Fellowship in the Gospel – Philippians 1
‘For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:’ — Philippians 1:5–6
Paul wrote Philippians while under house arrest in Rome. Over the course of his ministry, he had suffered many things for the Lord. Most recently, he had been falsely accused, imprisoned, threatened, forgotten, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake, and left under house arrest for many years. His liberty was curtailed. His situation was difficult. But His mind and His heart were focused on the Lord and on the gospel.
In Philippians chapter one, we find Paul mentioning the gospel five times. Clearly, he was more concerned about the ‘furtherance of the gospel’ than his own comforts.
In verse 5, he expresses gratitude in prayer for their fellowship (partnership) in the gospel from the first day until now. The Philippians did not just receive the gospel when Paul preached it, they wanted to partner with him in gospel work. This meant repeatedly sending funds to support his work (Phil 4:15-17).
In verse 7, Paul said they were partakers (partners) with him in his grace. In everything Paul did, whether imprisonment, defending the gospel, or confirming the gospel, they were with Him. They were His partners and He was confident of God’s blessing on them for this (v.6).
In verse 12, Paul assured them that even though many unpleasant things had happened to him, the Lord was using them to further the gospel. He explains that as a result of his imprisonment, people in the palace and other places were hearing the gospel (v.13). He also said that his example was encouraging others to be bolder to speak the word (v.14).
In verse 17, Paul admitted what others knew that he was imprisoned for defending the gospel. And Paul was prepared to keep standing for the gospel, even if it meant imprisonment.
Finally, in verse 27, ‘gospel’ is mentioned twice. There, Paul challenged the Philippians to live in a way that ‘becometh the gospel’ (makes the gospel look good). He hoped that the next time he saw them or heard of them, that they would be working together as one group for the faith of the gospel.
So, in summary, we see that:
- Gospel work is a cause for partnership (v.5).
- Gospel work requires a willingness to suffer and deep commitment (v.7).
- Gospel furtherance is more important than personal inconvenience (v.12).
- Gospel living requires intentionality and effort (v.27).
- Gospel work requires teamwork and unity (v.27).
How committed are we to the gospel? What are we doing to get the gospel out? How can we partner with other Christians to spread the gospel? How has God providentially caused things to happen in your life that could help to further the gospel?