Philippians 1:3 Thanksgiving, Memory and Blessing by Association

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

Presented to Teleios Bible Church by Pastor Jim Oliver
PowerPoint Presentation at

Chapter Outline
Verses 1-2: The Salutation

Paul and Timothy, slaves belonging to Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, to those residing in Philippi, together with pastor-teachers and deacons. Grace to you and so prosperity from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:1-2

Verse 3: Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians

Pertinent Verses

Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses never cease, for His compassions never fail. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, Therefore I have confidence in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3: 20-25

Verse Outline
A Introduction
B Thanksgiving
Doctrine of Thanksgiving
C Memory
Doctrine of Memory
Doctrine of Blessing by Association

I Introduction

With this verse, we move from the salutation of Philippians to the general body of the letter.  The first thing on Paul’s mind is thanksgiving.  In this study, we are going to look closely at the subject of thanksgiving.  Actually, I like the term, “gratitude” better because it does not conjure up visions of turkey and football!  Paul’s first thought with regard to gratitude is its direction.  He is grateful to God, even though the Philippians believers financially supported him.  So, in this study, not only are we going to determine to whom our thanksgiving should be directed, but also seek to answer other vital questions about Christian gratitude. First, what is the point of studying thanksgiving?  Second, we need to determine what attitude or structure of thought in our soul we should gain from studying gratitude. Thanksgiving seems like such an obvious concept!  It seems obvious but for Church Age believers, an incredible dynamic results from gratitude and spiritual growth.  We also need to understand the relationship between our capacity for gratitude and our spiritual growth.  Gratitude or thanksgiving alone has dynamics, which can change your life.  For instance, gratitude can protect you from all kinds of arrogance sins, such as bitterness, self-pity and preoccupation with yourself.  Therefore, for you and I, as Church Age believers, thanksgiving or gratitude is a technical term that relates to and results from spiritual growth.

II Thanksgiving

The beginning of this verse and prayer indicates Paul’s great capacity for life. The foremost factor in his life, in his thinking, is gratitude; gratitude toward God.  He has just received a sizable monetary gift from the Philippian believers, yet his first thought is gratitude toward God. A person can have no greater focus, no greater attitude in life than gratitude toward God.  The NASB, which is the starting point for our translation reads as: “I thank my God…”  The Greek reads as, Εὐχαριστῶτῷθεῷμου EUCHARISTO TO THEO MOU.
Let us first look at these Greek words closely to see what Paul wrote and what he meant by these words.  The first word of the verse is Εὐχαριστῶ EUCHARISTO, a verb, grammatically in the present active indicative, first person singular.  We derive the noun “Eucharist,” a name for the Lord’s Table or Communion Table from this verb.  The Lord’s Table is a time of both remembrance and thanksgiving for the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Syntactically, this is a customary present tense. It denotes an activity that habitually occurs.  Whenever Paul prays, he includes thanksgiving as a part of his prayers.  Translations include “I thank,”  “I keep thanking” or “I am thanking.” The simple active voice of the verb indicates that Paul, as founder of the Philippian Church, produced the action of the verb, gratitude.  The declarative indicative mood of the verb denotes the historical reality of Paul’s thanksgiving.
The second word in this phrase, τῷ TO, the definite article, using the monadic function, denotes God’s uniqueness.  He is the one and only God.  There is no other God.  Syntactically, τῷ TO is a dative of indirect object.  There is no way to bring this word into the English, so we do not directly translate it.  The next word, θεῷTHEO is the dative of indirect object from the proper noun THEOS, translated, God.  It refers to God the Father to whom all we address all prayer.  The proper possessive pronoun μουMOU, in genitive singular from EGO, translated, “my” follows.  This genitive indicates personal relationship.  Every Church Age believer has an intensely personal relationship with the Father due to His gracious plan and provision.  He thought of and provided for every believer long before Jesus Christ created the universe.
Paul was able to keep his thinking straight in those times of great pressure because of his priority: concentration upon his personal relationship with God the Father!  The degree of Paul’s concentration indicates his degree of gratitude toward God. This factor gave Paul great soul capacity for life including thanksgiving.  One result of his gratitude was his ability to recall and to enjoy his memories, which protected him from stress.  These are historically difficult times in this country.  Do you suffer stress from these threats and economic hardships?  If so, you need to take a close look at your spiritual life.  These words, τῷθεῷμουTO THEO MOU, translated “my God,” refer to God the Father who receives thanksgiving, the action of Paul’s prayer. God is Paul’s first priority in life. His relationship with God gave him an incredible capacity for thanksgiving!  The translation of this verse reads, as far as we have translated read this way:
ü  I am giving thanks to my God…Philippians 1:3a

Let us further into the concept of gratitude and thanksgiving in this separate study.

