“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).
Two relationships are referenced in this verse of Scripture. First, there is Paul’s personal relationship with God, and second, there is Paul’s relationship with fellow-believers, the Philippians.
That Paul thanked “my God” teaches about the union and communion Paul enjoyed with Him. Every believer in Christ is God’s, and God is also ours in a personal way so that we, like Paul, can “thank my God.”
The Philippians’ relationship to Paul in Christ caused the apostle to overflow with gratitude. Paul’s heart was filled with thanks to God for every memory of them. Blessings received from God should lead to thanksgiving to God. The Philippians were a blessing from God to Paul; so he thanked God for them.
Throughout his epistles, we read of Paul thanking God for churches and individual believers (Rom. 1:8; Eph. 1:15-16; Col. 1:3-4; 1 Thes. 1:2-3; 2 Tim. 1:3; Phile. 1:4). Paul was continually thankful for the people God had put in his life and with whom he labored in the ministry. He was grateful for their faith toward God and their love for one another.
Thomas Hardy once said, “Some people can find the manure pile in any meadow.” The Philippians were not a perfect church, and Paul could have focused on the negative when he remembered them. There was disunity in the Philippian assembly, which is why Paul exhorted them to “be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2). Later in the letter, Paul addressed the discord between two women in the Church (Phil. 4:2-3). Yet, in remembering the Philippians, we find Paul, by the Spirit, focusing on the overall joyful, good memories that he had of them and of their “fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:5). This moved Paul to react with thanksgiving to God for them.
Paul was thankful for his relationships in the Church; they were a source for gratitude to God. To follow Paul both in doctrine and practice (Phil. 4:9), we must likewise be grateful to God for one another in the Body of Christ. It promotes harmony in the Church when we do so. Each person in the Body of Christ has been “purchased with His [Christ’s] own blood” (Acts 20:28) and is “in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:1). Each person’s gifts and service are needed and important in the Church. In light of these things, we thank God for one another.
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (1 Thes. 1:2).
– Pastor Kevin Sadler
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.