Lesson 5 of5
In Progress

Theological Themes in Philippians

The centrality of Christ

The Philippian letter is very carefully written and centered on two early Christian hymns, proclaiming who Jesus Christ is as Lord (2:6-11) and Savior (3:20). These two centers of the letter call the Philippians from lives of self-centeredness to experience the gift of life centered in one’s identity in Christ

Issues affecting the community of faith

Paul voices his concerns for issues present in the Philippian community in 3:2-19 and 4:2-3. Warnings in the letter introduce Paul’s concern for what is taking place in Philippi. His desire for the reconciliation of Euodia and Syntyche likewise expresses his concern.

Joy and rejoicing

The word joy has a rich meaning in Philippians. Paul’s prayers for his readers are “with joy” (1:4); joy is centered “in faith” (1:25); joy is complete in being “of the same mind, having the same love, being of full accord and of one mind” (2:2); joy is in welcoming Epaphroditus back “with all joy, and honoring such people” (2:29); the Philippians themselves are the reason for Paul’s “joy and crown” (4:1). Likewise, the call to rejoice is a rich expression of the joy that Paul experiences even in the midst of his imprisonment, because of the reality of the living presence of Christ.


Paul describes three concerns that indicate a self-centered life, a life not oriented to the gift of salvation in Christ. The first concern expresses: I earn my own salvation (3:2-11); the second: I am already perfected (3:12-16); and the third: I will do what pleases me (3:17-19).