Introduction. Philippi was a Roman colony and the chief city of Macedonia. Paul had received special instructions to go there (Acts 16:9-12). Lydia and the jailer (as well as others) were converted, forming the church at Philippi.
Paul was in prison at Rome when he wrote this epistle. He mentions his chains, Caesar's palace and some of Caesar's household sending their greetings to the church.
Paul was especially dear to these Philippians. He was the preacher who had brought them the gospel. Upon hearing that he was a prisoner in Rome, they sent their minister, Epaphroditus, to him with presents and good wishes. He sent this epistle back to them by their minister.
The design of the epistle is:1. To express his love and affection for them.
1. Timothy was with Paul when he preached in Philippi.
2. He planned to send Timothy to them (Phil. 2:19-23).
3. He shows the continued agreement between them in love and doctrine: "The servants (bondslaves) of Jesus Christ." Paul does not say, "I am an apostle, and Timothy is young and less important." He chooses a character which fits them both willing, loving bondslaves of Christ. (See Exod. 21:2-6.)
"To all the saints, bishops and deacons at Philippi." Every believer is a saint, consecrated and sanctified in Christ. The bishops are the pastors and elders, concerned mainly with the spiritual state of the members. The deacons (along with the spiritual concern) are the servants of the church, who serve the Lord's Table, the tables of the poor and the secular affairs of the church.(Vs. 2-5.) This is a prayer of thanksgiving and petition.
1. He prays for grace and peace to be in them and upon them (v.2).
2. He thanks God for every thought and memory of them (v.3).
3. His memory of them and prayers for them bring him great joy (v.4).
4. He thanks God for their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now (v.5). This is the attitude we need to cultivate toward other believers. Leave off judging, criticizing and finding fault. Not only thank God for one another, but pray for his grace and peace to be with all believers.
(Vs. 6.) Paul's thanksgiving and joy on behalf of this church sprang from the confidence and persuasion that the work of grace which God had begun in them would result in their eternal glorification with Christ.
1. The "good work" is regeneration, conversion, salvation and the forming of Christ in them.
2. It is "begun". It is not yet finished. We are saved, we are being saved and we will finally be saved when we awake with his likeness.
3. It is a work "in you". Christ does a work for us and also a work in us, sanctifying and making us new creatures (Eph. 2:8-10).
4. He does the work. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end (1 Cor. 4:7).
(Vs. 7,8.) Paul further justifies his confidence in regard to these people on the basis of two other reasons: Firstly, God kept them on Paul's heart continually, and, secondly, they stood by him in love and defence of the gospel.
"It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because even as you do me, I hold you in my heart as partakers and sharers, one and all with me, of grace. This is true when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the field for God is my witness how I long for and pursue you all with love" (Amplified Version).(Vs.9-11.) Paul again prays for them.
1. "That your love may overflow more and more." Growth in grace includes growth in the grace of love for Christ and his people.
2. "That your love may increase in knowledge and judgement." Our love for Christ and his people is not blind, ignorant infatuation. We know him, and the more we know of him in his perfection, the more we love him. We know them frail, weak and human like ourselves; yet our love grows as we are able to judge and discern true spiritual values.
3. "That you may approve things that are excellent." Or, "that you may learn to sense what is of real value and excellence." There is a difference in self-love and Christian love, in religious works and works of faith, and in knowing the doctrine of Christ and the Christ of doctrine.
4. "That you may be sincere in your desires after God," not stumbling nor causing others to stumble.
5. "That you may be filled with the fruits of righteousness," right standing before God in Christ and fight doing for the gory of Christ!