Philippians

Philippians

Φιλιππινέζοι

Reading 0,15 - 4 Chapters - 104 verses - 2,003 words

Vital Statistics

Author, Date and Place of Writing

The early church was unanimous in its testimony that Philippians was written by the apostle Paul (1:1). Internally the letter reveals the stamp of genuineness. The many personal references of the author fit what we know of Paul from other NT books.

It is evident that Paul wrote the letter from prison (1:13-14). Some have argued that this imprisonment took place in Ephesus, perhaps C. A.D. 53-55; others put it in Caesarea c. 57-59. Best evidence, however, favors Rome as the place of origin and the date as c. 61. This fits well with the account of Paul's house arrest in Ac 28:14-31. When he wrote Philippians, he was not in the Mamertine dungeon as he was when he wrote 2 Timothy. He was in his own rented house, where for two years he was free to impart the gospel to all who came to him.

Purpose

Paul's primary purpose in writing this letter was to thank the Philippians for the gift they had sent him upon learning of his detention at Rome (1:5; 4:10). However, he makes use of this occasion to fulfill several other desires:

1) to report on his own circumstances (1:12-26; 4:10-19)

2) to encourage the Philippians to stand firm in the face of persecution and rejoice regardless of circumstances (1:27-30; 4:4)

3) to exhort them to humility and unity (2:1-11; 4:2-5)

4) to commend Timothy and Epaphroditus to the Philippian church (2:19-30)

5) to warn the Philippians against the Judaizers (legalists) and antinomians (libertines) among them (ch.3)

Recipients

The city of Philippi was named after King Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. It was a prosperous Roman colony, which meant that the citizens of Philippi were also citizens of the city of Rome itself. They prided themselves on being Romans (Ac 16:21), dressed like Romans and often spoke Latin. No doubt this was the background for Paul's reference to the believer's heavenly citizenship (3:20-21). Many of the Philippians were retired military men who had been given land in the vicinity and who in turn served as a military presence in this frontier city. That Philippi was a Roman colony may explain why there were not enough Jews there to permit the establishment of a synagogue and why Paul does not quote the OT in the Philippian letter.

Characteristics

1. Philippians contains no OT quotations

2. It is a missionary thank-you letter in which the missionary reports on the progress of his work.

3. It manifests a particularly vigorous type of Christian living: (1) self-humbling (2:1-4); (2) pressing toward the goal (3:13-14); (3) lack of anxiety (4:6); (4) ability to do all things (4:13).

4. It is outstanding as the NT letter of joy; the word "joy" in its various forms occurs some 16 times.

5. It contains one of the most profound Christological passages in the NT (2:5-11). Yet, profound as it is, Paul includes it mainly for illustrative purpose.

How to read Philippians

Joy, joy, and more joy! It’s not the impossible “happily ever after” of your favorite fairy tale; Paul describes the current reality every believer can experience! He confidently claims that nothing can stamp out the joy we have in Jesus! There is joy in living even in the midst of painful conflicts; there is joy in serving in a spirit of humility; there is joy in knowing Jesus and in making him and his incomparable blessings known; and there is joy when we walk in contentment and gratitude.

At the heart of this joy-filled, thank-you letter to his dear friends and supporters in Philippi, Paul shares the driving ambition of his life. Even after more than two decades of Christian service, Paul passionately declares, “that I may know him” (Phl 3:10). In his insatiable hunger for God, Paul yearned for an ever-growing intimacy with him, a desire he hoped would fill the heart of every believer.

Among many gems, you’ll find one of the Bible’s most prominent psalms of praise to Jesus (Phl 2:5-11); you’ll see the futility of religious activity compared to a relationship with Jesus (Phl 3:4-11); and you’ll gain practical tools to help reshape your thinking according to God’s ways (Phl 4:4-9).

Philippians Interpretive Challenges

The major difficulty connected with Philippians is determining where it was written. The text itself presents only one significant interpretive challenge: the identity of the “enemies of the cross” (3:18, 19).

Outline

Philippians Horizontal

God's character in Philippians

  1. God is glorious - 2:11

  2. God is merciful - 2:27

  3. God is provident - 1:12

Christ in Philippians

Philippians presents one of the most poignant testimonies of the life lived in Christ. Paul intimately describes his relationship with his Lord with the words "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (1:21). Paul's selflessness leads not to feelings of loss but only to joy and peace in Jesus CHrist (4:4-7). Therefore, he encourages believers to seek Christlikeness (2:5)

Notes