THE APOSTLE PAUL'S LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF PHILIPPI
(Written from Rome about 62AD)
Roman ruins at Philippi
THEME OF PHILIPPIANS
Philippians expresses the deep consolation and comfort of Christ in times of desperate need and trials, and the high calling of pressing on in Christ, to the end.
This letter is written from a deep, deep well of love which Paul feels towards these faithful believers. They have shared his suffering and have come through their own trials with a deep love for God, Paul and their fellow brothers. Therefore they understand and share some measure of the apostle's own heart and hold a special place of fellowship with him. This is the only letter in which Paul does not need to bring correction to the church's behaviour, he only encourages them to press on faithfully. This letter was written a short while before Paul's martyrdom, while imprisoned in Rome.
SHORT-PHRASE OF PHILIPPIANS
– The writers main argument simplified –
We have taken each chapter of Philippians and summarised the core message in a short-phrase (shortened paraphrase). That creates a condensed version of Paul's main train of thought. We suggest you go through this summary, before reading the full text through in your Bible.
I thank God every time I remember you, (always in all my prayers), because of the fellowship you have had in the gospel from the very first till now. I am persuaded that He who began this good work in you will complete it. God is my witness how I long for you from the very deep affections of Jesus Christ. I pray your love will abound more and more, that you be pure until the day of Christ Jesus, filled with the fruits of righteousness (by Jesus Christ), to the glory of God. I want you to know that the things which have happened to me were for the furtherance of the gospel. Most of the brethren have been made bold to speak the Word, because of my chains. Therein is my joy, that Christ is preached, yes I will rejoice. I fervently hope that Christ will be magnified in my body, weather through life or death – both are gain to me. For I am distressed, longing to be with Christ but knowing that if I stay it is better for you. Weather I come and see you again or not, continue in one spirit and mind, fighting together through the faith of the gospel. Do not fear your enemies, which is proof of their perdition and your salvation. For to you it is given to suffer for Christ's sake, having the same fight you see is in me.
Fulfil my joy by being like-minded and having the same love, being of one accord. Let every man think others better than himself. Look out for each other, having the same mind as Christ, who though being in the form of God (thinking it no robbery to be equal with God), made Himself of no reputation. But He became a servant, and humbled Himself even to the death of the cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him above every name, that every knee should bow and confess Him Lord. Therefore accomplish your salvation in fear and trembling. Be blameless and pure sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. And if I am being offered up on the sacrifice of your faith, I rejoice with you all.
Beware of evil workers. We are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Jesus Christ and have no confidence in the flesh. The things that were an advantage to me, I have counted as loss instead. I count all things nothing but dung, so that I may know Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness but that which God gives me through faith. That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings and be conformed to His death. So I press on, that I may lay hold of Him who laid hold of me. I forget what is behind and push forward toward the high calling of Jesus Christ. Let as many as are mature, think this same way. Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await our Saviour.
Therefore my beloved, longed-for brethren, my joy, my crown, continue on the Lord and rejoice in Him always. Let your gentleness be known to all men. Don't be anxious about anything, but let your requests be made known to God by prayer, supplication and thanksgiving. And the peace that passes understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure and worthy of love or virtue, think on these things. Weather I have lack or abundance, I can do all things with the help of Christ who strengthens me. You know that in the beginning of the gospel the only church that shared with me in giving and receiving, was you. Not that I seek your gift, but I seek the fruit it brings you. For indeed, I have all I need and am full, having received the things you sent me – a sweet smelling sacrifice acceptable to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory, forever and ever, Amen.
PHILIPPI AFTER PAUL'S LETTER
The Cities Paul's letters were written to.
(These original letters were still in their respective churches more than 150 years later and probably survived until Roman Emperor Diocletian made a point of destroying them around 300AD).
We have many known references, quotes and endorsements of the letter to Philippians from the earliest days of the church. These include: Clement of Rome (95-97AD), Ignatius (35-140AD), Polycarp (110-150AD), Justin Martyr (100-165AD), Tertullian (150-220AD), and Origen (185-254AD), Irenaeus (130-202AD) and Athanasius (296-373AD), along with others.