Philippians 1:1-8 Impartation of Grace in the Heavenly Community
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus. To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Paul shares a special and endearing relationship with the believers of Philippi. Their devotion to the works of the gospel, their chemistry and love in the things of God causes Paul to reveal his deepest thoughts and sincere prayers for the church in Philippi. Their enduring support towards Paul causes them to receive the immense apostolic grace that is resident within Paul: the grace for unprecedented revelations, perseverance in the face of opposition, and the power to confirm the gospel through signs and wonders.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus. To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
The believers in the church of Philippi enjoy a very special relationship with Paul. As evident by his opening line: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, for the mere thought of the Philippi Christians brings joy to his heart. That consequently spurs Paul on to fervent prayer for them: always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy. The basis of Paul’s relationship with them is their faithful partnership in the gospel. Partnership is also translated as fellowship (or Koinonia in Greek) means being in close communion, (in this case) sharing the same truths and passion for the gospel work. The most fulfilling times in life are those spent with people who share the same vision, who selflessly support one another through life’s challenges.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Paul is certain that the believers in Philippi will accomplish their calling. In other words, the gospel work that God has started through them will continue to grow and flourish until Jesus comes again: bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. This is rightly so, because Paul has build in them the right foundations for enduring growth in the work of the gospel. And because the believers’ works are but foundations on which the works of future generations will be built, their works will leave an indelible foundation and will continue to flourish even after they die.
It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Paul further elaborates on this Koinonia that he has with the believers in Philippi by calling them partakers of his apostolic grace: for you are all partakers with me of grace. This is not the grace pertaining to the believer’s salvation or blessing but the anointing for apostolic work that gives him perseverance through suffering, revelations of the knowledge of God as well as the power to confirm the gospel message through signs and wonders. The work of the apostle is to go to places where the gospel has not yet reached and to establish the presence of the church.
- The distinctive of a heavenly community is not based on chemistry or common interests, but based on truth and love united by the vision of the gospel. The most fulfilling relationships are those built on truth and love united by the vision of the gospel. The close relationship between Paul and the believers in Philippi, and how they supported him through his time in prison serves as a model for our relationships in church. The fellowship (Koinonia) of believers who are fully committed to the truth and united by the work of the gospel is heavenly and precious.
- Those who participate in the work of a minister will partake of his grace. As grace is imparted through the prayer of the minister, but much more through participation in the minister’s work and vision. The Apostolic grace of Paul: the grace for perseverance, the grace to confirm the gospel through signs and wonders, the grace to receive revelations are imparted to the believers of Philippi because of their participation in his ministry. Jesus says,
He who receives you receives Me, receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. Matthew 10:40-41
- The work of believers should continue to flourish beyond their lifetime; it should serve as foundations for the work of future believers. Therefore, in all our endeavors we must not lose sight of the importance of building foundations that will continue to bear fruit even in our absence. Many parents are concerned about their children’s school results rather than their mindset and attitudes. They should build proper foundations of humility, integrity and excellence in their children through love and discipline. Many managers are concerned about fulfilling their performance indicators so that they may receive their promotions and bonuses. Instead, they should be concerned about building foundations of proper work ethics, justice, and work excellence. Pastors should build foundations in their members by imputing into them the attributes of Christ and proper spiritual disciplines of the word and prayer. In having the right foundation, organizations will function healthily and well poised to face the seasonal tides of the economy.
- Endeavor to build heavenly relationships at church, at home and at the workplace by living out the truth in our life and being willing to admit our own mistakes. Be trustworthy in fulfilling our promises and to speak the truth without exaggeration or prejudice. Do what is right by caring for people and taking care of their physical and emotional needs. At the workplace, always put the interests of the company above your personal interests.
- Participate in the ministry of your pastor, and support him through your prayers and financial support. Be sensitive to the difficulties and the challenges he may be facing. Do not take for granted that all is fine with your pastor, but enquire if he needs prayer support in any area of his life.
Dear Lord, use me to build a heavenly community in my church, family and workplace. Change me and regenerate me as I endeavor to live according to the truth and to speak it. Amen.