“For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now”
Paul was in the process of thanking God for the Philippians. He said, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you . . . for your fellowship in the gospel . . . ” One reason Paul thanked God was for the fellowship they had with him in getting the gospel out. Of all the churches with which Paul was associated, it is quite apparent that the church at Philippi was the closest to his heart. He loved them all, but the Philippian church loved him more than other churches did. He was saying, “I wish I could be out of jail and be with you folks.”
“For” means on the basis of. Paul gave thanks based on some substance. Paul’s capacity for thanksgiving went beyond “warm fuzzies.” His love for them had a cause to it—their participation in advancing the gospel.
“your fellowship in the gospel”
“Fellowship” means a community of interest, co-operation, sharing things in common. The Philippian church participated in the gospel. Their interest was in getting the gospel out. They cooperated in advancing the cause of Christ.
They had a partnership in the gospel. An old saying about fellowship among Christians is that it is “two fellows in one ship.” They had an association with Paul in getting the gospel out to the world. That is partnership in the gospel.
“from the first day until [the] now”
This church supported the apostle Paul from the first day they met until the moment he wrote them while sitting in jail. They never forgot him. They continued to support him. It was now over ten years later, and their commitment was still faithful to him. No wonder he thanked God for them.
In the last chapter at verse 10, Paul said:
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak regarding need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Php 4:10-12)
Paul was talking here about financial support. Of all the churches, the Philippian church was the church that remembered that Paul had a stomach as well as a soul. There were occasions when they lost track of him. But whenever they found him, they supported him financially.
The Greek indicates that their commitment to him was unbroken— “until [the] now.” In Greek, the word “now” has a definite article before it. This means that right up to the moment Paul was sitting in jail, they were still supporting him. They had sent a messenger from Philippi to give Paul financial support. That messenger almost lost his life in the process of doing so.
Getting the gospel out requires joint participation.
Getting the gospel out requires joint participation. Paul viewed those of us who support the messengers of the gospel as participating in evangelism.
Have you given yourself to the missionary cause heart and soul? What are you doing concretely to participate in advancing the gospel?