Sunday, March 4, 2007

Partners in the Gospel--Philippians 1:5

“…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

Paul has been discussing his thankfulness to God for the Philippians. He is thankful because of their remembrance of him, which reflects their “partnership” in the gospel. The word there for “partnership” is often translated “fellowship”. In this instance “partnership” is actually the favored translation. In our modern times we have lost the biblical meaning of the word fellowship. D.A. Carson explains well:

In common use “fellowship” has become somewhat debased. If you invited a pagan neighbor to your home for a cup of tea, it is friendship; if you invite a Christian neighbor, it is fellowship. If you attend a meeting at church and leave as soon as it is over, you have participated in a service; if you stay for coffee afterward, you have enjoyed some fellowship. In modern use, then, fellowship has come to mean something like warm friendship with believers.[1]

Carson goes on to explain the biblical meaning of fellowship. In that culture the word commonly had “commercial overtones”. If two people go into business together then they have entered into “fellowship”. As Carson points out, the “heart of true fellowship is self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision”. Paul’s biggest reason for joy then is the Philippian partnership in the advancement of the gospel.

Paul is reminded of the Philippian partnership from the first day until now.[2] One of the first converts, Lydia, immediately invited Paul and his companions to stay at her house. Even after Paul left Philippi to continue on his missionary journey the Philippians sent numerous gifts to him on his way to Thessalonica. Not only were they passionate about giving to Paul but to the believers in Jerusalem as well. We learn in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 that even though the Philippians were poor they contributed well beyond their means to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Furthermore, the Philippians had recently sent Epaphroditus along with gifts to assist Paul during his imprisonment. The Philippians truly modeled, “self-sacrificing conformity to the shared vision” of advancing the gospel.

Could Paul be thankful for us? Could he see in the way that we live our lives, the way we spend our money, the way that we spend our time and energy, a “self-sacrificing conformity to the shared vision” of advancing the gospel?

Ask yourself today:

In what way am I a partner in the gospel?
What am I doing to advance the gospel?
What way can I improve in advancing the gospel?

[1] Carson, D.A., Basics for Believers, p.16
[2] To read about the gospel first coming to Philippi read Acts 16

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mike!
    Well I just wanted to leave a comment because I havn't for a while. And I wanted to let you know, that I may not be at youth this coming Wendesday. I hit a deer Saturday night coming home, and messed up my car pretty bad. But I'm fine, a little shakey! But if Lisa comes, I'll probably ride with her; just depends. But in case that I'm not there, I'd like have a pray requise. Arran Ragon passed away Thursday, and he was REALLY good friends with my brother and cousin; and so I would just like for ya'll to pray for his family. And also Lee Gilmore who is friends with my brother got in a wreck Thursday morning, has a LOT of broken bones in his face and everywhere; so just pray for him also. And like I said, I may be there; just depends.
    Well thanks for everything you've done for me! :)



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