Posted by: SandreS | July 15, 2010

Koinonia: Fellowship with God’s Heralders

Your fellowship in the gospel (Philippians 1:5).

Paul thanked God for the Philippians’ “fellowship in the gospel.” The word for “fellowship” here is the Greek word κοινωνία (koinonia). It is translated in the King James Version as “fellowship,” “communion,” “contribution,” “distribution” and “communication.” It actually means “partaking by sharing with.” Paul uses κοινωνία five times in connection with the stewardship of his gospel.

Stewardship has to do with the management of all that is placed into one’s trust. κοινωνία is the giving of one’s self and one’s resources – fellowshipping – with those who proclaim Paul’s Gospel – the Lord’s heralders.

Thus, the Concordant Literal Translation has,

For your contribution to the evangel (Philippians 1:5).

God’s method of calling out His ecclesia is through “heralding” by those doing “the work of an evangelist.” “Fellowship in the gospel” involves assisting with the needs of such heralders, including communicating with them financially. Paul begins his letter to the Philippians by emphasizing their continuation with him in “the fellowship in the gospel.” This is the setting of this letter to them.

The saints at Philippi recognized that it was their heavenly honor to contribute financially to Paul because he faithfully communicated the truth of the gospel. By so doing, they co-labored with him in the evangel.

In Philippians 4:10-18 Paul lists two specific effects of their “fellowship in the gospel.”

First, they had fruit abounding on their account (4:17). According to Paul, the fruit of the gospel not only accrues to the account of the heralder himself, but also to the account of those who share in his ministry. Their aid and contribution make them co-laborers in the gospel.

Paul was a celestial investment broker. It is the principle of ministering that he elsewhere calls “ministering seed to the sower.”

Now he who ministers seed to the sower both ministers bread for your food, and multiplies your seed sown, and increases the fruits of your righteousness (II Corinthians 9:10).

Many are making provision for future retirement, which is all well and good; but many miss the most glorious investment – that which has real, lasting and eternal value – “the fellowship of the gospel.”

Depositing Wealth in the Divine Treasury

A.E. Knoch writes concerning this glorious investment.

Those who are rich … are exhorted not to place their dependence on their possessions, which may desert them at any moment, but to rely on God, Who alone can make their enjoyment possible.

Their most profitable course lies in the employment of their wealth for the benefit of others. This brings them present happiness (for it is blessed to give), and at the same time deposits their wealth in the divine treasury where it will appear to their account in that day. In this way they will assure for themselves real life, both now and for the eons. – A.E. Knoch (1874-1965), Concordant Commentary, page 322.

The next effect that the Philippians’ contribution to the evangel had was a fragrance pleasing to God Himself.

I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God (4:18).

God is well-pleased with sacrificial giving to His servants’ (the heralders’) needs. Astonishingly, Paul even equated the fragrance of the Philippians’ sacrificial giving to Paul with Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary by using the same language He had used to describe the fragrance of the offering and sacrifice The Lord Jesus Christ made when He offered up Himself.

Christ … loved us, and gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor (Ephesians 5:2).

The Lord alone is the supply of His heralders’ needs, but He channels this provision through the sacrificial giving of His choice vessels. They are His conduit of material resources. While the heralder looks to the Lord alone for His needs, the celestial investor looks to Father for the opportunity to become His vessel of supply.

Are you called to herald? Imagine if you had lived in Paul’s day. Would you not have joined yourself with Paul in heralding the glorious evangel of the grace of God? Would you not have done so to the same abandonment as Paul did – even to the neglect of earthly things? Shall you not do so with the same passion in his absence?

What if you are not calling to herald? Imagine if you had lived in Paul’s day. Would you not have attached yourself to Paul the heralder, channeling every possible resource to him for the furtherance of the gospel? Would you have dared to miss out on the greatest opportunity of human history to co-labor in the heralding of such a glorious evangel? Shall you not do so with the same passion in his absence?

Nearly two millennia after Paul completed his own course, his glorious ministry continues – and with it an amazing opportunity. Yet for how long, we do not know. Those of us with the call to herald must “do the work of an evangelist,” we must “fully discharge our ministry.” We must not be distracted from our enormous and important duty.

Those of us who have not been so called, must not be distracted from “the contribution to the evangel.” We must attach ourselves to those who have been called, with wisdom and courage seizing the day with all that we have!

We are called by God to be heaven’s aristocracy – reigning in the celestials. In the “ages to come,” when we look back at this life of opportunity, what will have been our “contribution to the evangel”? Will we have invested wisely as good stewards of Paul’s gospel, or will we have foolishly squandered our life and resources on that which was only temporary and passing?

A.E. Knoch speaks of the opening of the divine storehouse for others:

It is the supreme privilege and imperative duty of all who love God to become closely acquainted with His revelation, to support and promote every effort which seeks to make it manifest, and especially any undertaking which brings God’s Word direct to the common people … The most precious treasure we can bring to anyone is that which puts their hearts in close touch with the heart of God … It is impossible to conceive of any better boon than to open the divine storehouse to everyone who has the heart to explore it. – A.E. Knoch (1874-1965), Unsearchable Riches, 1919.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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© 2010

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