6 June 2019
There are three striking things about the congregation at Philippi. It was the first congregation which St. Paul established – and the first church to be founded in Europe. When St. Paul visited Philippi, he and Silas were imprisoned for healing a slave-girl. It was on this occasion that they sang hymns at midnight and converted the Philippian jailer. It was a very productive twenty-four hours!
Secondly, the congregation had a significant number of prominent women. On the Sabbath, St. Paul met a group of women and worshipped with them. His first convert was a wealthy businesswoman called Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. In his letter he also refers to two other female co- workers – Euodia and Syntyche.
Lastly, the congregation is imbued with the spirit of generosity. Of course, St. Paul is writing a letter of thanks. He not only acknowledges the personal gifts which they sent him but the generous way in which they have supported his ministry. ‘No church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone.’
This giving and receiving is not only reflected in their material generosity but in the way they have been willing to suffer for Christ. ‘You are having the same struggle that you saw I had,’ he writes. If anything were to draw them closer together it is their willingness to share his suffering in their mutual proclamation of the gospel.