I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
(Philippians 1:3-5 ESV)
Paul’s time in Philippi was not pleasant. He was beaten, put in prison, and eventually thrown out of the city because his teachings (actually God’s teachings) were disruptive to the corrupt way of life there. Yet Paul’s memories as he writes this letter don’t reflect the hard times he had there. Instead, he focuses on the good that happened there while giving all his thanks to God for the people he met and worked with in Philippi.
Additionally, we need to remember that Paul was writing this letter under very difficult circumstances. He was under house arrest in Rome awaiting execution. He was chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day (the guards took 4 hour shifts). He had no privacy and no ability to earn a living. It would not be unreasonable for Paul to need cheering up under such circumstances. Yet he is full of joy because he remembers the goodness of those who partnered with him in the advance of the gospel.
This goodness was manifested in the generosity of the Philippians towards Paul while he was living among them [Acts 16:15, 16:32-34] and also after he left [2 Corinthians 8:1-7, 9:1-4, 11:9]. As we’ll learn a bit later, Paul was prompted to write this letter after he received a monetary gift from the Philippians. He needed financial support and the Philippians were all-to-happy to provide it. They were concerned for his welfare. When we are in need we can identify our true friends by their concern and assistance.
The Greek word translated “participation” here is κοινονια (pronounced: koy-nohn-ee’-ah). This word reflects a deep commitment to another person or to a cause. The Philippians were committed to the work that Paul was doing to teach the truth to others about how to have eternal life.
God has appointed some of us to go and some of us to send. God calls many to be missionaries – to go to another part of the world and teach others about Jesus. But they need financial support from those back home for this to happen. Either way, we can all participate in the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ around the globe.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.
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