Table of Contents
The letter to the Philippians was written by Paul when he was still in prison. He had been imprisoned for preaching the word of God and he was motivated to write to the Philippians to express his joy in the continuation of the gospel by the Philippians (Phil 1:12–26). However what remains a mystery is where Paul had been imprisoned and the exact date this letter was written. The main reason why he wrote this letter was to ensure that the Christian community at Philippi were devoted to humility and unity (Sakenfeld 32). During his second mission to Philippi Paul had established a church and while in prison Paul was writing to inform them of his predicament and also to encourage them to emulate Christ through the Christology hymn.
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Contents of the letter
According to Phil 4:4,10, Philippians can be termed as the letter of joy based on the fact it was meant to rejoice of the role that Jesus Christ played in saving all those that professed his name. This letter was specifically divided into various sections. Phil (1:1–11) contains the address, Phil (1:12–26) delved to highlight the Gospel progress, Phil (1:27–2:18) highlighted the instructions that Paul was providing to the community, Phil (2:19–3:1) contained the travel plans that Paul together with his assistants had in place, Phil (3:2–21) took an in-depth analysis of polemic which in other words was termed as the righteousness and Christ goals, Phil (4:1–9) provides an analysis of the community instructions, Phil (4:10–20) highlights the appreciation that Paul had for the generosity shown by the Philippians and the last section Phil (4:21–23) is the farewell section. The unique thing about this letter is based on the fact that he was writing it from a desperate position and rather than lamenting on his predicaments he shows positivity and further encourages the church to emulate the life of Christ.
Main teachings and ideas
The Christological hymn is one of the major themes in the Philippians letter. In this hymn, Paul provides a summary of the works and life of Jesus while on earth. Further Paul expounds by praising the obedience that Christ showed while on earth to the extent that he obeyed God’s command by dying on the cross (Phil 2:8). Therefore Paul notes that Jesus lowered his status to the extent that he took the human nature without regarding his Godly nature. Therefore by him undertaking this role he atoned the disorders created by Adam who ate the forbidden fruit. The main purpose of this hymn by Paul was to encourage the Philippians to emulate the example of Christ by being selfless in their service for them to be exalted just as Christ was exalted,
The other theme that is present in this letter is the theme of mentality. In this letter Paul was instructing the Philippians to take due diligence with their inner life which encompassed their thoughts, dispositions and feelings. This is clear when he notes that “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Phil 2:5). The theme of fellowship is also evident in this epistle as he noted that all believers were required to share in the privileges and responsibilities of the gospel. This becomes clear in several verses and in Phil 1:5 he notes that “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” (Sakenfeld 45). Due to the fact that the Holy Spirit provides believers with a common spiritual experience it was enough to provide a basis for unity and fellowship.
- Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. The New Interpreter’s dictionary of the Bible. Vol. 3. Abingdon Pr, 2008.