Commentary on Philippians, 1:6-7 (Partnership in Ministry)

Philippians 1:6-7

“3 I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you,
4 always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy,
5 for your participation in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;
7 even as it is right for me to think this about you all, because I have you in my heart, seeing that both in my chains and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.”

(Note: For those of you who have been following along in this commentary, you know that I have already provided an interpretation for verse 6, which I have removed from this website. However, I wasn’t feeling a lot of peace about it, and after continued prayer, study, and carefully thinking through the context, I’ve come to the conclusion that Paul is not talking about salvation here….even though this is a common interpretation of this verse. The idea that Paul has their (our) salvation in mind, isn’t being true to the context, that it’s out of harmony with the subject matter, which is the Philippian’s partnership in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ. To interpret Paul as referring to salvation, I think is more of an assumption, rather than a careful consideration of Paul’s discussion).

“6 being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

In verse 5, Paul is thanking God for the Philippian’s partnership in furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is Paul’s introduction to what he’s about to say next in verse 6. That’s the subject matter. He’s not talking about their salvation, he’s talking about their faithfulness in advancing the gospel through their support of Paul’s ministry, both through their prayers and through their financial support (Phil 4:15-18). Also, I think we can safely assume that they too were personally active in spreading the gospel message themselves (Phil 1:27-28).

With that in mind, we come to verse 6. Paul is confident that the work that God began in them, would continue all the way to the day of Jesus Christ. In other words, the beginning work of furthering the gospel message through them, would continue to produce fruit all the way to the time of Christ’s return. We see that clearly today. Their support of Paul and his ministry has continued through his writings of the New Testament. Through him, the gospel of Jesus Christ is still being proclaimed, and people are still being led to faith in Christ. Thus he was assuring them that their active support and joint-participation would not be in vain (1 Cor 15:58), but would reap great rewards all the way to the end of the church age, when the last individual is saved. 

“perform”  (Gr. epiteleo – 2005)

Bring to successful conclusion, bring to completion, carry out till finished, perfect, accomplish.

“until the day of Jesus Christ”

Until the return of Jesus Christ.

Refers to to that day when Jesus “comes in his glory” at the end of the age (Matt 25:31-34,41,46). This is the time when Jesus defeats all His enemies, and the world stands before Him to be judged and to be cast into the eternal lake of fire. It’s also a time when we believers will stand before Him at the Judgment seat of Christ to give an accounting of our lives (Ro 14:10-12; 2 Cor 5:9-10). This is the time when God creates a new heaven and a new earth, and sets up His eternal kingdom, where we will spend eternity in His glorious presence (Rev 19:11-21; 20:11-15; 21:1-5; 1 Cor 15:23-26).

7 even as it is right for me to think this about you all, because I have you in my heart, seeing that both in my chains and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.”

“even as it is right for me to think this about you all”

“think”  (Gr. phroneo – 5426)

To think, to feel, to be of an opinion, a mindset, set the affection on, to consider. Involves the will, affections, and conscience.

With this statement, I believe Paul is referring back, not so much to what he says in verse 6, but to what he says in verses 3-5. In other words, he’s expressing his heart and appreciation for them, as the next phrase of this verse indicates:

“because I have you in my heart”

The Greek allows for the following rendering:

“because you have me in your heart”

However, the context suggests that the correct rendering is “because I have you in my heart”:

Verse 3:  “upon all my remembrance of you”
Verse 4:  “in every prayer of mine for you all”
Verse 6:  “being confident of this very thing”
Verse 7:  “as it is right for me to think this about you all”
Verse 8:  “how I long after you all”

“in the defence and confirmation of the gospel”

As a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it was necessary for him to defend, or argue for the truth. It was also necessary for him to confirm the validity of the message of Christ. This was especially true as it related to the Jews, for they needed to be convinced that Jesus was their long awaited Messiah. 

Defending and confirming the message of Christ, was something he also had to do in the court of law, and that may be what he was primarily referring to here. Up to this point, Paul had stood before the Jewish leaders, before Governors Felix and Festus, and before King Agrippa. He would also one day stand before Caesar himself, as Jesus had revealed to him (Acts 23:11; 27:23-25). 

To stand before the world ruler as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ, was a wonderful honor. I would love to have been there to hear the response of Caesar to the truth about King Jesus. While the details of that event are not given, I think it’s safe to say, he was not happy.

As followers of Christ, we’re all called to defend and confirm the truth about the message of Jesus Christ. There is only one truth, and we have that truth. We must be faithful in standing against those who oppose the truth, and that includes the false theology of Calvinism. In order to do that, we must be diligent students of God’s Word. We must have a love for the Word of God, and a passion to learn it. We must be ready to give a biblical answer to those who asks us about our faith in Christ, and about our theology. We must be ready to give an answer to those who challenge our faith:

but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord, being always ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear,”  (1 Pe 3:15)

“you all are partakers with me of grace”

I think we should understand Paul as referring to God’s grace as it relates to the gospel message, the spreading of the gospel, and the defense and confirmation of the gospel….and in general, our service to Him. I believe Paul also had in mind the grace of financial giving to Paul’s ministry (Phil 4:10-18; 2 Cor 8:1-24; 9:1-15).

Every church should be supporting missionaries, and others who are faithfully advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who are serving Christ in a full time, occupational ministry, need our financial and prayerful support. God blesses churches and individuals who are faithful in giving toward God’s work, and meeting the needs of those in ministry (Phil 4:18-19). As Paul indicates in 2 Corinthians, in regard to giving, we reap what we sow (2 Cor 9:6-8).