The Expository Files


Memories Are Worth A Lot

Philippians 1:3-5


 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.


Think about memory, association and attitude. Paul tells the Christians in Philippi that he remembers his good association with them. And, that this memory is entertained with an attitude of joy and gratitude to God.

Paul first came to Philippi, simply to preach the gospel to the lost. As he undertook that challenge, he was mocked, seized and imprisoned. He was not treated well in Philippi (see 1 Thess. 2:2).

But now (as a prisoner in another place), Paul is able to write back to Christians in Philippi without any bitterness. He remembers them with an emotion of joy.  “I thank God in all my remembrance of you.”

Just pause here and reflect on how valuable this attitude is. What a high example and standard for us to imitate. It is positive, mature, godly and healthy – to remember the good and reject bitterness and resentment. The painful things of the past ought to be managed by exalting good things and good people. Gratitude to God makes this conceivable.


There is another part of this good attitude toward the saints in Philippi: “…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

How did they “partner” with Paul? What was the nature of their participation or fellowship?

The Christians in Philippi acted toward Paul, based on their commitment to God. They were committed to God, therefore committed to His servants. Not only through prayer.

Later in this epistle we learn that they responded to Paul’s needs. They sent aid to him once and again (Phil. 4:16).

It was not just that Paul was in “their thoughts and prayers,” though that is certainly true. Their commitment to God led to their sacrifice for His servants. Their interests in the lost caused them to support those who faithfully preached the gospel to the lost. Their love for brethren prompted their active love for Paul. All of this can be summarized as their fellowship with Paul.

Because they were connected with God, they were connected with His servant, the apostle Paul. 


From L.A. Mott

Fellowship is joint participation, partnership, sharing in common. From the beginning the Philippians were anxious to do what they could for the advance of the gospel in the world, and had been sharers in the work. Paul had not left Macedonia before they began sending to his need (4:15f). But the partnership had started even earlier when Paul’s first Philippian convert opened up her home to Paul and his associates (Acts 16:15). And 1:27 and 2:14–16 show that the partnership involved more than merely sending money.


This disposition had continued right up until the present, when the Philippians had sent most recently to Paul’s need (2:25–30; 4:10–20). This partnership eis the gospel filled Paul’s memory of the Philippian saints. His entire memory of them caused him to send up praise to God.[1]

From Mark White

AN OLD SAYING GOES, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” If this is true of our ordinary companionships, how especially true it must have been of the apostle Paul and his beloved brothers at Philippi. Paul wrote his commendatory epistle to the Philippians from a Roman prison and forthrightly declared his abiding love and concern for them. It was a reciprocal love. The Philippians alone had supplied Paul’s support “from the first day” (v. 5) and such generosity of both funds and encouragement were particularly significant to this apostle in chains. Paul had been forsaken by nearly every earthly friend he had ever known. Being absent from them, and unsure whether he would ever see them again this side of heaven, Paul penned these words to express his deep thanks for their joyful fellowship in the gospel. This fellowship was the basis for Paul’s appreciation for the saints in Philippi. Even as he finishes the letter, he recalls that “in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only” (4:15).[2] 


  By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 23.2; February 2016