Philippians 1:5
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
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(5) For your fellowship in the gospel.—More properly, towards the gospel, or, as affecting the gospel. The construction is illustrated by the more limited use of the same Greek word (as in Romans 15:26; 2Corinthians 9:13) in the sense of “contribution”; in which case the word “towards” introduces the objects of the almsgiving there specified. Accordingly St. Paul must be taken here to mean the fellow-working of the Philippians in the ministry of the gospel, of which he speaks still more distinctly in Philippians 1:7. That fellow-working had been shown (see Philippians 4:15) even “in the beginning of the gospel,” by a contribution to St. Paul’s needs—not perhaps his personal needs only—which from them, and (so far as we know) from them only, he consented to accept.

1:1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness. People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear one to another.For your fellowship in the gospel - "For your liberality toward me, a preacher of the gospel." - Wetstein. There has been, however, no little difference of opinion about the meaning of this phrase. Many - as Doddridge, Koppe, and others - suppose it refers to the fact that they participated in the blessings of the gospel from the first day that he preached it until the time when he wrote this Epistle. Others suppose that it refers to their constancy in the Christian faith. Others - as Pierce, Michaelis, Wetstein, Bloomfield, and Storr - suppose it refers to their liberality in contributing to the support of the gospel; to their participating with others, or sharing what they had in common with others, for the maintenance of the gospel. That this is the true sense seems apparent:

(1) because it accords with the scope of the Epistle, and what the apostle elsewhere says of their benefactions. He speaks particularly of their liberality, and indeed this was one of the principal occasions of his writing the Epistle; Philippians 4:10-12, Philippians 4:15-18.

(2) it accords with a frequent meaning of the word rendered "fellowship" - κοινωνία koinōnia. It denotes that which is in common; that of which we participate with others, communion, fellowship; Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Plm 1:6; then it means communication, distribution, contribution; Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13. That it cannot mean "accession to the gospel" as has been supposed (see Robinson's Lexicon), is apparent from what he adds - "from the first day until now." The fellowship must have been something constant, and continually manifest - and the general meaning is, that in relation to the gospel - to its support, and privileges, and spirit, they all shared in common. They felt a common interest in every thing that pertained to it, and they showed this in every suitable way, and especially in ministering to the wants of those who were appointed to preach it.

From the first day - The time when it was first preached to them. They had been constant. This is honorable testimony. It is much to say of a church or of an individual Christian, that they have been constant and uniform in the requirements of the gospel. Alas, of how few can this be said. On these verses Philippians 1:3-5 we may remark:

(1) That one of the highest joys which a minister of the gospel can have, is that furnished by the holy walk of the people to whom he has ministered; compare 3 John 1:4. It is joy like that of a farmer when he sees his fields ripe for a rich harvest; like that of a teacher in the good conduct and rapid progress of his scholars; like that of a parent in the virtue, success, and piety of his sons. Yet it is superior to all that. The interests are higher and more important; the results are more far-reaching and pure; and the joy is more disinterested. Probably there is nowhere else on earth any happiness so pure, elevated, consoling, and rich, as that of a pastor in the piety, peace, benevolence, and growing zeal of his people.

(2) it is right to commend Christians when they do well. Paul never hesitated to do this, and never supposed that it would do injury. Flattery would injure - but Paul never flattered. Commendation or praise, in order to do good, and not to injure, should be:

(a) the simple statement of the truth;

(b) it should be without exaggeration;

(c) it should be connected with an equal readiness to rebuke when wrong; to admonish when in error, and to counsel when one goes astray.

Constant fault-finding, scolding, or fretfulness, does no good in a family, a school, or a church. The tendency is to dishearten, irritate, and discourage. To commend a child when he does well, may be as important, and as much a duty, as to rebuke him when he does ill. God is as careful to commend his people when they do well, as he is to rebuke them when they do wrong - and that parent, teacher, or pastor, has much mistaken the path of wisdom, who supposes it to be his duty always to find fault. In this world there is nothing that goes so far in promoting happiness as a willingness to be pleased rather than displeased to be satisfied rather than dissatisfied with the conduct of others.

