Commentary on Philippians, 1:1-5 (Participation in the Gospel)

Philippians 1:1-5

“1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”


Paul had a close relationship with Timothy, whom he first met in Lystra. He made such an impression on Paul, that he invited him to join him in his travels (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy was with Paul when he first went to Philippi (Acts 16:6-12). It’s clear that Timothy was with Paul during this time of imprisonment, but not in prison with him. He apparently came at the urging of Paul (2 Ti 4:9). Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, which are now a part of the New Testament.

“saints”  (Gr. hagios – 40)

Set apart ones, separated ones, sanctified ones, pure, clean, set apart from a common to a sacred use.

Is used of all believers in Christ. 


This refers to the spiritual leaders and teachers of the local church, the elders (Acts 20:17,28; 1 Ti 3:1-7; Tit 1:5-9).

“deacons”  (Gr. diakonos – 1249)

Servant, minister, attendant, one who executes the commands of another.

Refers to a distinct class of officers within the local church (1 Ti 3:8-13). They serve under the authority of the overseers/elders.

“2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“grace and peace”

A common greeting of Paul. What do we need more of in this difficult world in which we live, than God’s grace and peace? Furthermore, it’s only by God’s grace that we are able to walk in obedience to God. The granting of grace is dependent on one’s humility before God (Ja 4:6; 1 Pe 5:5). Thus we can only walk in obedience to God as we yield ourselves to Him in total selfless dependence. 

“3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you,”

As discussed in the introduction, this letter to the Philippian Christians is very personal. They were very near and dear to Paul’s heart. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he spend a lot of time thinking about them, and in prayer for them. 

Imagine having the Apostle Paul praying for you! Here was a man who walked with God, and thus, got answers to his prayers. Prayer by a man of God such as Paul would have accomplished much (Ja 5:16-18). The same can be said of men and women of God today. This should encourage us to walk with God in sincerity and total devotion, knowing that God can use us to make a significant difference in the lives of many.

“4 always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy,”

“making my prayer with joy”

As Paul prays for them, he thinks about their faith in Christ and sincere devotion to Him, and also in regard to what he is about to say next. It should thrill our hearts when we see fellow Christians walking faithfully before God. However, we shouldn’t assume that they will continue to walk in faithfulness, and we let down in our prayers for them. We as Christians continually need the help and strength that comes from the prayers of others. On the other hand, it should grieve our hearts when we see a fellow believer straying. In such a case, it should so burden our hearts that we are moved to diligent prayer for them.

Furthermore, as Paul prayed for the church in Philippi, so should we be praying for the church we attend, as well as for other churches that we’re familiar with. 

“5 for your participation in the gospel from the first day until now,”

NLT: “because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.”

“participation in the gospel”

“partnership in furthering the gospel”

This goes back to verse 3, where Paul is thanking God for their “partnership in furthering the gospel.”

“gospel”  (Gr. euaggelion – 2098)

Literally good news or glad tidings.

“participation”  (Gr. koinonia – 2842)

Fellowship, association, community, joint participation, partnership, sharing in a common interest or activity. 


Koinonia in Php 1:5 signifies joint participation and co-operation in the Gospel, not only in financial support (Php 4:14,1 5, 16 note) but also includes prayer support and an eager, wholehearted devotion to the spread of the good news (Acts 16:12-40) Koinonia in this verse does not refer to fellowship primarily with Paul or with each other, but fellowship in the furtherance of the Gospel by their living, loyalty, love, and liberality. The Philippians were fellow laborers or co-laborers with Paul to take the whole Word to the whole world. Immediately upon becoming Christians and continually thereafter, the Philippians had dedicated themselves to living and proclaiming the truth about Jesus Christ, and specifically to helping Paul in his ministry. (cf Lydia Acts 16:15).

“in the gospel from the first day until now”


“This was the Philippians’ joint-participation with Paul in a common interest and activity, that of preaching the Gospel. The preposition “in” is a preposition of motion. This common interest and activity was in the progress of the Gospel. The Philippians supported Paul with their prayers and finances while he went about his missionary labors. This is what he is thanking God for. And this is part of that “whole remembrance” of them for which he is grateful. This joint-participation in the work of propagating the Gospel had gone on from the first day when Lydia had opened her home to the preaching of the Word (Acts 16:15), until the moment when Paul was writing this letter.”

From the first day of our salvation, each one of us should be actively and faithfully participating in sharing and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. That doesn’t mean that we need to go door to door, or to talk to every single stranger we meet, but it does mean to be faithful in sharing our faith as the Lord provides opportunity with those He brings our way. That consists of family, friends, co-workers, school-mates, and other obvious associations and opportunities.

Sharing our faith doesn’t mean forcing the door down, but simply being ourselves, being who we really are in Christ. It means sharing what Jesus means to us, and how He has changed our lives. However, it also means that we should have a good understanding of the gospel message so we can lead someone to faith in Christ as God opens that door. 

Local churches too, have been commissioned to declare the good news about the risen Savior. Pastors should faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without compromise. The tendency today is to present a shallow message, so shallow and so lacking, that one may not understand enough to get saved. The more a person knows and understands about Jesus, and salvation through Him, the better equipped they are to make a decision for Christ. We can never give too much information about Jesus, but we can definitely give too little.

So many churches hesitate to talk much about sin. In fact, some churches even avoid using the word “sin” so not to offend. Sin is what separates us from God, and sin is what sent Jesus to the cross in payment for our sins. Sin must be discussed, and the consequences of sin must be understood by those in need of Christ.

Along the same lines, hell is also a word that churches tend to avoid. A person must know what they’re being saved from. The lake of fire is a reality for those who die in their sins (Rev 20:15). To avoid discussion about hell is irresponsible. Jesus talked plenty about it , and the Bible overall has plenty to say about it. 

Yes, discussion about the personal relationship with God that we gain through faith in His Son is necessary, but that’s only half the story. The other half is where we will spend eternity if we don’t obtain this relationship with God.