Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 1

Partners in the work of God

Philippians 1:3-5

Usually, Paul did not accept any gift or payment from the churches where he worked (2 Corinthians 11:7). Instead, he did physical work to provide for himself and his companions (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). He explained his reason in 1 Corinthians 9:18 – he wanted to offer the gospel, God’s message about Christ, without charge. He did not want anyone to think that they could pay for the gospel. It is God’s free gift.

Paul agreed to a different arrangement only with the Christians in Philippi (4:15). He could see that they had a different attitude towards gifts, from the attitude of Christians elsewhere. Elsewhere, many Christians thought that they had a duty to pay Paul; so Paul refused their gifts. At Philippi, and in the surrounding region called Macedonia, the Christians had learnt to be truly generous (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). They recognised that in reality they were giving not to any person, but to God. So they were eager to give; they wanted to share in the work that God was doing through Paul.

So Paul saw them as his partners who shared in his work for God. They had a special place in his thoughts and his prayers. Elsewhere, Paul describes the struggle that he had in his prayers for some Christians (2 Corinthians 11:28-29); however, his prayers for Philippi’s Christians were always with joy. It was as if they were joining him to do his work, and to declare the gospel with him. Of course they had not travelled with him, but they still deserved their full reward (1 Samuel 30:23-25). Paul was sure that God would give them a great reward (Philippians 4:15-19; see also Mark 9:41).

Next part: God will complete the work that he begins (Philippians 1:6)


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