Epistle to the Philippians

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The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, usually referred to simply as Philippians, is the eleventh book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was written by St. Paul to the church of Philippi. This authentic Pauline letter was written c 62.[1]

Contents

Composition

Paul's composition of Philippians is "universally accepted" (Beare, p. 1) by the academic community, both ancient and modern. It is possible that the kenosis passage in Philippians 2:5-11 may have been a Christian hymn that Paul quoted.

Philippians 2:5-11:[2]

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The letter was written to the church at Philippi, one of the earliest churches to be founded in Europe. They were very attached to Paul, just as he was very fond of them. Of all the churches, their contributions (which Paul gratefully acknowledges) are among the only ones he accepts. (Acts 20:33-35; 2 Cor. 11:7-12; 2 Thess. 3:8). The generosity of the Philippians comes out very conspicuously (Phil. 4:15). "This was a characteristic of the Macedonian missions, as 2 Cor. 8 and 9 amply and beautifully prove. It is remarkable that the Macedonian converts were, as a class, very poor (2 Cor. 8:2), though the very first converts were of all classes (Acts 16); 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).

Historical background

The Philippians had sent Epaphroditus, their messenger, with contributions to meet the needs of Paul; and on his return Paul sent this letter with him. 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 while he was under house arrest in 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".[3]

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