Book of Philippians Explained

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Authorship: Paul is identified as author at the beginning (1:1; compare verse 23; 4:18), as customarily in his epistle. The testimony of the early church, including such key figures as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen and Eusebius, confirms that the opening claim is genuine. Additional evidence for Paul’s authorship comes from the book’s close parallels with Philemon, which is universally accepted as having been written by Paul. Both were written (ca. A.D. 60-62), while Paul was a prisoner in Rome (4:3, 10, 18; Philemon 9, 10, 13, 23); plus the names of the same people (e.g., Timothy, Aristarchus, Archippus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke, Onesimus, and Demas), appear in both epistles, showing that both were written by the same author at about the same time.

Background – Setting: The city of Philippi. The city was established by and named after, Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. After Octavian defeated Mark Antony's army at Actium (in 31 B.C.), Philippi was designated as a military colony with special privileges of citizenship. This may account for the terminology used (in 1:27 politeuesthe), "to conduct oneself as a citizen"), and (3:20) (politeuma, "citizenship"). Proud of their citizenship, its inhabitants called themselves "Romans" (Acts 16:21). The official language was Latin, but the daily tongue was Greek. According to (Acts 16:12), Philippi was the "chief city of that part of Macedonia." Its importance lay not least in its being a crossroads lying on one of the main routes between Asia and Europe.

We will find many different things about this church at Philippi and the one in Corinth. In fact, the first church meetings here, were held in Lydia's home. Actually, Lydia and her family were the first converts to Christianity here. We will find that Paul had been instructed directly from God to go to this area, because they needed help.

There was no synagogue in this area, and the women were praying out at the river bank where they washed. They were there on the Sabbath, and Paul went there and brought them the good news of the gospel.

It seemed Lydia was very prominent in the work here in Philippi. The first man that was brought into the church here was the Philippian jailor and his family.

This city was said to be a Roman city in Greece. This made this church a Gentile church. There was not the problem with the Jews at this time, because they were not prominent in worship here. Both Latin and Greek were spoken here in Phillip. This was a poor church, but one that gave generously to help Paul. This was the only church that Paul would take help from.

In this church, we see ministry of the women more prominent than in the other churches. Paul, on one occasion, tells the church people to cooperate with the women that had ministered with him.

Historical: Colossians contains teaching on several key areas of theology, including the deity of Christ (1:15-20; 2:2-10), reconciliation (1:20-23), redemption (1:13-14; 2:13-14; 3:9-11), election (3:12), forgiveness (3:13), and the nature of the church (1:18, 24, 25; 2:19; 3:11, 15). Also, it refutes the heretical teaching that threatened the Colossian church (chapter 2).

The planting of this church on his second missionary journey, was Paul's first act on European soil. The history of his mission there is recorded in (Acts 16:12-40). His sojourn was brief but long enough for him to fall victim to abuse and punishment. The power of his ministry was demonstrated in the deliverance of a demon possessed girl, in the conversion of Lydia and her household, and in the salvation of the jailer and his family.

To this small nucleus, others were later added: Epaphroditus (2:25-30), Euodias and Syntyche (4:2), Clement, an unnamed friend, and other "fellow laborers" (4:3). Judging from these names the church seems to have been mostly Gentile. The assembly was organized and under the oversight of its leaders, the bishops and deacons of (1:1). The congregation at Philippi quickly became the dearest of all of the apostle's children in the faith. While Paul's relationship with some fellowships (e.g. the Corinthians and the Galatians), was at times strained. His relationship with the Philippians was apparently never marred by misunderstandings or distrust.

"From the first day until now" (1:5), they had shared his interests, made his suffering their own, and participated with him in his ministry. Twice they had sent him money at Thessalonica (4:16), once at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:9), and now again at Rome (4:18). Their love for him (1:9), was reciprocated in full measure (1:7-8). In the epistle he addresses them three times as "beloved" and calls them "brethren ... longed for, " and "my joy and crown" (4:1). They are, on the whole, in good spiritual health. Their only flaw is an apparent lack of complete harmony among some of their members. Hence, Paul often summons them to unite (1:27; 2:1-4; 4:2-3). And a potential danger lies in their enemies, thus occasioning the caution of (3:1 - 4:1). Despite being under persecution (1:28), and experiencing suffering (1:29-30), they are doing well.

Theme: The supremacy and adequacy of Christ is stressed throughout. He is presented as fully God (2:9), as Creator (1:16), as preeminent over the universe and church (1:17-18), and as Savior (1:20-21). Because Christ is over all, the Colossians are “complete in Him” (2:10), that is, He is more than adequate in that He alone, rather than any angelic being, can meet all their spiritual needs. The Colossians then, should worship God the Father through Him alone and depend on Him only for salvation. Refusing to rely on vain philosophy, secret knowledge, or legalism in an attempt to secure divine favor.

The basic theme of the epistle is joy. This idea of rejoicing is found 16 times, appearing in noun forms (1:4, 25; 2:2, 29; 4:1), and verb forms (1:18, twice; 2:17, twice; 2:18 twice; 2:28; 3:1; 4:4, twice; 4:10). There is ample basis for this theme throughout the letter. There is joy in suffering, for through it, God accomplishes good (1:12-14). There is joy in the sacrificial giving of oneself (2:17-18), and of one's goods (4:18), to meet the needs of others and to do God's will, thus following Jesus' example (2:4-11). There is joy in knowing Christ and experiencing His resurrection power (3:8-10). There is joy when harmony prevails among the brethren (2:4; 4:2-5). And there is joy over the adequacy of Christ (4:13, 19), which produces contentment for every circumstance of life.

Each of the chapters are done individually. Some due to length, have been shorten into "continued" sections. Each section contains a questionnaire which follows the section which has been done to aid in the learning process. Each section can be accessed by the simple menu found at the bottom of the file. (i.e., continue to next section or return to previous section.  

Philippians Chapter 1

Philippians Chapter 2

Philippians Chapter 3

Philippians Chapter 1 Continued

Philippians Chapter 2 Continued

Philippians Chapter 4


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