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Getting to Know the Bible: Philippians Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Philippians. But before we get to Philippians 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Philippians. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Philippians, as we prepare to behold and discern Philippians, beginning with Philippians 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: Pauline Epistles, also one of four Prison Epistles, 11th book of the New Testament

Authors: Paul, with help from Timothy

Date of Writing: ~A.D. 60–62

Audience: Gentile believers with whom Paul founded a church, during his second missionary journey in approximately A.D. 49

Theme:  Rejoicing/Persevering during Suffering

Original Language: Greek

Genre: Letter

Title: Prison Epistle

Purpose of Writing: Philippians overflows with joy and thanksgiving. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi to thank them for a gift. He reported the joyful news that Epaphroditus, who had brought their gift to Paul, had recovered from his illness and was returning to Philippi. Paul said that he had learned the secret of being content in any situation, and he told them about his situation in prison. He expressed joy that more people were hearing about Christ even if some were proclaiming the gospel with bad motives. Wanting the Christians in Philippi to be unified, he challenged them to be servants just as Jesus was when he made himself nothing and became a man rather than clinging to the rights of his divine nature (2:1-11).

Summary: Paul warned the new believers in the church of Philippi to beware of the tendency toward legalism which continually cropped up in the early churches. The book is about Christ in our life, Christ in our mind, Christ as our goal, Christ as our strength, and joy through suffering.

Overview: The focus of the book of Philippians is the proper Christian attitude during times of suffering. Specifically, this is an attitude of rejoicing. Paul encourages believers to rejoice despite suffering (Philippians 1), rejoice through humble service (Philippians 2), focus on Christ during hard times (Philippians 3), and depend on Christ’s strength when struggling (Philippians 4).

Chapter 1 includes a brief introduction (Philippians 1:1–2) followed by three key sections. First, Paul gives thanks and prayer on behalf of the Philippian Christians (Philippians 1:3–11). Second, he focuses on the expansion of the gospel (Philippians 1:12–18). Third, he emphasizes to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:19–30).

Chapter 2 emphasizes the theme of rejoicing during times of suffering. First, Paul gives Christ’s own example of humility (Philippians 2:1–11). Second, he emphasizes believers as lights in a world of darkness (Philippians 2:12–18). Third, he gives instructions regarding fellow Christian workers Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:19–30).

Chapter 3 speaks about Christ as the focus during suffering. First, Paul discusses the importance of righteousness through faith in Christ rather than by works (Philippians 3:1–11). Second, Paul talks about straining toward the goal of following Christ (Philippians 3:12–21).

Chapter 4 speaks of Christ’s strength in times of suffering. This includes prayers and encouragement (Philippians 4:1–9) and a focus on God’s provision (Philippians 4:10–20), followed by a short conclusion (Philippians 4:21–23).

Application: Written during his imprisonment in Rome, Paul exhorts the Philippians to:

  • Be “encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” (Philippians 1:14) during times of persecution.

  • Be united in humility. We are united with Christ and we need to strive to be united to one another in the same way. Paul reminds us to be “like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” and to put away conceit and selfishness, “but in humility consider others better than yourselves” looking out for the interest of others and caring for one another (Philippians 2:2-4).

  • Rejoice in persecution, & in the LORD.

Key Verses (ESV):

Philippians 1:21: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

"Philippians 2:8: "And being found in human form, [Jesus Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

"Philippians 3:7: "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

"Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

"Philippians 4:6–7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

"Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

*Note: This letter, written about 12 years after the founding of the Philippian church, is largely a thank you letter to the Philippians, and as a result is mostly positive. Paul wrote this letter during a time of house arrest in Rome

Paul personally identified with those who suffer. He had sympathy for the suffering of Philippian believers, and gives much encouragement to help them during times of hardship. Paul also speaks against those who preached out of personal ambition (Philippians 2:3–4; Philippians 1:15–18) and various false teachers (Philippians 3).

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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