Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dealing with Personal Offenses (Philippians 4:2-3) John MacArthur

"I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." (Philippians 4:2--3)

Since conflict between influential people in a church will generate instability throughout the congregation, the two quarreling women at Philippi posed a danger to the entire church's stability. There was a real possibility that the Philippians would become critical, bitter, vengeful, hostile, unforgiving, and proud. Paul knew that unless decisive action was taken quickly, the Philippian church could dissolve into divisive, hostile factions. It was imperative that the Philippians be "diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3; cf. Col. 3:14).

The twice repeated phrase I urge ... I urge shows Paul to be in a pleading, begging, encouraging mode as he addressed the issue of the divisive women. The apostle's mention of such a seemingly mundane matter after the lofty doctrinal material of chapter 2 and the warnings against dangerous false teachers in chapter 3 may seem surprising. But Paul understood that discord and divisiveness pose an equally crippling threat to the church. Even if its doctrine is sound, disunity robs a church of its power and destroys its testimony. And a church facing hostile external enemies cannot afford to have its members fighting among themselves. Such infighting frequently gives the enemies of the Cross an avenue of attack. The resulting discord, disunity, and conflict could have devastated the integrity of the Philippian church's testimony...

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