Philippians 1:3-5, “3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
Partnership is crucial for any worthwhile endeavor in life. The saying “no man is an island” is certainly true. The current American zeitgeist of rugged individualism is a fairy tale. We cannot do anything in life without the partnership of other people. The Apostle Paul certainly understood this as he traveled the world on three missionary journeys. He relied on the support of others to help fund his trips, and none was more dear to him than the partnership of the church at Philippi. He writes at the end of his letter to them that “no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:15). They had helped support his ministry from the time he left Macedonia during his second missionary journey through the end of his third missionary journey. At the time of his writing this letter, Paul was in prison in Rome. He was writing them to thank them for their recent gift as well as to encourage them in the faith. Yet, in so doing, one could infer that Paul was also encouraged by his remembrance of the communion Paul had with the church.
Prayer in Gospel Partnership
In this passage, Paul writes about two aspects of gospel partnership. The first aspect of gospel partnership is the importance of prayer. In almost all of his letters, Paul shares early in the letter that is praying for the recipient. His letter to the Philippians is no different. Paul’s main prayer for the Philippian believers is one of thanksgiving. He is thankful for their gospel partnership and is compelled to bring them before the throne of grace in prayer. Prayer is the most basic form of gospel partnership. While it consists of other aspects, such as the giving of resources and talents, without prayer, it would just be charity. Prayer is what makes gospel partnership Kingdom work. It is the recognition that the partnership is not just for the common good, but has an eternal purpose. The work to which Paul is in partnership with the Philippians has an eternal impact. Prayer is what makes that possible. When the two parties have done all they can do, the Spirit of God is working behind the scenes to accomplish the will of the Father. Prayer connects the gospel partnership to the work of God in the world.
Joy in Gospel Partnership
The second aspect of gospel partnership that Paul discusses in this passage is joy. Paul writes to the church at Philippi that he has joy “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (v.5). Joy is a gift from the Lord and not a result of emotions or circumstances in life. Despite Paul’s circumstances of being in prison, he is joyful because of his partnership with the Philippian believers. Joy in the Lord for these precious friends brings him comfort in a season of suffering and despair.
All this shows is the importance of gospel partnership in the Christian life. Although every Christian will one day stand before God alone, they cannot walk the journey of faith alone. Joy is an essential aspect of the Christian life because it reminds us of others who are fighting the good fight of faith alongside us. Who in your life are you thankful for in their partnership and support as you walk together? Are you praying for them and are you joyful to the Lord for them and their friendship?
Zach is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs at zachkendrick.wordpress.com, and is a contributor for Servants of Grace. He has written book reviews for Cross-Focused Reviews, Crossway, New Growth Press, Tyndale House Publishers and Fortress Press. He resides in Birmingham with his wife, Courtney.