Therefore, my brothers dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.…
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. These words suggest to us certain ideas concerning genuine Churchism. Churchism, of course, implies a Church or Churches, i.e. community or communities of men. Here in England we have what is called the Church, which its ministers seemed delighted to call "our Church." Here also we have Churches which sectarian leaders somewhat arrogantly call "our Churches. Such Churches are too frequently assemblages of men characterized often by ignorance, exclusiveness, and intolerance. Now, neither in our Church" nor "our Churches" do we always find genuine Churchism. But the text suggests certain things essential to genuine Churchism. It suggests -
I. How the members should be esteemed by their TRUE PASTOR. They should have the deep tender love and strongest and devoutest wishes of the pastor. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." What an accumulation of strong epithets of affection are here! "Longed for;" yearned after. "My joy;" that is, the source of my joy; his chief interest was in them. "And crown;" by this is meant that he gloried in them, he prided himself in them. Then follows his ardent desires for their highest good. That they should "stand fast in the Lord," that they should be "of the same mind in the Lord," that they should help one another, etc. An affection of this kind implies the existence of two things.
1. The existence in the pastor of a loving nature. There are men who claim to be pastors of conventional Churches, not always blest with the most amiable natures; they are irascible, splenetic, etc., belonging to the generation elsewhere called the "children of wrath" - that is, their nature is more or less malign. You have only to hear the querulous tones of their voice and the ideas they express in their discourses to feel this. Their ideas are more like yelping curs scratching the earth than singing birds soaring into sunshine. They irritate their audience.
2. The existence of a lovable character in their disciples. The audience must have a loving nature; for if the pastor, however lovable himself, is amongst people of a morally unlovable character, how can he feel affectionately towards them? Genuine Churchism, then, implies a spiritually loving pastor and a morally lovable charge.
II. How the members should act in relation to THEMSELVES. Three things are indicated here.
1. Moral firmness. "Stand fast in the Lord." Moral firmness implies not only deeply rooted convictions, but a strongly settled love. Moral firmness is as opposed to obstinacy as to vacillation. It is a state of mind settled in its chief faiths and loves; it is "rooted and grounded in the faith." Where there is not moral firmness in the members of Churches there is no genuine Churchism. Genuine Churchism implies moral manhood of the highest type.
2. Spiritual unity. "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." These names in all likelihood represent women. Paul had many women belonging to his charge, and who co-operated with him in his work. in the long list of greetings to the Church at Rome (Romans 16.) we have the names Priscilla, Phoebe, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, etc. It is not improbable that the two women mentioned here, Euodias and Syntyche, had fallen out, as is not very uncommon with the sex. The apostle's request is that they should be reunited, that they should be harmonious in sentiment, affection, and aim. Unity is essential to genuine Churchism; all must be one.
3. Religious happiness. "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Be happy in your religion. Happiness is an essential element in genuine religion. "I am come that ye might have life [happiness], and that ye might have it more abundantly." Christly men are filled with all "joy and peace in believing." Happiness is not only a privilege of the disciples of Christ, but a duty. It would seem that it is as wrong for the disciple of Christ to be unhappy as for him to break any of the ten commandments; for the command to rejoice is founded on the same authority as "Thou shalt not steal." A community that is sad and gloomy is destitute of genuine Churchism.
III. How the members should act in relation to EACH OTHER.
1. They should exercise mutual helpfulness. "I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also." Who the "true yokefellow" was, whether Luke, or Lydia, or Epaphroditus, no one knows. It matters not. It was some one who was well known to be a co-worker with Paul, and he asks, on behalf of the women who labored with him and others, for co-operation. Genuine Churchism implies mutual co-operation: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ."
2. They should exercise social forbearance. "Let your moderation [forbearance] be known unto all men." In most social circles there is much to try men's patience one with another. All are more or less imperfect; hence the need of forbearance, magnanimous self-control. Pray ever for our enemies; do good to them that spitefully use us.
IV. How the members are connected with THE EMPIRE OF CHRIST. "Whose names are in the book of life." (For the "book of life," see Daniel 12:1; Revelation 2:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 21:27.) From that book the name may be blotted out now (Revelation 2:5; Exodus 32:33) till the end fixes it for ever. There is a peculiar beauty in the allusion here. The apostle does not mention his fellow-laborers by name; but it matters not - the names are written before God, in the book of life. If they continue in his service those names shall shine out hereafter when the great names of the earth fade into nothingness. The names of all the citizens in a city have a registration; so metaphorically the names of all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem are duly enrolled. God registers the names in this book. He omits none who are entitled to it, makes no mistake in the record. The "hook of life." Ah, what names are there! How illustrious, how multitudinous, how increasing! Genuine Churchism implies the registration of names in this "book."
V. How the members should act in relation to the GREAT GOD. "Be careful for nothing [in nothing be anxious]; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
1. All-confiding. "Be careful for nothing." "Take no anxious thought for the morrow." Unbounded confidence in the paternal government that is over all.
2. Ever prayerful "In everything by prayer." Prayer is not words, it is a life; not a service, it is a spirit. "Pray without ceasing." An abiding, practical realization of dependence on God is prayer, and this should be constant as life - the very breath of the soul.
3. Always thankful. "With thanksgiving." Being the recipients of mercies, unmerited, priceless, and ever increasing every minute, the spirit of thanksgiving should throb with every beating pulse. Conclusion: Brothers, have you genuine Churchism? Talk not to me about your Churches. You must have genuine Churchism in order to be identified with the "Church of the Firstborn written in heaven." - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.