Euodia and Syntyche

“I call on Euodia and I call on Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true friend, help them who have labored in the Gospel with me and Clement and the my other fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life.”

(Philippians 4:2-3)

We find inserted into Paul’s exhortation a kind of private admonishment. He says that he urges, he calls upon, or he pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord. We really know very little about these women nor do we know much about their dispute, which has led people to a great deal of speculation. We might infer, perhaps, that these women might have been amongst the women who were praying with Lydia when Paul first went to Philippi (Acts 16:13, but again, that is speculation as we cannot say for sure.

Some commentators have gone on to suggest that these women each represented a faction within the church (perhaps a Jewish one and a Greek one), but again, there is no evidence in the text of such a matter and the names attributed to each are singular. Further, given Paul’s emphasis on the principle that women were not to be teachers of the church (1 Corinthians 14:33-34; 1 Timothy 2:12), it seems hard to believe that Paul would not have addressed the matter of factions in more depth and rebuked their folly (as he does in the Corinthian letters). What is best to presume is that these two ladies ,who were known to Paul (they had been his fellow workers in Philippi), had a quarrel that had separated them from one another’s fellowship. And thus, Paul is calling on them to reconcile and upon the church to help them do so.

Like with of Euodia and Syntyche, we also know little of Clement. There is no evidence that this Clement is the same Clement as who would become a leader of the church of Rome in the late 1st century. Again, we simply do not know for sure. It is possible, but that is speculation.

What we do know about these people is that they are genuine Christians despite whatever disagreement these ladies had. Paul speaks of them as having their names written in the Book of Life. And where such is the case, reconciliation should always be the goal. How sad it is when we find professing believers in our midst that refuse to forgive and to reconcile with one another. Beloved, strive toward reconciliation with those believers from whom you have become separate, you will spend eternity together, you might as well start getting the relationship in proper order in the here and now.

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