For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 4:16-20
What had Paul learned in Christ? He had learned how to be contented, knowing that Christ would take care of his needs no matter what his circumstances were. Paul knew how to live in humble circumstances. He knew how to live in the midst of material abundance. Paul could serve Christ when all physical comforts were available to him and he could serve Christ when he was cold, hungry, and in pain from being beaten for the Gospel’s sake. Some people serve the Lord diligently when things are going well for them and also when there are many problems. Others serve the Lord only when they are comfortable and secure. Still others seek the Lord diligently only when they are in pain or danger. Paul was able to abide in Christ and do His will under all conditions. Who was giving Paul wisdom and strength, peace and joy, at all times and in all places? The Lord Jesus Christ. What does Paul say about their aiding him with the money that they sent to him by the hand of Epaphroditus? He tells them that they did the right thing by encouraging and supporting him while he was in prison, even though the Lord Jesus Himself was encouraging and supporting him. When had the Christians in Philippi assisted Paul with material support? When he left Macedonia and traveled south to preach the Gospel in Corinth. Paul had preached in Philippi (Acts, Chapter 16:1-40, “Timothy Joins Paul and Silas” Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. So, the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. “Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia” Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So, they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. “Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi” From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us. “Paul and Silas in Prison” Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God, he and his whole household. When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. Then they left).
Then he had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia until he came to Thessalonica. There the preaching of Paul and Silas stirred up the Jews who gathered a multitude to attack the Apostles (Acts 17:5; But other Jews were jealous; so, they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.) Philippians 4:16 states that the saints in Philippi sent money on more than one occasion to Paul while he was preaching in Thessalonica. Because of the persecution, the saints in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas on to Berea (Acts 17:19; Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?). The Jews of Thessalonica followed the apostles to Berea and stirred up the Bereans against them (Acts 17:13; But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.). At this point, the Berean saints conducted Paul to the sea and on to Athens. From Athens, Paul went to Corinth (Acts 18:1;). When Paul left Berea he was departing from the region of Macedonia and proceeding toward Achaia, in which the city of Corinth was located. The saints in Philippi were the only believers who continued to support Paul after he left Macedonia. And when I was present with you [Corinthians], and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brothers which came from Macedonia [Philippi of Macedonia] supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. (II Corinthians 11:9) Did Paul desire to get money from the saints in Philippi? No. What did he desire? That they have the opportunity to show their love toward him and their support of the work of the Kingdom of God. Paul knew that the Father would accept this kind of fruit from the saints in Philippi and that it would add to their reward in the Day of Christ. How did Paul regard his present state? He now had an abundance of money because of the offering that the Philippians had sent with Epaphroditus. The money was a sacrifice that was well-pleasing to God, the aroma of a fragrant incense such as that which had ascended to God from the Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. How will God respond to their sending money to Paul? God will provide for all their needs from His storehouse of riches in glory, riches that are given to the saints through the Lord Jesus Christ. To whom does the Apostle Paul ascribe glory forever? God the Father.