(3) our absent friends should be remembered in our prayers. On our knees before God is the best place to remember them. We know not their condition. If they are sick, we cannot minister to their needs; if in danger, we cannot run to their relief; if tempted, we cannot counsel them. But God, who is with them, car do all this; and it is an inestimable privilege thus to be permitted to commend them to his holy care and keeping. Besides, it is a duty to do it. It is one way - and the best way - to repay their kindness. A child may always be repaying the kindness of absent parents by supplicating the divine blessing on them each morning; and a brother may strengthen and continue his love for a sister, and in part repay her tender love, by seeking, when far away, the divine favor to be bestowed on her.

5. Ground of his "thanking God" (Php 1:3): "For your (continued) fellowship (that is, real spiritual participation) in (literally, 'in regard to') the Gospel from the first day (of your becoming partakers in it) until now." Believers have the fellowship of the Son of God (1Co 1:9) and of the Father (1Jo 1:3) in the Gospel, by becoming partakers of "the fellowship of the Holy Ghost" (2Co 13:14), and exercise that fellowship by acts of communion, not only the communion of the Lord's Supper, but holy liberality to brethren and ministers (Php 4:10, 15, "communicated … concerning giving"; 2Co 9:13; Ga 6:6; Heb 13:16, "To communicate forget not"). Your being joined with us and other Christians in the communion of Christ, and glad tidings of salvation by him, 1 Corinthians 10:16,17 1 Peter 4:13 1Jo 1:3,7; evidenced by the communication of your bounty, Galatians 6:6 Hebrews 13:16; your stedfastness and perseverance in all Christian duties from the first time of your receiving the gospel. For your fellowship in the Gospel,.... Or "for your communication unto the Gospel"; that is, to the support of it. These Philippians were one of the churches of Macedonia the apostle so highly commends for their liberality in 2 Corinthians 8:1; they had been very communicative to him, and those that were with him, from the beginning of the Gospel being preached to them: as the instances of Lydia and the jailer show, and which are taken notice of in this epistle, Philippians 4:15; And this same generous spirit still continued, of which their present by Epaphroditus was an evidence; and for this the apostle gives thanks, not only that they had an ability to support the Gospel, and assist Gospel ministers, but that they were willing to communicate, and did communicate, readily and cheerfully, largely and liberally; or this may intend their "participation in the Gospel", as the Arabic version renders it. The Gospel was in a very wonderful and providential manner brought unto them, and it was attended with mighty power to the conversion of them; they received it with joy and gladness, and cheerfully submitted to the ordinances of it; they had much light into it, and spiritual knowledge of it; and were made partakers of the blessings of grace, which are revealed and exhibited in it, and of the exceeding great and precious promises of it, for which the apostle gives thanks to God; for all this was from him, and a wonderful instance of his grace it was. Moreover, through the Gospel being thus brought unto them, and succeeded among them, they became a Gospel church, and had, through the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, fellowship one with another; yea, they had fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, unto which they were called by the Gospel; and in this they remained

from the first day until now; they continued in the Gospel which they were made partakers of, and in fellowship with one another, in breaking of bread, and in prayer, and in hearing the word, which they constantly attended to, and were blessed with communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, to that time; and therefore the apostle continued from the first of their receiving the Gospel, to that moment, to give thanks to God for them on that account: for this last clause may be connected with the words in Philippians 1:3, "I thank my God", as well as with those immediately preceding, "your fellowship in the Gospel"; and shows not only their perseverance in the Gospel, from the first to the present time, as the Ethiopic version renders it, for which he was abundantly thankful; but the continuance of his thankfulness on that account, from his first acquaintance with them to that time.

For your {b} fellowship in the gospel from the {c} first day until now;

(b) Because you also are made partakers of the Gospel.

(c) Ever since I knew you.

