Paul remembers the kindness of the Philippian church with fond anticipation of their company. He prays for them by name as he does for many churches but his interest in the Philippian church goes beyond an apostolic or prayerful duty. He enjoys remembering the time he spent with them and the people among them. His prayers are marked with rejoicing. His prayers for the Philippian church are not mournful cries because of their sin but spurred on by the incredible joy this church brings him.
Church friends and family ought to be people for whom our prayers are those of rejoicing. Paul “makes prayers with rejoicing” for the Philippian congregation (1:3f). Those prayers characterized by rejoicing ought to be a continual overflow of affection one for another. Paul thanked God for the Philippian church because they joined him in the work of the Gospel. The church’s strength is in its fellowship on the Lord’s mission. Some presume the individual can become strong in his faith on his own. Paul, however, claims the cause of his great rejoicing is the church’s continual participation in the work of God. Joy in Christ and cooperative work on the mission to live out the Gospel together are severed to the destruction of the church. Joy grows when we work together.
The Philippians had partnered with Paul “from the beginning days until now”. Based on this partnership and the continual work the Philippians had been doing, Paul can say with timeless certainty that God will bring their work to its completion according to the power and will of Jesus Christ. Church’s lose their luster at times. They feel weak and unable to advance their efforts. As their mission focus grows fuzzy, their joy grows cold and they begin to feel they can accomplish nothing. Transformation occurs when Christ starts a work and, through faithful efforts, the church continues to the place of completion. This completion is “in the day of Christ Jesus.” The day of Christ Jesus looks to the eschatological fulfillment of God’s kingdom on earth. The church should view its mission as an historic and present effort with eternal results and finality when Jesus returns. God began a “good” work in Christ Jesus and carries it forward to completion also in Christ Jesus. What a broad vision the Father has laid before his church!