Dissension in the Ranks


Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (NKJV)


The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi in Macedonia, which is now northern Greece. It is thought that he wrote this during his first Roman imprisonment when he was under house arrest. 

The time of the writing is about 62 A.D. Epaphroditus visited him in prison and Paul sent this letter back with him to deliver it to the church. 

Philippi was abandoned in the fourteenth century after the Ottoman conquest. The current city of Fillipoi is located near the ruins of Philippi.

At the time of Paul’s letter, Philippi was a principal city. Paul established the church on his second missionary journey. 

The church at Philippi was the first known church in all of Europe and it supported Paul financially. In many ways it was a model church. 

Paul is writing to the believers at Philippi. Therefore, these are also God’s instructions to Christians of today. 

Paul begins chapter 2 by writing “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy” (v. 1). He uses the word “if” four times.

This is the Greek word “ei” which means “if” or “since”. Some commentaries translate the word “since”, but in the context of the passage the better translation, I believe, is the conditional, “if”. So, Paul is saying “if” these four things are present, “then” you will have these results. 

The first thing that should exist in believers is “consolation”, or encouragement, from our relationship with Jesus Christ. Among other ways, we are encouraged by the knowledge that Christ has already won the war against sin by dying on the cross to save every Christian from the penalty of sin, eternity in Hell.

Second, we should be comforted by the love of Christ. We are comforted by His word in difficult times. He is “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). 

Next, we should be in “fellowship” with the Holy Spirit. We should be yielded to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work in our lives. We should be living in His power and not trying to live in our own power. 

Lastly, Christians should have “affection” and “mercy” towards others. We should be tender hearted and we should have mercy, or compassion, on others. 

Paul continues by writing “fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (v. 2). So, if we are in the aforementioned state, Paul writes that we will be able to “fulfill my joy” in four ways. 

The first way that we can fulfill Paul’s, and God’s, joy is to be “like-minded”.  The phrase translated “like-minded” is from the Greek words “auto”, meaning “same” and “phroneo”, meaning to think. We will all think the same. Meaning we will all think like Christ and see the world as He sees the world. 

Second, we will all have “the same love.”  We will love “just as Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). He loved us before we were ever born. 

Next, we will all be “of one accord.” The Greek phrase used is “one in soul.”  We will all be united in our hearts. 

Finally, the fourth way that we can fulfill God’s joy is to be “of one mind”. The Greek word used is “phroneo”, as in “like-minded” above. 

The difference is that this time it is not preceded by “same.” Its meaning is “to set one’s mind on”. So, we will all have the same purpose. 

So, God wants his children to be united in Him. He wants us thinking like Him, loving like Him, united in soul, and united in purpose. 

It grieves the Holy Spirit and quenches the work of the Holy Spirit, God on earth, when there is dissension in the ranks of Christians. This is a problem in many churches.

Through reading the Bible, and interpreting it correctly, we will know God’s encouragement, comfort, how to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and His tender mercies (v. 1). We will be aligned with Christ, and aligned with each other. 

Those people who ignore God’s word, or twist it to serve their own desires, live life in their own power and in their own thinking. They are destined to confusion, creating false teaching, which leads to dissension in the ranks of Christians. 

Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary