Another one of the great themes in Philippians is the notion of fellowship or partnership. Our word koinonia is virtually a transliteration straight from Greek, and that word koinonia or partnership in various forms, or fellowship, shows up a lot in the book of Philippians.
This is a powerful book and I’ve really come to believe that one of the reasons it’s one of my favorites in all the letters of Paul has to do with these themes of progress and advance. Paul refers to “pressing on.” That’s a very climactic moment in Philippians chapter 3. He has to lay all the pieces in place to really build towards that great exhortation in chapter 3.
He wants the Philippians to know that they are partners, and they are partners in a very interesting way: they are partners in their suffering.
Paul refers to the fact that they are sharers with him in his suffering. This letter begins with Paul in prison. He is in his Roman imprisonment, we believe again that it’s close, probably, towards the end of his life, the year is maybe 61-62 AD. We know that Paul had been taken to Rome. From Rome he writes to this beloved church in Philippi.
The Philippians had indeed been his partners. They had sent him money. Paul usually did not receive money from the various congregations where he ministered. He deliberately chose not to receive any money from the Corinthians because of various circumstances in Corinth. He didn’t want to be misunderstood. But the Philippians were his partners.