So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
(Philippians 2:1-2 ESV)
Over the past two days we’ve read the beginning of Paul’s exhortation to the believer’s in Philippi to remain strong in the face of external opposition [Philippians 1:27-30]. Now Paul begins to tell them how to build the strength they need to do this.
There are four classes of conditional statements (“if… then” statements) in Greek. Here Paul uses the first-class conditional four times. A first-class condition assumes the condition is true for the sake of argument. Another way of stating what Paul says here is “Since there is…”.
Paul builds four rhetorical questions around these condition that are true not only of the Philippian believers, but all believers. As Paul states, the truth of these realities should result in us living in a certain way.
All believers in Christ have 1) encouragement from being united in spirit with Jesus, 2) comfort in knowing they are loved by God, 3) the Holy Spirit actively participating in their lives, and 4) a heart that cares for other believers. There is no doubt about any of this. All these things are 100% true of every born-again believer. We may not always feel encouraged or loved by God. But nevertheless, we are.
Since all believers all over the world have the four common gifts from God simply because we are His adopted children, then we should be united in the way we treat other believers. We should display tolerance and love (“same mind” and “same love”).
The context of this passage is the opposition we will face as believers [Philippians 1:29-30]. Believers cannot stand strong in the face of external opposition if we don’t have internal unity. If we don’t belong to a strong fraternity of believers who are united because of our faith in Christ and what he has done for us, we will crumble in the face of criticism and ridicule from the outside world.
Such harmony among believers is another great witness to an unbelieving world. We should demonstrate the same love, tolerance, and patience that God demonstrates for us. When we do the world around us will take notice.
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