I love the book of Philippians. I hope that you will sit on your back porch during a nice sunny day this summer and read the entire book.
I believe Paul enjoyed writing Philippians more than any of his other letters. I enjoy reading the book of Philippians for the same reason that Paul enjoyed writing the letter.
Paul was thanking his supporters who had supported him for many years.
When I read the book of Philippians, I think of men and women that God has called to walk with me for decades in ministry.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:18, and I say “Amen”:
I have received full payment and more. I am well supplied, having received from
Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Paul had been imprisoned in Rome for at least a year when he received an offering from the Philippian church brought to him by Epaphroditus. Paul’s prison was a house that he rented. He provided the house and Rome provided a guard to which he was chained 24 hours a day.
If Paul could not afford to pay for this prison-house, he would have been thrown into a dungeon.
In this situation, if you were running out of money, you would be overjoyed to see Epaphroditus and his offering. And it wasn’t the first time, as the Philippian church had sent offerings at other times during his ministry.
The book of Philippians is a “thank you” letter to his biggest contributor – and the book must be read from this perspective. As Paul says in chapter one:
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 (and my ministry) from the first day until now (v. 3-5).
As I read Philippians today, I was thinking of supporters of my ministry. There are at least a dozen people who have given to my ministry for decades – Fellowship Church, my missions in Russia, the Philippines, and other parts of the world, and even today with Discipling Another.
Reading Paul as he expresses gratitude for those who supported him, I remember the specific names of those who have been generous in my ministry…
It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:7-8).
Paul mentions praying personally for his friends in Philippi:
This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).
I have prayer lists that I have kept for years in which I pray for those who have supported me. With the Apostle Paul and in my ministry, God raises co-workers to help fulfill calling.
The book of Philippians is a personal letter to a church that always helped Paul.
Paul gets personal in chapter one, in a way not found in his other epistles. In the context of discussing his trials, he thinks of going home to Jesus. Let’s pause and consider – have you ever thought during difficulties, “I wish that I could go home to Jesus right now.”?
But Paul concludes:
I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:25).
Heaven or the Philippians – Paul chose his friends in Philippi. I too have experienced the joy of knowing a bunch of Philippians in Springfield, Ohio!