[CF Devotionals] 2003-07-19 - Philippians

Part 2 ~ Chapter 1

  1. The Single Mind

    1. The Writer: Paul is the unquestioned author of this epistle. As Guthrie notes:

      "It is hardly necessary to discuss the question of the Epistle's genuineness … as the great majority of scholars regard it as indisputable. (The) internal evidence is strongly supported by external evidence, which contains no hint of doubt that the Epistle in its entirety was Paul's own work." 4

    2. The Date: Paul wrote the epistle to the Philippians while he was imprisoned. This makes it difficult to identify when the letter was written. Paul spent a number of times in jail, and we can't identify on which occasion this was written. He had been in jail in Caesarea, Rome and Ephesus. Generally the view has been the letter was written from Rome, (59-61A.D.) though there are some who believe it was written at Ephesus, (53-55A.D.). Clearly, it was written sometime between 53 and 61AD, and therefore within only a few years after the resurrection and Paul's conversion.

    3. The Recipients of the Epistle: Paul, on his second missionary journey, had been involved in the establishment of a church in Philippi in 50 A.D. This was the first European city in which had Paul preached. (See Acts 16.) The best known incidents occurring there were: <P> The saving of Lydia, the dyer of purple; the psychic who had a demon cast out of her through the Paul and Silas' intervention and the resulting riot; the Holy Spirit's freeing them from jail and the jail keeper and his family's salvation. Paul visited the city again on his third journey. During one of Paul's times in jail, the believers at Philippi sent an individual named Epaphroditus with instructions to minister to Paul's needs, and to bring him a gift. During this visit, Epaphroditus became ill, and the believers got word of his illness. Apparently, he felt that in some way he might have failed the church.

      When Epaphroditus had recovered from his illness and was preparing to return, Paul wrote this letter to send with him. The purpose was to reassure them about Epaphroditus' commitment to the Lord, to thank them for the gift, to let them know he was sending Timothy and some other items that we will examine as we get to them.

      Homer Kent notes this is the most personal of all Paul's letters. It may be that it is the personal nature of the letter that rings out the truths of living in the midst of God's joy. Paul didn't write the letter to teach the Philippians about joy, but the lesson is there, because what he says models it in his own life.

    4. The Theme: Quoting Unger's Bible Handbook:
      "Its theme is the adequacy of Christ for all the experiences of life – privation, persecution, hardship, suffering, as well as prosperity and popularity. Christ gives joy and triumph whatever may come, If He is allowed to be the center of life. This is mottoed in Paul's testimony: 'For to me, to live is Christ' (1:21)" 5

      Verses 1-2: In chapter One, we will see that the reason Paul was able to have joy in circumstances was because of his single-mindedness. His focus was on the giving out of the gospel, and all that he experienced was weighted in light of this purpose.

      The letter opens with a typical salutation, and while the letter comes from Paul and Timothy, it is clear the text reflects Paul's words. Here Paul refers to himself and Timothy as servants, actually slaves of Christ.

      The epistle is written to the saints at Philippi, and specifically to the Elders and Deacons. The text opens with both Greek and Hebrew greetings: grace, the grace of salvation and peace, the peace between men and God that comes through that salvation.

      The word for saint is Haggai, … a term which is found only in the plural in the New Testament … the word refers to a group. (It) means 'holy', equivalent in the Old Testament to a Hebrew word meaning 'to separate.' 6

      The saints at Philippi were set apart for God. To be a saint is to be holy, but this isn't to be perfect. It is to be set aside for God.

      Also note, all believers are saints. We may be sinning saints, but saints nevertheless. So for those of you from Roman backgrounds, that church may be able to fire its saints, but we will be saints into eternity.

      But what is the basis of their sainthood? Kent states:

      "All believers are "saints" through their spiritual union with Christ, a fact Paul often expressed by the phrase 'in Christ Jesus.' 7

      "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" … "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

  1. Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Introduction, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1968, p. 526.
  2. Larson, Gary N., reviser, The New Unger’s Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1966, p. 533.
  3. Martin, Ralph P., Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, “Philippians,” William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI, 1989, p. 58.
  4. Kent, Homer H., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, “Philippians,” Zondervan Interactive Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990, Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc.

Questions or Comments?

[email geoff] gkragen@aol.com