A Missionary Prayer
Philippi was Paul’s pride
and joy. Arms of friendship extended between Paul
and the believers at Philippi that didn’t exist in
the other churches. None of his other letters has
such abundant expressions of tender personal
dedication and benevolence as this letter.
STYLE OF WRITING:
This is the most personal, informal and cordial
letter Paul wrote to a church. It is a thank you
letter in response to a gift they have sent to Paul
while he was in Rome. The reader senses the
conflicts, hope, faith, determination, high purpose,
deep driving passion of a man who seeks to glorify
Christ in every dimension of his life. His greatest
fear is to run and be disqualified. Philippians,
Colossians, and Ephesians reach spiritual peaks
found no where else in Scripture. This letter
expresses joy and peace during a time of affliction
and uncertain future. He hasn’t received financial
help from the other churches. The letter is filled
with expressions of gratitude and thankfulness for
their expression of love and faithfulness which he
has received on several occasions. He writes his
letter from the position of one who is secure in the
place he occupies in the hearts of his readers.
Therefore, he can share from his heart his personal
convictions and his internal conflicts about the
future. It is filled with joy, peace and
thanksgiving. The words "joy," "rejoicing,"
"rejoice" are repeated many times in these short 104
This is indeed written in
the style of a spontaneous, loving sincere letter
with general everyday moral exhortations. It is as a
friend simply opens up his heart to those whom he
Paul (Phil. 1:1). There is nothing in the letter,
linguistic or historical, which can cause any doubt
as to its authenticity. External evidence includes:
Clemens Romanus, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus,
Clemens Alexandrinus, Tertullian, Marcion’s
Apostolicons, and Muratorian Canon.
PLACE OF WRITING:
It was written from prison in the city of Rome (1:7,
13; 4:22). Paul refers to his imprisonment in 1:7,
13, 14; 2:17. According to Acts he was a prisoner at
Philippi (16:23, Jerusalem (21:33ff), Caesarea
(23:25) and Rome (28:16, 30, 31). Paul was in prison
two years while at Caesarea, however no final
decision in his case was ever expected there. He was
in prison at Rome for two years, pending his appeal
to Caesar. The whole tradition of the early Church
pleads for Rome. Moreover, Phil. 1:13, the
"praetorian guard" and Phil. 4:22, "Caesar’s
household," would indicate the imprisonment at Rome.
The Praetorian Guard was a force of 9,000 men at the
disposal of Caesar. The final decisions regarding
his appeal and, indeed, his life would certainly
decide for Rome.
was the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:11-40; 17:14;
19:22; 20:3-4; Phil. 2:19). Paul, Timothy, Silas and
Dr. Luke were all a vital part of the founding of
the Church at Philippi. Luke seems to have been
their first pastor for about five years after its
establishment in Acts 16. Paul directs his letter to
the "saints" at Philippi (1:1; cf. Rom. 1:7; I Cor.
1:2; II Cor. 1:1).
A.D. 61 or 62, possibly early part of 63, after the
two years of which Acts 28 makes mention. The letter
was written about the same time as Ephesians,
Colossians, and Philemon. If the imprisonment of
Paul began between the years 58-60, and ended before
the burning of Rome in A. D. 64, logically the
epistle would have been written during the time
between this period. If Lightfoot is correct, and
his arguments are very solid, the letter was
probably written before Ephesians, Colossians and
Philemon, about a year after he arrive in Rome,
between 62 and 63 A. D. as recorded in Acts 28:30.
The conservative position is that there were two
imprisonments with a brief period of freedom to
minister between them.
Philippians 1:5-7; 4:16
indicates it is a missionary prayer letter thanking
the Philippian Church for their gifts and support,
sharing with them the outreach in Rome and
presenting prayer requests in their
joint–participation in the Gospel. Epaphroditus
brought the gift from the Philippians to the apostle
at Rome (Phil. 4:14, 18; 2:25), spends some time
helping Paul, and then returns to the church with
the letter from Paul (2:26-28). Paul takes advantage
of the opportunity to encourage them to continue in
unity and steadfastness (2:3-5; 3:2, 3; 4:1, 2;
1:27-30). It is written for personal reasons. "The
frank and hearty tone, the artless form, the
cheerful mood even under oppressive circumstances,
the practical purport—these all bear a very personal
stamp, and make it—to a measure surpassing any other
letter of the apostle—a letter, the effusion of the
heart to a Church he loved." The Philippians sent
Paul at least four gifts to support his ministry (II
Cor. 8:3-4; II Cor. 11:8-9; Phil. 4:10-14, 15-16).
Paul is over joyed with the encouragement and
remembrance of their love for him and his love for
them (v. 3-4).
The leading thought of
the Letter is joy and gratitude for being in
joint-participation in the furtherance of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:5-7). The word " rejoice "
or other words of similar meaning, appears sixteen
times in the Letter. Paul rises to two great
spiritual peaks in 2:5-11 where he presents the
kenosis—the self-emptying or self-humiliation of
Christ, and 3:10-14 when he reveals the drive to
know the resurrection and the upward call of God in
Christ. The Judaizers, with their legalism, have
followed Paul here and there is an echo in chapters
one and three of their opposition to Paul.
Tragic as it may seem,
the fact seems to be that the prominence of the
church at Philippi ceased with the life of Paul.
There is no more mention of the church until a
hundred years after the death of the great apostle.
There are only a few references in the primitive
history of the ancient church. Even though the
church at Philippi was the first church to be
established in Europe it passes by in obscurity. No
church existed in Philippi for centuries, nor did
the city exist. The church was born in the world
with a beautiful promise, and then the church at
Philippi which had lived in history passed from
memory, except for this beautiful letter.
Paul’s joy in Christ.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain"
THE GOSPEL IN
PHILIPPIANS: "the fellowship in the
gospel" (1:5), "confirmation of the gospel" (1:7),
"progress of the gospel" (1:12); "defense of the
gospel" (1:17), "worthy of the gospel" (1:27),
"striving for the faith of the gospel" (1:27),
"service in the gospel" (2:22), "labor in the
gospel" (4:3), and "the beginning of the gospel"
Title: Introduction to
Series: Introduction to