PHILIPPIANS
by Paul, the apostle
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Philippi, the city [EBD]

* Formerly Crenides, "the fountain," the capital of the province of Macedonia. It stood near the head of the Sea, about 8 miles north-west of Kavalla. It is now a ruined village, called Philibedjik. Philip of Macedonia fortified the old Thracian town of Crenides, and called it after his own name Philippi (B.C. 359-336). In the time of the Emperor Augustus this city became a Roman colony, i.e., a military settlement of Roman soldiers, there planted for the purpose of controlling the district recently conquered. It was a "miniature Rome," under the municipal law of Rome, and governed by military officers, called duumviri, who were appointed directly from Rome. Having been providentially guided thither, here Paul and his companion Silas preached the gospel and formed the first church in Europe. (See LYDIA .) This success stirred up the enmity of the people, and they were "shamefully entreated" (Acts 16:9-40; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). Paul and Silas at length left this city and proceeded to Amphipolis (q.v.).

* When Philip the tetrarch, the son of Herod, succeeded to the government of the northern portion of his kingdom, he enlarged the city of Paneas, and called it Caesarea, in honour of the emperor. But in order to distinguish it from the Caesarea on the sea coast, he added to it subsequently his own name, and called it Caesarea-Philippi (q.v.).


Philippians, Epistle to the [EBD]

Was written by Paul during the two years when he was "in bonds" in Rome (Phil 1:7-13), probably early in the year A.D. 62 or in the end of 61.

The Philippians had sent Epaphroditus, their messenger, with contributions to meet the necessities of the apostle; and on his return Paul sent back with him this letter. With this precious communication Epaphroditus sets out on his homeward journey. "The joy caused by his return, and the effect of this wonderful letter when first read in the church of Philippi, are hidden from us. And we may almost say that with this letter the church itself passes from our view. To-day, in silent meadows, quiet cattle browse among the ruins which mark the site of what was once the flourishing Roman colony of Philippi, the home of the most attractive church of the apostolic age. But the name and fame and spiritual influence of that church will never pass. To myriads of men and women in every age and nation the letter written in a dungeon at Rome, and carried along the Egnatian Way by an obscure Christian messenger, has been a light divine and a cheerful guide along the most rugged paths of life" (Professor Beet).

The church at Philippi was the first-fruits of European Christianity. Their attachment to the apostle was very fervent, and so also was his affection for them. They alone of all the churches helped him by their contributions, which he gratefully acknowledges (Acts 20:33-35; 2co 11:7-12; 2th 3:8). The pecuniary liberality of the Philippians comes out very conspicuously (Phil 4:15). "This was a characteristic of the Macedonian missions, as 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 amply and beautifully prove. It is remarkable that the Macedonian converts were, as a class, very poor (2 Corinthians 8:2); and the parallel facts, their poverty and their open-handed support of the great missionary and his work, are deeply harmonious. At the present day the missionary liberality of poor Christians is, in proportion, really greater than that of the rich" (Moule's Philippians, Introd.).

The contents of this epistle give an interesting insight into the condition of the church at Rome at the time it was written. Paul's imprisonment, we are informed, was no hindrance to his preaching the gospel, but rather "turned out to the furtherance of the gospel." The gospel spread very extensively among the Roman soldiers, with whom he was in constant contact, and the Christians grew into a "vast multitude." It is plain that Christianity was at this time making rapid advancement in Rome.

The doctrinal statements of this epistle bear a close relation to those of the Epistle to the Romans. Compare also Phil 3:20 with Ephesians 2:12,19, where the church is presented under the idea of a city or commonwealth for the first time in Paul's writings. The personal glory of Christ is also set forth in almost parallel forms of expression in Phil 2:5-11, compared with Ephesians 1:17-23; 2:8; and Colossians 1:15-20. "This exposition of the grace and wonder of His personal majesty, personal self-abasement, and personal exaltation after it," found in these epistles, "is, in a great measure, a new development in the revelations given through St. Paul" (Moule). Other minuter analogies in forms of expression and of thought are also found in these epistles of the Captivity.


Philippians, Epistle to the [SBD]

was St. Paul from Rome in A.D. 62 or 63. St. Paulís connection with Philippi was of a peculiar character, which gave rise to the writing of this epistle. St. Paul entered its walls A.D. 52. (Acts 16:18) There, at a greater distance from Jerusalem than any apostle had yet penetrated, the long-restrained energy of St, Paul was again employed in laying the foundation of a Christian church, Philippi was endeared to St. Paul not only by the hospitality of Lydia, the deep sympathy of the converts, and the remarkable miracle which set a seal on his preaching, but, also by the successful exercise of his missionary activity after a long suspense, and by the happy consequences of his undaunted endurance of ignominies which remained in his memory, (Philemon 1:30) after the long interval of eleven years.

Leaving Timothy and Luke to watch over the infant church, Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica, (1 Thessalonians 2:2) whither they were followed by the alms of the Philippians, (Philemon 4:16) and thence southward.

After the lapse of five years, spent chiefly at Corinth and Ephesus, St. Paul passed through Macedonia, A.D. 57, on his way to Greece, and probably visited Philippi for the second time, and was there joined by Timothy. He wrote at Philippi his second Epistle to the Corinthians.

On returning from Greece, (Acts 20:4) he again found a refuge among his faithful Philippians, where he spent some days at Easter, A.D. 58, with St. Luke, who accompanied him when he sailed from Neapolis.

Once more, in his Roman captivity, A.D. 62, their care of him revived again. They sent Epaphroditus bearing their alms for the apostleís support, and ready also to tender his personal service. (Philemon 2:25)

St. Paulís aim in writing is plainly this: while acknowledging the alms of the Philippians and the personal services of their messenger, to give them some information respecting his own condition, and some advice respecting theirs. Strangely full of joy and thanksgiving amidst adversity, like the apostleís midnight hymn from the depth of his Philippian dungeon, this epistle went forth from his prison at Rome. In most other epistles he writes with a sustained effort to instruct, or with sorrow, or with indignation; he is striving to supply imperfect or to correct erroneous teaching, to put down scandalous impurity or to schism in the church which he addresses. But in this epistle, though he knew the Philippians intimately and was not blind to the faults and tendencies to fault of some of them, yet he mentions no evil so characteristic of the whole Church as to call for general censure on his part or amendment on theirs. Of all his epistles to churches, none has so little of an official character as this.


Philippians [ISBE]


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