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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: October 10 ,2019
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS.
I thank y’all for your prayers, the get-well cards, the emails, and phone texts. I also thank my neighbors who have been helping me with normal, everyday tasks that I am unable to perform due to medical restrictions. I recently received good news from my cardiologist. He said my chest incision is healing and my recovery is on track. I have six weeks to go before the restrictions will be lifted. My left hand and arm continue to be a problem, but my home care physical therapist is helping me with it.
Now, before I present the customary review of last week’s lesson, I want to say hello to all the people who have recently tuned in to our Bible study from around the world.
“(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (3:18-21).
Starting with verse 3:17 thru 3:20 our Apostle Paul is saying the church at Philippi ought to be on the same page, i.e. “likeminded,” having the mind of Christ, and following Paul’s ensample or pattern (3:18a). Why? For our conversation (manner of living) should be as citizens of heaven and as Christ’s ambassadors here on earth.
Let it be known these truths apply to every Christian today. But we all know the reality. Instead of following the doctrines of Paul and imitating his manner of life, most professed Christians are openly hostile towards Paul and walking in lockstep with the world. They are following the teachings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John men who never had a ministry to the gentiles (Matthew 10:5-7), instead of Paul’s epistles (Romans thru Philemon), which are addressed to the Body of Christ; a.k.a the Church (ekklesia) specifically. People are all over the place re: what they believe, and that’s unnecessary for God is not the author of confusion man is. He has spoken clearly about His plan of salvation in the Dispensation of Grace through our Apostle Paul the person we are called to follow (1 Corinthians 11:1, 14:33; 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
The word “many” in verse 3:18 refers to the Jewish false teachers who had infiltrated this assembly of Believers undermining Paul’s apostleship and his gospel. They were teaching another gospel for one’s salvation based solely on religious works. These unregenerate men were hindering the progress of the standard of faith for today, and this is why Paul correctly identified them as “enemies of the cross of Christ.” Anyone who adds anything to Paul’s gospel is an enemy of the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Satan’s emissaries attacked Paul’s gospel wherever they found it. The Jerusalem Council (circa 50 AD) addressed was supposed to address concern (See Acts 15). This was Paul’s second trip to Jerusalem and fourteen years after his first visit, when he had initially met Peter (1:18). This trip was linked to a revelation from the risen Lord. Paul traveled to Jerusalem to defend his gospel and his ministry to the gentiles. Let’s take the time to review the account; turn to Galatians 2:1-10:
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (gentiles), and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
The majority of Christendom has no idea this passage of scripture is in their Bible or what it actually means and more’s the pity. It goes without saying then these folks are not walking in the right direction because they are not in accord with Paul’s gospel and the related church doctrines, and they’re not following his example (pattern).
(See 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 2:1-8, 3:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Paul leveled four indictments against these false teachers:
“Whose end is destruction,” These enemies of the Cross’ end will be “destruction or perdition.” The road to destruction of these enemies of the Cross passes through the present torment of Hell where they’ll await their summons to appear before the Lord Jesus Christ at the Great White Throne Judgment, (no saved individual will be there), which will ultimately determine the degree of their eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire (Matthew 10:15; 11:22-24; 23:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:11-15).
Paul follows that up with this: “Whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (3:19). These evildoers were self-indulgent and pursued fleshly appetites, whereas the Believer’s hope is found in the Cross of Christ. Furthermore, they had no desire whatsoever “to set their affections on things above,” but were too preoccupied with earthly things. In submitting to and being controlled by their earthly nature they worship their sensual desires by surrendering themselves to gluttony, sexual immorality, lasciviousness, and all manner of unbridled lusts. Their mind is constantly on earthly things rather than the heavenly things of God.
********The review ran longer than what I normally prefer, but I want to ensure we’re on the “same page” before we all open our Bibles at Philippians 4:1-3.
“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 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.”
“Therefore” – this word sums up what Paul had recently said to the Philippians about being eternally positioned in Christ Jesus, so they should have the mind of Christ, their conversation (conduct) ought to reflect the fact they are citizens of heaven, and Christ Jesus’ ambassadors here on earth.
