Paul's thanksgiving is not finished. Verses 3-4 focused on the Philippian believers themselves and Paul's joy in remembering them in prayer. He now indicates the basis of his joy, which serves as further reason for his thanksgiving: their partnership (koinonia) in the furtherance of the gospel.
The precise nuance of koinonia in this clause, however, is not easy to pin down. Usually translated into English as "fellowship," the word primarily refers to participating in something rather than sharing something in common with others. Its basic sense here, then, is "participation in the spread of the gospel," which in light of verse 7 very likely carries the further connotation of doing so in "partnership with Paul."
It does not take much reading of Paul's letters to recognize that the gospel is the singular passion of his life; that passion is the glue that holds this letter together. The gospel, especially in Philippians, for Paul refers primarily neither to a body of teaching nor to proclamation. Above all, the gospel has to do with Christ, both his person and his work. To preach Christ (vv. 15-16) is to preach the gospel, which is all about Christ; to preach the gospel is to proclaim God's good news of salvation that he has effected in Christ. Thus Paul's joy in prayer is prompted by their partnership in [the furtherance of] the gospel.
The present focus is on the Philippians' longtime association with Paul in the gospel, from the first day until now. According to the rest of the letter this took place in two ways: first by their sharing with him of their material means as he is imprisoned for the sake of the gospel (4:15-16); second by their proclaiming, and living in keeping with, the gospel in Philippi, where they are urged to "contend as one [person] for the faith of the gospel" (1:27) as they there "hold out the word of life" (2:16).
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Upgrade to remove banner ads and unlock new features!
For the best Bible Gateway experience, consider an upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll get reduced banner ads and a huge digital Bible study library. Try it free for 30 days!