Philippians (02): Church Participation
Philippians (02): Gospel Participation in Philippi
Philippians 1:1–6 - Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 1:4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 1:5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
The Foundation of the Church - Last week in our survey of Acts 16, we noted the foundations of the church in Philippi. Paul and Silas followed the urgings of the Spirit to evangelize there. They were sensitive to the Spirit, though they still had to actively “conclude” God’s will (Acts 16:10). By their faith and faithfulness in adversity, God opened the gospel door to all of Europe. In this context Luke joined the apostolic band. The first converts were diverse - a business-woman Lydia and her household, the spirit-medium slave-girl now delivered and the pagan Roman jailer and his household. The charter membership of this church was composed of three different characters and their relations, with very different backgrounds, from three different social classes and likely from three different ethnicities. God’s foundational choices in the church show His love and acceptance of all kinds of people.
The Flourishing of the Church - This core group had grown to include multiple elders and deacons and several ministers associated with them, not only Paul, but also Timothy and Epaphroditus, if not others (Tychicus and Trophimus, Acts 20:4). Philippi was a healthy church but not a perfect church. We learn that there were issues of disunity and disharmony (ch. 2-4). They needed the direct command, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing” (2:14). He extorted two women by name to, “live in harmony in the Lord” (4:2). Real church growth requires patience and perseverance.
The Future of the Church - God was at work in this congregation from the first (v5). Paul encourages them with a future hope that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (v6). Paul was thankful for their “participation” (koinonia) in the gospel. They were “partakers of grace” (v7). They had prayed and provided for Paul (v19). Their participation was being partakers of grace, being prayer warriors and providing practically for the expanse of the gospel. Our maturity (perfection) requires our active participation in gospel-partaking, prayer and giving.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more