Euodias and Syntyche: Two Women, One Mind

Background

  • Paul wrote this epistle from Rome to the Philippian church which was the first church founded in Europe (Acts 16:12).
  • The word “joy” or “rejoice” is found in every chapter. It is regarded as one of the sweetest of Paul’s letters in which we get a glimpse into the apostle’s heart.
  • The Philippians had been very generous to Paul (Phil.4:15-16).

Special focus:

“I beseech Euodias and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” (v.2).

(Literal Greek: I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to think the same thing in the Lord.

Euodia is the correct spelling of her name.)

At Philippi, women were the first hearers of the Gospel and Lydia the first convert. When Paul exhorted these two prominent workers to “be of the same mind in the Lord,” what was he implying?

What was their issue?

Some believe there was disunity between them. There is a possibility that there was at least tension between them. I believe we all know how that scene goes, as all of us have at one time or another been at variance with someone. Whatever their condition, we learn that Paul was encouraging their unity.

Who were they?

These women were prominent in the church at Philippi. It is generally accepted by worthy commentators that they are the ones referred to in verse 3 as “women which laboured with me in the gospel…whose names are in the book of life” (v.3). They were obviously Godly women, but something had happened and they were not of the same mind.

Another aspect of Paul’s message to these women to be of the same mind emerges out of this passage. It suggests strongly that he was encouraging a “mind-set” that he felt they needed.

Let us look at a vital truth which forms the basis of all proper unity in Christ.

  1. THINKING RIGHT, THINKING BIBLICALLY

The first interesting thing to notice is a repetition of the word “mind” which is repeated 8 times (Greek word phroneo  to think) in the two previous chapters. The following bold-faced words are the instances. Notice that this teaching preceded his focus on the women.

1.” …even as it is meet for me to think this of you all” (1:7) = God will complete what He’s doing in your life.

  1. Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded…of one mind(2:2).
  2. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5).
  3. Let us… be thus minded and if ye be otherwise minded…(3:15).
  4. “Let us mind the same thing” (3:16) (Identical words as ch. 4:2)).
  5. “Many…whose end is destruction…mind earthly things” (3:19).

Paul is encouraging “likemindedness” among believers, but the important thing to note is that the likemindedness is not understood not to refer to trivial things, but having the same mind as Christ.

Note:

For Christians to be “Biblically likeminded” as Paul is suggesting, their unity must have a basis and the basis is clearly spelled out — “in the Lord.”

“Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind…let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:2,5).

We live in a decade where every man does what he “thinks” is right. It seems that it is becoming more and more common to hear “I think this” and “I think that” rather than “the Bible says this” or “the Bible teaches that.” Upon what do we base our thinking, i.e. our opinions?

Euodia and Syntyche may not have been at odds with each other, but may have been tempted together to “think” differently about their Christian conduct. Paul certainly mentioned conduct and correct thinking when he was preaching to the Philippians in the previous chapters.

What lessons had he already laid out?

  • Let your conversation [i.e. conduct] be worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27).
  • Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (1:27).
  • Have the same love for Christ (2:2).
  • Have the same mind of Christ (2:5).
  • Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (4:14.)

Notice the underlined reasons for likemindedness.

Just before Paul encourages all of the Philippian believers  whom he calls “beloved”, “longed for”, his “joy and crown” to stand fast in the Lord”, Paul reminds them of their privileges in Christ, that their citizenship is in heaven (3:20). That’s why he begins his charge with “therefore” which joins what he’s about to say with what he’s already said.

So Paul encouraged right, Biblical thinking which would lead to right living. That’s something to pray for in this very confused age: Lord, give me right thinking, Biblical thinking, Christ-honouring thinking even if everyone else is “of the same mind” wrongfully. 

  1. THINKING THE SAME — Particularly Euodia and Syntyche

Paul addresses both women by name individually. Asking them to “think the same” follows right after “stand fast.” Is there a possibility that even with their status as Godly women involved in the church that they were beginning to “think otherwise”? Were they being influenced by those who “mind earthly things” (v.19) which would be the popular, societal thinking in that day as well as this day.

What about us? Are we influenced by the “thinking” of today? It is very easy to be subtly influenced and not realize that we’re losing our Biblical thinking.

So, how can we know what we should “think”? Only by immersing our mind in the Word. In order to have the same mind that Paul is speaking about, we need to know the Truth of God. That is the problem with much of the thinking today. There is little foundation or basis upon which to place opinions. Christians must take their thinking from the Word of God as the ONLY rule of faith and practice (SOLA SCRIPTURA). The world, the flesh, and the devil will try to negatively influence that right thinking at every turn which is why we must “stand fast in the Lord.”

The Lord is not asking us to be of the same mind as others just for the sake of unity. Our unity should be with the Word of God —  “thinking the same in the Lord.”

The very best instruction for right thinking is found in Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” The following hymn paraphrases it well:

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Kate Wilkinson 1859-1928

  1. A SAD NOTE

When Paul entreated the unnamed “true yoke fellow” to help these women, Paul uses the past tense when he says that they “laboured” with him in the gospel. The word laboured is literally “struggled together.” Their unity of effort in the cause of Christ had been obviously incredible, but had it ended? Were they no longer standing fast where they once stood? Is that why Paul was so urgent in his entreaty to them individually? We can only speculate, but it should cause us to pray all the more earnestly that we will not only “stand fast in the Lord”, but that we will continue to stand fast and not be sidetracked by the shifting opinions of others. May God help us to test every thought and idea by the clear teaching of the Word of Truth.

Here is a wonderful verse that we should pray over when we are considering our “thinking”:

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5

(Literal translation from Greek: “…destroying reasonings and every high thing exalting itself against the knowledge of God and taking into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ…”)

In other words, keeping our thinking in line with Christ’s thinking. With this solid foundation, we can test every new idea that comes our way and accept only that which honours Him and reject whatever doesn’t. May God help us for His glory!

2016-01-15T10:44:01+00:00