The colonial town of Philippi on the south coast of Greece was expanded into a major port city after the Romans conquered Greece and was the site of the major battle between Julius Caesar's assassins (Marcus Brutus, and Cassius Longinus) and Mark Antony and Caesar's adopted nephew Octavian (later Caesar Augustus) in 41 B.C.
Antony and Octavian prevailed and the battles ended the Roman Republic and paved the way for Imperial rule. The city was important to Rome because of several gold mines close by, and Octavian (Caesar Augustus) settled retired veterans from Roman legions there, further cementing Roman control in the region.
The apostle Paul and Timothy passed through the region in approximately 50 A.D. establishing a church there, and visited the city twice more in 56 and 57 A.D. The letter to the Philippian church is believed to have been written in 60-61 A.D.\
1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul addresses the bishops (elders, overseers) and deacons (younger church leaders) showing that this is a mature church with an established, trusted leadership. Paul identifies himself as well as Timothy, but in an unusual instance does not name the others with him as he usually did in his letters. .
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul is showing his deep love and care for the churches he established as well as the believers within them, much as a father loves and cares for his children. Paul was always very careful to re-visit the churches when he could and write to them when he couldn't be there in person, ensuring their growth and correcting any errors that crept into the churches.
Paul usually stayed for months or even years after he founded a church, teaching them the truth of God's Word. The Greek city of Ephesus was a good example:
8 And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.
9 But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
And in the city of Corinth:
9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent;
10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city."
11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:
16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;
17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Paul must have written this letter after he had been sent to Rome for his first trial before Nero Caesar concerning his preaching. During the 2 years of his captivity while awaiting trial, Paul preached to his guards to the point of where the whole palace knew why he was there.
With Christians not yet having been outlawed as Caesar had not yet condemned Christianity, Christians took advantage of the fact to boldly teach Jesus throughout the Roman Empire where the new faith quickly took hold.
Some, envious of the respect and popularity that ministers of Christ enjoyed, preached the Gospel, wanting to "cash in" on the movement and gain attention for themselves. Some did it to cause worries to Paul, knowing that Paul would know the real reason why they preached the Gospel. Still others preached from a good and sincere heart, carrying Paul's message to places he couldn't while imprisoned.
19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,
26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Paul expresses both his hope and confidence that after appearing before Caesar, he would be set free. He also expresses his hope that even if he is condemned, he will glorify Jesus with his death, showing that he is willing to be executed for his beliefs.
Yet he faces an internal quandary, for while going to be with Jesus would allow him to rest from his labors, remaining here is more beneficial to his audience. Based on this, he is confident that his work here is not yet complete and he will remain for a while.
27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation and that from God.
29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Paul reminds his audience that persecutions will be forthcoming, and to be ready for them. He reminds them that as Jesus suffered for our sakes, we in turn will suffer for His sake, that we may become purified in Him through the testing of our faith.
He also reminds them that his sufferings are not unique but this kind of persecution will be suffered by all believers and that his sufferings are an example of what they'll face.
1Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
One of the biggest weapons the churches can use against Satan is unity through love. Strife is rooted in differences in viewpoints and opinions, and if we love one another it's harder for Satan and his servants to introduce frictions between church members.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
I have met arrogant, self-important people who feel that they are masters and all others are serfs and treat them as such. Politicians, high-ranking military leaders and rich people many times fall into this category. Yet we have Jesus Christ, equal to God the Father, who willingly set aside His Godhood, power and glory and became mortal like us, subject to hunger, thirst, pain, weariness, sorrow, that He might know first-hand our frailties and what it is like to be human.
God expects us to be humble both in His sight and in the sight of others, for we are all equal in His sight and should be in each other's sight. All authority comes from God and take away that authority and no one is better than anyone else. And if God can give authority, He can also take it away. After death, no one is better than anyone else before God.In fact, those in authority will have a harsher judgment before God because they will give an account of how they used their authority while on Earth.
And because Jesus was obedient to His Father and humbled Himself even unto death for Mankind, His Father exalted Him to be Lord of all Creation and made Him equal with Himself. Those who are humble before God will be exalted at their Judgment, as God loves a humble person. As Jesus told His disciples;
12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,
15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
At times we are called upon or assigned to do or perform tasks that we don't like. But even unpleasant tasks serve a purpose - everyone wants to use a clean bathroom or shower, but no one wants to clean it. And those who clean them, especially those who clean public restrooms, are rarely praised for their service, but everyone notices when it is not done.
Remember also, the task(s) you do serve others and while they might not notice, God does, and He will greatly reward you, especially if you do it cheerfully, and to the best of your ability. If people see you doing unpleasant tasks cheerfully, they will be curious as to why you are happy, presenting an opportunity to share Jesus with them.
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.
20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.
21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.
23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.
24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
While imprisoned, awaiting trial before Nero Caesar over false accusations made by the priests and scribes of Jerusalem, Paul couldn't travel to visit he churches he had founded but had to await news from travelers instead. (At one point Paul was waiting, imprisoned, for two full years awaiting trial before Caesar.)
