Summary of Philippians
In this intensely personal and passionate letter that the Derived from a Greek word meaning "one who is sent," an apostle is a person who embraces and advocates another person's idea or beliefs. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus called twelve apostles to follow and serve him. Paul became an apostle of Jesus... More A Christian missionary who once persecuted the church More composed from prison, he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior to the beloved believers in the city of Philippi. He thanks God for the Philippian congregation’s faithful “sharing in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:5), not least in providing material support for Paul and his mission (4:15‒19). The letter also emphasizes the joy that life in Christ brings to all believers “in any and all circumstances,” good and bad (4:12).
Writing from prison under possible threat of execution, Paul proclaims that his identity is in Christ. Paul sums up his philosophy of life in the statement, “For me living is Christ, and dying is gain.” Not that Paul has a death wish: he simply knows that death will allow him to “be with Christ” in closer fellowship (1:21). Identity in Christ is also the source of joy for the Philippian believers in hard times, together with the hope of resurrection from the dead and Christ’s return to earth.
WHERE DO I FIND IT?
The Letter to the Philippians is the 11th book in the New Testament and sixth book in the “Pauline corpus,” the collection of letters attributed to the Apostle Paul (Romans ‒ Philemon).
WHO WROTE IT?
The Apostle Paul, accompanied by Timothy (1:1; see 2:19‒23), wrote Philippians from a setting of imprisonment.
WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?
The date of Philippians is tied to the place of Paul’s imprisonment. This location remains uncertain, however. Two options seem most probable. If Paul wrote from a prison in Ephesus, the letter may date from the mid-50s C.E. If he wrote from Rome, the letter was likely written toward the end of Paul’s life, late 50s‒early 60s C.E.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The letter calls believers joyfully to live according to Christ’s pattern of a servant until his return as Lord and Savior.
HOW DO I READ IT?
The letter calls readers into a living, joyous relationship with Christ in all circumstances of life, including experiences of hardship and conflict within and outside the believing Philippian community. Believers are called to live faithfully according to the gospel of Christ and thus bear witness on earth to their heavenly citizenship and identity (3:20). In the face of opposition, they draw strength from the living Christ to serve him and Christian brothers and sisters in love and humility.