Commentary on Philippians: Introduction

Author:  The Apostle Paul (from prison)

Date Written:  A.D. 60

Addressed To:  The Church in Philippi

Key Verses:  Phil 1:21 and Phil 4:13

Background:  (Acts 16:6-40)

Philippi was a major city of Macedonia, a Roman colony. The city was named after the father of Alexander the Great. Paul first visited this city after receiving a vision of a man pleading with him to come to Macedonia to help them. 

This was the home of Lydia, a “seller of purple,” who was a worshiper of God, and came to faith in Christ through Paul’s message. 

While in Philippi, a demon possessed girl followed Paul (and those with him), and interfered with his ministry by the things she was saying. After Paul cast out the demon in the name of Jesus, the masters of the girl, after seeing that their profit through her was gone, brought them before the magistrates, claiming that they were disturbing the city about customs that were unlawful as Roman citizens. Both Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison. It was this experience that led to the jailer’s salvation, along with his family, after Paul preached to them. He and his whole family believed and were baptized.

Overview of the book of Philippians:

1. The church in Philippi was well established, as the Overseers and deacons were included in Paul’s greeting (Phil 1:1). 

2. The letter to the Philippian Christians was very personal:

–  Paul thanks them for the gifts they had sent, by the hand of Epaphroditus, to help meet his needs (Phil 4:10-18). 

– This church was represented by Epaphroditus, who ministered to Paul’s needs, whom Paul referred to as his “fellow worker” and “fellow soldier” and “their messenger” (Phil 2:25-30).

– Paul mentions the specifics of his prayers for them (Phil 1:9-11)

– Paul refers to the prayers of the Philippian church for him ( Phil 1:19).

– Paul states his belief that he would remain in this life for awhile longer for sake of their spiritual benefit (Phil 1:22-26).

– Paul had apparently spent considerable time with them (Phil 2:12).

– Paul mentions being “offered upon the sacrifice and service of their faith” (Phil 2:17).

– Paul refers to those who “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ,” whom he had talked to them about many times before (Phil 3:18-19).

–  Paul refers to them as: “my beloved brethren” and “longed for” and “my joy and crown” (Phil 4:1).

– Paul mentions two women by name, giving instructions about them (Phil 4:2-3).

– Paul instructs them to practice everything they’ve “learned” and “received” and “heard” and “seen” in him (Phil 4:9; 3:17).

3. The word “joy” or “rejoice” is used many times, and is thus a major theme of this book (Phil 1:4,18,25; 2:2,17,18,28,29; 3:1; 4:1,4,10).

4. Paul recognized his situation as a means of furthering the gospel of Christ ( Phil 1:12).

5. Paul rejoices in the preaching of the gospel, whether it was with the right motives or not (Phil 1:14-18).

6. Our life as Christians is to “be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27).

7. There is to be unity among Christians (Phil 1:27-2:2).

8. We’re to be prepared to suffer for Christ (Phil 1:28-30; 2:29-30).

9. We’re to live in humility, putting others ahead of ourselves, as Christ did (Phil 2:3-8; 2:19-21).

10. Everyone, both saved and unsaved will bow before Christ (Phil 2:10-11).

11. God is at work within us (Phil 2:13; 1:6).

12. We’re to veiw all things in light of what we have in Christ now, and in light of what we have to look forward to in eternity, and to live accordingly (Phil 3:7-16,20-21).

13. We’re to pray about everything (Phil 4:6-8).

14. Our thought life as Christians is to be pure and honorable (Phil 4:8).

15. We’re to be content in all of our circumstances (Phil 4:11).

16. God will supply our needs, as we supply the needs of others (Phil 4:15-19).