Philippians is a short letter written to the church in Philippi written by Paul in the early 60s AD. According to Rose Publishing’s Bible Overview, the major themes of the book are servant leadership, unity of the believers, and joy in the Lord.
Philippi was a major Roman colony in Macedonia which is part of Greece today. The church in Philippi was the first church in Europe and it was established during his second missionary trip when he was traveling with Silas. The events surrounding their time in Philippi can be found in Acts 16.
|3-11||Paul’s prayerful remembrance of the Philippians|
|The Gospel is Preached||12-18a||circumstances of Paul’s imprisonment and the progress of the gospel|
|18b-20||Paul’s confidence in the Philippians prayer for his deliverance|
|To Live Is Christ||21-26||To live is Christ and to die is gain|
|27-30||Stand firm in a manner worthy of the gospel|
|Be Like Christ||2||1-11||Jesus is our example|
|12-13||The Philippian’s faithful obedience|
|14-18||Seek to live above reproach in the world, making Paul’s joy complete|
|Timothy and Epaphroditus||19-30||19-24: Timothy, Paul’s envoy
25-28: Epaphroditus, a Philippian, almost died in service to the gospel
29-30: honor people who risk their life for the gospel
Paul begins by expressing his prayerful thanksgiving for the Philippians and his confidence in their steadfast faith. He also expresses his desire that their love grow in real knowledge through faithful living.
Paul was in prison and the reason he was in prison was for preaching the gospel. There were others who became bolder in preaching the gospel but for different motives: 1) out of envy or strife, 2) in sincerity and in love.
Paul reflects on his current condition, in prison and in danger of losing his life. To that he sees two possible outcomes, he would be martyred which would usher him into the presence of Christ or he would be released and able to continue preaching the gospel. Either way he wins. But he is convinced that his work with the Philippians and others is not finished yet so he will probably be released.
The chapter closes with Paul urging the Philippians to remain faithful in their conduct in relation to the gospel whether he is released or not, making his joy complete, especially when they experience the same kind of suffering he has for the sake of the gospel.
There are three key verses in this chapter.
Philippians 1:6 NASB For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:18 NASB What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
Philippians 1:21 NASB For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul begins the chapter by encouraging the Philippians to strive for a unity in spirit, mind and love. This can be accomplished by adopting the same attitude that Christ had in leaving His position in heaven and coming to earth to give His life for our salvation.
It is for this reason that God placed Him in an exalted position and that one day “every knee will bow … every tongue will confess” that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.
Paul then reminds them of their faithfulness up to this point and encourages them to continue in it whether he is present or not. He especially wants them to do it without grumbling or disputing. Of course this can only be accomplished by having the same mind as Christ which he just exhorted them to have.
He closes this section by encouraging them rejoice in the Lord. Paul uses the word joy 7 times (NASB 1:4; 1:25; 2:2; 2:17; 2:18; 2:29; 4:1;) and rejoice in some form 9 times (NASB 1:18; 2:17; 2:18; 2:28; 3:1; 4:4; 4:10;). So this must be pretty important to him and to the Christian life.
In the second half of the chapter he focuses on Timothy and Epaphroditus, two men who were serving with Paul in the gospel. Timothy was a frequent traveler with Paul and was eventually installed as the minister in the church in Ephesus. Epaphroditus was a Philippian who came to deliver the support that the church sent to Paul and he continued with him while in prison assisting him.
Epaphroditus evidently had taken ill at one point and was close to death and the Philippian people had heard about it and became concerned for his life. Paul was writing to reassure them that all was well. He also wanted to encourage them to consider him and men like him, who risked their lives for the gospel, as examples to be held in high regard.
The key verses for this chapter are as follows.
Philippians 2:3-4 NASB Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:13 NASB for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:29-30 NASB 29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
A full outline for Philippians can be found on the Downloads page in the Outlines folder.
Galan, Benjamin et al. Bible Overview. Torrance: Bristol Works, Rose Publishing, 2012. Print.
1 “Group” column from the headings in the NASB text.