A Call To Unity & Humility: Implications of The Gospel
“1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NASB)
The church is described in many ways in Scripture. Three ways it is figuratively described are the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12-12-27), the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-32) and a building/holy temple (Eph. 2:19-22). We would do well to notice how these references always point to some sort of relationship between members. The word church is derived from the Greek word ekklesia. Ekklesia is a combination of two Greek words: the preposition ek, which means out of and kaleo which means to call. The church is an assembly people who have been called out of sin and into the kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ. This reality points to the fact that the church is in a reconciled relationship with God (Col. 1:19-22). It is on this basis of this reconciled reality that Paul continues his exhortation to the Philippians and to us in chapter 2.
In verse 1, Paul names five realities of this reconciliation that form the foundation of his exhortation. These five realities are things that the Philippians have experienced having been reconciled to God. The first two deal with Christ and the last three deal with the Holy Spirit. They are encouragement, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection and compassion. To grasp the full weight of these verses, the word “if” is better rendered as “because” or “since” according to Greek grammar rules. Literally it means, “Because you have encouragement in Christ, because you have consolation of love….”
The word for encouragement is the Greek word paraklesis. Paraklesis is composed of two Greek words, para which means beside or near and kaleo, which we’ve already seen means to call. So we can see that paraklesis means to call beside or to call near to oneself. We see a fuller picture of this word when we consider that the Holy Spirit was referred to as The Comforter (Paraklete) by Jesus in John 16. Consolation is the word paramuthion. Paramuthion literally means to speak tenderly or encouragingly toward or cheerfully toward for encouragement. This is the picture of how Christ relates to us because of our union with Him. He’s called us near to Himself and he constantly encourages and lovingly comforts us.
The next reality is fellowship of the Spirit. Fellowship is koinonia which means intimate communion or a sharing of one self. Understanding the work of the Spirit in the life of a believer helps us to understand what Paul meant by this. As believers, we are regenerated by the Spirit, indwelt and sealed by Spirit, enabled and empowered by the Spirit for service. He also intercedes for us and produces Godly character in us. Affection and compassion respectively mean deep seated and tender mercies for. Christian, this is our reality! These five realities are true for us as they were for the Philippians. This is a cause for rejoicing!
The goal of these spiritual realities is to see the same attributes displayed in the life of the Philippians. While Paul sincerely rejoiced (1:4) in the way the Lord was working in their lives (4:10-16), his joy was not complete because of internal strife between two women Eudoia and Syntyche(4:2). While we’re not sure what their disunity was, we know that whatever it was was an issue enough for Paul to call for their harmony. The reason why Paul calls for harmony was so they could rightly display the gospel and to advance the gospel with locked arms. This would complete his joy that he mentioned in verse 2.
Prayer: Lord, help us to think more deeply about these 5 spiritual realities we have experienced and because of that, may we consider how these realities are being demonstrated in our lives for the sake of the gospel.