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God is Our Peace

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Paul's exhortation to establish peace within the Philippian Church

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God is Our Peace

Welcome
Introduction
Reading
Please join with me in the reading of God’s Word
Philippians 4:2–9 ESV
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
This is the Word of the LORD
Prayer
Exposition
God brings peace to our relationships ()
Philippians 4:2–3 ESV
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
As we begin this section in Philippians, we immediately encounter a situation that we don’t know a whole lot about. Paul writes an appeal to two women who aren’t mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. We don’t know anything about them, outside of the fact that there was some sort of rift between them. I always thought it’d be cool to leave some sort of legacy, to leave some sort of impression on this world long after I’m gone. A lot of you probably share that sentiment. We all want to be remembered. So, it kind of stinks for Euodia and Syntyche. They got their names in the Bible, but they’ll forever be remembered as two who didn’t get along. They’re like the Real Housewives of the Bible, lol.
Paul writes, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the LORD.” Literally, what Paul is saying here is that they would be of the “same mind in the LORD.” This appeal to be of the “same mind” points us back to and , where Paul encourages:
Philippians 1:27 ESV
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Philippians 2:5 ESV
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
Philippians 1:27 ESV
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
Paul was urging these women to offer themselves in humility, sacrifice, and service to one another for the sake of the gospel. We don’t know what their argument was. We don’t know what fractured their relationship. But what we do know from what Paul has written is that the gospel calls us to pursue reconciliation in our relationships, especially with other Christians.
Throughout Philippians, Paul urges us toward unity for the sake of the gospel ministry. Why? Because when we come together and offer ourselves in humility, sacrifice, and service to one another for the sake of the gospel, God gets glory, Jesus is magnified, and people get saved.
Paul continues, “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Not only does Paul appeal to Euodia and Syntyche to seek reconciliation, but he also encourages the church to take part in their reconciliation. Unity was so important to Paul that he laid this charge at the feet of the Philippians, “Help these women.”
Paul doesn’t give us much insight into how they were to restore the relationship. All we know is that Euodia and Syntyche were to agree in the LORD and the Philippian believers were to encourage them in that.
Their situation leaves us asking, how does reconciliation happen within the church? The answer isn’t readily apparent, but if you’ve grown up going to Sunday School, you might be able to guess. It’s Jesus. God brings peace to our relationships.
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Did you notice what Paul does in verse 3? He reminds them of what these women share in Christ. First, he reminds them that they share a common mission. Paul reports, “[They] have labored side by side with me in the gospel.” These women had, up until their relationship had fractured, been living missionally, willing to risk their comforts and freedom, in hope that the gospel of Jesus would advance. They had seen first hand what God was capable of doing - how God saves, and redeems, and transforms. Secondly, Paul reminds them that they share a common destination, saying that their “names are in the book of life.” To claim that their names are in the “book of life” is to say that their citizenship is in heaven, that they would share in Christ’s resurrection life.
First, he reminds them of their common mission.
By reminding them of
Perhaps by reminding them of their shared ministry and eternal fellowship to come, Paul intended to reinforce their trust in the sovereignty of God. They had seen God at work in their own lives and in their defense of the gospel. As he had written earlier, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Without denying their own responsibility in seeking reconciliation, they could ultimately trust God to bring about peace in that relationship, since God was working in them, “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure
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The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .

