

cara kai stefanoV mou "my joy and crown" - the joy and crown of me. Obviously expressing a source of pride, so "how proud I am of you", TEV.

ou{twV adv. "that is how" - in this way, thus. Comparative; "on the basis of what I have told you", Danker.

sthkete (sthkw) pres. imp. "you should stand firm" - stand firm. "This, my dear friends, is how you must demonstrate your unswerving loyalty to the Lord", Barclay.

en + dat. "in" - in [the lord, beloved]. Local; expressing sphere, but the sense is somewhat unclear. Paul is encouraging his readers to be steadfast, either "in your obedience to the Lord", or "as those who live in union with their Lord", O'Brien. "In the Lord's name", Cassirer; "keep on being faithful to the Lord", CEV.


ii] An appeal for unity, v2-3.

fronein (fronew) pres. inf. "to be of [the same] mind" - [i appeal to euodia and i appeal to syntyche] to think [the same thing]. The infinitive serves to introduce a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of Paul's appeal; "that you agree in the Lord."

en + dat. "in [the Lord]" - in [lord]. Local, sphere / incorporative union, although as already noted in this letter, the use of this phrase seems to have taken on an idiomatic sense within first century Christianity, cf. 1:14, 2:24, 29, 3:1; "I urge Euodia and Syntyche to sort out their differences as believers", ie., as sisters in a relationship with the Lord Jesus.


kai "and [I ask you]" - [yes, i] and = also [ask you]. Possibly adjunctive, "also", rather than connective, "and".

gnhsie suzuge voc. "my true companion" - genuine fellow worker. "True comrade", BDAG.

autaiV dat. pro. "[help] these women" - [assist] them. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to assist, help."

aiJtineV pro. "since" - who. Since a simple ai{ would be expected for the relative pronoun "who", the NIV has opted for a causal sense, so O'Brien; "because they ...." Fee argues that here it is qualitative, used to express belonging to a certain class; "assist them, inasmuch as they belong among those who have labored side by side with me in the gospel ..", Fee.

moi dat. pro. "at my side" - [worked together with] me. Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to work together with."

en + dat. "in the cause of [the gospel]" - in the gospel. Local, sphere. The NIV has taken "gospel" here, not just as the message itself, but as the activity of communicating the message. So, the thought is of involvement in / participation in the ministry of the gospel. This seems to be the likely sense.

meta + gen. "along with" - with [both clement]. Expressing association / accompaniment; "along with, in company with." Lightfoot argued that Clement and the rest of Paul's co-workers are to assist "my true companion" in helping "these women", but this is over-stretching the Gk. Only the "true companion" is to directly help these women; Clement + stand with the "true companion" as those who have contended in the cause of the gospel.

kai .... kai "and" - Correlative; "both Clement and ..."

sunergwn gen. adj. "[the rest] of [my] co-workers" - [and the rest] of the co-workers. The genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative.

mou gen. pro. "my" - of me. The NIV takes the genitive as adjectival, possessive, but Varner suggests it is adverbial, of association, "co-workers with me" (usually expressed with meta + gen.).

w|n gen. pro. "whose" - whose [names]. The genitive is possessive.

en + dat. " in" - are in. Local, expressing space. Applying to all those mentioned, so Bruce, Silva, O'Brien, Fee, ... although Hendriksen argues that the statement only applies to the co-workers.

zwhV (h) gen. "[the book] of life" - The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic, limiting by specifying the book in mind. As per references above, the faithful who "have their names recorded in the heavenly book of the living, the book that has recorded in it those who have received divine life and are thus destined for glory", Fee.


Philippians Introduction

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