Joined Together in Perfect Unity
1Look at how much encouragement you’ve found in your relationship with the Anointed One! You are filled to overflowing with his comforting love. You have experienced a deepening friendship with the Holy Spirit and have felt his tender affection and mercy.
2So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy.
3Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. 4Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. 5And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation.
The Example of Jesus Christ
6He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. 7Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! 8He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!
9Because of that obedience, God exalted him and multiplied his greatness! He has now been given the greatest of all names!
10The authority of the name of Jesus causes every knee to bow in reverence! Everything and everyone will one day submit to this name—in the heavenly realm, in the earthly realm, and in the demonic realm. 11And every tongue will proclaim in every language: “Jesus Christ is Lord Yahweh,” bringing glory and honor to God, his Father!
Believers Shine Like Lights in the World
12My beloved ones, just like you’ve always listened to everything I’ve taught you in the past, I’m asking you now to keep following my instructions as though I were right there with you. Now you must continue to make this new life fully manifested as you live in the holy awe of God—which brings you trembling into his presence. 13God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him.
14Live a cheerful life, without complaining or division among yourselves. 15For then you will be seen as innocent, faultless, and pure children of God, even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture. For you will appear among them as shining lights in the universe, 16offering them the words of eternal life.
I haven’t labored among you for nothing, for your lives are the fruit of my ministry and will be my glorious boast at the unveiling of Christ!
17But I will rejoice even if my life is poured out like a liquid offering to God over your sacrificial and surrendered lives of faith. 18And so no matter what happens to me, you should rejoice in ecstatic celebration with me!
The Example of Timothy
19Yet I’m trusting in our Lord Jesus that I may send Timothy to you soon, so I can be refreshed when I find out how you’re doing. 20Timothy is like no other. He carries the same passion for your welfare that I carry in my heart. 21For it seems as though everyone else is busy seeking what is best for themselves instead of the things that are most important to our Lord Jesus Christ. 22You already know about his excellent reputation, since he has served alongside me as a loyal son in the work of ministry. 23After I see what transpires with me he’s the one I will send to you to bless you. 24And I’m trusting in my Lord to return to you in due time.
25But for now, I feel a stirring in my heart to send Epaphroditus back to you immediately. He’s a friend to me and a wonderful brother and fellow soldier who has worked with me as we serve as ministers of the gospel. And you sent him as your apostle to minister to me in my need. 26But now he is grieved to know that you found out he had been sick, so he longs to return and comfort you in this.
27It’s true he almost died, but God showed him mercy and healed him. And I’m so thankful to God for his healing, as I was spared from having the sorrow of losing him on top of all my other troubles! 28So you can see why I’m delighted to send him to you now. I know that you’re anxious to see him and rejoice in his healing, and it encourages me to know how happy you’ll be to have him back.
29So warmly welcome him home in the Lord, with joyous love, and esteem him highly, for people like him deserve it. 30Because of me, he put his life on the line, despising the danger, so that he could provide for me with what you couldn’t, since you were so far away. And he did it all because of his ministry for Christ.