Philippians 2:1-4

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

October 16, 2002


Paul has just challenged the Philippians concerning the topic of unity in the church. He’s challenged them by saying that they need to be acting in a manner worthy of the gospel, namely that they ought to be unified:

(Phil 1:27 KJV) Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Paul now continues with this same idea of unity.

:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

Paul uses four “if” statements, all of them are what is called the “first class condition”, meaning that they all assume that the response is “yes”. Is there any encouragement in Christ? Yes. Is there any comfort of love? Yes…

These are reasons why we ought to have unity in the church.


Unity comes from encouragement in Jesus

consolationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment; persuasive discourse, stirring address
(Phil 2:1 ICB) Does your life in Christ give you strength?
(Phil 2:1 NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
Paul is saying that Jesus Himself is an encouragement for them to be in unity.
The disciples had gone through a time of “disunity”.

(Mark 9:33-37 KJV)  And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? {34} But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. {35} And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. {36} And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, {37} Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

They were having “disputes” because they each wanted to be the top dog.

Jesus encouraged them to take the road of humility, pay attention to others, especially children.


Unity comes from the comfort of love

comfortparamuthion – persuasive address; from paramuthia – any address, whether made for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating, or of calming and consoling 1a) consolation, comfort
“to speak to someone, coming close to his side”; “to speak to someone in a friendly way”
“to admonish”, “to reassure”, “to console”; “tender persuasion”
loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence; love feasts
(Phil 2:1 ICB) …Does his love comfort you?
(Phil 2:1 NLT) …Any comfort from his love?
It is the comfort of God’s love for us that ought to bring us all together in unity.  God’s love for us ought to be a “tender persuasion” to get along with each other.  When we allow God to love us, we learn how to love one another.


Unity comes from the fellowship of the Spirit

fellowshipkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse
(Phil 2:1 ICB) …Do we share together in the Spirit?
(Phil 2:1 NLT) …Any fellowship together in the Spirit?
We should have unity because we all are sharing in the Holy Spirit.  He’s what we have in common.
John writes,
(1 John 1:3 KJV)  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Our “fellowship”, the thing that we have in common that draws us together ought to be our relationship with the Lord.
Yet too often we have other things as a basis for our fellowship.
Sometimes we like to hang out with people who look, dress, and talk like we do.
Sometimes we hang out with people who have the same interests, people who like the same ball teams, people who like to play golf.
But our unity ought to be based on the fact that we are all connected to Jesus.


Unity comes from affection and mercy

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides
merciesoiktirmos – compassion, pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion; emotions, longings, manifestations of pity; compassion for the suffering of others, not the mercy that a criminal begs from the judge
(Phil 2:1 ICB) …Do you have mercy and kindness?
(Phil 2:1 NLT) …Are your hearts tender and sympathetic?
Unity comes when we have the same kind of affection and compassion upon each other.
These are both words that have the focus on the other person, being concerned about the other person.  We’ll see more of this in the next couple of verses.

:2 Fulfil ye my joy,

fulfil yepleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; to render full, i.e. to complete. Aorist imperative. “fill full”

joychara – joy, gladness

Paul is saying that it would really make his day if the Philippians could get a hold of this idea of unity.

:2 that ye be likeminded

likeautos – himself, herself, themselves, itself; he, she, it; the same

mindedphroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious; to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for; to seek one’s interest or advantage; to be of one’s party, side with him (in public affairs). Present active subjunctive.

sameautos – himself, herself, themselves, itself; he, she, it; the same

We could translate is, “that you be same-minded”, that you “keep on thinking the same thing”

:2  having the same love

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence; love feasts

havingecho – to have, i.e. to hold; to have i.e. own, possess; to hold one’s self to a thing, to lay hold of a thing, to adhere or cling to

:2  being of one accord

one accord sumpsuchos (“with” + “soul”) – of one mind, of one accord; The word refers to being united in spirit or harmonious (A&G).

Robertson – “harmonious in soul, souls that beat together, in tune with Christ and with each other”

:2  of one mind.

oneheis – one

mindphroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious; to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for; to seek one’s interest or advantage; to be of one’s party, side with him (in public affairs). Present active participle.

