One result of Paul’s preaching ministry was the large number of close friendships that came with the experience. This is reflected in the final chapter of his letter to Rome in which he mentions 24 people by name (and that was before he had ever been there!) The depth of that relationship with believers in Philippi is reflected in his reference to them as those he “loves and longs for . . . his joy . . . his crown . . . dearest friends.” Undoubtedly it was when Paul was presenting the message that many of them opened their hearts to the Lord. Such an experience binds heart to heart.
Paul counsels his friends to “stand firm in the Lord.” A steadfast commitment to a common goal is essential for growth in any movement. E Pluribus Unum was true in the early church as it is in current nation building. Believers were to stand firm “in this way,” that is, as Paul was related to them.
It is against this background that Paul urges two of the women in the church to get together and work out whatever it was that had sent them in two directions. The women were Euodia and Syntyche, or, as one wag put it, “You, Odious and Soon-Touchy.” They had both been prominent in the establishment and growth of the church (v. 3). Paul urges them “to be of the same mind in the Lord,” and that is more than simply reaching a workable solution. Since both were “in the Lord” they should consider the issue from his standpoint not their own. They should have, as Paul wrote in 2:5, “the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” To think like Jesus diminishes those things that separate. Two believers working together to learn what Christ would do or say in a given situation leads quickly to a solution that satisfies both. The problem is not the problem but the way we tend to solve the problem.
To help satisfy whatever wasn’t working, Paul urges his “loyal companion” (syzygos) to become involved. The Greek word is probably not a name but a designation of the relationship between Paul and a dear friend. Here we find a basic operating principle for the Christian church: When some issue has separated two believers, they are to get together and look at the issue from a Christ centered point of view. If necessary, they are to bring in a spiritual leader of the congregation to provide insight and guidance.