An Introduction to the Book of Philippians
Today, we are beginning a journey through the book of Philippians. Of all the letters written to congregations from the apostle Paul (that are preserved in the New Testament), this book has the mildest and sweetest tone of them all. Philippians is full of positive expressions of gratitude, rejoicing, commendation, and exhortation. In fact, other than two brief statements (one at the beginning of chapter 3 and the other at the beginning of chapter 4), Paul does not rebuke, correct, or even warn the church at Philippi in this letter. This book is unique because of these facts since many of Paul's epistles are full of rebukes, corrections, and warnings.

Philippians is often referred to as one of Paul's "prison epistles." This simply means that the book was written while Paul was incarcerated. This truth is revealed in the text itself. Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were also written while Paul was in prison. All four of these inspired books are believed to have been written in the early 60's A.D. during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome (cf. Acts 28).

Philippi was a Macedonian city, and since there was no synagogue therein (cf. Acts 16), it is assumed that very few Jews resided there in the first century. Thus, the composition of the congregation would have been primarily Gentile. We also learn from Acts 16 that the church in Philippi was established during Paul's second missionary journey. Lydia and the Philippian jailer were converted to Christ at that time (as well as many others, no doubt).

It seems that there was an exceedingly close bond of love and affection between Paul and the Philippian congregation in particular. This church supported him financially on several occasions (cf. 4:15,16; II Cor. 11:9). The Macedonian churches had a reputation for their liberal giving (cf. II Cor. 8:1-5). Although they were poor, they were more generous in their giving because "they first gave themselves to the Lord." There is a great lesson here for modern-day Christians.

My goal, as we consider this book, is to make our studies as useful as possible. In the lessons I present from the book of Philippians, I will try to accomplish two purposes: (1) help you achieve a basic understanding of each passage we examine and (2) stimulate you to reflect upon your own life as a Christian and apply these inspired truths we encounter.

It is my intention to comment upon every verse in this epistle. It is true, of course, that certain verses will receive more attention than others will simply because, in my estimation, they contain more gems to be mined and pondered. I won't comment on every phrase or word, but I do believe that giving attention to each verse is important--to help prevent abusing the context. I believe that every verse is important or else the Lord would not have included such in His holy word.

Tomorrow we will begin analyzing the text by first considering Paul's salutation to the church at Philippi.