Historical Context

The book of Philippians is one of four letters written by Paul while he was in prison (Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon, and Philippians). Paul and his companions began the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:11-40). This was the first church established on the European continent. The Philippian church had sent a gift with Epaphroditus (one of their members) to be delivered to Paul (4:18), who was in a Roman prison at the time. Paul wrote this letter to thank them for their gift and to encourage them in their faith.

Period Written

The book of Philippians was written around the period of A.D. 61, from Rome during Paul’s imprisonment there.

Author

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to thank the believers for the gift they had sent him. It is one of his most informal letters, and his overflowing love and affection for the believers is obvious.

Recipients

The recipients of the letter are the Christians at Philippi.

Key Theme

The primary theme of the letter is to encourage the Philippians to live as citizens of a heavenly city, growing in their commitment to serve God and one another. Paul points them towards Jesus as the supreme example of this way of life–and urges them to imitate Paul himself, Timothy and Epaphroditus as they follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

This letter reminds believers that true joy and righteousness comes from Jesus Christ alone, and warns them against false teaching and temptations to seek their joy and righteousness from other places. It also encourages believers to remain joyful in affliction, united in service, and to stand firm in Christ.

Outline

  • Greeting (1:1-11)
  • Paul’s Circumstances and Encouragement for the Church (1:12-2:30)
  • True Righteousness is Found in Christ (3:1-11)
  • Life As Citizens of the Kingdom (3:12-4:19)
  • Final Greetings (4:20-23)