This is very similar to “be likeminded”, but here it’s being “one-minded”

"Thinking the one thing." Like clocks that strike at the same moment. Perfect intellectual telepathy. Identity of ideas and harmony of feelings (Robertson)


We need to be a team

Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. The book Iacocca records Lombardi’s answer: There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don’t win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you’re going to play together as a team, you’ve got to care for one another. You’ve got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself “If I don’t block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his.” The difference between mediocrity and greatness, Lombardi said that night, is the feeling these guys have for each other.
In the healthy church, each Christian learns to care for others. As we take seriously Jesus’ command to “love one another,” we contribute to a winning team.

-- Christopher Stinnett, Leadership Magazine, Vol. 15:3,Walled Lake, Michigan, Summer 1994, p. 49.

:3 Let nothing be done through strife

nothingmedeis – nobody, no one, nothing

strifeeritheia – electioneering or intriguing for office; apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, fractiousness; This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means. (A&G)

“selfish ambition” (NIV); “selfishness” (NAS)

When our focus is on ourselves, the result is that we want to just get rid of each other rather than work things out.


Cross-country Drive

Four men are driving cross-country together: one from Idaho, one from Iowa, one from Florida, and the last one is from New York. A bit down the road the man from Idaho starts to pull potatoes from his bag and throws them out the window. The man from Iowa turns to him and asks, “What are you doing?” The man from Idaho says, “Man, we have so many of these darned things in Idaho. They’re laying around on the ground, I’m sick of looking at them!” A few miles down the road, the man from Iowa begins pulling ears of corn from his bag and throwing them out the window. The man from Florida asks “What are you doing that for?” The man from Iowa replies, “Man, we have so many of these darned things in Iowa. I’m sick of looking at them!” Inspired by the others, the man from Florida opens the car door and pushes the New Yorker out.

:3  or vainglory

vainglorykenodoxia (“empty” + “glory”) – vain glory, groundless self esteem, empty pride; a vain opinion

“vain conceit” (NIV); “to make a good impression on others” (NLT)

The word is found in one other place in the New Testament:

(Gal 5:24-26 KJV) And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. {25} If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. {26} Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
In this section of Galatians, Paul has been talking about the contrasts between the flesh and the Spirit.
It seems that verse 26 is a little out of place, but in reality, Paul is warning of three things that can end up feeding the flesh, including “vain glory”.


Worthless attention

We sure like getting attention.  There is a part of us that loves having attention.  There’s a part of us that loves having at least a little of the spotlight shined on us every once in a while.
This is empty glory
Merv Griffin and the body builders – what do they do with all that muscle?
One afternoon on the Merv Griffin Show, years ago, Merv interviewed some body builders. Merv was standing there, looking at those guys who had muscles on their muscles, and he asked the obvious question, “What do you use all these muscles for?”  One guy answered by flexing his muscles in a typical body-building pose. Merv, taken back by the response, replied “You don’t understand me. I asked, what do you use all those muscles for?”  The same guy said, “Here, I’ll show you.” And he posed again for the camera.  For the third time Merv asked the question again. He was obviously growing irritated. “No, No. You still don’t understand my question. Read my lips. What do you use those muscles for.”  And for a third time the guy posed again.

-- Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat, p. 26-27.

Be careful when you find yourself seeking attention.  Attention really doesn’t do that much for you.  It’s just something to show off.

:3 but in lowliness of mind

lowliness of mindtapeinophrosune (“not rising far from the ground” + “mind) – the having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind;

Not the making of one’s self small when he is really great, but thinking little of one’s self, because this is in a sense the right estimate for any human being, however great.


Key to unity - humility

R.C. Chapman, a pastor and teacher back in 19th century England, wrote a book called “Agape Leadership”. He has a couple of great quotes about “unity”:

“Pride nourishes the remembrance of injuries: humility forgets as well as forgives them.”

“When mutual intercession takes the place of mutual accusation, then will the differences and difficulties of brethren be overcome.”

“Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the secret of division”.

