Online Bible Commentary
You Can’t Outgive God
Philippians 4:14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. 21 The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (NKJV)
Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Philippi in Macedonia, which is now northern Greece. It is thought that he wrote this during his first Roman imprisonment when he was under house arrest.
The time of the writing is about 62 A.D. Epaphroditus visited him in prison and Paul sent this letter back with him to deliver it to the church.
At the time of Paul’s letter, Philippi was a principal city. Paul established the church on his second missionary journey.
Philippi was abandoned in the fourteenth century after the Ottoman conquest. The current city of Fillipoi is located near the ruins of Philippi.
The church at Philippi was the first known church in all of Europe and it supported Paul financially. In many ways it was a model church.
There are six principles of giving outlined in this passage. First, the believers were not just giving to support their local church. They were also giving to support ministries, such as Paul’s.
Paul begins this passage by writing “In Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.” (v. 14). Paul begins by commending the believers at Philippi for supporting him financially in his work for the Lord.
Our gifts are to go to the work of the Lord. By giving to Paul, the Philippian believers show us that it is Biblical to use part of your gift to support ministries outside of your local church.
The second principle of giving is that the motive for giving should be pure. There was no such thing as a tax deduction at that time, and it may well be that way again. The Philippian believers gave purely, out of their hearts, for the sole purpose of advancing the gospel.
Paul writes “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.” (v. 15). Even when he first brought them the gospel, on his second missionary journey, they supported him.
The word translated “shared” in verse fifteen is the Greek word “koinoneo”, which is the verb for the noun “koinonia” which means fellowship, participation, sharing, or contribution. He writes that they “shared with me concerning giving and receiving.”
The third principle of giving is to be consistent. Paul writes “For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.” (v. 16). They were the only church that supported him after leaving Philippi. Even when he was in Thessalonica for a short time, they supplied his needs.
Ministry needs never stop. So, it is important to be consistent in our giving.
The fourth principle occurs when Paul refers to the two-way street that is giving in verse 17. He writes “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” (v. 17).
It is not the gift that excites him, but it is the knowledge that it will be credited to the giver’s account by God. When we give to the Lord’s work, we also receive.
The word translated “abounds” is the Greek word “pleonazo”, which means “to make increase, to grow.” Our money magically grows, it stretches farther, like the five loaves of bread and the two fish that fed the five thousand (Mark 5:38).
We may receive an unexpected gift, a lower than expected bill, an extra bump in our paycheck, or a lower than expected repair bill.
When we don’t give to His work, that money always gets spent. We may have an unexpected repair, a bill that is higher than normal, an unexpected medical need, or a hit to our paycheck.
The fifth principle of giving presented in this passage is how the gift affects the receiver. Paul writes “Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.” (v. 18). With their gifts, he is now full and the gifts are well pleasing to God. The gifts were brought by Epaphroditus, who will be returning to Philippi with this letter.
The church at Philippi held a special place in Paul’s heart. They showed their love and appreciation for Paul with not just their words, but also their actions.
The sixth principle of giving is that we can’t outgive God. Paul writes “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (v. 19).
He is always faithful to honor our giving to His work. He will meet all our needs, when we are faithful and obedient.
This letter, unlike others, did not criticize the church in Philippi. Paul always thought fondly of them, and so did God.
Next, Paul sends a greeting. He writes “20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. 21 The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.” He is sending greetings of God’s glory to the believers in Philippi from the believers in Rome, especially those “of Caesar’s household”, possibly a reference to believers such as guards or others in Nero’s government.
Paul then concludes this letter with his customary greeting “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”