Philippians 3:20 – 4:3

Last time, we ran out of time before we could fully explore what Paul is trying to impart beginning in Philippians 3:17. We went over the contrast between the two very different Greek words translated into English as “walk” that we find in verses 17 and 18 – the first being στοιχέω stoicheō – meaning to walk in unity under direction (of God’s Spirit), and the second being περιπατέω peripateō – meaning to walk under self-guidance, as the enemies of the cross about whom Paul warns the Philippians (and us). Let’s take another quick look at this passage…
Philippians 3:17 – 4:3
17Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18For 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: 19whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
1Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. 2I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3And 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.
Last time, we discussed in detail how we may discern between those who walk under direction of God’s Holy Spirit, and those who follow their own wills – that is, by comparing the leading of those who claim to speak for God (and the leading of our own deceitful hearts) with the eternally unchanging, and perfectly complete Word of God.
 
Paul admonishes us to walk as he does, not focusing our lives on the things of this Earth, but rather as in our memory verse…
Colossians 3:2
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
John 14:1-6

1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

When the Jewish leaders decided Jesus should be put to death, it was due to the threat He posed to their religious system, and their own power. Perhaps some of them even believed the charge of blasphemy against Jesus. Yet, under the Roman occupation, the Jews did not have power to mete out capital punishment. Among those present in Jerusalem on that day, only the Roman governor – Pontius Pilate – could pass such judgment. Pilate was not concerned at all with the blasphemy charge, considering it irrelevant to the government of the province and a purely internal Jewish religious question. In order to persuade him to condemn Jesus to death, the Jewish leaders needed to bring a charge against Jesus under the Roman law sufficiently serious to merit the death penalty. This trumped-up charge that they brought against Jesus was the accusation that He intended to overthrow the Roman authority in Palestine, claiming that He was the rightful King of the Jews.
John 18:33-37
33Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
The Jewish leaders and the vast majority of the Jewish citizenry failed to grasp this concept of Jesus’ heavenly kingdom. They expected Jesus to reestablish the throne of David as an earthly kingdom, throwing off the yoke of the Roman occupation. They failed to see the larger picture – redemption of fallen mankind to God for which Jesus came into the world. His own disciples, who knew Him so well, even after His resurrection, still expected Him to reestablish the earthly kingdom of Israel…
Acts 1:6

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

Within our limited, fleshly perspective, we tend to limit our conceptions of God’s limitless power and eternal scope. We must guard against worldliness in our own hearts, keeping our focus continually on the Lord Jesus and His heavenly kingdom, knowing that it is indeed not of this Earth.
Matthew 6:19-21
19Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:31-34

31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Instead, we continue to be about our Lord’s business in anticipation of His soon return…
Acts 1:9-11

9Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

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Philippians 3:21
21who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
When we studied the Word’s teaching on resurrection, we looked at this in detail, so I’ll just share a brief reminder. The believers in Philippi to whom this letter is addressed will share in the very same resurrection as we ourselves…
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Corinthians 15:22-26
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
John 3:35
“The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.
Psalm 47
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
2For the LORD Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
3He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
4He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah
5God has gone up with a shout,
The LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
6Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.
8God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
9The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.
Psalm 110
A Psalm of David.
1The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
2The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
3Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
4The LORD has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”
5The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
6He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall execute the heads of many countries.
7He shall drink of the brook by the wayside;
Therefore He shall lift up the head.
Matthew 28:18-20
18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
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Philippians 4:1
1Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
The Greek word στήκω stēkō translated “stand fast” in this verse means to stand firm; to persevere, to persist; to keep one’s standing. It is found 8 times in the New Testament. In two of these instances it speaks of literally standing somewhere as in…
Mark 11:25
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
However στήκω stēkō is most often used in a figurative sense as it is here in Philippians 4:1. Some other examples are…
1 Corinthians 16:13
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.
Galations 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
2 Thessalonians 2:15
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Paul uses it twice here in Philippians in conjunction with the idea of standing united with our brothers and sisters. Remember that Paul had previously warned them in this letter of the suffering they would face for the sake of the Gospel and of the need to stick together…
Philippians 1:27-30
27Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
When we hear and read of the suffering being perpetrated upon our brethren throughout the world, especially in places like Syria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, and Sudan, let us remember our calling to “stand fast” with them in prayer, and in whatever other material support we can provide.
 
