It has been my desire to write through the book of Philippians or Colossians for quite some time. Unfortunately, I have been unable to do so due to time constraints due to several things that I discussed here. Despite the time constraints, I have made the decision to prioritize writing through Philippians. I will likely write through Colossians after completing Philippians.
I firmly believe that we can grasp various important lessons we can apply to our lives that are articulated in this letter, even though, this letter was not written to us. It is my hope that you will take the time to read through Philippians with me and interact here with what you have learned yourself and what is presented. It is through such interaction that I hope we are all able to wrestle through the content of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The goal of this time is to help us come to a realization how this letter applies to us individually and collectively.
The following is an introduction of Paul’s letter to the Philippians (in consideration of Philippians 1:1-2) that encompasses background information and an overview of the letter that will be helpful in understanding the text.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Letters Theme
The main thrust of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a message of thanks for the gift they had sent him upon learning about his imprisonment in Rome weaved through several other topics he chose to address.
Characteristics and Overview
The letter to the Philippians followed the general outline that Paul used in his other New Testament letters. Paul took the opportunity to express several things alongside his message of thankfulness for the Philippians gift they sent him upon hearing about his imprisonment. Paul addressed a multitude of issues in his letter to the Philippians.
- He greets and pray for them (1:1-11).
- Living and dying in Christ despite his/our circumstances (1:12-26; 4:10-19).
- Having the mind of Christ and living worthy of the Gospel (1:27-2:11).
- Exhorting them to practical godliness as the outworking of His grace upon our lives (2:12-30).
- Being found in Christ’s righteousness alone and not in legality (3:1-11).
- Pressing on to the heavenly prize and not living for worldly pleasures over heavenly pleasures (3:12-4:1).
- Exhorting the church to have peace, joy, trust in His provision, and love for truth and goodness (4:2-9).
- Invocation and final remarks (4:10-23).
There was unanimous agreement in the early church that Philippians was written by Paul, the apostle alongside the letter itself being given an internal stamp of authenticity (Cf. Philippians 1:1). In addition, we can confidently validate the veracity of Philippians authorship given the many personal references by the author that fit what we know about Paul from his other New Testament writings.
It is apparent that Paul wrote the letter from prison according to what he has articulated (Philippians 1:13-14). Though there is no argument about Paul being imprisoned at the time of writing this letter, there are disagreements about the timing and location. There are some scholars who have argued that Paul’s imprisonment took place in Ephesus possibly around 53 – 55 while others have placed it during 57 – 59 in Caesarea. Nevertheless, the historical evidence favors his imprisonment to have taken place in Rome in 61 which best fits the account of Paul’s house arrest in Acts 28:14 – 31. Through historical facts, we are able to understand that Paul wrote the Philippians from his rented house for two years where he was free to share the gospel with anyone that visited him (Acts 28:3 – 31).