Philippians was written by Paul to the church at Philippi which is in present day Greece. It is the 50th book of the Bible and the 11th book of the New Testament. Philippians has often been called “Paul’s love letter to the church at Philippi.” “Because of the personal aspect of Philippians, scholars have categorized it as a ‘Letter of Friendship,’ a ‘Family Letter,’ and a ‘Letter of Consolation’” (Stewart 89).
Paul is well pleased with the church at Philippi. “It reveals something of the satisfaction when his converts made progress in the faith (Carson 327). Throughout the book, Paul uses first person singular words, such as “I”, “my”, “me”, and “myself”. Those words appear approximately 120 times, “making Philippians one of Paul’s most personal letters” (Stewart 1).
The book was received by the members of the church at Philippi. The church was established when Paul entered the city on his second missionary journey around AD 50 (Acts 16:11-12). Paul had a vision when he was at Troas to go to Macedonia, where Philippi was located (Acts 11:9-12).
Philippians was written in Rome at about AD 61-62 and was delivered by Epaphroditus. He was being sent back to the Philippians after delivering a gift to Paul and after being extremely sick (2:25-30). “Seeing their brother in Christ would alleviate the Philippians anxiety. Epaphroditus’ close relationship with Paul allowed him to inform the church of the apostle’s well-being and answer any questions they had about the letter” (Stewart 2).
There are multiple purposes for Paul’s writing of Philippians: Paul wanted to update them on his situation (1:12-26), to thank them for their gift (4:10-18), to expedite Epaphroditus’ return (2:25-39), and to prepare the way for Timothy’s later visit (2:19-24). He wanted to encourage them in their grief (2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4), to find peace through prayer (4:6-7), and to meditate on good things (4:8-9). Paul also promotes unity (2:2-4,14; 4:2-3) and warns the Philippians from false teachers (3:2-3).
Philippians’ themes are suffering (1:29-30;3:10;4:14), joy (1:18,25; 2:17-18,29; 4:1,10), right thinking (1:7; 2:2,5; 3:15; 4:2,10), humility (2:3,7; 3:3,8,12-16), Christian growth (2:12-13; 3:12-16), and thanksgiving (1:3-11; 4:10-20). Our relationship with Christ appears in every chapter: In chapter one, Christ is our life; in chapter two, Christ is our example; chapter three, Christ is the goal of our life; and chapter four, Christ is our source of joy.
Carson, D.A., Moo, Douglas J., and Morris, Leon. “An Introduction to the New Testament.” Zondervan, 2nd edition 2006. Print.
Stewart, David. “A Commentary on Philippians.” Stewart Publications, 2006. Print.
By Jennifer Odom