III Memory

At this point in his life, Paul had lived a long and full life. By modern human standards, Paul was no doubt a lonely man.  He was under house arrest and had been under the authority of a prison guard for a couple of years.  However, he had wonderful memories of past years and of the congregations to whom he had taught doctrine. Being under house arrest, he had the opportunity to remember those whose company he enjoyed.  Applying the principles of memory, remembering past circumstances and people whose company you have enjoyed can be one of the richest blessings in life.  Like other blessings, this one also requires great capacity for life.  Gaining capacity for life is dependant upon making the right choices in life.  Paul, since the time he believed in Jesus Christ, made wonderful decisions so he possessed the ability to recall many facets of his life with great pleasure.  He was probably alone when he wrote this letter, not enjoying the company of too many people, especially the company of those he had loved over the years.  These people were now far away yet he possessed the capacity to enjoy his aloneness and bring back into his conscious mind the great times he had shared with the Philippian believers.
God has designed the time the mature believer is alone with thoughts and memories as a time of great blessing.  Only mature believers have capacity for aloneness.  God designed previously experienced social life as something to be remembered as an expression of capacity, to be recalled repeatedly with pleasure.  For instance, when you have true friends, you can bring them back to mind, enjoying and appreciating them even though they may be far away in either time or space.  Being able to do this requires capacity for life.
On the other hand, if you have made bad decisions in your life, creating only bad memories, they may become one of the greatest curses in your life.  If you have a terrible pre-Christian past, as did Paul, only spiritual growth can deliver you from bad memories.  Only with the power of the Spirit and the Scripture in your life, coupled with your desire to continue growing, can you escape bad memories.  Paul, as an unbeliever committed heinous acts, which ordinarily result in great mental distress.
üBrethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  Philippians 3:13
Because God the Holy Spirit filled and empowered him, circulating the Word though his soul, he was able to avoid focusing on his past failures and focus upon his relationship with God.  God the Holy Spirit graciously replaces occupation of memories of past failures with capacity for life.  If you have a soulful of good memories, having had your bad memories negated by your spiritual life, these good memories will protect you from hang-ups, from stupid thoughts, depression or even suicide.
The next phrase reads in the NASB as: “in all my remembrance of you.”  The Greek sounds like this: ἐπὶπάσῃτῇμνείᾳὑμῶνEPI PASE TE MNEIA HUMON.  These words constitute a prepositional phrase, beginning with the preposition ἐπὶ EPI.  This preposition precedes a word in the dative case, in this case a dative of advantage.  The case of the word after a preposition often changes its meaning, or at least the nuance of its meaning.  This dative of advantage, a syntactical issue, indicates the people for whose benefit someone does something. This preposition is translated, “on the basis of.”  The Philippians form the basis for Paul’s thanksgiving.
Next is the adjective πάσῃPASE. Grammatically, it is a dative feminine singular from the adjective PAS, meaning “all.”  These two words EPI PASE are best translated, “on the basis of all” or “because of all.”  “All” emphasizes that every Philippian believer is included in Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving.  Paul leaves no one out of his prayer.  Syntactically, this dative of advantage indicates the great advantage these believers had by being remembered to God the Father by the Apostle.
The monadic, identifying use of the definite article τῇ TE follows, pointing out something uniquely important.  Because this article precedes the noun, μνείᾳMENIA, it is an articular noun.  It is in the dative feminine singular.  Because the preceding article is monadic, you can consider these memories as unique to Paul, unique because the Philippians were a beloved, special congregation to him.  This monadic article τῇTE, identifies the memory and distinguishes it from all other memories.  The noun, μνείᾳMENIA means “remembrance,” “recollection” “memory” or “mention.”  In remembering the Philippian believers, he prays for them, in terms of both thanksgiving and intercession.  In the following verses, we will discover why he is praying for them and what his specific prayer agenda is.  Not only is this ministry of intercession an apostle’s responsibility but it belongs to every believer as well.  That the noun is in the dative, syntactically, the dative of advantage, indicates that it is to the Philippians advantage to be remembered and so prayed for by Paul.
The last word in this phrase is the personal pronoun ὑμῶνHUMON.  All Greek words that deal with memory have objects in the genitive case.  This case is no different.  This pronoun appears as a genitive of possession in the feminine plural, and so translated, “of you,” “your” or “of ya’ll,”  if you are from the south!
The verse so far sounds like this:
üI am giving thanks to my God on the basis of every memory of you.  Philippians 1:3
A looser, more comfortable, translation might read as this: “Every time I remember you, I thank God for you all.”
