Calvary Road Baptist Church

“EUODIAS AND SYNTYCHE”

Philippians 4.2-3

Turn to Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter four. Would you like to know why the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians? There are so many guesses by so many people.

Some people suppose that Paul wrote Philippians so that he might declare to them the great truth about the Lord Jesus Christ that is found in Philippians 2.5-11:

 

5      Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6      Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7      But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8      And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

9      Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10     That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11     And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Still other people are of the opinion that Paul, since he used the word “joy” and “rejoice” so much in his letter, must have written Philippians so the congregation would be happy and have great joy.

Still other people are of the opinion that unity is the real issue, and that Paul wrote to preserve the unity of the congregation that had been so helpful to him in the past.

However, may I suggest that each of those opinions misses the mark to some degree? I am persuaded that the real reason Paul wrote Philippians, that which he had been moving toward since the first words were put down with a quill in chapter one and verse one, is found in our text for this evening, Philippians 4.2-3. Stand and read the passage with me:

 

2      I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

3      And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

 

There is no denying that Philippians 2.5-11 is one of the most important and one of the most glorious declarations of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ found anywhere in Scripture. However, it cannot be denied that when rightly understood in the context of the Philippian letter, the passage was inserted by Paul to illustrate another truth. It is something like First Timothy 2.5-6:

 

5      For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6      Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

An understanding of First Timothy recognizes that this statement by Paul is part of a larger explanation of the proper role of men and women in public prayer.

Therefore, you see, a wonderful and precious gem of Scripture found in a book of the Bible is not necessarily the reason for which the larger portion of Scripture was written.

Back to our text. What about joy and rejoicing? Didn’t Paul write Philippians for people to have joy? That is most definitely a byproduct of the truths found in Philippians. That is definitely not the reason Paul wrote his epistle to the Philippians. Having joy, you see, is never a goal in the Bible. It is properly understood to be the byproduct of an obedient, purposeful, and spiritual life of service to Christ.

God’s plan for the ages is not to make you or me happy, but to manifest His Own glory. There is joy and rejoicing when God is properly glorified, and there is pretense of the same when the focus of religion is on self. Thus, Philippians was not written, as a primary goal, to make it possible for Christian folks to have joy.

Neither was unity the goal of Philippians. Remember, from way back, that I pointed out unity to be something God gives, and that He is not in any way obligated to give unity to a Church. It is wonderful when He does so bless a congregation. The proper precursor to unity is always humility. By the way, neither was humility the express reason for the letter.

My decided opinion is that the reason for writing the letter to the Philippians was to stop two wonderful Christians from disagreeing with each other about something.

The whole purpose of Philippians was to stop an argument. Everything else, from the comments about unity and humility, to the illustrations in which the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul, and Epaphroditus were cited as examples of godly humility and likemindedness, was all done by Paul to lay the ground work for the two verses which comprise our text for tonight.

So, what does this tell us, people? How does this speak to us today? You have to get along with other Church members.

Recognize that these two women had no doctrinal differences between them, or Paul would have immediately dealt with their departures from the truth. Notice how he goes about addressing their dispute, showing us that practical and functional Church unity requires personal agreement and likemindedness by Church members.

 

In Verse 2, WE SEE THAT PAUL EMPLOYS A DIRECT PERSONAL REQUEST

 

“I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.”

 

First, we see here the persons who are urged. Recognize right away that the problem existed between two women in the Philippian Church. Other than here, we have no information about these two women. However, some background about Philippi and the Philippian Church will help you to understand the situation. Macedonia was a region that, for centuries, had a culture conducive to women being more assertive than just about anywhere else in the world. Ancient writers have made comments about how powerful the Macedonian women were during Paul’s day. If you remember from Acts chapter 16, the first mentioned convert to Christ in Philippi, and a prominent businesswoman, was a woman named Lydia. Therefore, the history of the Church, plus the history of the region, plus the mention of these women’s names, shows that women at Philippi, like the woman here at Calvary Road Baptist Church, played a very significant role in the Gospel ministry. If women’s roles in the Philippian Church were minimalized, or if women were always kept in the background, they would not have had enough influence for Paul to be concerned with their disagreements with each other. Women in Philippi were obviously not pastors or deacons, but they played a major part in the life of the Church, as women do in our Church.

So, what practice does Paul urge upon these two, apparently prominent, women? He wants them to be “of the same mind in the Lord.” Though we are not told much about their dispute, there are some clues that give us insight in what the problem was between them. You will never convince me that these two women disagreed over points of doctrine. Had that been the case, Paul would have sided with the right one and would have aggressively corrected the one whose doctrine was wrong. Unlike most preachers these days, Paul never ducked an opportunity to point out and then correct unsound doctrine, no matter who the person was. The fact that Paul adds this important qualifying phrase, “in the Lord,” suggests that their area of disagreement had something to do with the Christian life. In addition, since the Christian life is either what you believe or what you do, I think their disagreement, since it was not over doctrine, was over Christian service. My opinion is that they were somehow at odds over how best to serve Christ.

