There are three great little nuggets in today’s reading.
First, there is apparently a dispute between to women and Paul encourages everyone to help them work it out. In passing, he mentions someone important:
2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Who is the Clement? Well we know that he is counted among “the rest of [Paul’s] fellow workers”. So he is a religious person, working to spreads the Gospel. He also will take on another starring role, Clement is POPE Clement, the fourth Pope. He will go onto write the Letter of Clement. The letter of Clement is interesting for many reasons. It probably is the one book that came the closest to making it into the Bible but didn’t make the cut because even though Clement knew and learned from the Apostles, he was not an Apostle. Also, the Letter of Clement was written to address a dispute in Corinth. This is significant because Clement has authority to address this dispute despite the fact that John the Apostle was still alive at the time. Thus it is a historical indication that the authority of the Papacy had been established from the outset and was being passed on and appealed to by the Churches.
Second, Paul again evokes TRADITION as a legitimate conveyer of Christian truth:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have LEARNED and RECEIVED and HEARD and SEEN IN ME —practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
There is no doubt that the early Church looked to the Old Testament as scripture. There is no doubt, as Paul himself said, that the letters of Paul were circulated and read in the early Churches. There is no doubt (and we have historical evidence to confirm) that the Gospels once penned were circulated and read in the early Church. However, there should also be no doubt that many things were taught by doing. How to baptize, how to worship, how to perform the Eucharist and others were done by repeating what they had heard and seen from the Apostles. Paul endorses and advocates this.
Finally, again we see that good works have merit. The Philippians have been instrumental in financially supporting Paul. He says this incurs to their credit:
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, BUT I SEEK THE FRUIT THAT INCREASES TO YOUR CREDIT.
So the generous unsolicited support they have given Paul has given them credit. This is again consistent with what we have been reading from Paul over the last few days.