Taking A Careful Look At The Ministry Of Women In The New Testament Church (Part Two)

It is written:

“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” (Philippians 4:2-3)

Euodia and Syntyche were two women who were members of the church in Philippi. For whatever reason, there was some kind of contention between them that Paul had been made aware of. Paul encourages the “true companion” (whoever that is-some suggest Silas, Epaphroditus, or Luke, or someone else) to help these women settle their dispute.

What is especially interesting in regard to our study of the work of women in the New Testament church is the fact that the Apostle Paul declares that these women “labored” with him “in the Gospel,” and the fact that this was in the same way that Clement also assisted.

Now, what does this mean?

By studying the Greek of the New Testament Scriptures, we learn the following:

“The relative pronoun αἵτ νες introduces a subordinate causal clause 2502 that specifies the reason for Paul’s colleague helping Euodia and Syntyche: ‘because they contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement and my other fellow workers’. συναθλέω, originally an athletic metaphor 2503 meaning ‘to contend, struggle along with’, appears for the second time in the letter (see on 1:27). The sphere in which Euodia and Syntyche ‘contended’ was ἐν τ εὐαγγελί (‘in the proclamation of the gospel’, εὐαγγελί being used as a noun of agency; 2504 cf. Rom. 1:9; 1 Thes. 3:2), and this phrase, along with the pronoun μο , makes it plain that Euodia and Syntyche participated in Paul’s own struggle for the advance of the gospel (cf. Phil. 1:30).” (Peter T. O’Brien, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Epistle To The Philippians, 11884-11899 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans’ Publishing Company)

Several things from this passage are worthy of notice.

First, Paul freely acknowledged the importance and value of Euodia and Syntyce in the work of the church’s past, and needed contributions for the future of the church in Philippi.

Second, the very fact that Paul mentions these women and such praiseworthy fashion shows us that the charges of many modern day feminists who attack the Apostle and accuse him of chauvinism are completely false and ungrounded, easily and readily refuted by the clear words of this passage.

Third, Paul teaches us here that these women were instrumental in the act of helping him to “contend” for the Gospel. What did that mean? By studying the other usages of this phrase-and others like it in the New Testament-it becomes evident that the idea is of one who is involved in teaching and defending the Gospel of Christ. As O’Brien points out, the same phraseology used of both Paul and Timothy demonstrates that this is the meaning of the word:

Romans 1:9–For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

1 Thessalonians 3:2-and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,

Fourth, this work of these two godly women was inclusive of teaching both Christians and non-Christians. This is made especially by the fact that Paul encourages all the Christians in Philippi to “strive together” for the sake of the Gospel (the same idea as the work of these women) in defending and teaching the Gospel:

Philippians 1:27-Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

Finally, it is interesting to notice that the work and ministry of these women was put alongside that of the men. In other words, it is clear that the Christians-male and female-worked together in teaching and defending the Gospel of Christ. This reminds us again of the Prophecy of Joel that Peter applied to the Christian Age (Acts 2:16-21).

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