AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS
The city of Philippi had a checkered history. It was named after Philip of Macedon who seized the city in 358 B.C. from the Thracians. He was the father of Alexander the Great. In 42 B.C. Mark Anthony and Octavius defeated Brutus and Cassius nearby and consequently transformed the Roman Republic (Oligarchy) into the Roman Empire. Later Augustus Caesar made Philippi a Roman colony. It was a principal stop on the great highway. Traders going East or West would come there. Therefore, it was a strategic place for the spread of the Gospel.
In the early portion of Paul's second missionary journey, the Lord indicated that He wanted Paul to cross over into Macedonia (Ac.16v9-10), an event which has affected all of our lives in the West. This was the first congregation ever to be established on European soil. Ac.16v6-40 describes Paul's contact with Lydia and the Philippian jailor's household. Paul may have visited them again when he journeyed from Ephesus to Macedonia (Ac.20v1; 2Cor.2v12-13; 2Cor.7v5-6). We know that he spent time there that spring (Ac.20v6).
It is ironic that Philippians was written in another prison (in Rome) a decade later. Paul, who supported himself, ordinarily refused to receive a preacher's salary because of a principle (1Cor.9v2; Ac.18v3). However, he did accept encouragement and financial support from the Philippian brethren when he was in Thessalonica (Php.4v16-18) and while in Corinth (2Cor.11v9). Epaphroditus arrived in Rome from Philippi with another offering of love. Epaphroditus nearly died, but recovered (Php.2v25-30; Php.4v18). Paul sent him back to Philippi with this letter and with his heartfelt thanks for their gift. He reassured them that they would be victorious if they had the same attitude of Christ, instead of conceited pride. Php.2v5-11 is a classic passage.
Although, strictly speaking, there is no developed single theme, the main thought of Philippians is the all-sufficiency of Christ in any circumstance--good or bad. Christ is the very meaning of life and death (Php.1v20-21). More than a dozen passages exude Paul's joy and confidence. He loved them very much and urged them to persevere.
Return to Philippians