1. Praise for Their Partnership (vv. 3–8)
Paul could not think of the Philippians without giving thanks to God for their fellowship in the gospel.
The word ‘fellowship’ refers to sharing or holding something in common.
We have a tendency to use the word very loosely these days.
Any gathering of Christians in which there is a feeling of happiness and camaraderie is called ‘fellowship’.
We have almost made the word synonymous with good food and a few laughs. But that, of course, makes Christian fellowship no different from what unbelievers often enjoy.
We can be sure that the apostle had something far different—and better!—in mind. It was more than merely enjoying each other’s company.
It was partnership.
1:3. Paul had developed a particular fondness for the Philippians as he first preached among them about ten years earlier.
The Philippian believers had supported his ministry with monetary gifts and prayer.
Someone has said to be “thankful” is to be “thinkful.”
The apostle expressed his gratitude to God every time I remember you. Christian fellowship is a marvel.
People who by nature have nothing in common find a common life in Christ. Think again of Paul’s ministry in Philippi.
Lydia the slave girl and the jailer had nothing in common until they came to Christ ().
But the gospel of Christ made them partakers of the same life and partners in the same cause.
Because of this bond of fellowship the Philippians had supported Paul in both his ministry and his imprisonment.
They had done the latter by sending one of their number,
Epaphroditus, to minister
1:4. Friends may tell you that they have been thinking of you.
Usually their thoughts are positive, and your heart is warmed.
An even greater encouragement comes when someone reveals to you that they have been praying for you. The Philippians’ labor in the cause of Christ with Paul had given him much joy. Bill Lawrence, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, once said, “Happiness is based on happenings,
but joy comes from relationships.” No doubt the apostle Paul would agree.
1:5. Partnership in the gospel caused Paul’s joy.
The Philippian Christians had supported his efforts since they had trusted Christ as their Savior during Paul’s evangelistic efforts among them from his second missionary journey until the present.
1:6. The apostle is confident of what God has already done and knows that the God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
When God starts a work in our lives, beginning with our salvation,
he will finish it.
As believers, we are to grow in the Christian life becoming more like Christ each day.
This is called sanctification.
Spiritual growth should continue in committed believers until the day of Christ Jesus, that is until Christ returns again to the earth as the angels predicted ().
1:7. Paul makes no apology for his fond affection for the Philippians in being partners in the gospel of Christ. His love for them is not lessened by painful earthly circumstances, nor is their support for him lessened because of his difficulties. They sent Epaphroditus with financial support even to his jail.
1:8. God, himself, is Paul’s witness for what Paul has expressed. Paul loved them with the same unconditional love Jesus exhibited during his earthly ministry, setting the pattern for relationships among all Christians.
to Paul (2:25; 4:18).
The bond of fellowship between the Philippians and Paul was so very strong that he earnestly yearned to be separated from them no longer (v. 8).
To remove all doubt from their minds about how very strongly he loved them he writes: ‘I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ’ (v. 8).
Paul could go no higher than this. His love for the Philippians was such that it reflected the love of Christ himself.
For their victory in the last day (v. 6)
As the apostle gave thanks for the Philippians’ participation in the work of the gospel, he could not help but add a word of thanksgiving for the work of the gospel in them. He was thankful ‘… that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ …’
Paul was very good at slipping little nuggets of breathtakingly glorious truth into the mundane portions of his letters.
This verse is one of those nuggets. It tells us the following:
• SALVATION IS GOD’S WORK. The Philippians did not begin the work of salvation in themselves only to have God come along and add a little to it.
It was entirely his work. God provided the way of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ, and he even enabled the Philippians to receive that salvation.
• SALVATION IS A GOOD WORK. Salvation lifts the sinner from eternal condemnation and ruin and makes that person part of God’s family and a partaker of God’s eternal glory. Who would dare say that this is not a good thing?
• SALVATION IS A SURE WORK. God does not begin it and then abandon it somewhere along the way.
He does not pull his people from the flames of destruction only to allow them to slip back and be consumed. God completes the work of salvation.
We know what it is to plan a work and undertake a work only to see it fail.
But it is not so with God. We must not picture him looking over the redeemed multitude in eternity and saying: ‘We did fairly well. Eighty per cent of the saved finally made it home.’ God will not have to say such a thing because all his people will make it home.
Not one will be missing!
The faithful God will faithfully complete his work!