Php 1:5 f. Ἐπὶ τῇ κοινων. ὑμ. εἰς τὸ εὐαγγ.] is to be taken together with εὐχαριστῶ, Php 1:3 (1 Corinthians 1:4), and not with μετὰ χαρ. κ.τ.λ. (Calvin, Grotius, van Hengel, de Wette, Ewald, Weiss, Hofmann); for in that case, with the right explanation of ἐπὶ πάσῃ τ. μν. ὑμ., the specification of the ground for thanks would be entirely wanting, or would at all events result only indirectly, namely, as object of the joy. On account of your fellowship in respect of the gospel; by this Paul means the common brotherly coherence (Acts 2:42) which united the Philippians together for the gospel (as the aim to which the κοινωνία has reference), that is, for its furtherance and efficiency. The great cause of the gospel was the end at which, in their mutual coherence, they aimed; and this, therefore, gave to their fellowship with one another its specific character of a holy destination. The correctness of this interpretation is confirmed by the context in Php 1:9, where that which is here expressed by ἡ κοινωνία ὑμῶν is characterized, under the category of the disposition on which this κοινωνία is based, as ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν. As this view is in full harmony with both words and sense, and is not dependent on anything to be supplied, it excludes divergent interpretations. We must therefore reject not only the explanation which refers κοινωνία to the aid sent to Paul (Zeger, Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, Wetstein, Michaelis, Bisping, and others), so that it is to be taken actively as communication (see Fritzsche, ad Rom. III. p. 81, 287), although it is never so used in the N. T. (comp. on Romans 15:26; Galatians 6:6; Philemon 1:6), but also the view of Theodoret, Luther, Beza, Calvin, Grotius, Heinrichs, and others: “quod evangelii participes facti estis,” as if it ran τοῦ εὐαγγελίου (Theodoret: κοινωνίαν δὲ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τὴν πίστιν ἐκάλεσε). Chrysostom and Theophylact, who are followed by most of the recent interpreters (including Schinz, Weiss, Schenkel, Huther, Ellicott, J. B. Lightfoot, Hofmann), understand the fellowship of the Philippians with the apostle, that is, ὅτι κοινωνοί μου γίνεσθε κ. συμμερισταὶ τῶν ἐπὶ τῷ εὐαγγ. πόνων, Theophylact; consequently, their co-operation with him in spreading the gospel, in which case also a reference to the aid rendered is included. In this case, since the text says nothing about a “service” devoted to the gospel (Hofmann), an addition like μετʼ ἐμοῦ (1 John 1:3, et al.), or some other more precise definition, like that in Php 1:7, would be an essential element—not arising (as in Galatians 2:9) out of the context—which therefore must have been expressed, as indeed Paul must have said so, had he wished to be understood as referring to fellowship with all who had the cause of the gospel at heart (Wiesinger). The absolute “your fellowship,” if no arbitrary supplement is allowable, can only mean the mutual fellowship of the members of the church themselves.

The article is not repeated after ὑμῶν, because κοινωνία εἰς τὸ εὐαγγ. is conceived as forming a single notion (comp. on κοινωνεῖν εἰς, Php 4:15; Plato, Rep. p. 453 A).

ἀπὸ πρώτης ἡμ. ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν] is usually connected with τῇ κοινωνίᾳ κ.τ.λ. This connection is the true one, for the constancy of the κοινωνία, that has been attested hitherto, is the very thing which not only supplies the motive for the apostle’s thankfulness, but forms also the ground of his just confidence for the future. The connective article (τῇ before ἀπὸ) is not requisite, as ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν was construed as ἐπὶ τῷ κοινωνεῖν ὑμᾶς (Winer, p. 128 [E. T. 171]). It cannot be connected with τ. δέησιν ποιούμ. (Weiss), unless ἐπὶ τ. κοινων. κ.τ.λ. is also made to belong hereto. If joined with πεποιθώς (Rilliet, following Lachmann, ed. min.), it would convey an emphatically prefixed definition of the apostle’s confidence, whereas the whole context concerns the previous conduct of the readers, which by the connection with πεποιθ. would be but indirectly indicated. If connected with εὐχαριστῶ (Beza, Wolf, Bengel), the words—seeing that the expression πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει has already been used, and then in ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ κ.τ.λ. a transition has already been made to the object of the thanks—would contain a definition awkwardly postponed.

The first day is that in which he first preached the gospel to them, which was followed by immediate and decided results, Acts 16:13 ff. Comp. Colossians 1:6.

