I thank my God on every remembrance of you,…
The apostle's usual practice was to begin with thanksgiving. He delights to recognize good in those to whom he writes, even where there is much to reprove. In melancholy contrast stands the Epistle to the Galatians. In a Christian the natural outflow of gladness is in thanks to our Father in heaven. More distinctively Christian is it when the heart gives thanks for the good of others; but most of all when, as here, for the spiritual good of others.
I. AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE FOR THE PAST HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPIAN CHURCH (vers. 3-5).
1. Its object — "My God." The "my" well illustrates the broadening influence of Christianity; its tendency to slay the selfishness of the human heart. The wise believer knows that the widening of the range of blessing brings no diminution of individual blessing.
2. Its occasion. He had vividly before him "the kindness of their youth, the love of their espousals" to the Saviour. With this good beginning he knew that their history since had on the whole accorded. How rare in any age such a Church! How sweet to a pastor such a memory.
3. Its form.
(1) When a minister sees God's blessing plainly resting on his work, his sense of gratitude impels him with peculiar power to prayer. This is the proper and healthful influence of gratitude to God for any gift.
(2) Prayer offered with thankfulness will be distinguished by gladness.
4. Its ground. Every true Church is an association for advancing the gospel.
(1) This fellowship was first and fundamentally with Christ.
(2) In Him they had "fellowship in relation to the gospel" with each other. The advancement of each other's piety and peace and the extension of the gospel was an object of definite pursuit.
(3) This fellowship was with all Christians — with their friend Paul for example.
II. THE EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE FOR AN ASSURED HOPE IN REGARD TO THE FUTURE.
1. Every work of God is good, particularly His work of saving grace, which makes sinful men "good." Paul believed that the same grace would bring the good work to completeness. God does not do things by halves.
2. Having this happy conviction Paul is confident that the good would be carried on "until the day of Jesus Christ" — the day of the resurrection when body as well as soul will be glorified.
3. But diligence, watchfulness, and prayer, is necessary "to make our calling and election sure." The perseverance of the saints is a perseverance in faith and holiness.
(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,