Author: Apostle Paul
Audience: Church at Philippi
Date: 62 CE
Summary: During Paul’s second missionary journey to bring the gospel of Jesus to unreached regions of the Roman Empire, Paul helped to start a church in the city of Philippi. The people of this church became lifelong supporters of Paul and when they received word that Paul was imprisoned in Rome, they took up an offering to send to him as aid. One of their church members, Epaphroditus, was tasked with the mission to bring the offering to Paul and stay in Rome to help care for him. However, while he was there, Epaphroditus became sick and nearly died. Upon his recovery, Paul decided to send him back to the church in Philippi with a letter to thank the Philippians for their support and friendship. He also offers encouragement and takes the opportunity to challenge his friends in the midst of suffering.
Paul writes from his own experience, as one who continues to boldly announce that Jesus is Lord throughout his imprisonment. Paul’s desire is that the Philippians would become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. He urges them to stand firm in one spirit, striving together with one accord for the faith of the gospel – to be united in the same identity of servant leadership that Jesus modeled. Jesus did not grasp his high position, but rather humbled himself even to the point of death, for the sake of others.
Paul warns the church in Philippi to not live according to their desires, but to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, submitting their very will to God, that He may do good works through them. The underlying theme throughout Paul’s letter to the Philippians is joy. He encourages them to press on, that even in the face of persecution, they can rejoice with him in eager anticipation for the return of their Savior, Jesus the Messiah. We can rejoice in the Lord, even in the midst of suffering. We can press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.