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Paul J. Bucknell
Consistency (Philippians 1:27-30) | High Standards (Philippians 1:27b) | Challenge of Relationships (1 Philippians 1:27c) | Opposition (Philippians 1:28) | Challenge of Suffering (Philippians 1:29-30)
Video (Philippians 1:27-30) | Bible Study Questions (Philippians 1:27-30)
Book of Philippians Introduction
Interpersonal Relationship Problems is an expository sermon on Philippians 1:27c which gives us insight into the first of two big challenges to living by the manner of the Gospel of Christ: Interpersonal relationship problems.
Consistency by definition means ‘all the time.’ When we determine to live by the manner of the gospel, we will be challenged.
Paul addresses two challenges that the Philippians faced. Ours might be different, they might be the same, but challenges we will have because the evil one desires inconsistencies which in turn produce the lack of credibility.
“I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
Throughout the book Paul alludes to division among God’s people (1:17, 2:2-4, 4:2) and with others (3:2, 3:17-19). This is hinted at here in Philippians 1:27 by stressing the need for oneness. We can safely assume there is the lack of it.
The apostle, in confirmation to this interpretation, even gets specific at some points. Philippians 4:2 says, “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.” Paul actually names a few leaders and exhorts them to work and serve together. In 1 Corinthians he addresses differences within the congregation much more thoroughly.
Division and contention is a common problem in the church. The evil one seeks to disturb the unity of God’s people through such issues. It is like the immune system fighting itself, but going overboard. There is room for correction in the body of Christ, but not division. Let’s go back and review what Paul actually said here.
Paul gives them two subtle commands. The phrase ‘I may hear’ takes the sense of command out of the statement and instead challenges them with living by the high standard of the gospel.
He wants to hear of this unity among the congregation. In other words, they need to make improvements to reach this standard. Paul is speaking ever so gently with the Philippian church.
‘Standing firm in one spirit’ calls the different individuals within the body of Christ, including the leaders, to actively (i.e. stand firm) work from the same life-giving Spirit.
In one episode of Star Wars once the master warship was destroyed, all of its machine soldiers at the point of victory lost power and crumpled over.
At times the phrase ‘one spirit’ can be interpreted to refer to the Holy Spirit such as in 1 Corinthians 12:9, “Healing by the one Spirit” (also see 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 2:18, 4:4) but he sometimes, like here, uses it to refer to that spiritual power animating the body (1 Cor 6:17). Context, not the original Greek words, determines whether it has a capital ‘S’ or not, that is, whether it refers to the Holy Spirit or not.
The phrase ‘one spirit’ emphasizes the need to focus on their common source of life, that is, through the divine Sprit working in the church. Once they focus on what keeps them together, they can therefore work out what His will is. He redirects the various factions to unite to a deeper purpose underneath the superficial issues that divide them.
‘Striving together with one mind’ goes a step further revealing how ￼Paul anticipates that they work hard together. They are to have ‘one mind’ which calls them to think alike.
‘One mind’ in Greek here (psuche) refers to one’s heart. The phrase in Acts 2:46 is different and refers to a ‘common fierceness’ or passion. Think of many drops of water forming a river. Psuche here, however, refers to the seat of feelings, desires and affections and therefore our heart or soul (Thayer).
They have a common heart. Since they have one new nature after Christ, they have a common desire, and thus are enabled to work closely together, devoting themselves to the gospel.
Once the different parties realize they are opposed to each other, they need, as Paul guides them, to focus on what they have in common, that is, their life-giving Spirit which gives them spiritual life. The commonality of faith in the gospel is the backbone to all their lives, and so Paul properly requests a common drive and focus.
Teamwork in Marriage: One Heart and Mind is part 4 of 5 from the How to Get Married Right! series getting couples ready for marriage. Marriage is team work.
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