Paul was deeply devoted to the churches and their believers, and he constantly worried that corruption would enter the churches while he was imprisoned. Therefore he sent trusted subordinates to find out how they were doing and to correct any false teachings that may have crept in.
Paul sent Timothy because he trusted him, as well as the fact that Timothy was apparently single with no family ties to occupy him. Paul had written in 1 Corinthians that a single person devoted themselves to pleasing the Lord, whereas the married person devoted themselves to pleasing their spouse. He said there was nothing wrong with that, but a married persons' devotions were divided, whereas a single person could serve the Lord without distraction.
25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;
26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.
27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.
29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem;
30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
Paul was supplied by some of the churches while imprisoned with food, money, (he was allowed to rent his own house while imprisoned) clothing, writing materials, etc. Sometimes the deliveries were hindered for unknown reasons, so others filled in what was missing until the gift arrived.
Paul sent Epaphroditus, a trusted believer to the church at Philippi as Epaphroditus had a heart for the believers there and the church was worried that he had become quite sick while delivering supples to Paul. Paul in turn verified that Epaphroditus had been sick to the point of death, but that God had healed him and that he was sending him back so they could rejoice.
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!
3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;
6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul warns about some teaching that the Gentiles must follow the Law of Moses, (especially the law of circumcision) in order to be saved. Yet Paul had taught that the Gentiles were not subject to the Law, especially that of circumcision as the Law had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, replaced by spiritual rather than physical laws.
For this reason the Old Testament laws were easier to follow than those of the New Testament. The Law said, "You shall not commit adultery", easy enough to do. But Jesus said,
28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
With the spiritual circumcision, the indwelling Holy Spirit has "cut away"our spirit from the flesh, giving our spirit control over the flesh, thus purifying our spirits from the sins of the flesh.
Paul had taught the church at Colossae (Colossians) that we receive circumcision spiritually, namely the cutting away of the spirit from the flesh through the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus' death and resurrection the spirit and the flesh were intertwined together. Therefore the Law was one of works (do this, don't do that), but the Law did not require faith and had no provision for salvation. For a person to be saved under the Law, they would have to follow all 613 commandments without fail for their entire life, something impossible to do. The purpose of the Law was to define what was sin and sinful behavior in God's eyes. And it made all men sinners so that God could have mercy upon all with one compassionate act, namely Jesus' sacrifice.
Paul says that worldly prestige and honor are nothing in God's eyes, as He does not respect any person, meaning that He does not look at anyone with favoritism over another.
11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
Who we were on Earth and honors we received on Earth mean nothing to God, as we are all sinners. And as Jesus said to the Pharisees;
15 And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul says the riches and honors of this world are nothing really, as they are physical things due to perish, but the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His salvation are greater riches than the world's goods as the things of God are eternal. And as Scripture says;
1 CORINTHIANS 2:9
9 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Paul warns us to not "rest on our laurels" when it comes to our walk with Christ, for if we stagnate we become ineffective. Don't let past sins be an anchor to hold you back, and keep striving to move forward, much as a runner keeps pressing forward to win a race.
He also wants for all to think alike, obeying the same commandments so that Satan can't cause divisions between us. A scattered and divided army cannot stand against Satan, which is what he wants. Therefore we must be vigilant to present a united front to him.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame--who set their mind on earthly things.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Again we are warned of false teachers and members who feel that religion is a means of gain, wolves in sheep's clothing who want the world and Heaven too. We have Jesus as an example of Godly living and the teachings of the apostles as to how to act in church and how to grow in Christ.
Divisions occur in the churches because men twist the pure teachings of God, introducing worldly elements into church doctrines.
1 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.
3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Paul issues sundry instructions to people in the Philippian church, urging two members especially to be reconciled that there be no factions or frictions in the church. Some people believe Paul to be contemptuous of women, yet he speaks fondly of those who have helped him in the furtherance of the Gospel.
Paul also urges them to rejoice in the Lord that their joy may be seen by all men and that people may want that joy for themselves. Don't worry, but ask God for what they need, thanking Him ahead of time for His answer. Stay close to Him and His peace will remain with them.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:
12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul thanks them for the gifts and supplies they sent him to supply his needs while in prison. Apparently for a while they were unable to supply him, and he told them not to fret, that he is content with what the Lord provides him.
Verse 13 summarizes his entire philosophy of life, and is one we should have for ourselves.
14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul reminds the Philippian church that they, alone, provided for his needs during his missionary journeys in the beginning and rejoices because not only is that pleasing to God, but builds for them treasure, glory and praise for them at their Judgment.
And he reminds them that just as they provide for his needs, God will also provide for theirs as well. And note that he says NEEDS, not WANTS.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.
22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Paul issues greetings and mentions that even Nero Caesar's palace household are aware of Paul's teachings and know why he has been imprisoned.
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