Lessons from Euodia and Syntyche on Division

Like many of the women of the Bible, Euodia and Syntyche are only very briefly mentioned. These ladies get their mention in Philippians 4:2-3 via Paul’s epistle (letter) to the church in Philippi. Not much is known about these two women aside from the things that I will expand upon shortly, however they have much to teach us on the subject of division. And for my auditory people (who prefer to listen rather than read), I've got you covered! You can press play on the audio below. Feel free to download and share also:

According to Philippians 4:3, Euodia and Syntyche “laboured with [Paul] in the gospel,” which suggests that they were both instrumental in establishing the Philippian church. Their role in establishing this church would also suggest that they had leadership roles while Paul was present but, most especially, in his absence. Paul spends much of his letter to the church in Philippi encouraging them, not only to stay grounded in Jesus, but to remain united for the sake of the progression of the gospel. In line with this, he specifically implores Euodia and Syntyche to “be of the same mind in the Lord” given their positions, suggesting that some sort of discord and division had come between them.

Synergy can be defined as:

“The interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements [or] contributions”.

This, in a nutshell, means that when a group of individuals unite and join forces in order to achieve a given purpose, they will be able to produce something that is exponentially greater than they ever could have done by themselves; working individually. The benefit of synergistic relationships is mentioned many times throughout the Bible through scriptures such as:

  • “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language…now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6)
  • “…one can chase a thousand and two [can] put ten thousand to flight…” (Deuteronomy 32:30)
  • “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour…and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 and 12)
  • “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19-20)

By contrast the Bible also warns us that every house or kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25; Mark 3:25) making it abundantly clear that if a group of people are not united for the sake of achieving a particular cause, they will never reap the benefits of synergism. We see these principles in action through the mention of Euodia and Syntyche. They clearly operated from a place of unity initially, which is how they were able to successfully establish the church with Paul in the first place. However, their division threatened to destroy everything that they had achieved thus far in addition to any further progression of their original goal, which was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul was so anxious that they would resolve their conflict and go back to being like-minded. 

Through Euodia and Syntyche we learn that a God-given vision will always require the assembling of a team, as teamwork makes the dream work more effectively and efficiently than doing things alone. However they also teach us that teamwork only makes the dream work if they remain like-minded, just as Paul implored these ladies to be. Without “complete sympathy with the object of the alliance” (in the words of Andrew Carnegie) the vision will fall apart and never come to pass. This is regardless of whether this team consists of a husband and wife, workforce or, indeed, a church. This is also why there are so many scriptures (such as 1st Peter 3:8-11; Ephesians 4:26; Colossians 3:13 and John 13:34) which promote peace, love, forgiveness and quick conflict resolution.

So, what about you lovely? Hebrews 12:14-15 exhorts us to:

“Pursue peace with all people… looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled…”

Are you currently falling short of the grace of God in a particular relationship? Are you allowing any roots of bitterness to spring up within you and cause trouble in any of your interactions with others? If so, is it worth it? Would continuing in this way be worth the loss of the relationship and destruction of the vision you once shared? If yes, you have nothing to lose. If no, it’s not too late to seek reconciliation, submit yourself to the vision and pursue peace for the greater good. Want to know how?