In this new devotional series, we’ll take a look at the book of Philippians. New posts should be available most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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 1:1-5
Paul opened his letter to the church at Philippi with his standard greeting. He identified himself and Timothy who was with him and possibly helped him to pen the letter, and wished God’s grace and peace upon the church and its leaders.
After this, Paul spoke of his thankfulness for the church. This was also something he did with most of the churches, the most notable exception being his letter to the churches of Galatia, since they were straying from the gospel. Yet, in most letters, even if Paul has to correct many problems in the church, he still was thankful for the things they do right.
In the case of the Philippians, that was their partnership in the gospel. This partnership brought not only thankfulness but also joy to Paul, a theme that runs the course of the letter. He was joyful because of the work of the church and God’s work in them, and he desired that the church share that joy.
The root of his joy was their gospel partnership “from the first day until now.” We read about Paul’s missionary journey to Philippi in Acts 16:11-40. The first converts of the city were Lydia and others in her house. She partnered with the gospel by giving Paul, Silas, and Timothy a place to stay and the ability to use her house as their home base to spread the gospel. After casting out a “spirit of divination” from a slave girl that was making her owners rich, Paul and Silas were thrown into prison, where their jailer was led to Jesus and assisted them further.
Even though Paul and his missionary team were then asked to leave the city by the governing forces, their ministry continued and the example of the early converts led to furthering the spread of the gospel through Paul’s work. In Philippians 4, Paul spoke to at least one aspect of their partnership—their financial gifts. Sometimes, they were even the only church to give to Paul. Still, he had reached a point where he was well supplied.
The call for us is to follow the example of the Philippian church and assist those who spread the gospel to further reaches of the earth. We can do this through our prayers, through encouraging notes, through supplying for their various needs, and through sending people who can help them in their task. After all, we accomplish more together than we do apart.