PHILIPPI Philippi, a fortified Macedonian city, was about eleven miles north of the Aegean seaport of Neapolis. The city was named for Philip II of Macedonia, who enlarged and fortified the place in 356 B.C.
Romans, native Macedonians, and Orientals comprised the city’s population. Because the city was a military and agricultural center instead of a commercial one, few Jews were attracted to Philippi. Paul established the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey. (See Acts 16.)
Philippi is a caring and generous church (2 Corinthians 8:1-5), for whom Paul has a special affection. Its members probably included Lydia, the dealer in purple cloth, the Phillipian jailer and his family, and perhaps Luke. In this Letter, Paul shows his joy in spite of his imprisonment, his love for the church, his overwhelming devotion to Christ and all he means, and his concern that the Philippians will drift away from all they have been taught.
Paul visited the Philippian church at least twice and maintained a close, intimate relationship with them. Paul’s receiving an offering from them indicates that they were friends of deep love, for Paul ordinarily made his own living.
PURPOSE Paul wrote Philippians during his first Roman imprisonment, around A.D. 64. The church at Philippi had sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul’s needs and to take an offering to him. Paul wrote to express appreciation for their concern for him. The theme of the epistle is the joy of the Christian life and service manifested under all circumstances. Sixteen times the words joy and rejoice appear in the book. Christian joy is more and better than mere happiness because it does not depend on what happens.
OUTLINEINTRODUCTION: Philippians 1:1-11I. PAUL’S EXPERIENCES: Philippians 1:12-30 A. His Joy in Tribulation (1:12-20) B. The Secret of His Joy (1:21-30)
II. PAUL’S EXAMPLES: Philippians 2:1-30 A. The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ (2:1-18) B. The Service of Timothy (2:19-24) C. The Sickness of Epaphroditus (2:25-30)
III. PAUL’S EXHORTATIONS: 3:1-4:20 A. The Power of Proper Theology (3:1-21) B. The Power of Positive Thinking (4:1-9) C. The Power of Perpetual Thanksgiving (4:10- 20) CONCLUSION: 4:21-23
INTRODUCTION Philippians 1:1-11 Paul began his epistle to the Philippians by identifying himself and Timothy and the addressees, the saints in Jesus Christ at Philippi. In doing so, he established his position in life as a servant of Jesus Christ. He saluted the saints with the grace of God and then peace. Joy characterized Paul’s remembrance of and prayer ministry for the Philippians. His relationship with them was very intimate. He desired this relationship and their good fellowship with God to continue. He had great esteem, love, and confidence toward them. He was confident that they would grow in Christ and be steadfast unto the end.
I. PAUL’S EXPERIENCESPHILIPPIANS 1:12-30 A. His Joy in Tribulation Paul had suffered because of the gospel, but it had been for the glory of God. The gospel had been advanced rather than hindered. His imprisonment in Rome had inspired a fearless confidence in many to preach the Word. Even though some men preached with the wrong attitude, there were those who preached with love and sincerity. Paul rejoiced in that Christ was preached.
B. THE SECRET OF HIS JOY The secret of Paul’s confident joy was his Christ- centered life. He wrapped his hope and expectations in the gospel and in his salvation. He wanted always to be bold in preaching. His longing to be with the Lord and his desire to preach the gospel, which would be more beneficial to the rest of the world, tore at him. For the gospel’s sake, he was content to stay on earth to be a witness.
Paul advised the Philippians to let their conversation-their conduct or their actions-be godly, to be unified in their efforts to win souls, and to keep the faith. He told them not to fear their adversaries. Even though these enemies thought they were doing harm, they were actually bringing the salvation of the saints closer.
II. PAUL’S EXAMPLESPHILIPPIANS 2:1-30 Christians must keep the proper spirit in relationship to other saints. First, they must be unified. Second, they must be humble and meek. Third, they must not be puffed up. (Self-importance) To emphasize the importance of maintaining the proper attitude in adversity, Paul cited three examples.
A. THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST The first example was Jesus Christ’s sacrifice (2:5-11). God displayed the supreme spirit of humility in taking upon Himself the status of humanity. He, as deity, could never be humbled unless He did it Himself. He did so by coming in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Through the incarnation Jesus was glorified, however, and His name was exalted above all others. Obtaining salvation for eternity is a serious matter. It is to be considered with fear and trembling.
Paul admonished the Philippians to live blameless lives-not to justify themselves, but because they had been justified (James 2:18). If they were faithful, Paul’s work among them would not have been in vain. Paul rejoiced in them enough that if he were to give his life for them, he could still rejoice (2:17- 18).
B. THE SERVICE OF TIMOTHY As a second example, Paul cited Timothy’s service (2:19-24). Paul planned to send Timothy to the Philippians soon. He knew that Timothy would care for them in the same way that he would.
C. THE SICKNESS OF EPAPHRODITUS The third example Paul gave was Epaphroditus’s sickness (2:25-30). The Philippians sent Epaphroditus to Rome to minister to the imprisoned apostle. Before he returned, he became ill and had to stay in Rome until he recuperated. Paul advised them to be thankful for the consecration of this servant of Christ.
III. PAUL’S EXHORTATIONPHILIPPIANS 3:1-4:20A. The Power of Proper Theology Paul warned against those who taught the necessity of a literal circumcision for salvation, calling them “dogs”. He reminded the church that they were of the circumcision of Christ, which is of the heart and not the law. Salvation is a work of the Spirit.
Paul could have boasted of more in the flesh than these false teachers. Paul excelled as far as education, rank, intelligence, zeal, and culture (3:4-6). Yet Paul gladly gave up all he had for the cause. of Christ (3:7-14). He had been stopped by God in his climb in the world. He could not claim perfection in Christ, as he could in the world.
Nevertheless, he pressed toward it. He strove to live completely in Christ-knowing and being acquainted with His suffering, death, and resurrection. To be perfect, we must press toward the mark as Paul did. We must keep going upward and onward (3:15-17). We must keep what we have attained and press on. Unfortunately, some do not, and their end is destruction (3:18-19).
B. THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING Christians have the hope of being changed, glorified, and made like Christ. Therefore they must be strong and steadfast. Constant perseverance will heal personal rifts and cause Christians to agree with each other in the Lord. Paul gave some personal messages and general admonitions to be moderate, joyful, thankful, and prayerful (4:1-7).
In Philippians 4:8-9, Paul focused on Christians’ mental life. They are to think on things that are true, honorable, just, righteous, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. They are to practice the things that Paul taught and exemplified. The result will mean not only possessing “the peace of God” but also “the God of peace”.
C. THE POWER OF PERPETUALTHANKSGIVING Paul had learned to be content in every situation. Whether abased or abounding, Paul knew the joy of giving thanks. He was thankful for the Philippians’ liberality. And he had learned in the gospel work that he could depend upon God for every need. He could be content in Him. He assured the Philippians that God would also supply their needs: “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (4:19).
CONCLUSIONPhilippians 4:21-23 In closing, Paul saluted the saints at Philippi. Likewise, he extended the greetings of those with him, especially those who belonged to the emperor’s household.