The church of Philippi was established by the Apostle Paul. Indeed On his Second Missionary Journey, in obedience to a vision from God asking him to go to the Roman province of Macedonia, Paul and Silas travelled to Philippi (around A.D. 50–51) where they preached the gospel and formed the first Church in European soil as described in Acts 16. Philippi was at that time one of the important cities in the region of Macedonia involved in the trade related to gold mines present near the city.
Paul wrote this book around 61-62 AD from his prison room in Rome after he has been arrested in Jerusalem and brought to Rome awaiting to face the judgment of Caesar. But although Paul was in chains and in Prison, he wrote to the Philippians mainly to tell them to always rejoice in the Lord irrespective of what the circumstances of their lives might be either persecution, trials or any issue. This is the Epistle of joy by excellence as summarised clearly in chapter 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice”. The true Joy that Paul is talking about comes only from knowing the Lord Jesus-Christ and abiding in him but not from the material things of this world, not from the circumstances of life, not from the obedience of the Jewish Law.
However the immediate reason of the letter was to thank the Philippians of their gift to him to supply to his need. Paul took this opportunity to reassure them that he was doing well and that in fact his imprisonment has turned out well for the progress of the Gospel in Rome. Paul tells the Philippians of his great commitment to Jesus-Christ by saying in chapter1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”. Paul warns the Church at Philippi against divisions amongst them and give them the great example of humility of the Lord Jesus-Christ who although was God did not cling on his deity but came in this world to suffer the shameful death on the cross. Paul encourages the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling in return of God great love to them. Paul also warns them against false teachers who want to bring them back to the obedience of the Law for their salvation and he tells them that salvation is through Christ alone.
This letter of Paul is full of notes on joy, confidence in the Lord, unity among believers, perseverance in the faith in the Lord Jesus-Christ in spite of the difficulties that one could face. It also shows the great love that Paul has for the believers in Philippi.
All the topics highlighted by Paul in this letter are still very much relevant in this 21 century and studying it will be profitable to all who desires to know God more.
Series by Keith Underhill called 'What do you do when your plans fail?'