Partnership in serving Christ
This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:1-6
Paul, in his second missionary journey established the church in Philippi (see Acts 16). Later on, while still in Philippi, Timothy came along side and joined him in his work with the believers in Philippi. Paul calls himself and Timothy “slaves of Christ Jesus.” Such title, “slave” relate to the themes of humility and service that Paul will build upon throughout the letter. Though the church in Philippi looked up to Paul and Timothy as their leaders, they would rather prefer to be identified with being “slaves of Christ Jesus.” It is the “grace and peace” that come from God that provides the quality of life for those undeserving His goodwill who placed their faith in Him. Then Paul introduces the themes that he will be discussing in this letter. The first is joy: “I make my requests for all of you with joy.” Second, it is their partnership “in spreading the Good News about Christ” with him that is the immediate cause of Paul’s joy here. Philippi was the scene of the first church in Europe, and they have continued their support of Paul’s ministry since their founding. Paul expresses no greater love for any church than this one because of their continued support. It is a joy for Paul to realize that there are believers who remain in partnership with him in reaching others for Christ especially in the time that he was writing the letter while in jail in Rome. Third, there is a need for perseverance: “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6). The Philippians, who have been Paul’s partners in the gospel, will continue in their good work until Jesus returns. The responsibility of continuing the work of the gospel is emphasized. It is interesting, however, that it is God who does this work through them. It is through God’s grace that Christians can continue until judgment day itself. Christians remain steadfast and strong until the day Christ returns for it is He who will sustain them; “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).