What to Do When There is Division in the Church—Part 2: Be a Syzygus

Following last week’s post, we’re embracing the new phrase, “Ministry is great, because we get to deal with people.”

Whenever people are involved, there will be times of division and friction. Frankly, that can be a depressing thought and I can be accused of giving up on unity. But nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, I passionately pursue church unity and helping churches deal with division is one of the foundational services of Bible Related Ministries.

Part 2 in dealing with division is: Be a Syzygus! No, that’s not a typo, I believe it’s a man’s name from Philippians 4:2-3.

In the Philippian church, Euodia and Syntyche had a disagreement that became so divisive that Paul mentions it (Philippians 4:2-3). This could not have been any kind of a doctrinal issue for if it was, Paul would have clearly taught them the truth. True doctrine must never be compromised, but every effort must be made to resolve differences of opinion and misunderstandings. We must also be wise to discern between genuine doctrinal differences and petty quarrelling about words which "is of no value, and only ruins those who listen" (2 Timothy 2:14)—and we’ll discuss that discernment in a future post.

Can you imagine how embarrassed these women were to have their names highlighted as causing division? But unity of the faith is more important than individual embarrassment. And to help resolve the conflict Paul calls on a man named Syzygus to help out. Most of our English Bibles read that Paul calls on “yokefellow” or “comrade.” But some versions also have a footnote that the man's name may be “Syzygus.” Paul, in this context, specifically mentions three other people by name, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement. If he really wanted someone to help them out, it seems likely he would mention specifically who was to help them. If not, how would this person know that they are to help?

Either way, the point is that Euodia and Syntyche needed someone to come alongside them to resolve their differences. If two disputing parties can't stand to talk to each other, then someone may have to come alongside. Or if one of the parties will talk but the other refuses, then it may be the place for someone to encourage the refusing party to work things out. Once a dispute begins, people sometimes don't think rationally. They need someone to come alongside. NOT TO JUDGE, BUT TO HELP IN THE PROCESS.

Bible Related Ministries stands ready to walk with you through processes of reconciliation—just contact us here. And if more of us try to be a Syzygus, then our churches can move closer to unity.