Philippians is the apostle Paul’s thank-you letter to the believers at Philippi for their help in his hour of need. Repeatedly he communicates one central thought: Only in Christ can we experience real unity and joy. With Christ as your model of humility and service, you too can enjoy a oneness of purpose, attitude, goal, and labor.
We sometimes think that joy can happen only in the presence of favorable circumstances, yet Paul showed the Philippians that we serve a God who can take even unexpected and unpleasant circumstances and use them for His glory and our good. Paul told his friends, “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:12–14).
Paul stressed unity because within their own ranks, fellow workers in the Philippian church were at odds with one another, hindering the work of proclaiming new life in Christ. Because of this, Paul exhorts the church to “stand fast … be of the same mind … rejoice in the Lord always … in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known … and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (4:1, 2, 4, 6, 7).
This epistle is called Pros Philippesious, “To the Philippians.” Paul founded the church at Philippi before any others in Macedonia. The apostle established this church during his second missionary journey (see Acts 16:6–40). Philippians is a very warm letter filled with much personal affection.
Themes: God intends the Christian life to be a joyful experience, made more so by the unity believers experience in community.
Author: The apostle Paul.
Time: Likely written from prison in Rome about A.D. 60–62.
Structure: After greeting his friends and describing his thankfulness and prayers for them (1:1–11), the apostle refers to his imprisonment and the benefit it has had in the preaching of the gospel (1:12–26). He then exhorts them to live worthy of the gospel (1:27–2:18), mentions his associates (2:19–30), issues some warnings (3:1–4:1), and concludes his letter (4:2–23).
Charles F. Stanley, The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible: New King James Version (Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles, 2005), Php.