Greetings, grace, and peace
I am grateful to God for our long-standing partnership together in Gospel work, which for various reasons I am certain will be ongoing.
So, loving you as I do, and with your interest in our work together in the Gospel, this is my ministry report to you: even though I am in chains, our Gospel work is as fruitful as ever.
Are you worried about me, your mission partner, being executed? Dying would be gain for me, but somehow I feel sure I'll live, for your advancement in the Gospel.
Now, if we are partners in the Gospel, and such is my willingness to keep on living for you, I can ask you to stand firm and suffer with me for Him.
I have just written of the struggle we have together in our Gospel partnership, but I also want to write you about the encouragement and comfort that helps us in our partnership.
In fact, the ultimate example of humility, suffering, and then exaltation is Christ. Follow that example.
I am explaining this theology to you now so that you will be Light and Life to the world around you. I will boast and we will rejoice together – are we not partners in Gospel work?
Yes, it is true that I may soon die, so I think of my protégé, Timothy, who serves the Lord selflessly. I want to send him to you, to strengthen our partnership. He will assure me of how you all are doing. But right now, in my situation, I just cannot spare this man until I know how it will go with my imprisonment.
But I have to send back to you Epaphroditus, your missionary to me. Although I appreciate his willingness to serve, even to die, he is just too worried about you all. Honor him.
So the crucial thing I want to remind you about is that you must put your joy and boasting in the Lord, and not in anything of the flesh – not circumcision, not anything. Get your identity from the Gospel.
Let me tell you my own story. I was full of self-confidence, but now I confidently regard all that as rubbish, and Christ as my righteousness, my salvation.
Christ is my salvation, but He is also my goal, because I press on to win the prize He has for His obedient servants.
Follow me in this! Unhappily, the enemies of the cross are many. They will be destroyed, but we have a heavenly citizenship and a Savior from heaven.
So of course you should stand firm in unity, joy, and prayer.
Yes, if you live like that you will experience the peace of God – furthermore, if you will fill your minds with true and good things and follow my example, the God of Peace will be with you!
Before closing this letter, I want to be quite specific about the financial aspects of our partnership in missions, our Gospel fellowship.
The brothers here greet you and I bless you with God's grace.