“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.”
This verse introduces a new paragraph running from verse 10 to verse 20. The paragraph deals with Paul’s thanks for the Philippians’ gift of money while he was in jail. The Roman jail did not provide money, clothes, or blankets. Paul was in a desperate situation.
Epaphroditus carried a money gift from Philippi to Rome (about 1,100 miles) where Paul was in jail (4:18). Now Paul expressed his gratitude for the generous gift from the Philippians. This is a “thank you” note from a missionary to a supporting church.
“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly”
Paul rejoiced in this monetary gift, but he recognized that the gift ultimately came from God. This is the last strike of the keynote word “joy” in the epistle. He added “greatly.” His joy in the Lord was great.
His joy, as ever, was “in the Lord.” This is the ninth time the phrase “in the Lord” occurs in this epistle (1:14; 2:19, 24, 29; 3:1; 4:1,2, 4). He saw that it was their love for the Lord that motivated them to give. They sent the gift, but he thanked God as the ultimate source of the gift.
“that now at last”
“At last” is not a rebuke for their neglect of supporting him. He merely indicated a period of time had elapsed since his last thank you note for their support. It was probably over two years since they had given to his ministry. Epaphroditus’ willingness to deliver the gift occasioned the opportunity for them to give.
Everything we possess is ultimately from God.
The way to free ourselves from enslavement to materialism is by recognition that everything is from the hand of God. God provides our employment. If God is the focus of our joy, inner animation of our soul will be constant. If we rest our joy on circumstance, our joy is vulnerable to circumstance.