Fellowship in the Gospel

I. The opening greetings are significant.

A. The church at Philippi was founded by Paul early in his ministry.

1. Philippi was a Roman city near the Agean Sea in southern Greece.

2. Philippi was the first city visited by Paul after the Macedonian vision (Acts 16:9-12).

3. Philippi had a core group of Jews who “worshiped God” (Acts 16:14).

a. Paul usually began his ministry in a synagogue of each city.
b. Jewish tradition required 10 men to open a synagogue.
c. Apparently, there was no such synagogue in Philippi
d. Apparently, the only group was a ladies “prayer meeting”

4. Thyatira business woman, Lydia, was saved and began a “household” meeting in Philippi (Acts 16:15).

5. Philippi was the source of early testing (Acts 16:16-24).

a. Demon possessed girl harassed Paul for “many days.”
b. Trade guild sought political interference.
c. Multitude went into a riot against Paul and Silas.
d. Magistrates beat them and threw them into jail.

6. Philippian church was expanded with the converted Jailer (Acts 16:25-40)

a. Paul and Silas sang hymns while in prison.
b. Angels released them with an earthquake.
c. Jailer’s question and conversion is classic.
d. Jailer’s household was converted and baptized.
e. Paul used his Roman citizenship to advantage.

7. Philippian church received love and counsel from Paul

a. Epistle reflects his deep love for them (Philippians 1:3-8; 4:1, 15-19; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
b. Epistle provides corrections for potential problems (Philippians 2:2-3; 4:1-3)
c. Epistle warned about false teachers (Philippians 3:2; 1:29)
d. Epistle was likely written from Rome – note “the palace” and “Caesar’s household” (Philippians 1:13; 4:22).

B. The introduction and salutation give keen insight.

1. Paul does not introduce himself as “an apostle” but rather as “the servants of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1)

a. He seems to stress his service not his authority; the use is adjectival not appositive or titular.
b. He couples “servant” with “apostle” in two other letters (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1).  All others open with “Paul, an apostle…”

2. Paul salutes “all the saints” at Philippi.

a. Used elsewhere only in 2 Corinthians as inclusive of others.
b. Used here as a specific reference to the membership.

3. Paul specifically mentions “the bishops and deacons.”

a. This is unique to Philippians.
b. This recognizes the maturity and organization of the church.
c. Bishop, Pastor, and Elder are adjectival titles of the same office (Acts 20:17-28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
1) Bishop = overseer/administrative (1 Timothy 3:1-2Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25)
2) Pastor = shepherd/to feed (Ephesians 4:11; Hebrews 13:20; John 10)
3) Elder = One who is mature (James 5:14; Titus 1:51 Timothy 5:17, 19)
4) Should be a plurality in every church (Titus 1:5)
d. Deacon is the “minister-servant” of and for the church (Acts 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:12).

4. Paul desires grace and peace to be granted to the church (Philippians 1:2).

a. Grace (charis), depending on the context, can mean and underserved favour, or merely “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.”
b. Peace (eirene), holds meanings of “harmony, concord, security, safety, prosperity, felicity.”
c. This is the common greeting of Paul in all his letters.

5. Paul acknowledges that grace and peace comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.

a. This full title is never used in the Gospels.
b. This full title is always used by Paul in his letters.
c. This full title stresses the complete role of the unique God-Man: “Master” and “Saviour” and “Messiah

II. The opening prayer is especially personal (Philippians 1:3-5).

A. Thanksgiving for “remembrance” is often mentioned.

1. The Greek word is mneia, most often translated “mention.”

2. The “mention” of others is Paul’s common prayer.

a. Romans and the Ephesians (Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16)
b. Timothy and Philemon (2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4)

3. The “mention” implies and requires personal experience.

B. Joy is the attitude of “prayer” and “request” for the church.

1. The term translated “prayer” is deesis, an intense form of personal entreaty (Anna . . .  “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” – Luke 2:37)

a. Romans 10:1 -- Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
b. Philippians 4:6 -- Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

2. The term translated “request” is the same word, deesis, emphasizing the deeply personal relationship that Paul had with the Philippians.

3. The joy of Paul is expressed many times to the church in this Book.

a. Philippians 1:25 -- And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
b. Philippians 2:2 -- Fulfil ye my joy that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
c. Philippians 2:29 -- Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness and hold such in reputation:
d. Philippians 4:1 -- Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

III. The reason for this prayer is their “fellowship in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5).

A. Paul uses a number of terms to describe this “fellowship.”

1. Philippians 1:7 – “…the defense and confirmation of the gospel”

2. Philippians 1:12 – “…the furtherance of the gospel”

3. Philippians 1:17 – “…the defense of the gospel”

4. Philippians 1:27 – “… as it becometh the gospel of Christ…striving together for the faith of the gospel”

5. Philippians 2:22 – “…hath served with me in the gospel”

6. Philippians 4:3 – “… laboured with me in the gospel”

B. Paul assumes an acknowledgement of “fellowship” requirements.

1. We are “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

2. We are called into the “fellowship of Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:9)

3. We are called into the “grace of Christ” (Galatians 1:6)

4. We are called “unto liberty” (Galatians 5:13)

5. We are called “in one hope” (Ephesians 4:4)

6. We are called “out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9)

7. We are called to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:3-7)

a. 1 John 1:3 – “… truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ”
b. 1 John 1:5 – “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”
c. 1 John 1:6 – “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth”
d. 1 John 1:7 -- “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”

C. Paul assumes a commitment to “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)

1. The CENTRAL reference to the gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

a. It is the DEFFINITION passage for the Gospel: the death, physical burial, and bodily resurrection
b. It is to be “received” and “believed” by faith, once for all
c. It is the means by which we are “saved” continually and forever
d. It is the fact upon which we firmly “stand”
e. It is emphatically to be defined, understood and preached “according to the Scriptures.”

2. The FIRST OCCURANCE to the gospel is in Matthew 4:23

a. It is “preaching the gospel of the kingdom.”
b. It is vital to stress the FINAL CONSUMMATION when Christ will finally be acknowledged by every creation to be: “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:7)

3. The LAST OCCURANCE to the gospel is in Revelation 14:6

a. It is “the everlasting gospel” and must be preached to all nations
b. It insists that we “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

4. The gospel is as much WHO Jesus is as WHAT he did.

a. Neglect the creation – there is no foundation or ability
b. Neglect the Cross – there is no efficacy or authority
c. Neglect the coming Kingdom – there is no hope or joy


John 1:1-3 -- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
1 Timothy 3:16 -- And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Acts 1:11 -- Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

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