Although this is the “mark” every true Believer ought to be striving for, it’s rather obvious this assembly of Believers was not walking in the right direction. So, Paul commanded them to “stand fast” (4:1) or persevere in that unique personal relationship not allowing their circumstances to hinder their daily walk, run, and race. Paul’s situation is the ideal example. Although he was imprisoned in Rome (under house arrest) and chained to a pretorian guard around the clock, awaiting trial before Caesar that could result in his execution, he did not permit his circumstances to control him or negate God’s expressed will. Paul continued to preach the gospel to those in Caesar’s household (Acts 28:30-31; Philippians 4:22) “no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30-31), and some of them believed. Paul looked beyond his own circumstances to the saints in Philippi who were experiencing three main problems: discord and division (2:1-18, 4:2-3), false teaching from the Judaizers (3:2-3), and persecution (1:27-30).
Here we find our Apostle Paul practicing what he preached. He put the needs of others, especially those of the household of God, above his own (2:1-6). Paul’s concern for all the churches was heartfelt as were his prayers for all the saints and his encouraging words. There are valuable life lessons to be found here. The first one that comes to mind is, although Paul was in chains, his mind (or way of thinking) could not be bound, demonstrating it’s not about changing one’s location, it is about changing the way you think (Romans 12:1-2). Paul couldn’t get up and walk away from house arrest, but he did rise above his circumstances. How so? Ironically, he continued to preach the gospel, which was the very thing that brought about his imprisonment (Ephesians 3:1).
Throughout this letter Paul has been dropping hints regarding disunity in the Philippian church. From the very outset of this letter Paul has maintained a focus on the church as a whole, with an attempt to promote unity in this assembly of Believers. In his opening address in 1:1 he addressed the whole church and not just those who are walking in the right direction saying, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” He recognized them all as saints, though certain ones were responsible for the conflict within the church (4:2-3). Paul attempts to promote humility and unity, that is, like-mindedness through his own example in the introduction when he includes both himself and Timothy together under the title “servants of Jesus Christ.” He could have referred to himself as God’s called apostle and Timothy as a servant, which was his custom, but instead he realized he is first and foremost a “servant of Jesus Christ,” as is every true Believer.
So, in Philippians 4:1-2, Paul isolated the issue of disunity and discord by naming the individual’s responsible for the dispute:
“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved (Ephesians 1:6; Philippians 1:7-8) and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (4:1-2).
This particular discord involved two women named Euodias (Eu-o-di-as) and Syntyche (Syn-ty-che). According to the context, these two women had worked closely with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel during his first visit to Philippi (Acts 16:13-15). But over the course of time something happened that caused them to become adversaries. We are not told what caused the rift between them. In fact, we know very little about these two women. Please know Paul addressed this problem because their dispute might eventually divide this assembly, which would greatly hinder the cause of Christ Jesus, and God does not approve. Since the man’s fall from grace, disputes among the Lord’s people have been all too common. Here’s but one example from the Old Testament:
“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it” (Numbers 12:1-2).
According to this passage, the conflict between Moses and Miriam arose over his marriage to an Ethiopian woman. We are not told what happened to Moses’ first wife, Zipporah, but one thing is certain, Miriam and Aaron weren’t happy with his new bride. During times of conflict, it’s important to remember there is usually the “problem,” and then there’s the “real issue” underlying it! That’s exactly what we have here. The problem was Miriam’s displeasure with Moses’ decision to take another wife, but the real issue was his leadership or God-given authority. She was jealous because Moses was chosen as the deliverer of Jehovah’s people and as His chief spokesperson.
Scripture says, “And the LORD heard it,” and was displeased. As you continue to read the narrative, it is interesting God sees through the smokescreen and deals directly with Miriam’s rebellion. Under the law, questioning God’s ordained spokesman had serious consequences, as Miriam found out when she became white as snow with leprosy for seven days (Numbers 12:5-15).
As we pass from the Dispensation of Law to the present Dispensation of Grace, conflicts between Believers persisted. For example most if not all of the churches in existence today sprung up due to disagreements about what the Bible says or doesn’t say, personality conflicts, pride, etc. Why is this happening? The root cause is Satan. He’s the master deceiver and the author of confusion. The devil brings out the worst in everyone, even Believers are prone to fall for his schemes (1 Peter 5:8). Paul realized this after he received the negative report that Euodias and Syntyche weren’t of the same mind. So in 4:1-2 Paul effectively deals with conflict in the Body of Christ by exhorting them to “stand fast in the Lord… and “be of the same mind.”
