Thursday, April 5, 2012


Philippians.  The Holy Bible.  New King James Version.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Compared to some of Paul’s other letters, his message to the church at Philippi jumps all over the place.  Sadly, his more focused an organized letters are organized so out of the necessity of providing teaching and correction to troubled churches.  Happily, the Philippians seemed to need little of this.  Paul writes this letter mostly to share news and encourage a church he had not visited in years.

Paul founded the church in Philippi, a city in what is now Greece, possibly the first European church.  Early on, they had been supporters of his mission, though it appears they had not been in contact for several years.

The arrival of Epaphroditus, a messenger from the Philippian church, prompted Paul to write.  They had heard of his imprisonment and hardships and, though they had long been out of contact with the planter of their congregation, they wanted to take care of him.  Paul doesn’t say what they sent, but it seems that Epaphroditus spent some time in Rome seeing to Paul’s needs before Paul sent him back with Timothy and this letter.

The only note of correction in the book is and admonishment to be humble.  He also wanted a couple of prominent women in the church to settle their differences.

Much of the letter is encouragement.  Paul encourages the Philippians to continue faithfully in the Gospel, assured of their home in heaven.  In spite of his troubles, Paul is joyful and he wants them to be full of joy, too.  He praises their generosity.

A special point of joy is that the Gospel was advancing.  Paul was happy to endure imprisonment because it gave him opportunity to preach the Gospel.  Even people working in Caesar’s palace had become Christians.

The reason for all of this is Christ.  The salvation, assurance, and power to live a new life, for the Philippians and all believers to this day, are from Jesus Christ.  The best a man be on his own is little compared to the perfect righteousness of Christ, which God freely imparts to us His gift.  The temporary hardships of this life, with which Paul was very familiar, were nothing compare to the eternal joy and perfection God has in store for His people.

In many of his letters, Paul opposes those who preach something other than the Gospel.  Often it was Judaizers, but it was sometimes Gnostics or others who would twist the Gospel into something else.  He strongly objected to teachers of false doctrine.  In this letter, though, he mentions people who preach the Gospel for selfish reasons—even to hurt him.  This doesn’t seem to bother him much, his main concern being that the truth of Christ be proclaimed.

Paul also wrote