:3 let each esteem other better than themselves.

let … esteem hegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think;

A belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts.

“consider others” (NIV); “regard one another” (NAS)

other allelon – one another, reciprocally, mutually

betterhuperecho – to have or hold over one; to stand out, rise above, overtop; to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power; to excel, to be superior, better than, to surpass


Honor others

Leave your crown at home.
At a reception honoring musician Sir Robert Mayer on his 100th birthday, elderly British socialite Lady Diana Cooper fell into conversation with a friendly woman who seemed to know her well. Lady Diana’s failing eyesight prevented her from recognizing her fellow guest, until she peered more closely at the magnificent diamonds and realized she was talking to Queen Elizabeth! Overcome with embarrassment, Lady Diana curtsied and stammered, “Ma’am, oh, ma’am, I’m sorry ma’am. I didn’t recognize you without your crown!” “It was so much Sir Robert’s evening,” the queen replied, “that I decided to leave it behind.”
President Reagan used to have a sign on his desk that read: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”

:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

his own thingsheautou – himself, herself, itself, themselves

every manhekastos – each, every

look skopeo – to look at, observe, contemplate; to mark; to fix one’s eyes upon, direct one’s attention to; to look to; often meaning “to scrutinize, observe”. When the physical sense recedes, “to fix one’s (mind’s) eye on, direct one’s attention to” a thing in order to get it, or owing to interest in it, or a duty towards it. Hence often the same as “to aim at, care for etc.”

of othersheteros – the other, another, other

every manhekastos – each, every

also – You aren’t supposed to completely ignore your own responsibilities, but you are to be paying attention to what others need around you.

(Phil 2:4 ICB) Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.

(Phil 2:4 NASB) do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.


Selfishness kills relationships

It’s what separates marriages.
A reader of People Magazine wrote a letter to the editor about actor Kevin Costner’s plans for divorce from his wife Cindy after 16 years of marriage. She wrote: Kevin is quoted as saying, “I wish I could stop and raise my family, but this is my time.” Poor Kevin. When was Cindy’s time? When she helped him form his career, when she had his three kids, or when she raised them by herself?

 -- Sally Wood, People Magazine, November 28, 1994, p. 6.

God wants to stretch our hearts, not shrink them.
The widest thing in the universe is not space; it is the potential capacity of the human heart.  Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions.  And one of the world’s greatest tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.

-- A.W. Tozer in The Root of the Righteous.  Christianity Today, Vol. 34, no. 3.


Think of others

The greatest illustration of this is the Lord Jesus Christ.
He thought more of our needs than His own.
He saw that we needed someone to deal with our sin, and He stepped in and paid the price by dying on the cross in our place.
It’s actually a very healthy thing for us.

Years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic was asked, “If someone felt a nervous breakdown coming on, what would you suggest that he do?” “If you feel a nervous breakdown coming on, I would urge you to find somebody else with a problem—a serious one—and get involved with that individual, helping him solve his problem.” In helping him to solve his problem, then in reality your own problem is going to disappear. You’re no longer thinking internally. You’re no longer letting things gnaw at your stomach. You’re no longer getting disturbed about yourself because you’re not thinking about yourself. You’re thinking about others. I don’t know what your objective in life might be, but there is something each one of us can do.

I think this is one of the keys to a healthy marriage, learning to think more of the other person’s needs than of your own.

Dr. Willard Harley in his book entitled His Needs, Her Needs points out the priorities of the sexes in the order of importance:

A man desires:

1.  Sexual fulfillment

2.  Recreational companionship

3.  An attractive spouse

4.  Domestic support

5.  Admiration of his wife

A woman desires:

1.  Affection

2.  Conversation

3.  Honesty and Openness

4.  Financial Support

5.  Family Commitment

I find it interesting that none of the “needs” on “his list” are the same as the “needs” on “her list”.
If these were your spouse’s needs, how well are you doing at meeting them?  What do you think your spouse would say?
These may not be your spouse’s exact needs, but do you know what your spouse’s needs are? We must learn to understand each other’s needs and work to meet those needs.
(1 Pet 3:7 NASB)  You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.