As Paul ministered the gospel he did so with impartiality, a lesson every member of the Body of Christ should know and remember because we all ought to be involved in “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). Notice how Paul included Euodias and Syntyche in his greeting to the assembly at Philippi. They, too, were “dearly beloved and longed for” and were also his “joy and crown.” Those Paul had won to Christ were his joy and his crown of rejoicing:
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Lord will acknowledge Paul’s labor of love in evangelizing the lost; they will be his “crown of rejoicing.” The same is true of all those who have a heart for lost souls.
Like many of those at Thessalonica, Paul had personally brought Euodias and Syntyche to Christ when he first visited Philippi. These two women had faithfully served the Lord together for many years, but something came between them. Whatever the quarrel was about it was causing discord and disunity within the assembly. Apparently, some folks were choosing sides, so Paul intervened to keep this church from splitting apart.
Philippians 4:1-2 stands as an exhortation to unity. It is noteworthy that Paul encouraged both of these women in regard to the issue at hand. He urged Euodias and he also urged Syntyche to stand fast and be of the same mind in the Lord. Usually when there is conflict in the local church, such as we have here, there are problems on both sides of the aisle. One normally raises a questionable issue while the other one’s response to it is anything but Christ-like. This begins the descent into chaos, which oftentimes ends in a major division. Of course, Paul was hoping to head off this crisis before it happened. His solution to the problem was for them both to “stand fast in the Lord.” Notice it does not say “stand fast for the Lord,” but in Him. Euodias and Syntyche had been given a position in Christ; therefore, they were blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. They were accepted in the Beloved, forgiven, eternally secure—complete in Him! Whatever disagreements or shortcomings these two women may have had, they were one in Christ. Because of this unique relationship we strive to resolve our difficulties and find harmony in Christ Jesus.
You see, the apostle wanted Euodias and Syntyche to resolve their differences by being of “the same mind in the Lord.” Rather than focusing on defending themselves and their position, he wanted them to focus on the things of the Lord. In so doing, they would be reunited in a common goal to make all men see what is the fellowship of the Mystery. The end result would be the restoration of unity within the assembly.
Of course, there’s the possibility these two women would refuse to listen to Paul’s advice, so he recruited the help of an intermediary. Sometimes it takes the help of a third party, to guide those involved who have lost their spiritual compass:
“And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel…” (4:3a).
The term “yokefellow” is only used once in the N.T. and it means: a close companion, co-worker, or colleague. This mediator was probably Paul’s “son in the faith” Timothy (I Timothy 1:2). Paul isn’t instructing Timothy to give Euodias and Syntyche a helping hand in the work of the ministry to lighten their workload, but rather to help them be of the same mind in the Lord. Paul wanted his colleague to remind these sisters in the Lord of their eternal position and oneness in Christ. Paul adds how there was a time when they had laboured with him in the furtherance of the gospel. The term “laboured” here is the same word translated “strive” in Philippians 1:27. As the old saying goes, “There’s no I in the word team.” In track and field events each athlete strives to do his part striving together as a team. Paul’s heart’s desire was to rekindle that team spirit these women once had in the Lord’s service.
In addition to Euodias and Syntyche, the apostle instructs Timothy to encourage “Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life” (4:3b).
The only thing we know for certain about “Clement” along with “other my fellowlabourers” is they were members of this church and labored with Paul in the furtherance of the gospel. It’s possible these folks were disheartened over the built-up tension caused by these two bickering women. Another word for this is strife, so Paul offers words of encouragement to boost their spirits. That’s the kind of leader Paul was. But no matter what happens at Philippi, he reminded them their “names are in the book of life.” The Scriptures teach that from the foundation of the world every name has been recorded in the book of life. Interestingly, the “book of the living” is a record of those who possess natural life, so when they die their name is removed (Psalm 69:27-28), but there is an exception. Those who believe the gospel in their lifetime receive eternal life; therefore their names are sealed by the Holy Spirit on the basis of their faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus.
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