Gospel Fellowship – Philippians 1:5
Phil 1:3-5 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.
In a previous post, I wrote about Paul’s history with the church in Philippi and the kind of people that God uses.
He is thankful for them.
He is thankful for the fact that they have been unable to keep their salvation stories to themselves!
That’s what he says in verse 5, that is thankful for their partnership in the gospel. These were the kind of people that the partnership (or as some versions put it – the “fellowship” of the gospel) was at the centre of their relationships with other believers.
The word that Paul uses for “partnership” is the Greek word “koinonia” and we do often translate it as fellowship. Over time this we have come to think of fellowship as something like Christian friendship. We talk about fellowship in terms of what we do after church service but I don’t think the New Testament talks of fellowship in that way. This is why the translators of the ESV have translated it as “partnership”.
What I think Paul means is that we have a joint commitment to an enterprise. So to enter into “koinonia” is to have a commitment, together, to see the gospel as the shared goal. In this letter Paul will thank God for their partnership in this way
- the money that they sent to help Paul continue with his ministry
- their prayers for him
- their commitment and love for each other
Christians have a “joint enterprise” to see that God’s purposes in the gospel come about in the area that they can influence. Each of us has a duty to this gospel goal. Practically supporting ministry, spiritually supporting ministry through prayer and showing acts of kindness and mercy to one another is the way we join in this partnership.