Paul writes from prison in Rome, A.D. 62. Timothy is with him. Philosophers of the day often discussed and promoted friendships to such an extent that friend often made contracts of social reciprocity – they shared everything for mutual good. This is the only church that Paul made such a contract with (4.14-16).
Predominately Gentile Church (evidenced by no OT quotes) planted by Paul on his second missionary journey. They have issues of disunity and persecution (physical abuse and Judiazing influences).
Paul’s play on “citizenship” paralleled Philippi’s pride as a Roman Colony. Loyalty to Rome allows us to assume that there was a strong emperor cult dedicated to his deity, thus explaining heavy opposition to the Christian faith.
Paul had very practical purposes for writing (thanks for a gift, explains Epaphroditus’ delay, prepares them for a personal visit). He uses the occasion to promote unity and humility in the church, as well as firm standing in the midst of persecution.
How to Read it
Note the friendship development in the midst of lofty challenges. Exhortation letters of the day often included examples; thus we have the chapter 2 example of Christ.
I. Thanks & Update (1) – read 1.3,8 friendship
II. Unity through Humility (2.1-18) – read 2.1-8
III. Commending Timothy and Epaphroditus (2.19-30)
IV. Losing All in Gaining Christ (3) – read 3.2,5-6 Jewish credentials, 7-11 no credentials, and 17 entering their world as Christ
V. Personal Wrap-Up (4)
Philippians promotes unity and humility in the church. Great for applying the life and death of Jesus as our way of life.