“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…”
The Philippian church was one of the best churches in the New Testament but they were not without their problems. They had an ongoing personality conflict. Two women were holding an ongoing feud. People began to support one or the other; the church began to polarize into two groups. As a result the whole church was taking sides. The church found itself in a very vexatious situation.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed”
The “therefore” connects these verses with verses 8-11. This word acts like a hinge which connects the Philippians to Christ. Christ gave himself in humility, even the humility of a criminal’s death. The whole point of the illustration of Christ is to show the Philippians true humility. The “therefore” draws an inference from the example of Christ. They are to keep their motivation for their relationships with Christ in view.” My beloved” indicates that Paul is using sensitive language. This expression also reminded them of their love for the apostle. Paul is not angry; he is grieved. It broke his heart to think that a church he founded was about ready to split. They were not sharing Christ, they were not sending out missionaries. They were more concerned with who was right. Their only concern was to determine who was right, Euodias or Syntyche. “Which side are you on?” The church reduced to taking pot shots at one another.
“As you have always obeyed” means that in the past they were obedient to Paul’s authority when he challenged them to change.
“not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence”
Paul could not come to Philippi; he was in jail. Paul no doubt wished he could come and sit down with Euodias and Syntyche and work out their differences with them. He hopes that they will respond to his authority now that he is absent. That is, that they will obey God’s Word, the book of Philippians.
Principle: Intense relationships God’s Word needs to be applied to one’s life independently of people.
Application: Are you contributing to a schism in a local church? Is having your own way more important than the progress of the gospel? Are you willing to let the Word of God so grip you as to not allow your relationships to deteriorate?