In closing, let’s try to discern what Paul means when he refers to the Philippians as “my crown.” Paul himself provides perhaps the best clarification in the similar words he wrote to the Thessalonians…
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
17But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20For you are our glory and joy.
What greater joy and crown could we receive than to see those to whom we have faithfully witnessed the Gospel standing with us at the judgment seat of Christ, and being able to cast these “crowns” – our beloved brothers and sisters – before Him?
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Philippians 4:2-3
2I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3And 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.
It is tempting to gloss over these two verses. Euodia and Syntyche are mentioned only in verse 2. Clement is only mentioned in verse 3. Nothing else is known about them. All we can definitely say about them is that they were followers of Christ – whose names are in the Book of Life. It is precisely this fact, and the consequent danger to those outside the church, that makes this argument between the two ladies worthy of study. Presumably word had come to Paul somehow that these two sisters in Christ had been in some sort of disagreement. The substance of their differences is conspicuous by its absence. Paul didn’t seem to consider the details of their argument even worth mentioning, apparently considering it so unimportant that he ignores it altogether, simply admonishing these two ladies to “get over it” and press on.
 
So what can we glean from this passage? Since we know almost nothing about these specific people or this specific disagreement, we can only make inference about disagreement in general, and particularly about disagreement within the body of Christ. God makes it clear how he feels about dissension among His children…
Proverbs 6:16-19
16These six things the LORD hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.
Paul also condemns divisiveness among the brethren in his letter to Titus…
Titus 3:9-11
9But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
This is easy to understand. All parents can attest how disconcerting petty disagreements among their children are. Even if the strife between siblings has a valid basis, it is still hurtful for the parent to witness it. But there’s also a deeper concern here. When children of God allow their disagreements to get out of control it can do real harm to the ministry of the Gospel to unbelievers. It is not only those within the Church who are harmed by strife within the Body, but when our internal struggles are exposed to the world at large, we damage our witness of the Gospel, and put an obstacle in the path of unbelievers who may see our struggles with each other and decide they don’t want to have any part with us or with our Lord Jesus…
Hebrews 12:14-15
14Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
1 Corinthians 6:1-7
1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!
But strife with our brethren not only harms us, and damages our witness of the Gospel. It also disrupts our relationship with The Lord. We can’t truly worship Jesus in spirit and in truth if we are distracted and diverted by bitterness against our brother.
Matthew 5:21-26
21You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Does this mean there should never be disputes among believers? After all, disagreement among people has been a fact of life since the fall of mankind in the garden. We can’t avoid arguments altogether. In fact we most certainly must take a stand, when the Gospel of Christ is assaulted or misrepresented among men. Jesus showed the example when He cleansed the temple of the money changers.
Jude 3-4
3Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet when we disagree with others, we must ensure that it is indeed the Gospel that we defend, not our own pride or entrenched unbiblical beliefs. Here again, Jesus gives us the keys in the Sermon on the Mount…
Matthew 5:38-48
38You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’[Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21]39But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.
43You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor [Leviticus 19:18]and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
This standard is a hard one. It flies in the face of our human pride and stubbornness. Essentially we must surrender our right to be right. This is not within our human capacity. It is only possible by the Spirit of God within us. Yet we are aided in it when we remember that God Himself surrendered his own rights to obtain salvation for us while we were still His enemies…
1 Peter 2:20-24
20For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22“Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;[Isaiah 53:9]
23who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
Ephesians 4:25-27
25Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor”[Zechariah 8:16], for we are members of one another. 26“Be angry, and do not sin”[Psalm 4:4]: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil.

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