Philippians Sharing of Christian Joy


This brief NT epistle is a warm personal letter to believers in the church at Philippi.  In it Paul explains no great doctrine but rather shares the sources of joy that sustain him.  He is writing from prison to close friends who are deeply concerned about him.

Date and Author.  The writer is the apostle Paul.  He writes from Rom in early A.D. 63

Background.  Philippi is identified by Luke as “a Roman colony and the leading city of Macedonia”.  The city had a famous medical school which Luke probably attended.  The first convert in Europe, Lydia, was won to Christ in Philippi, and a small Christian community was established there.

Paul maintained a deep affection for the believers at Philippi.  They kept in contact through messengers from Philippi, like Epaphroditus, and Timothy was sent there at times to minister and report to the apostle.  This letter was stimulated by simple friendship, not a need to communicate some corrective or instructive truth.

Structure.  As a personal letter, Philippians shows no tight or logical structure.  Thus it is less important to outline than other letters which contain a definite logical argument (flow of thought).

Values.  Two themes found in Philippians are particularly helpful.  Paul speaks constantly of joy and rejoicing, even though he is in prison and in danger of execution.  What is the source of joy for Paul, and for us, when we have none of those things the world believes necessary for happiness?  Paul also includes in 2:5-11 a great hymn or confession of the early church affirming the deity and exaltation of Jesus.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:5-11


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