Online Bible Commentary
Let Your Gentleness be Known
Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. 2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. (NKJV)
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.
At the time of Paul’s letter, Philippi was a principal city. Paul established the church on his second missionary journey.
Philippi was abandoned in the fourteenth century after the Ottoman conquest. The current city of Fillipoi is located near the ruins of Philippi.
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 begins this passage by writing “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown” (v. 1a). He shows his great love for the believers in Philippi by addressing them as “my beloved” and “my joy”. When Paul receives his rewards in Heaven these same believers will be presented as cause for his reward, his “crown”.
The use of the word “Therefore” refers the reader back to what was written previously. We are reminded that punctuation, verse and chapter divisions were not part of the original written word.
Paul previously wrote “For our citizenship is in heaven” (v. 3:20a). We Christians are just passing through this world on our way to Heaven.
We should be living towards that end. Paul brings his readers back to this thought before addressing an issue in the church.
He continues “so stand fast in the Lord, beloved” (v. 1b). Since we are united as citizens of Heaven, we should stand united in the things of God.
With this standard in mind, Paul addresses the issue of a dispute between two women in the church. He writes “I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord” (v. 2).
We know nothing more of the two women. And, we are not told the nature of the disagreement, only that it exists.
Women in the church at Philippi played an important role in ministries other than preaching or teaching to men, which is prohibited by Scripture (1 Timothy 2 :12). The first Christian in Europe was Lydia, a member of the church at Philippi.
Here, Paul is addressing this disagreement and is imploring, begging, the two women to resolve their differences. He is imploring them to be united in the Lord, “to be of the same mind in the Lord”.
As citizens of Heaven, we are under the rule and the authority of God. Therefore, our actions, even while temporarily on earth, should reflect His will and should glorify Him.
Next, Paul writes “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women” (v. 3a). The “companion” is not named. We believe it is Epaphroditus, who delivered the letter, since others already there had apparently failed in their interventions.
The “help” Paul is requesting is not meant to slight the two women or their fellow Christians in Philippi. It is simply a reference to how a third party not involved in the dispute could arrive at an objective conclusion, while obviously applying Scripture.
Paul continues “who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers” (v. 3b). Here, he is referring to the two women in a favorable light.
Paul is commending the two women in the ministry they have provided. They have obviously helped not only Paul, but also Clement and the other workers in the church there.
Clement was a vital worker for Paul in the church at Philippi. It is believed that this is the same Clement that later became the celebrated Bishop of Rome.
Paul writes “whose names are in the Book of Life” (v. 3c). This is another reference by Paul intended to show that we are all united, and should act that way.
The names of all Christians are written in the Book of Life in Heaven. We are guaranteed admittance when we show up.
We get to Heaven on a ticket paid by the blood of Jesus. And our name is already recorded in the reservation Book, permitting entrance.
Paul continues “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Again, it appears that Paul is reminding his readers of our united standing as citizens of Heaven.
There is always rejoicing in Heaven. There is constant praising of our Lord.
And there is a party in Heaven every time someone on earth receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (Luke 15:10). Every new Christian not only creates a new life for himself, but also triggers a celebration in Heaven.
In our churches today, we clap and rejoice when someone is baptized Their baptism is their public announcement that they have become a Christian.
This celebration is nothing compared to the celebration in Heaven. But why celebrate if we can lose our salvation later?
Because we can’t lose our salvation (John 10:28-30 and many others). Our celebration is not in vain.
Paul concludes this passage with “Let your gentleness be known to all men.” (v. 5a). This is a fitting conclusion to the argument that Paul is addressing.
In times of stress and disagreement, gentleness is needed. “A gentle word turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).
There will always be opportunity for disagreement both inside and outside the church. Gentleness is needed.
Gentleness honors God. As Christians, we should always seek to honor God through our gentleness in every situation that we find ourselves in.
Let your gentleness be known to all.