Philippians 2:1-4 discusses the topic of church unity. Paul identifies the motivations and qualities that promote unity along with the importance of an outward focus.
Philippians 2:1-4 discusses the motivations that promote church unity
Church is not simply a building. Or a weekly worship service for your religious fix. It is a group of Christ-followers who meet regularly and relationally. Who do life together in the name of Jesus Christ. But they are all still sinners. So problems within a church are inevitable. And unity is an important, but difficult challenge.
REFLECT AND RECORD
What are some church conflicts you’ve experienced? Describe them, their cause and the result? What motivations fueled or diffused them?
We face different challenges in life. And often, our success or failure depends on the level of motivation. How bad do you want it? In this passage Paul begins with a discussion on motivations.
And he frames it with an “if” and “then.”
V.1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy
In other words, IF you have these motivations. Let’s break them down.
Encouragement in Christ—Encouragement in Greek is paraklēsis, which means to exhort. Literally, a calling to one’s side, or to one’s aid. Christ-followers should encourage and come alongside one another both physically and in their faith journey.
Comfort from love—The Greek for comfort is paramythion, which also means consolation. It infers a sense of constraint and speaking to other Christ-followers in a friendly manner. As Paul advises in Ephesians 4:15, it’s not just what you say, but your tone of voice in how you say it.
Participation in the spirit—Participation is the Greek word koinōnia discussed in the study on 1:26-30. It is the unique sense of community fostered by the presence of the Holy Spirit when Christ followers gather. He is the spiritual super glue that holds the church together.
Affection and sympathy—Affection is the Greek word splanchnon which also means compassion. In other words, genuine caring for others. As Jesus demonstrated compassion and caring, we are to follow his example. Especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ at church..
Philippians 2:1-4 discusses the qualities that promote church unity
V. 2 complete my joy by… being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Okay, Paul doesn’t actually say “then” but it’s implied. Notice also, he doesn’t demand compliance from a position of apostolic authority or guilt them into submission. But persuasively suggests it would really make him happy to see them demonstrate these qualities. It would make the joy he expressed for them in chapter 1:3 complete.
Same mind and one mind–Both use the same Greek word phronéō, which means to think or plan. Share the same opinion. A church must move together in how it thinks. And this is directed by God’s word and the leading of his Spirit. So it’s important for Christ-followers to individually and regularly pray and study the Bible. There will always be differences in interpretations, but there can be agreement on fundamental truth and important doctrines within a body of believers.
having the same love–The agape love that motivates Christ-followers should also be expressed among them. It includes support, encouragement, and accountability. And a willingness to seek and extend forgiveness.
being in full accord –The Greek word for accord is sumpsuchŏs and means similar in sentiment and like-minded. In other words, a synonym for phronéō.
Philippians 2:1-4 discusses the outward focus important to unity
REFLECT AND RECORD
What comes to mind when you consider people that demonstrate humility? How is it expressed or lacking in your own life?
V.3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Jesus warned about humility posers. People who showcased virtuous acts to demonstrate moral goodness. And he told stories that exposed the hearts behind certain acts of charitable giving and pious prayers.
And now, Paul identifies a simple principle of Biblical humility. Take your eyes off yourself and focus on others. In other words, it has very little to do with how you present yourself. But where you focus your attention. It’s not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less.
Join me next week in a study of Philippians 2:5-11. Have you checked out Soul Pursuit, or Finding Grace yet? Hope you will. I’ve also published some non-fiction Christian books. Take a look here.
About Chip Tudor:
Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.