Friday, 2 December 2016
…for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, Philippians 1:5
This clause is to be mentally connected to the words “I thank my God” from verse 3. First, it reads as follows –
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…”
Mentally we can make the connection as such – “I thank my God … for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…”
Paul is grateful for their “fellowship in the gospel.” There are many opinions on what this means. Some claim it is pointing to their reception of the blessings of the gospel. Others say that it is speaking of their continuance in the gospel, being steadfast in adhering to it. What Paul is certainly referring to, however, is their contributing to the furtherance of the gospel. This is what he will allude to both in this epistle and elsewhere. For example, in 2 Corinthians 8 he says the following concerning those in Macedonia, which includes the Philippians –
“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
It is this then which Paul is referring to as “fellowship in the gospel” which they had participated in “from the first day.” They helped Paul, supporting him even when he was preaching in other areas. Their willingness to give was so great that it appears he simply could not refuse their generosity. Because of this, he used an exceptional term, “robbed,” to show that he was relying on their generosity in a way that he felt almost uncomfortable with –
“I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows!” 2 Corinthians 11:8-11
This is what Paul was so grateful for. The poorest of the churches he ministered to were the greatest givers of all!
Life application: The poor tend to give above their ability, even out of their poverty. At the same time, those who are well off tend to give less in proportion to their wealth. Let our hearts be willing to give at all times and in all ways if the cause is right. This is especially so with the furtherance of the gospel. In such cases, it is always right to so give.
Lord God, thank You for those who are willing to expend themselves for the furtherance of the gospel. Some go even beyond their ability because they have such a passion for this marvelous good news which You have allowed us to share with others. There is hope and reconciliation with You through the shed blood of Christ. May we never be found stingy in the giving of ourselves for this purpose, but rather willing to go to any and all extremes to share this marvelous good news. Amen.