Recognize that Paul exhibits no anger toward the two women. He is not mad at them. However, their disagreement had the potential to create a number of serious problems for the Philippian Church. Therefore, my guess is that we may very well be reading a passage written to deal with a fuss between two spiritual and strong-willed women over how best to reach lost people. Not that they were fussing over evangelism strategies, or anything like that. However, perhaps they had different concepts of how their children should be raised, or how husbands should be treated. It could even be that Paul had gotten word that what had once been a fervent and intimate friendship had begun to cool, with those two important women growing distant from each other. Of course, that would be a very bad example for other Christians to observe. Whatever the specific issue, what Paul is requesting, and notice how balanced his request is (“I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche”), is that these two women agree to agree, that they decide to put aside their disagreements. Paul would never advocate compromise on points of doctrine. What this can only be is an exhortation to stop the disagreement, whatever it may happen to be, so long as no violation of Scriptural principle occurs, and get back to working together again as intimately as they had in the past.

What is amazing to us is the fact that Paul’s direct personal request to them would be made in public. It just shows that what is in public should be dealt with in public. If it had been a purely private matter I have no doubt that Paul would have settled the matter privately.

 

HOWEVER, PAUL DID NOT STOP THERE. IN VERSE 3, HE USES AN INDIRECT PUBLIC REQUEST

 

This matter of Church members getting along with each other, both then and now, is so important that Paul turns to other members of the Church, in a public appeal for help in resolving the dispute between these two women. Notice how Paul went about it:

First, a request of a true yokefellow. “And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel.” We do not know who this true yokefellow is. It could be Luke, who may have been in Philippi at that time. Or, it could have been anyone. The point is, Paul is addressing some man who had labored with him in the Gospel, to persuade him to involve himself in this matter of reconciling these two women, using the most gracious manner possible in his request. So much for those who claim public disputes between Church members are no one else’s business. When you are a Church member, most everything related to your public life and testimony is the Church’s business, whether anyone likes it or not. It comes with the territory. Notice also, that Paul specifically identifies these two women as those who had co-labored with him in the Gospel. Therefore, Paul did not have women around just to please himself or to gratify his ego. These women were Christian warriors. They were battle-tested and experienced. They were too important to be allowed to neutralize themselves, or others, over a dispute too minor to identify, but which had the potential to become truly destructive unless it was stopped.

Next, a request of a fellow named Clement. Some commentators try to identify this man with Clement of Alexandria, who wrote and preached some forty or fifty years after this letter was written. However, two things argue against that. First, the time span was just too long. Folks in those days did not live all that long, as a rule. Second, the name Clement was in those days like Bob or Bill is these days. It was so common a name that it is of little use, except to those people who were in Philippi at that time. The point is, here is yet another person enlisted to help reconcile these two women.

Finally, a request of other fellow laborers. “and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.” Therefore, Paul invites everyone in the Church who can to encourage these two women to settle their problem, to reconcile, to humble themselves, and to get back in harness again in the great Gospel enterprise.

My friends, take note of the fact that Paul is not angry with these two women. These two committed Christians have simply lost sight of something. In their zeal to serve God and exalt Christ, it is likely that they had come to disagree, not over doctrinal truths, but over some aspect of the Christian life.

What they had lost sight of, and what Paul wrote this letter to the Philippian Church to bring back into focus, is the fact that their disagreement was threatening to disrupt the unity of the Church. Since unity is real, and practical, and functional, not some good feelings that people have to cover up real differences, the Church’s effectiveness in getting the Gospel out was threatened by their disagreement.

So, what does this mean? It means you need to get along with others in the Church. It means that, to a greater or lesser degree, you need to humble yourself and stop looking only to your own things. You need to consciously make decisions that will result in being of the same mind towards the Gospel ministry as the others in our Church.

In short, you are called upon by the example of Paul dealing with these two women to humble yourself to the point that you will work for the greater good, that you will strive to agree with others in the Church to work as a team in reaching the lost with the Gospel.

Notice that Paul did not rule on whether Euodias’ view was better than Syntyche’s view. All he wanted for them was agreement to work together. That is what you need to decide right now to do, my friend. Whatever it is, you should already have decided that you are going to work in concert with other Church members, whose company you have already decided you will enjoy and delight in, for the sole purpose of getting the lost into God’s house to hear the truth that sets men free. Our cause is greater than all of us.