God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure

Now, I don’t want to sound naive. Reconciliation is a two-way street. It’s not enough to say that God will bring peace to a relationship, if one or both parties aren’t willing seeking peace. This is why Paul writes elsewhere:
Philippians 1:6 ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:5 ESV
because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Romans 12:18 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
But for those broken relationships, in which both parties are genuinely committed to first to Christ and second to reconciliation, God will bring peace, no matter how deep the wound or how unlikely it may seem. Here, we conclude with Paul, in :
God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure
Ephesians 2:14 ESV
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
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God brings peace to our circumstances ()
In verses 4-7, Paul reveals how God brings peace to our circumstances. As it was before, so it is now, we must follow through on our part in seeking peace. This becomes clear through the imperatives Paul gives in : Rejoice, be gentle, don’t be anxious, and pray. So much of what Paul says in verses 4-7 is aimed at redirecting his readers attention from their immediate circumstance back to the LORD. As we follow through on these commands and refocus our eyes on the LORD, we will see how God is our peace.
Philippians 4:4–7 ESV
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), . brings peace to our circumstances
After his urgent appeal to Euodia and Syntyche to make peace, Paul addresses the Philippian Church at large: “Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice.” As he has so many times before throughout the letter, Paul encourages his readers to adopt a posture of joy. It certainly seems strange that Paul would encourage the Philippians to rejoice, given his situation and theirs. Under house arrest for preaching the gospel, unsure whether he would live or die, facing poverty, and helpless to protect his churches from enemies of the cross - anxiety makes sense. Still, Paul commands, “Rejoice.”
We echo what Karl Barth, who concludes that “‘joy’ in Philippians is a defiant ‘Nevertheless!’”
The command to rejoice can always be obeyed, even in the midst of conflict, adversity, and deprivation, because joy rests not on favorable circumstances, but “in the Lord.”
The second imperative we see in this section is to be gentle. Other translations may talk about our reasonableness, moderation, consideration, softness, or graciousness. The ESV’s reading, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone,” really is a poor reflection of what Paul is saying. This idea of gentleness fits best, as it involves the “patient bearing of abuse.” (Hughes)
I was thinking about this word gentleness last night as I was sitting at a traffic circle. It was a very providential moment for this sermon. Gentleness doesn’t mean that I am giving up my right to enter the circle when it’s time to enter the circle. Instead, gentleness means that when others insist upon infringing upon my rights, by going when they’re not supposed to go, I must yield.
When this word is used elsewhere in the NT, it is used more often than not in contrast: Not violent, but gentle (), Avoid quarreling, be gentle (), be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust ().
Paul, here, is encouraging us to yield, to patiently bear abuse, much like Jesus did when, “ he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ().
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ().
v ; [; ; ]
Now, it’s easy to miss or overlook this next phrase, “The LORD is at hand” or “The LORD is near.” Paul urges us to rejoice. In our circumstances? No. In the LORD. Paul commands us to be gentle. Why? Because the LORD is near. He is redirecting our focus away from life’s difficulties, away from how we’ve been wronged, and back to the LORD and his nearness.
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Translations differ on whether the phrase should be translated the LORD is at hand or the LORD is near precisely because the word can mean either “at hand” or “near”. If we’re to say that the LORD is at hand, then what we’d be saying is that Christ’s return is fast approaching. This is nearness in a temporal sense. However, if we’re to say that the LORD is near, it means that he’s not distant but is rather close to us. This is nearness in a spatial sense.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), .
I believe that Paul here is saying that the LORD is near, in that he is close to us. I think that fits better with our context. Throughout our text, Paul is showing how God is not disengaged with our situation, but is actively working within our situation, that we can trust him regardless of what is going on, and as we draw near to him, he will draw near to us.
When you’ve been wronged, when someone has infringed upon your rights, how comforting is it to know that God has not abandoned you, but that he is actively at work within your situation, that he is still sovereign and working for your good? We need to be reminded of this truth: God is near to us.
Do not be anxious about anything. Taken at face value, Paul is telling us to do something that’s impossible. Have you ever told someone who’s worried or anxious to just stop being worried or anxious. I’m pretty sure that I’ve said that to Kalie before and it always backfires. The sentiment is good. In our relationship, when I see Kalie is feeling anxious, I want to do everything I can so she doesn’t feel that anymore. But it’s not terribly helpful to say, “Stop feeling the way that you’re feeling.” And Paul’s not doing that here.
Paul is not telling us to detach from our circumstances. He’s not encouraging us to live emotionless lives, where we’ve learned to care less about what’s going on around us, to the point where we don’t feel anything. No, a better understanding of what Paul is saying here is this: “Do not go on being anxious about anything.” He’s telling us not to continue in our anxiety or worry.
Consider what Jesus tells us in
Matthew 6:25–32 ESV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
One commentary adds, “What is worry? The Greek word translated “anxious” (careful) in means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart! The Old English root from which we get our word “worry” means “to strangle.” If you have ever really worried, you know how it does strangle a person!”
What is worry? The Greek word translated “anxious” (careful) in means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart! The Old English root from which we get our word “worry” means “to strangle.” If you have ever really worried, you know how it does strangle a person!
Paul urges us not to continue in our anxiety, but to turn to God through prayer.
What is worry? The Greek word translated “anxious” (careful) in means “to be pulled in different directions.” Our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears pull us the opposite direction; and we are pulled apart! The Old English root from which we get our word “worry” means “to strangle.” If you have ever really worried, you know how it does strangle a person!
But in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Rather than continuing in worry/anxiety, Paul encourages us to turn to God in prayer. This is similar to what Peter says in
1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6–7 ESV
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
When we go to God, we go in humility, recognizing our inability to change our circumstance or even how we feel about our circumstance.
Prayer is our openness about our needs before God, our emptiness in his presence, our absolute dependence upon him with an attitude of constant thanksgiving and complete trust.59 When we pray with that attitude, the focus is not at all upon what we are doing or will do, but on what God will do
“Prayer is our openness about our needs before God, our emptiness in his presence, our absolute dependence upon him with an attitude of constant thanksgiving and complete trust. When we pray with that attitude, the focus is not at all upon what we are doing or will do, but on what God will do.” (Hansen, Pillar NTC)
59 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Life of Peace: An Exposition of and 4 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 174–175.
G. Walter Hansen, The Letter to the Philippians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009), 292.
But did you notice how we are to pray. With thanksgiving, not only for what God has done, but also what he will do. As a Christian, grace defines your future as much as it defines your past. We can trust God. He may not answer our prayers in the way that we want. He may not right the wrongs done to us in the way that we think he should. But please don’t ever lose sight of the fact that God is at work in your situation. No matter what is going on, he is working. He hasn’t abandoned you. He’s near. So Paul urges us, Pray.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
God brings peace to our minds
Application
Prayer
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