Paul’s Corporate Witness in Philippians -- By: George W. Murray

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 155:619 (Jul 1998)
Article: Paul’s Corporate Witness in Philippians
Author: George W. Murray

Paul’s Corporate Witness
in Philippians

George W. Murray

George W. Murray is Executive Director, The Evangelical Alliance Mission, Wheaton, Illinois.

As noted in a previous article,1 the apostle Paul often ministered with others in his evangelistic efforts. He seldom worked alone. Luke reported in the Book of Acts numerous occasions when Paul served with fellow workers, actively engaging in corporate evangelism.

The Book of Philippians, too, highlights Paul’s emphasis on fellowship in evangelism. The themes of unity and witnessing are seen, as Martin observes, in the two words “gospel” (εὐαγγέλιον) and “fellowship” (κοινωνία).2 In Philippians “gospel” denotes the work of evangelism and “fellowship” points to active partnership in that activity.3

At the beginning of this epistle Paul thanked the Philippians for their “partnership in the gospel” (1:5, NIV).4 He spoke of their “defending and confirming the gospel” with him (v. 7) and about his circumstances that served to advance the gospel (v. 12). He mentioned the brethren who spoke “the word of God” (v. 14), he referred to those who “preach Christ” (vv. 15, 17), and he rejoiced because “Christ is preached” (v. 18).5 He

exhorted the Philippians to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ” and to be “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (v. 27).

Believers are to “shine like stars” and to “hold out the word of life” in a “depraved generation” (2:15–16). Paul commended Timothy because he “served with me in the work of the gospel” (v. 22). Euodia and Synteche shared with Paul and others “in the cause of the gospel” (4:3). Near the end of the letter, Paul referred to the time when the gospel was first preached to them (v. 15

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