THE LETTER TO THE PHILIPPIANS. The Imperial Court has begun to consider Paul’s case, he expects a verdict soon, and plans to visit Philippi before long (2:24). Hence, the letter was written in early

A.D. 63. He finds occasion to write this letter with the return of Epaphroditus to Philippi following his serious illness in Rome. Paul used this letter to thank the saints for sending him a financial gift as well as Epaphroditus. Inspired by friendship motives, it contains information about the apostle’s love and affection for the Philippians.

Along with Timothy, Paul warns the saints of two dangers: Judaizers and those who stood against law. His fatherly concern for the church he established finds expression in three graces: (1) unity; (2) humblemindedness; and (3) spirit of joy and thanksgiving.

Philippians: Christ the Joy of Living

Writer and Secretary: Paul and Timothy, Servants of Christ Jesus.

Addressee and Background: To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons. Philippi was a Roman colony and fortified city of Macedonia near the Thracian border, which guarded the pass of the Agnatian Way through the Balkans. The first converts at Philippi were Lydia, an Asiatic from Thyatria, a Greek slave girl, and the Roman jailer (Acts 16) —> a business woman, a social chattel, and government official (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11).

Date and Place Written: Autumn of A.D. 61, near the close of Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome.

Occasion and Purpose: A thank you letter for having sent a financial gift (Philippians 4:10-20) as well as Epaphroditus to Paul (2:25-30). It is a letter of love, inspired by friendship motives. It contains information about Paul and his affection for the Philippians. His love and concern cause him to warn them against two dangers: Judaizers (3:2-16) and Antinomianism (3:17-4:1). His fatherly concern finds expression in exhortation and counsel in three graces:

1. Unity, Philemon 1:27-29; 2:2-4; 4:2-3
2. Cultivation of humble-mindedness, 2:3-11
3. Spirit of joy and thanksgiving, 3:1-4:9)

Key Verses: Philippians 1:5, 21; 2:2; 4:4, 12

Key Phrases: In Christ/Him (8 times); Day of Christ (1:6, 10; 2:16)

Key Words: Christ (38 times); All (26); Jesus (22); Rejoice/Joy/Boast/Glad/ (16); Lord (15); Gospel (9); Mind (8); Spirit (4); Peace (3)


A. Thematic Theme: The Joy of being Partners in the Gospel, Philippians 1:3-11
1. Partnership —> Carry it on to Completion, 1:5-6
2. Affection —> Sharing in God’s Grace, 1:7-8
3. Progress —> Fruit of Righteousness, 1:9-11 —> Love, Joy, Peace (cf. Galatians 5:22)
The thematic theme of the letter is the joy of being partners in the Gospel. The note of joy is predominant in Philippians. Paul wants his readers to see life from God’s perspective: Life by Christ, in Christ, and Christlike.

B. Primary Theme:
1. Unity —> Like-minded, Philippians 2:1-4
2. Humility, 2:5-11 —> Crowning revelation concerning Christ that shows His preexistence, incarnation, and exaltation.
3. Christ our life (1:21), example (2:5), Lord (3:8), and strength (4:13)
4. Joyfulness —> Christian joy is more and better than happiness, because it does not depend on what happens

C. Subordinate Themes:
1. Seeing life from God’s perspective: Life by Christ, in Christ, and Christlike
2. The Secret of Being Content = Praise + Pray + Ponder + Practice + Positiveness + Power = Peace, 4:4-13
3. Life in the Spirit:
a. Help of the Spirit, 1:19
b. Fellowship with the Spirit, 2:1
c. Worship by the Spirit, 3:3
d. Grace through the Spirit, 4:23
4. Exhortation to love, joy and peace, 2:1-2; 4:4-13 —> Fruit of the Spirit

Style: Conversational and spontaneity. No other letter is so warm in its expression of personal affection as Philippians. He calls them “Brothers” eight times and “Dear Friends” twice.

In this letter, Paul reveals two monumental mysteries. First, “the kenosis,” which is the self-emptying of Christ (2:5-11). Second, the secret of joy and contentment that produces the peace of God, which transcends understanding (4:4-13): Peace = Praise + Pray + Ponder + Practice + Positiveness + Power

The Outline of Philippians:

Christ Our Life, 1 Exalt Christ, 1:20
Christ Our Example, Be Like Christ, 2:6
Christ Our Goal, 3 Gain Christ, 3:8
Christ Our Sufficiency, 4 Be Content in Christ, 4:11

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