Author: The Apostle Paul
During his second missionary journey, in A.D. 49, Paul sensed the Lord calling him to visit Macedonia (Acts 16:6-10). At Philippi he founded the first Christian congregation on European soil (Acts 16:11-40). A lifelong supportive relationship developed between the Philippians and Paul (Phil 1:5; 4:15). He visited the church again during his third missionary journey (Acts 20:1,6).
This book focuses on having both the right kind of joy and the joyful experience of having Jesus Christ dwelling within, living and actively responding in all the daily affairs of every believer. This epistle emphasizes spiritual “mind” control, that is, the believer allowing God to have control over all of our thoughts, emotions, anxieties, etc. The epistle uses the mind of Christ as the example to guide us in living our personal lives as living testimonies to the sovereignty of Almighty God. The reason behind the book’s stress upon the importance of having the “right” kind of mind on this Christian journey is because the condition of a person’s mind is crucial to successful combat against the evil forces of Satan and the vast number of demonic spirits who stand in opposition. Demons come in different classes. They are classified as Powers, Principalities, Rulers of the Darkness, and Wicked spirits in the Heavenly realm. The church was to learn that the mission work of evangelism came with opposition and deadly challenges from all who were against Jesus Christ. The “Naysayers” were against the belief in his crucifixion and resurrection as the means of redemption, as well as the belief that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah.
Even though Paul was confined to a Roman jail, the gospel was not hindered by his incarceration, in fact, the gospel “flourished” from his prison cell to all the churches in Asia Minor. The “key” verse for this book is found in Philippians 1:21 “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!” The overall theme of this book is “The Christ-like mind that brings Christian joy”. The purpose of this book is to promote consistent Christian living by having the right kind of mind, the right kind of thinking, and the right kind of beliefs. Each chapter breaks down the different minds of the Christian soldier in their necessity and how each mind works in conjunction and cohesively for the work of the ministry and the edification of the saints. Each mindset is critical for living in and for Jesus Christ, and are crucial weapons against the warfare we encounter on this journey. This book teaches that God wishes for every believer to possess “floods” of joy and “rivers” of peace because their minds are focused on the things pertaining to him. To have their minds focused upon anything else can become extremely detrimental to the Christian walk.
In Chapter 1, this book focused upon Jesus Christ, revealing to the reader that Jesus is our Light. We learned because Jesus is indeed our Light, we also can learn how to rejoice despite suffering. We learned that we must be filled with the “fruits” of righteousness and continue to grow, being sincere and living our lives in a non-offensive way until Jesus Christ comes back. We learned that the work God has started in a person’s life will be completed in that person’s life (1:6). This chapter concluded with Paul giving his life testimony of courage and the belief that one day he will be delivered out of the hands of his accusers and the persecutions. Paul also expresses joy and appreciation to the Philippian church for showing so much love and concern for him while he was in prison and for Epaphroditus while he was recovering from a near fatal sickness. He wrote telling how the church’s response to his imprisonment helped encourage him to continue the mission work God had given, so much so that he would willingly die if necessary that the gospel of Jesus Christ could continue to have free reign in a hostile environment. Paul encouraged the church to follow him in example and believe God to do everything he promised for any believer who totally sold out for the cause of Jesus Christ. Paul encouraged them not to be fearful in the face of the enemies of Christ. He said we are to view persecutions we face as bearing the “marks” of Jesus’ persecutions within our own bodies.
The 2nd chapter outlines an exhortation for every believer to use the example of Jesus’ life as our pattern for life and to rejoice as we exemplify loving and lowly service. This chapter exhorts a believer to display meekness and unity in the faith. We are to unify by esteeming one another above self esteeming. We are challenged to remain humble while working on the evangelism battlefield, doing nothing to promote vanity of self exaltation. The 2nd chapter mandates that we possess the same mind that was in Jesus Christ and to become submissive to the will of God. In this chapter, we learned that God has given Jesus an “exalted” name that is above every name and every one will one day bow to the name of Jesus and confess that Jesus is Lord. Paul further instructs the members of the church to know that God works through them and because of this, they should work without disputing among themselves living as harmless disciples in the midst of a perverse and crooked nation. We are encouraged to hold forth the Word of Life. Paul then took time to give the Philippian church a medical status report on Epaphroditus and informs them he will joining them shortly and how they are to entreat him when he arrives.
In chapter 3, this book first showed Jesus Christ as the object of Christian faith, desire and expectation. He warns the church against legalism, calling the legalist “dogs” and workers of the “concision”. He compared the church in contrast to being of the circumcision, worshipping God in the spirit, and having no confidence in the flesh. Second, the book reveals Paul warning them of “legal righteousness” which is, putting more confidence in their flesh rather than faith in Jesus Christ. He shared how he viewed legal righteousness telling them why he didn’t endorse it and lets them know that he counted legal righteousness as dung in comparison to Christ, because he is the true righteousness that every believer can obtain through faith. Third, Paul endorsed Jesus Christ as being the “object” of every believer’s desire for fellowship in resurrection power. He confessed that he desired to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering. It was his wish that the church focused on understanding why Jesus died and the power his resurrection has in the life of anyone who accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Finally in that chapter, Paul appeals for total unity and no compromise for the sake of the unity in the body of Christ, reminding them that their “conversation” is in heaven, and they should look toward the Savior who will one day change the vile body they currently dwell in into a “glorified” body just like Jesus.
In the final chapter, Chapter 4, this book exhorts Jesus Christ as the Christian’s strength, and challenges every believer to be of the same mind. Paul in this final chapter reveals the secret of the peace of God, telling the church to rejoice in the Lord always. He further tells them because the Lord is at hand to let their “moderation” be known to everybody, being careful for nothing but praying about everything, making all of their prayer requests known to God. He assures them that God’s peace will come and they in turn will be kept in perfect peace. He list several things that expresses God’s peace and exhorts them to meditate upon those things: honesty, divine truth, justice, purity, lovely things, things that are of good report, virtue, things that are praiseworthy, and finally those things that he had passed on to them through teachings and living examples. He assured them that if they were to d these things, God’s peace would be with them. The Book of Philippians concludes by calling upon the saints to salute each other in Jesus Christ and pronounces the wish on them that the grace of Jesus Christ would be upon them.