πεποιθώς] confidence by which Paul knows his εὐχαριστεῖν, Php 1:3-5, to be accompanied. Without due ground, Hofmann confuses the matter by making a new prolonged paragraph begin with πεποιθώς.[51]

αὐτὸ τοῦτο] if taken according to the common usage as the accusative of the object (comp. Php 1:25), would not point to what follows, as if it were τοῦτο merely (Weiss), but would mean, being confident of this very thing, which is being spoken of (Php 2:18; Galatians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 2:3). But nothing has been yet said of the contents of the confidence, which are to follow. It is therefore to be taken as ob id ipsum,[52] for this very reason (2 Peter 1:5; Plato, Symp. p. 204 A, and Stallb. ad loc.; Prot. p. 310 E; Xen. Anab. 1:9. 21, and Kühner in loc., also his Gramm. II. 1, p. 267; see also Winer, p. 135 [E. T. 178], and comp. on Galatians 2:10), namely, because your κοινωνία εἰς τὸ εὐαγγ., from the first day until now, is that which alone can warrant and justify my confidence for the future, ὍΤΙ Ὁ ἘΝΑΡΞΆΜΕΝΟς Κ.Τ.Λ.

] God. Comp. Php 2:13. That which He has begun He will complete, namely, by the further operations of His grace. The idea of resistance to this grace, as a human possibility, is not thereby excluded; but Paul has not to fear this on the part of his Philippian converts, as he formerly had in the case of the Galatians, Galatians 1:6; Galatians 3:3.

ἐν ὑμῖν] That Paul did not intend to say among you (as Hoelemann holds), but in you, in animis vestris (comp. Php 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:6), is shown by ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν following, by which the language Ὁ ἘΝΑΡΞ. ἘΝ ὙΜΙΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. expresses a confidence felt in respect to all individuals.

ἔργον ἀγαθόν] without article, hence: an excellent work, by which is meant, in conformity with the context, the κοινωνία ὑμ. εἰς τὸ εὐαγγ.

ἄχρις ἡμέρας Ἰ. Χ.] corresponding to the ἈΠῸ ΠΡΏΤΗς ἩΜΈΡ. ἌΧΡΙ ΤΟῦ ΝῦΝ, Php 1:5, presupposes the nearness of the παρουσία (in opposition to Wiesinger, Hofmann, and others), as everywhere in the N. T., and especially in Paul’s writings (Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 297, ed. 2). Comp. Php 1:10; Php 3:20. The device by which the older expositors (see even Pelagius) gratuitously introduce qualifying statements,” Perseverat autem in illum usque diem, quicunque perseverat usque ad mortem suam” (Estius), whereby is meant not “continuitas usque ad illum diem,” but “terminus et complementum perfectionis, quod habituri isto die erimus” (Calovius), is just as un-Pauline as Calvin’s makeshift, “that the dead are still in profectu, because they have not yet reached the goal,” and as Matthies’ philosophical perverting of it into the continual and eternal Parousia.

[51] He makes ver. 6, namely, constitute a protasis, whose apodosis is again divided into the protasis καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον ἐμοί and the apodosis corresponding thereto. But this apodosis of the apodosis begins with διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με, ver. 7, and yet is only continued after the words μάρτυς γ. ὁ Θεός, ὡς ἐπιποθῶ ὑμᾶς, which are a parenthesis, in vv. 8, 9. Such a dialectically involved and complicated, long-winded period would be most of all out of place in this epistle; and what reader would have been able, without Hofmann’s guidance, to detect it and adjust its several parts?

