In Philippians 2:1 Paul lays the foundation of these next three verses by describing the reality of God’s grace in the Philippians’ lives. Because of this reality, he tells the Philippians to  “make full (the measure of) my joy.

2 make full (the measure of) my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, with souls united setting your minds on unity; 3 (doing) nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humble-mindedness counting the other better than himself, 4 each looking not (only) to his own interests but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:2-41

How can they make the measure of Paul’s joy full? “by being of the same mind…” The verb tense in the phrase, being of the same mind, indicates that this is to be a “continuous or habitual action”2 It’s something to be done “constantly or repeatedly, customarily; a continuous process or habit.”3

Paul goes on to unfold the habitual actions of like-mindedness—the hows of being of the same mind. William Hendriksen makes an observation about this sentence that makes it easier to see Paul’s main points (color added):

The harmonious connection between the elements of this lengthy apodosis4 would seem to demand that no comma be inserted after σύμψυχοι [the Greek word, sumpsuchoi, translated by Hendriksen as souls united].  The construction then is as follows:  modifying be[ing] of the same mind are the four participles having, minding (“setting your mind on”), counting, and looking.5

Here is Hendricksen’s translation with the color added to the text:

2 make full (the measure of) my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, with souls united setting your minds on unity; 3 (doing) nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humble-mindedness counting the other better than himself, 4 each looking not (only) to his own interests but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:2-4

Those four participles, having, minding (“setting your mind on”), counting, and looking, are words that tell us how we are to think and to act if we are to be continually and habitually of the same mind:

Having the same love: First and foremost, the bottom line of our life is knowing and loving God. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God; our earnest desire to live in obedience and righteousness should flow from our love for God. As together we are having the same love for God, then we will be having the same mind. The second command is to love our neighbor as ourselves. As together we are having the same love for our neighbor, then we will be having the same mind.

Minding unity: As Hendriksen translates it, with souls united setting your minds on unity. When you became a Christian you were united with other believers in Christ.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many….

On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 12:12–14, 22–27

We need to live out who we are, and set our minds on unity.

Counting others better in humility: In the last half of Philippians 2, we have the examples of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus as we see how they followed Christ’s example in their ministry. Paul speaks of Timothy’s concern for the welfare of the Philippians, he writes of Epaphroditus’ ministry to Paul, and he mentions his own joy in being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of their faith. These were men who were living out these words.

Looking to the interests of others: Paul’s words in the second half of Philippians 2, continue to instruct us:

For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.  For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:20-21

Seeking after the interests of Christ means genuinely being concerned for the welfare and interests of others. Prayer and Scripture will be our guide. Prayerful consideration of God’s Word and of those we know can yield a more specific plan for seeking after the interests of Christ for the group God has placed together in a local church. Who are they? What are their backgrounds and circumstances? What are their spiritual gifts? What are the tensions or challenges they face? What needs exist for mentoring, teaching, encouragement, help and stirring up to ministry? How do they to grow in their faith? their hope? their love? How is God uniquely fitting this local body of Christ together to glorify Him? It is truly exciting when you think of all the unique individuals with their own personalities, backgrounds, and gifts and realize that God has specifically placed each in the local body of Christ as He has desired for our mutual benefit and for a witness to the world.

Sadly, I cannot tell you the number of churches I known that have had not only members, but leaders who have ignored these words of instruction that God has given us through the apostle Paul. Many times Christians have stopped short and are satisfied with themselves if they are not living in blatant immorality; however, they continue within some church ministry to be self-centered, territorial and proud as they ignore or shut out others while they continue to ‘serve’ according to their own inclinations. The church at Philippi had some of these problems because Paul towards the end of his letter writes:

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Philippians 4:2–3

From what I have seen and experienced, those churches who continually strive to have the same mind are those in which numerous people are coming to belief in Christ and those in which there is suffering. These circumstances serve as fresh reminders of who Christ is, His work of redemption on our behalf, and help us to keep our first love for Him in worship and gratitude. Those who look out for the interests of others are usually those who are very aware and grateful of the forgiveness they have through Jesus Christ or those who have suffered themselves.

The times we live in are increasingly evil with growing adversity. We must live according to God’s Word to honor God as God out of gratitude for His grace in our lives. Our mutual love is a bright light to a dark world that needs to know our Lord.

Be of the same mind, by
having the same love,
minding unity,
counting others better, and
looking to the interests of others.

Heart-[foto & Concept by paul b. toman], Plismo: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Handshake stylized:
  KVDP, Public Domain
1, 5William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Philippians, Colossians and Philemon (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI: 1962) 97, 99: his translation of Philippians 2:2–4; 99.
2, 3Gary Hill, with consulting editor Gleason L. Archer, The Discovery Bible (Moody Press, Chicago:1987) xv, Fold-Out Flap summary.
4Merriam-Webster defines apodosis as the “main clause of a conditional sentence.”
Philippians 2:1–4 is one sentence. The main clause of the sentence is 2:2–4. Paul sets forth the conditions, the ifs, of this sentence in verse 1. I discussed Philippians 2:1 in Grounds of Appeal, and Paul’s command to “make full (the measure of) my joy,” at the beginning of 2:2 in A Benchmark of Joy.

Original content: Copyright ©2010–2012 Iwana Carpenter

7 thoughts on “Having—Minding—Counting—Looking

  1. Pingback: Lights |
  2. Pingback: Connections |
  3. Pingback: Trumpets |

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s