Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 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:
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
The apostle Paul had quite an interesting time in Philippi. He went there as a free man to preach the Gospel to the people. Acts 16 gives us some information on his time there. We read in verse 13:
Acts 16:13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
There was no synagogue in Philippi and the Jews met at the river side for prayer. We read that the women met at the river for prayer. It does not tell us where the men were, but this is what was the case at that time.
While Paul was at Philippi, he had opportunity to minister to the needs of several people. One of them was a damsel who was possessed of the devil. Paul, being an apostle, was given the power from God to be able to cast this devil out. As is often the case in false religion, this woman was being used by “her masters” for their financial gain. False religion does not care about the soul of man. It cares about image and power.
Verse 17 tells us that she was speaking the truth about who Paul was and what he was doing. As noted, she was speaking the truth. However, she was a child of the devil. God does not need, nor does He want the devil to promote Him. God does not want people to be deceived into thinking there is something good in the devil. There is nothing good in the devil. Paul would not tolerate this woman’s actions. Through God’s power, he delivered this woman from the bondage she was under.
When this woman was saved, she was no longer interested in her divination that she had been involved in. Biblical salvation changes the recipient of salvation. God does a mighty work in every person that is truly saved. There are many who claim to be saved, but they remain crippled with many sins. That is contrary to Biblical salvation. This woman was one of many who testify to what true Biblical salvation looks like.
In Acts 16 this woman’s masters were not happy with what Paul had done with their slave. They laid hold on Paul and Silas and stirred up the people against them. The magistrates were also involved and they commanded that Paul and Silas be beaten to find out what was going on. Then after they were beaten, they were cast into prison and into stocks. God was not going to allow this to remain like this. He sent an earthquake that shook the prison so much that all the prisoners’ chains were loosed. The prison gates were opened and the jailer, who had been asleep, assumed the prisoners had escaped and was about to take his own life. Paul cried out to him to stop him from taking his own life. No prisoners had escaped. This was not about a prison break. This was about the salvation of a soul which would lead to the salvation of other souls.
You can read more about this in the book of Acts. The point is that through this work of God through the apostle Paul, a church was established in Philippi and in our text, Paul is thanking God for the saints that were in that church. Christians are encouraged by other Christians. The apostle Paul knew these saints because he got to know them through that local church. Fellowship with God’s people is found in walking in obedience to God’s Word.
In verse 4 Paul testified to the fact that every prayer of his on their behalf was a joy for him. He was not grieved in having to pray for them. The church in Philippi was different than some of the others. Jesus mentions that in the book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints in Philippi were of a different spirit than some of the other churches. The same Holy Spirit was at work there, but the saints were more receptive to the work of the Lord in their hearts. Thus as Paul prayed for them, he did not need to plead before God that these carnal saints would wake up as he needed to do with the church in Corinth.
In verse 5 Paul spoke of the fellowship they had in the gospel. Biblical unity is built around the gospel. It is built around truth. It is a unity that can weather the storms and challenges of life. This fellowship went back to the first day he met them and carried on even until that present time. There was a steadfastness in these saints. They were not fair weather saints. They were genuine saints who demonstrated their love for the gospel. It was a pleasure for Paul to think of them and to pray for them. Every true Christian needs encouragement. Those who are called to lead in a local church are concerned for the souls of the people. They have a particular interest in the saints. A true leader wants to see the saints grow. He wants to see them prospering in the Lord. A godly leader would rather encourage the saints to continue to grow, than to have to rebuke them as Paul had to do in Corinth.
In verse 6 Paul was confident in the work of the Lord in the lives of these saints. God does not do a half job. God saves people for His glory. He saves them to serve Him. God is faithful and His love is genuine. Biblical love is not based on emotions or feelings. Biblical love is an action word and it is that selfless love that truly desires to see others be what God intended them to be. God demonstrated that love for Adam before he sinned and He also demonstrated that love after he sinned. He also demonstrated that love for Cain. God is consistent in His love for man.
Those who are saved are adopted into God’s family. They are His children. They will grow in Him because that is His design. Even the carnal saints in Corinth grew in the Lord. God used a different approach to get them to grow. They needed to be rebuked strongly for their carnality. The saints in Philippi were of a more tender heart that did not need that strong rebuke.
We see in verse 6 that God continues His work in His children until they leave this earth and enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In verse 7 Paul spoke of the fact that it was fitting for him to think these thoughts of them all. He had a genuine love for them. This love is a gift that God gives to His saints. True Biblical leaders serve God out of a heart of love, and not based on how much money or other personal gain they can make. Whether Paul was in prison or whether he was standing in defence of the gospel, he knew that the saints in Philippi were not ashamed of him. They were partakers of the same grace that he had. They had the same ability to be strong in the Lord.
This same fact is true for all saints. That is why Paul would be led to remind the readers that he could do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth him. The true child of God can never say “I can’t” to God’s calling for them. He or she may say, “I do not want to”, but the true child of God can serve God according to His calling.
As we see here, it is a great blessing to be a true child of God. God’s blessings are not fleeting. They are real and they are eternal. They motivate the true child of God to serve Him faithfully. They motivate the true child of God to continue on in service for the King.