Therefore, my brothers dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
I. LOVE. "Beloved and longed for" is not a mere hurried phrase, or a gush of exuberant feeling that quickly dries up. There are rivers which dip down and flow underground, and then come out again into the light. So Paul's love, always flowing though some times unseen here sparkles in the sunshine. This love was grounded —
1. In a common discipleship of the same Master. To love the same Saviour opens a new fountain of love in our hearts. As men are drawn to Christ, they are drawn closer to each other.
2. In the fact that they were the fruit of his ministry. They were the "joy" of his soul travail and the "crown" of his labour. Of all bonds this is the closest. Are ye not wise enough to win souls and be a joy and a crown to one another?
II. STEADFASTNESS. To do the right thing is good, but to stand fast in it is better.
1. Men get hindered and move away from the hope of the gospel.
2. It is a grand thing to stand fast to what is good and true in this changeful world (John 8:31; Matthew 10:22).
3. Some stand fast in their Churchmanship, Presbyterianism, Methodism, Independency; but we may stand fast in these out side things without being "in the Lord." That is the only standing fast worth anything. Stand fast in Him, and He will stand fast by you.
III. UNITY. Euodias and Syntyche had disagreed, and were exhorted to be of the same "mind."
1. Not of the same opinion, Paul knew too much of human nature to expect that.
2. The word has reference to the disposition rather than to the intellect. There is a way of holding truth in love to those who differ from us, and in the midst of differing creeds to be of the "same mind." The apostle appeals to both in the same way, so as to leave no suspicion of favouritism. O that all the wrangling Euodiases and contentious Syntyches would hear this admonition. High Church Euodias and Low Church Syntyche, Conforming Syntyche and Nonconforming Euodias say to one another as Abraham did to Lot, "Let there be no strife between me and thee."
3. The centre and circumference of this unity is "in the Lord." There is no real unity in creeds or formularies, in uniformity of discipline and worship. Every true Christian is united to Christ, and through Him each to the other. The world waits to believe until the disciples of Jesus are one. How long shall we keep them waiting?
IV. MUTUAL SERVICE. Ver. 3 is full of work and workers.
1. There was the "true yokefellow." A yoke signifies hard work. Oxen are yoked together for work, and this person must have worked shoulder to shoulder with Paul.
2. There were the women who laboured with him in the gospel. These women had their "rights," glorious rights to labour in the gospel. Would there were more candidates for these honours.
3. Clement was no fine gentleman sitting at ease in Zion, doing nothing himself and finding fault with those who did work. That Church at Philippi was a hive of bees. No wonder they were so exemplary. They were too busy to be mischievous. Depend upon it God helped them all.
4. Think of the honour Paul assigned them — "Whose names are in the book of life." As the Jews of old kept a register of the living in their tribes and families from which the dead were blotted out, so God keeps a book of His living ones who will never die. Paul knew their names were there because of their character. They were living ones, and were giving the best possible proof of life, viz., work. Dead people do not work. Love and help one another. Are our names in the book of life? If not read Revelation 20:15.
5. It is the Lamb's book of life. The matter can only be dealt with at the Cross of Jesus.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.