 

SERMON:

 

Notice, in our text, that Paul makes reference to those “whose names are written in the book of life.” That should give rise, in your thinking, to precisely what the Book of Life is. Because, if the Book of Life is a good thing, then you would want your name written in it, for sure. Do you not agree? As well, what about other books? If there is a book that is good to have your name written in, is there a book you will not want anything about you written in? To answer these questions, search God’s Word for some answers about this subject of books. There are many references to books in the Bible, far too many to try and deal with here. However, most of the books mentioned in Scripture, while important, are considerably less important to us than are five books that are of paramount importance to each one of us.

 

First, THERE IS THE BOOK OF THE LIVING

 

The Book of the Living is mentioned in Psalm 69.28 and Psalm 139.16:

 

69:28    Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.

 

139:16   Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

 

In Psalm 69.28, we read a portion of David’s prayer to God, pleading for his enemies; those who would do him harm, to be blotted out of the Book of the Living. Literally, David is asking God to kill his enemies. David is by no means pleading merit before God in his prayer. Back in verse 5 of this same psalm he writes, “O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.” However, he does love God. He does know God. In addition, he wants his enemies who do not know God to be blotted out of the Book of the Living.

Psalm 139 deals with an entirely different subject, the omnipresence, and omniscience of God. God knows everything and God is literally everywhere. No matter where David might go, God would be there in His omnipresence. No matter what David might do, God would know in His omniscience. He is the all-knowing and everywhere present God. That understood, look again at the reference to God’s book in relation to the development of an unborn child in his mother’s womb: “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” I take this book, also, to be God’s Book of the Living.

The Book of the Living, then, seems to me to be God’s book of those in present possession of mortal and physical life. Your name is written into this book at the moment of your conception. Your name is in this book during the course of your development. Your name is in this book at the time of your birth. Your name will remain in this book, God’s registry of the living and breathing, until that moment when the death rattle announces the departure of your last breath and you die, departing this place for your eternal destiny. At this moment, your name can be found in God’s Book of the Living. However, for how much longer, no one can tell. When you experience physical death, your name will be erased from the Book of the Living.

 

Next, WE HAVE THE BOOK OF LIFE

 

The Book of Life is not the same as the Book of the Living. The Book of the Living is the registry of those who are physically alive. The Book of Life is something else entirely.          Mentioned only in Paul’s letter to the Philippians and the book of the Revelation, let me quickly read to you the verses in the Revelation that make mention of the Book of Life:

 

Revelation 3.5:   “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

 

Revelation 13.8:    “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

 

Revelation 17.8:    “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

 

Revelation 20.12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

 

Revelation 20.15: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

 

Revelation 21.27: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

 

Let me make this very clear: From Philippians we surmise that those Philippian Christians were in the Book of Life. From Revelation 3.5, we surmise that the members of the Church of Sardis were in the Book of Life. In Revelation 13.8, and Revelation 17.8, however, it is very clear that those who will worship the antichrist shortly before the second coming of Christ do not have their names written in the Book of Life. It is a logical conclusion, then, that people who are saved have their names written in the Book of Life, while those who are not saved do not have their names written in the Book of Life.

In Revelation 20.12 and 15, we find ourselves observing a future scene, when unsaved people who have died and gone to Hell are brought up before God at some point when God shall judge them. Key to understanding why they are standing before God at the Great White Throne judgment is the fact that their names are not written in the Book of Life. In other words, if your name is not written in the Book of Life, which is to say that if you are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life, it is because you are not saved. It is because you are going to Hell. It is because after Hell you will be judged and cast into the lake of fire.

 

DID YOU KNOW THERE WAS ALSO A BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE?

 

Malachi 3.16 is where we learn of God’s Book of Remembrance: “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.”

Early on in my Christian life, the youth pastor of the Church where I was baptized preached on a number of occasions. As I remember it, each time he preached he made comments about a Book of Remembrance. However, the way he told it, the Book of Remembrance was a record, always and only, of the things you had done wrong.

However, that is not what we see here. In this verse (the only verse in God’s Word that makes mention of the Book of Remembrance, by the way) God records the good things done by those who fear the LORD and think upon His name. Therefore, this is a book listing the good things that God’s people that saved people, do.

Everyone in this room, then, is in the Book of the Living, because you are living. However, not everyone is in the Book of Life, also called the Lamb’s Book of Life. You are only in the Lamb’s Book of Life if you are saved. In addition, if you are saved, God keeps track of the things you do that are pleasing to Him in a Book of Remembrance, I am guessing so He can reward you when you get to heaven.

