Euodia and Syntyche are two women mentioned in only one short passage in the Bible: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:2–3).
It seems that Euodia and Syntyche had worked directly with Paul to spread the gospel throughout the city of Phillipi, although it is unclear in what manner. The church had begun at a women’s prayer meeting (Acts 16:11–15), and it is quite possible that Euodia and Syntyche were part of that original group. The one thing we know for sure is that these two women were at odds with each other. It is likely the brawl was a public one, due to the fact that Paul had heard about it even though he was currently in a Roman prison “in chains” (Philippians 1:13). Two women fighting in this manner would have put the unity of the believers in Philippi in jeopardy, so it was important for Paul to address the bickering in his letter to the church.
Unity among believers is a common theme in the Bible (see Psalm 133:1; John 17:23; 1 Peter 3:8). Paul himself spoke about unity in several of his letters (1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:11–13; Colossians 3:13–14). In fact, Paul’s plea for addressing the problem was for each member of the church at Philippi to be united in helping Euodia and Syntyche live peaceably with one other (Philippians 2:3).
What can we learn from Euodia and Syntyche? Their example shows that even those who have worked together for the cause of Christ can have disagreements. It also shows the importance of treating one another with love, compassion, and longsuffering (Ephesians 4:31; John 13:34–35). A church warring with itself is in danger of losing its testimony to outsiders. Euodia and Syntyche needed to be “of the same mind in the Lord,” and the other church members were to do all that was necessary to heal the breach. They were all fellow-laborers in the Lord’s work, and their names were all part of the book of life.
Because the church is made up of sinners (albeit forgiven ones), there will be times when division occurs. In these cases, Scripture gives instructions on how to work toward peace. Some of those instructions are found in the very epistle sent to Euodia and Syntyche’s church: “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:2–4). Never does God’s Word allow for gossip, arguing, and fighting over personal matters in the church. Instead, believers are to encourage one another as we prepare for Christ’s return (Hebrews 10:25).