Paul’s gratitude for the financial support received from the Philippian believers was expressed clearly as he began to wrap up his letter. To him, the Philippians were rare and wonderful. They were known as generous and 26 partnesgracious believers that meant the world to Paul. In Philippians 4:15 Paul pointed out the uniqueness of their support as he said, “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.” Let me say it again, they were a rare and wonderful church.

The idea of “giving and receiving” is really a market place term. It meant to open an account with a debit and a credit column. In the account, as in any account today, you make deposits and withdrawals. The Philippians by their contribution to Paul opened an account with God. No other church opened an account in the ministry of the apostle during this period. Richison observes that the terms “giving and receiving” are referring “…to a double transaction. In the first transaction, gifts moved from the Philippians to Paul. In the next transaction, the blessings of having done that flow back to the giver.” In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about spiritual deposits being reciprocated by material withdrawals. “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” (I Cor 9:11). Further in Romans 15:27 Paul speaks of the gentiles receiving the spiritual things by which “…their duty is also to minister to them in material things.”

At the time Paul was ministering in the cities in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Athens) none of the churches shared in his expenses except Philippi. That set them apart as a rare and wonderful church to Paul. They were indeed fellow workers, partners, in the ministry. Kathy and I are both in full time ministry. Yet we partner with many others who are also in full time ministry. As our kids have grown and graduated from College we’ve used much of our resources to become partners with others in the ministry around the world as well as locally. There was a time when I’d read these passages and find justification for my salary as a pastor. Now I read these passages and am motivated to share, become a partner, with other by giving what God gives us to others. Richison asks, as he closes his comments on this verse, “Are you a financial partner in the cause of Christ? When we enter into a partnership with a servant of God by supporting him, a special bond forms between the giver and servant of Christ. We ‘share’ the ministry of the gospel together.”