 

THOUGH I FIND NO PLACE THAT THEY ARE SPECIFICALLY NAMED, THERE ARE ALSO BOOKS THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE, IN WHICH ARE RECORDED THE SINS OF ALL OF YOU WHO ARE NOT SAVED

 

The books that I call the Books of Your Sins, but which John only identifies as “the books,” are mentioned in Revelation 20.12-13:

 

12     And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13     And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

 

Here we are, back at the Great White Throne judgment of the unsaved dead, yet in the future, that has not yet taken place. Remember that those who will be judged here will only be those who are not found written in the Book of Life, who died in their sins and went to Hell before being brought before God for final judgment and then an eternity in the lake of fire.

Therefore, this is how it appears to unfold. You will walk out of here unsaved. At some point in the future, your name will be blotted out of the Book of the Living and you will experience physical death. You may go suddenly or slowly, but you will go, because it is appointed unto men once to die. When that happens, you will go straight to Hell because, being unsaved, your name was not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. After being in Hell for more than a thousand years you will be raised up and made to appear before God at the Great White Throne judgment, because it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. After one last check to make sure that your name is not in the Book of Life, “the books” containing the record of all your sins will be reviewed. Each and every sin you have ever thought, done, or considered will be considered. Sinful words will also be held against you. Then you will be cast forever into the lake of fire, with the list of your sins in “the books” used to determine the severity of your eternal torment.

Think of that. The God who sees all and who knows all, the One who we found out in Psalm 139 made you and therefore knows you better than you know yourself, has kept a record of sins and offenses that you have committed against Him. Before God in all His might and majesty, in all His greatness and glory, you will find out that He meant what He said when He declared, “be sure your sins will find you out,” and “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” and “our God is a consuming fire.” However, when you finally find out it will be too late.

 

Finally, THERE IS THE BOOK, THE BOOK OF ALL BOOKS, THE BOOK OF THE LAW, THE WORD OF GOD

 

There are literally thousands of references to the Word of God in the Bible. There are so many claims made by the Word of God about itself that time does not permit us to even begin to scratch the surface. There are, however, two passages that I would like to bring to your attention before we conclude.

 

Revelation 22.19: “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

 

I show you this so you might know that God protects His book. You can do anything you want to do to the Bible. However, understand, what you do to the Word of God and what you do with the Word of God, God’s book, will have consequences. You cannot actually harm the Bible, but an attempt to harm God’s Word will only harm yourself terribly.

This next verse is absolutely marvelous. What a clear and direct statement of responsibility each one of you has to God. Isaiah 34.16 reads, “seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read.” This is the Old Testament counterpart to Second Timothy 2.15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” God did not write His Bible and then deliver it to us to sit on the mantle or coffee table to gather dust. He went to great lengths to inspire more than forty men, over 1600 years, to give us this book. It is a love letter, a book of instruction, a light to guide our paths, and He insists that we take an interest in it.

 

My friend, here you are, lost and undone, dead in trespasses and sins, with God writing down in a book every sin you have ever thought, imagined, or done. Every attitude you have had and every untoward word you have ever muttered under your breath, or shouted in open defiance, God will throw in your face some day. That means you are in trouble. According to God’s Book, you are in trouble. Therefore, what you should do is study and then consider what God’s Book has to say in Hebrews 10.7: “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”

The book referred to in that verse is the Bible. The person referred to in that verse is the Lord Jesus Christ. The essence of this verse is that the entire Book of God, the Bible, has for its subject matter the Lord Jesus Christ doing the will of God the Father.

You see, my unsaved friend, your sins, the ones recorded in God’s books in heaven, will be held against you and will prohibit your approach to God, both now and forever. However, Jesus Christ, God’s Son, shed his blood for the remission of your sins. Through faith in Christ while you are yet in the Book of the Living, while you are yet alive, your sins can be eradicated from the books of your sins. Your name can be written into the Lamb’s Book of Life. You can be saved instead of lost, redeemed instead of reprobate, delivered instead of doomed.

The real issue before you this evening is whether the safety of your own soul is important enough to you to investigate what God’s Book says about your salvation. Is it something you plan to take care of . . . later? Remember, this is something you can only deal with while your name is written in the Book of the Living, while you are still alive. Remember also, while you put it off, your sins are being recorded in God’s books of your sins, and you are heaping up wrath for the Day of Judgment.

God’s Book, in which we find out about all these other books, in which we find out about sin and salvation, in which we find out about the Savior Who died and rose again, says that today is the day to tend to these matters, not tomorrow.

What will it be? God’s Book as a guide to what you will do this very moment, or the books of the sins of your life opened at the Great White Throne Judgment Seat to be used against you at the bar of God? Consider the books, all of them. However, pay particular attention to the Book of the Law, the Book of God.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org