As Paul thinks of his beloved friends in Philippi, he recalls the founding of the church there. This colony of heaven had begun through the activities of several characters, some of whom are mentioned by Luke in his account in Acts 16. Here Paul gives additional information regarding what took place, and mentions several individuals among whom were other women in addition to Lydia and the demon-possessed girl who are mentioned in Acts 16, and other men in addition to the Philippian jailor.
We can notice a couple of details that Paul says took place at that time. First, although these men and women were new converts, Paul evidently made sure that they were involved in evangelism straightaway. He did not think that they should wait a few months before getting involved in Christian work. The lesson from this is that we should begin serving Christ as soon as possible.
Furthermore, it is evident that there was harmony in the small group in these early days. No doubt Paul, as he sat chained to his guard, enjoyed turning over in his mind what had taken place in Philippi. He thought of what Clement and his male colleagues had done; he could recall the activities and work of women such as Euodia and Syntyche. Perhaps he could picture them in his mind’s eye doing things together. Through the efforts of this team a church began in Philippi that had continued to support Paul in his work for almost a decade.
Paul describes their role and one of their privileges. Their role was that of being his fellow-workers, a title he had also given to Epaphroditus earlier in the letter. Although Paul was the leader, they were all workers in the same task of spreading and defending the gospel. By implication, he is saying that the task is not yet finished, that he in Rome and they in Philippi still need to continue working for the Master, Jesus Christ.
Their shared privileged was that their names were recorded in the book of life, an illustration taken from a city registry. The people of Philippi were regarded as citizens of Rome, which gave them great privileges and security. Yet it was far greater to be registered in Zion, the heavenly city, written there indelibly by God himself. Their names had been recorded when they believed in Jesus for salvation. And Jesus had told his original disciples that it was more important to have their names written down in heaven than to perform great spiritual achievements (Luke 10:20).