We can draw some conclusions about Paul’s capacity of soul for life and his great capacity for thanksgiving as related to his memory.  These Philippian believers are a wonderful memory for Paul, causing him to thank God for every one of them. Why are they such a great memory for him?  This leads us to an introspective question every believer ought to ask of himself: “Am I a pleasant memory to anyone else as these believers were to Paul?”  Depending upon your capacity for life, either you, in anyone’s soul, are a pleasant memory, causing someone to recall your memory with pleasure with thanksgiving to God or an unpleasant memory, someone they would just as soon forget!  What has caused these Philippian believers to be such a positive and pleasant memory to Paul?  He dearly loved them for their fierce positive volition, their enthusiasm for the Word of God.  He loved them for their love of the Lord!
Paul, then, has taken a few moments to pause, to remember and to thank God for his memories and for those he remembers.  He was a mature believer with his spiritual life intact, denoted by the active voice of εὐχαριστέωEUCHARISTEO, in which he produces the action of thanksgiving.  His priority was thanksgiving directed toward God.  His sharp and vivid memory demonstrates his great capacity for life!  What a privilege for these Philippians to be such a fragrance in his soul, to be remembered by him!  How do you become a fragrance of memory to someone? You must be growing spiritually to be a pleasant memory for others.  Paul remembered the Philippian believers as a pleasant, wonderful memory because of their rapport of spiritual advance.  He did not remember them because they had great personalities, rapport or physical attractiveness but because of their spiritual priorities.  Believers who attain spiritual maturity because of spiritual priorities invariably become a pleasant fragrance of memories to others as well as source of blessing by association.  As these Philippian believers advanced spiritually by means of his teaching, some became wealthy.  Because Paul was in their memory, because they were grateful to God for him, they wanted to do something for him.  Therefore, they shared their grace blessings of wealth with him as he shared his doctrine with them.  This is mutual blessing by association.  The Lord used this concept to support Paul, for the Philippians for quite sometime, were his sole support.  Because of their spiritual rapport, they became a blessing to Paul as they were doctrinally blessed through him.
A mature believer can meet someone for a short time and be a blessing to that person for the rest of his life. Being a blessing by association to others is a part of the prosperity blessings imputed to the believer upon maturing spiritually.  By means of Bible doctrine, God molds the maturing, advancing believer into a pleasant memory for others.  No believer should ever attempt to impress people with a façade.  A mature believer will be able to relax and be himself.  This kind of blessing by association overflows into the next category of blessing, historical impact.
Paul also had historical impact in his day, which has carried over into our modern times!  He is still remembered and enjoyed because he left to us his Spirit inspired writings, the source of unique Church Age doctrines.  These Philippian believers also had historical impact, which overflowed into the preservation of the Roman Empire.
When a person gives graciously to others because of the fragrance of memories, there are no strings attached!  This is proper giving.  The giver expects nothing in return, is not giving to impress, not giving expecting something in return, but is simply expressing his own capacity for life.  God used the Philippians’ blessing of wealth to support Paul under the principle of blessing by association.  He received gifts from them on at least three occasions, which may have been the monetary equivalent of a million dollars each time they gave.  You see, these Philippian believers had capacity and expressed it by supporting Paul.  He wrote about the Philippians’ generosity at least three times:
üWhen I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, and will continue to do so.”  2 Corinthians 11:9 (NASB)
Why did Paul add the statement; “and will continue to do so?” The Philippians were supporting him so well that his detractors accused him of trying to profiteer from the ministry!
üYou yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.”  Philippians 4:15-16 (NASB)
üBut I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity…Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.”  Philippians 4: 10 & 14 (NASB)
This verse demands that we take up two additional studies; “Doctrine of Memory” and Doctrine of Blessing by Association”
Let me conclude this lesson with one important principle: as just one citizen in a country of millions, you may not think that you have much of an opportunity to have impact your nation.  Let me tell you this: you have the opportunity to have the most fantastic impact on your nation.  If you live in the USA, your potential impact may be greater than the president may!  Is your nation undergoing hardship of one nature or another?  Have terrorists attacked your country, or is your government corrupt?  Are your freedoms diminishing or non-existent?  How can you play a part in improving things?  Listen!  Sit down; listen to the teaching of the Word of God, grow in grace!  Become a conduit of blessings to those around you.  Because you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the fortune of your nation is on your shoulders.
This concludes our study of Philippians 1:3, the beginning of Paul’s prayer.  The corrected translation reads:
ü  Every time I remember you, I thank God for all of you.  Philippians 1:3
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