“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5)
This poignant letter was written to a church that Paul founded early in his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 16:12-15). He endured challenging opposition there, followed for days by a demon-possessed young girl, tossed into prison by an angry business community, beaten and locked immobile into wooden stocks (Acts 16:16-24).
Yet in that dark midnight while Paul and Silas sang the hymns of the faith, God struck the jail with an earthquake and opened both the chains and the doors of the prison. The head jailor became converted, and along with the successful businesswoman Lydia, the seed of a flourishing church was planted (Acts 16:25-34).
It is to these “saints” and the “bishops and deacons” of the church at Philippi that Paul writes. The church has matured enough over the years of Paul’s absence to have established leadership and a strong testimony in that pagan city. The “rememberance” of these faithful men and women gives rise to his thanks to God for their “fellowship in the gospel.”
May we never take for granted the sweet friends that we have known in our churches. Their fellowship is far more valuable than business or political contacts. Theirs is the bond of an eternal brother or sister—theirs is the friendship that is “closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
The apostle John understood this: “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). And because we share in a love for the Lord Jesus and walk together in the “light” of God’s truth, “we have fellowship one with another”(1 John 1:7). HMM III