[52] Hofmann also adopts this explanation of αὐτὸ τοῦτο.Php 1:5. On what does ἐπί depend? Surely it follows χαρᾶς of preceding clause (so Chr[38], Th. Mps[39]) rather than εὐχαριστῶ of Php 1:3. It is, at least, awkward to take ἐπί twice with the same verb. μ. χαρᾶς has an emphatic position. Now he gives the reason for his joy.—τῇ κοινωνίᾳ. At the first glance κ. seems to refer to their mutual fellowship and harmony as Christians. A closer examination reveals that this whole passage is concerned with Paul’s personal relation to them. And so κ. anticipates συγκοινωνούς (Php 1:7), and will mean their common participation with Paul in spreading the Gospel. This really includes the idea of united action on the one hand, and the concrete expression of their helpfulness, their gift to the Apostle, on the other. Hort (Christian Ecclesia, p. 44) points out that there is something concrete in the κοινωνία of Acts 2:42. The same is true of Romans 15:26, 2 Corinthians 9:13, Hebrews 13:16. This concrete notion in κ. (almost equiv. to “contribution”) is supported by the use of εἰς, which is employed technically in contexts like this to denote the destination of money-payments, collections, etc. So 1 Corinthians 16:1, τῆς λογίας τῆς εἰς τοὺς ἁγίους; Acts 24:17, ἐλεημοσύνας ποιήσων εἰς τὸ ἔθνος μου. Important exx. from Papyri in Dsm[40], BS[41], pp. 113–114, NBS[42], p. 23. Cf. on the whole idea the most apt comment of Chr[43] ad loc.: ὅταν γὰρ ἐκεῖνος μὲν κηρύττῃ, σὺ δὲ θεραπεύῃς τὸν κηρύττοντα, κοινωνεῖς αὐτῷ τῶν στεφάνων. ἐπεὶ καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἔξωθεν ἀγῶσιν οὐ τοῦ ἀγωνιζομένου μόνον ἐστὶν ὁ στέφανος ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦ παιδοτρίβου καὶ τοῦ θεραπεύοντος καὶ πάντων ἀπλῶς τῶν ἀσκούντων τὸν ἀθλητήν.—τὸ εὐαγγ. It is unnecessary to narrow this down to the preaching of the Gospel. Used comprehensively.—ἀπὸ πρώτης. Cf. the account of their generosity in chap. Php 4:10 ff.—ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν. The same phrase in Romans 8:22. Cf. Papyr. of Faijûm μέχρ[ι] τ[οῦ] νῦν in Dsm[44], NBS[45], p. 81.

[38] Chrysostom.

[39] Mps. Theodore of Mopsuestia.

[40] Deissmann (BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien).

[41] Bibelstudien

[42] Neue Bibelstudien

[43] Chrysostom.

[44] Deissmann (BS. = Bibelstudien, NBS. = Neue Bibelstudien).

[45] Neue Bibelstudien5. For your fellowship in the gospel] Lit. “on account of your participation unto the Gospel”; i.e. because of your efforts, in union with mine, for the furtherance of the Gospel. See R.V.; and cp. 2 Corinthians 2:12, and Php 2:22 below. The immediate reference doubtless is to the pecuniary help sent again and again to the Apostle as a missionary. (See Php 4:10-19.) But the fact and thought would far transcend this speciality.

from the first day until now] See the passage below, just referred to, for comment and explanation.Php 1:5. Ἐπὶ, for) Construe with I thank.—κοινωνίᾳ, fellowship) which has come to you from above,[2] and is practised by you in holy liberality, ch. Php 4:10; Php 4:15-16; comp. 2 Corinthians 9:13.—ἀπὸ, from) Construe with I thank.—ἡμέρας, day) when ye became partakers of the Gospel.

[2] If only the one or the other part of this fellowship, and that too the latter, must be understood, which is performed by the exercise of liberality, and this is the opinion of some, I scarcely understand how the words ἄχρις ἡμέρας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, at the end of ver. 6, can be made to agree with it.—E. B.Verse 5. - For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; rather, as R.V., for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel. This verse should be taken in connection with Ver. 3. St. Paul thanks God for their help, their co-operation towards the work of the gospel. They helped forward the work by their prayers, their labors, and their liberal bounty. This fellowship began "in the beginning of the gospel," when the Philippians sent aid to the apostle at Thessalonica and Corinth; it continued "until now" ten years; they had just sent their alms to St. Paul at Rome by phroditus (Philippians 4:10). For your fellowship (ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν)

Connect with I thank God. For fellowship, see on 1 John 1:3. The word sometimes has the meaning of almsgiving, contributions, as Romans 15:26; Hebrews 13:16. Though here it is used in the larger sense of sympathetic cooperation, yet it is no doubt colored by the other idea, in view of the Philippians' pecuniary contributions to Paul. See Philippians 4:10, Philippians 4:15, Philippians 4:16.

In the Gospel (εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον)

Lit., unto the Gospel: Rev., in furtherance of.

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