“Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.”
“no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.”
Paul and his colleagues were beaten and thrown in a dungeon (Acts 16) in Philippi: “But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict” (1 Th. 2:2). Ten years had now gone by. Paul was in jail in Rome, writing back to the Philippians. He recalled those early years of their financial support.
The word “shared” is a mercantile expression meaning to render to the account of. The Philippians, by their contribution to Paul, opened an account with God. No other church opened an account in the ministry of the apostle during this period.
“Giving and receiving” refers to a double transaction. In the first transaction, gifts moved from the Philippians to Paul. In the next transaction, the blessings of having done that flowed back to the giver.
“If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” (2 Co 9:11)
These words are business terms describing the credit and debit side of the ledger. The Philippians owed much to Paul because he had led them to Christ and nurtured them in the faith. Thus Paul held credits on their ledger. It was only natural that they would honor that credit.
“It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.” (Ro 15:27)
The Philippians formed a partnership with Paul in the gospel. They opened a co-account. That account held both a debit and credit ledger. This was the giving and receiving.
No local church at this time shared their finances with Paul except the Philippians. They were in a class apart. Other churches could have shared with him, but they chose not to do so. They had the opportunity. They knew of his need, but they couldn’t have cared less. There is a big difference between churches. Some care about the lost; others do not. Some churches are evangelistically oriented; others not.
At other times, other churches helped Paul as well (2 Co 9:8,9; 12:13). He refused to accept the Corinthians’ money (1 Co 9:15-27; 2 Co 11:9) because of their carnality. Paul may have been referring to this situation in 2 Corinthians 11:8,9:
“I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you [the Corinthians, a wealthy church, by the way]. And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia [the Philippians] supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.”
When we give financially to the cause of Christ, we enter into partnership (share) with God’s servants.
God keeps account of both credit and debit. If God were to ask you what column, credit or debit, is the biggest, what would you say? What is the size of your appreciation for the ministry of the gospel?
Are you a financial partner in the cause of Christ? When we enter into a partnership with a servant of God by supporting him, a special bond forms between the giver and servant of Christ. We “share” the ministry of the gospel together.