The father of Alexander the Great, Philip of Macedonia, gave this city in eastern Macedonia its name. He named the city after himself. Since Philippi was located on a famous east-west highway, the Egnatian Way, it was an important city. About 30 years before Christ, Philippi was populated with settlers from Italy and became a “Roman colony.” The city had a school of medicine. It is possible that Luke, the doctor, came from Philippi and was trained in its medical school. With pride, Luke calls it “the leading city” of that part of Macedonia (Acts 16:12).
THE PHILIPPIAN CHRISTIANS
Paul first came to Philippi on his second missionary trip (Acts 16:6-40). When in Troas, Paul responded to the call, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Philippi was the first Macedonian city he entered. Timothy, Luke, and Silas were with him. At Philippi they established the first European Christian church. Lydia and her family were the first converts. When thrown into prison in Philippi, Paul and Silas used their prison experience to lead a jailer to faith in Christ. His whole family was baptized with him. Paul also visited Philippi on his third missionary trip. He must have visited Philippi twice during that trip, both when going to Greece and when returning from Greece (Acts 20:1-6). The Philippian Christians were a very thoughtful and generous people. They aided Paul many times (Acts 16:15, 33-34; Ph. 4:16; [2 Cor. 11:9]; Ph. 4:18). They generously gave toward the special offering for the poor in Jerusalem [2 Cor. 8:1-5]. Paul had a special love for the Philippians and they for him.
THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS
Philippians is the second of Paul’s Prison Epistles (1:7, 13, 16, 17). Like Ephesians, Philippians was probably written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome sometime during the years 61-63. Epaphroditus may have carried the letter from Rome to Philippi. Paul wrote this letter because he wanted to thank the Philippians for sending Epaphroditus to help him and for the gifts received through Epaphroditus (2:2; 4:18). Paul also took the opportunity to encourage the Philippians (2:1-18; 4:2) and to warn them about the false doctrine of the Judaizers (3:1-3). Running throughout Philippians is a special emphasis on Christian joy. The theme of “joy in the Lord” ties the whole letter together. “Joy” is mentioned 16 times in the letter. The theme comes out most strongly and clearly in 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Paul is suffering in prison; the Philippians are being persecuted (1:29-30). Yet Paul can rejoice as he writes, and his readers can rejoice too. How is this possible? Only through faith in Jesus Christ. Through the strength that Christ gives, Christians are able to find joy in the middle of suffering. As Paul says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength: (4:13). Philippians is often called “The Epistle of Joy.”
A THEME FOR PHILIPPIANS:
“REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS.”
THE CONTENTS OF PHILIPPIANS
1.Rejoice in Christ our Life. (1) The key passage in this chapter is: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (v.21). 2.Rejoice in living like Christ. (2) Paul encourages his readers to imitate Christ’s humility and live a life of joyful service. 3.Rejoice in the goal of eternal life with Christ. (3) Paul reminds Christian readers that “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.20). 4.Rejoice, because Christ provides all we need. (4) Key thoughts from this chapter are found in these passages: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (v.6). “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (11b). “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (13).
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