The Epistles Outlined (7): Philippians

The Author of the Epistle – The apostle Paul (1:1). The style, delicacy, and intimacy of the epistle are Pauline in character. The mention of Timothy along with ch.4:15-16 are further indications of Pauls authorship.

The Place Where it was Written – Rome where Paul was a prisoner (see 4:22 and 1:13 with Acts 28:16), awaiting the verdict which he expected to be favourable (1:25; 2:23-24). This is one of the four epistles written during his first imprisonment at Rome, the others being Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.

The Date of the Epistle – It seems from 2:23 that the epistle was written toward the end of Pauls imprisonment. This corresponds with the period of time necessary for the preaching mentioned in 1:12-18 and the gift received from Philippi (1:5; 4:14-19). A suggested date would be 61-62 AD.

The Background to the Epistle – In Acts 16 we are told that Philippi was a Roman colony. Colonists from Rome had settled there in the midst of an alien population. They were citizens of Rome, and their customs, language, laws, and dress were Roman. They owned their allegiance to the Roman Empire and their safety was guaranteed by a garrison of Roman soldiers. In his epistle Paul applies all this to the assembly (local church) in Philippi, viewing it as a heavenly colony. The saints were therefore to conduct themselves as citizens of heaven, owning allegiance to Christ.

The Purpose of the Epistle – We suggest five reasons for the writing of this epistle:_

1. To express Pauls gratitude for the gift sent to him (Chap 1:5; 4:10,14-19).

2. To emphasize the need for harmony (Chap 1:27; 2:1_4; 3:16; 4:2-3).

3. To expose their enemies (Chap 1:28; 3:2,18_19).

4. To exhort them in spiritual things (1:27-30; 2:12-16; 3:17-21; 4:4-9).

5. To enrich their appreciation of Christ (2:5-11).

The Division of the Epistle – The epistle divides readily into the four chapters:_

Chapter 1 Christ the Passion of a Devoted Life (V 21).

Chapter 2 Christ the Pattern of a Delivered Life (V 5).

Chapter 3 Christ the Pursuit of a Dedicated Life (Vs 10_14).

Chapter 4 Christ the Power of a Dependent Life (V 13).


Chapter 1 Confidence in the Purpose of God. Chapter 2 Conformity to the Pattern of Christ. Chapter 3 Constant Progress in the Pursuit of Christ. Chapter 4 Concern for the People of God.

In chapter 1 the apostle shows his confidence in the purpose of God despite the conditions in which he is found. Here the mind of Christ will give us a love for the gospel and cause us to rejoice when it is preached, whatever the circumstances. In chapter 2 Paul unfolds the perfect pattern of humility in seeking the interests of others, and exhorts the saints to be conformed to Christ. Here the mind of Christ will give us a love for the assembly (local church) and cause us to seek humbly the welfare of our fellow believers. In chapter 3 the apostle shows the need for constant progress in the Christian pathway, with Christ-likeness as the goal. Here the mind of Christ will give us a love for the heavenly manner of life. In chapter 4 Paul shows his concern for the spiritual welfare of Euodias and Syntyche and thus for all the saints. Here the mind of Christ will give us a love that will seek to heal every breach.

The Key Verse – 1:21. Note:- The Purpose of the Christian Life (1:21), The Principles of the Christian Life (2:3-4), The Pursuit of the Christian Life (3:13-14) and The Power for the Christian Life (4:13).

The Key Word – Joy. The epistle seems to be permeated with the spirit of joy despite the apostles imprisonment. The words “joy” and “rejoice” occur eighteen times in the epistle. It has been stated, “The sum of the epistle is: I rejoice; you must rejoice.”

Another keyword is “gospel” which occurs 9 times – Note in Chapter 1:- fellowship in the gospel (1:5), confirmation of the gospel (1:7), furtherance of the gospel (1:12), defense of the gospel (1:17), becometh the gospel (1:27), and faith of the gospel (1:27).

“Jesus Christ” or “Christ Jesus” occurs 17 times and “Christ” 18 times

The preposition “in” occurs frequently.

Eight times we have the expression “in the Lord” and each one deals with practical daily experience.