INTRODUCTION TO PHILIPPIANS
1. Theme: Paul takes the opportunity to thank the Philippians for the
generous gift that Epaphroditus had brought from them (Phil 4.10,18 with
2.25), to let them know about his spiritual prosperity (effectiveness,
spiritual deliverance, joy, contentment) from living the daily plan of God
even though he is in the center of severe testing and suffering (Phil 1.7-26;
2.17; 3.7-14; 4.1, 11-13, 18), and to communicate revelation God has given him
for the Philippian church and for the church at large (Phil 1.6,27-30;
2.3,5,12,13; 3.1,15; 4.6,8,19).
2. Chapter titles:
1. Chapter 1, Paul exploits pressure.
2. Chapter 2, Live out your own salvation life.
3. Chapter 3, Pursue knowing Christ.
4. Chapter 4, Stability, contentment and joy.
3. Title: Philippians. These are believers that live in the city of Philippi,
a prominent city that was situated on the Via Ignatia, the highway from
Italy to Asia (Phil 1.1.).
3.1. Paul founded this geographical church, the first church founded on
European soil, on his second missionary trip (Acts 16). Timothy, Silas, and
Luke were with him (Acts 16.1-4, 10-12, 19; 18.5). The date was about AD 50-
52. This church was composed of Gentile believers. They were very responsive
to his ministry (authority and doctrine) (Acts 18.5; Phil 1.5-8; 2.12 4.10-
16; 2 Cor 8.1-5; 11.8-9).
3.2. The city was named for Philip of Macedon in the iv century BC. Philippi
came under Roman rule about 167 BC. In 42 BC Octavius (who would receive the
title of Augustus on 16 Jan. 27 BC) and Antony defeated the armies of Brutus
and Cassius (the assassins of Julius Caesar). This battle took place at
Philippi. Philippi then became a Roman colony. The veterans of the army were
settled there. The city had great loyalty to Rome. In 31 BC Octavius defeated
Antony at Actium. He also settled a group of Italian settlers in Philippi.
4. The immediate personal and political background for the letter.
4.1. Paul had determined to go to Jerusalem even though he was aware of the
Jews’ rampant religious pride and self righteousness which made them violently
opposed to him and his message. He was arrested. He lost his freedom.
He was taken to Rome and imprisoned where he waited for the decision from the
legal system. He was chained by the hand to a praetorian guardsman day and
night. Some believers have been hostile and competitive with him. He was under
great pressure, but he continued to live within the daily plan of God and so
applied Bible doctrine to life. In the middle of great pressure, testing, and
suffering Paul was an effective servant of Christ, was stable, content, and
4.2. Rome at this time was about to embark upon direct, intermittent
antagonism toward Christianity. Burrus (prefect of the praetorian guard) and
Seneca (Nero’s tutor and then political adviser and minister) had provided
Nero and Rome with good government since Nero became emperor in AD 54. As time
passed Nero was influenced more and more by those who agreed with his crimes.
Seneca’s power grew less. When Burrus died in AD 62 (Suetonius and Dio say
poisoned) Seneca lost power and retired (In AD 65 he was forced to commit
suicide.) Nero was able to act more independently. Conditions worsened. Paul
wrote Philippians from Roman imprisonment during this transition period.
5. Author: Paul (Phil 1.1). This letter has very strong attestation of
Pauline authorship. Polycarp mentioned letters written by Paul to the
Philippians in his own letter to the Philippians (3.1-2). Philippians is also
listed in Marcion’s Apostolicon (Marcion was a second century heretic who took
Paul as his hero. His canon listed ten Pauline epistles.) and in the
Muratorian Canon (This is a fragmentary list of recognized NT books known at
Rome about AD 200). Church fathers and apologists quote from and allude to
Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
6. Paul wrote from where and when: Rome near the end of his first Roman
imprisonment about AD 62 (Phil 1.7, 13-18, 23-26; 4.22 and Acts 28.16, 30,
GUIDE TO THE CONTENT OF PHILIPPIANS
Paul exploits pressure
1. Paul and Timothy greet all the saints at Philippi (all believers in the
geographical church). They make a point to greet the overseers (episkopos,
also called pastor/teachers and elders, the authoritative leader teachers.
There is one over each local church.) and deacons (diakonos, the official
servants of the overseer and local church) (1.1-2).
2. Paul appreciates and prays for the Philippians. They genuinely accepted
Paul’s ministry (authority and doctrine) so they became reliable participants
with him in his grace ministry (1.3-11).
2.1. The personal basis for Paul’s appreciation and prayer for them was their
acceptance of his ministry and their reliable participation with him (1.3-8).
2.2. Paul asks the Father that their love will excel in true knowledge
(epignwsis, understood and accepted knowledge of Bible doctrine) and
discernment (aisth8sis, insight, perceptive ability based on learned Bible
doctrine) so they will be able to make good decisions in order to be genuine
and unflawed (by Satan’s plan) up to the day of Christ (2.9-11).
3. While Paul was under arrest in Rome his travel and on site teaching were
stopped. Many believers subtly attacked him because of their selfish ambition,
envy, and rivalry. They were occupied with themselves and things instead of
with Christ and the plan of God. But Paul passed the tests associated with all
of this by living the daily plan of God. The gospel spread, other believers
grew, and Paul experienced great spiritual growth (1.12-19).
4. Paul reflects on his life and death. Because he is so occupied with Christ
within the plan of God he has adjusted to either option (1.19-24).
5. Paul’s job profile, which became the profile of the pastor/teacher, was to
minister so believers will advance (mature) in the Christian way of life (CWL)
and from this spiritual progress gain inner happiness (1.25-26).
6. The church’s job profile is to live (politeuomai) worthy of the gospel as
patriotic citizens of heaven. These citizens 1) must stand firm and operate
from their spiritual position of strength, 2) must actively strive together in
ministry for the faith like disciplined soldiers and athletes, 3) and must
maintain the winner’s confidence while under pressure instead of the loser’s
PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 2
Live out your own salvation life
1. God has given believers (citizens of heaven) grace spiritual blessings to
support their proper relationship with Him, their King. This grace support
includes 1) God’s encouragement to enable believers to advance in His plan, 2)
genuine comfort so the believer can regain balance and perspective, 3)
partnership with the Holy Spirit for living the plan of God, 4) genuine
affection and sensitivity to believers (2.1).
2. God has designed grace mental attitudes that the believer must use. These
will motivate and support right thought and action among spiritual (kingdom)
citizens. They include 1) think the same Bible doctrine, 2) practice Christian
(source dependent) love, 3) common or united Biblical viewpoint and therefore
common application of Bible doctrine in life, 4) same accepted purpose in the
plan of God as to mission, preparation, practice, and environment, 5) reject
mental attitude sin motives of subjective self-seeking and arrogant delusion,
6) humility and grace orientation toward other believers, 7) genuine interest
in the spiritual welfare of other (2.2-4).
3. Believers must have humility (tapeinophrosun8, verse 3) like Christ did.
Jesus Christ’s humility caused right action and the Father then exalted Him.
Humility is a mental attitude. The humble person thinks the way God does about
self in relation to God and others. The humble person is oriented to
authority. Christ’s humility showed what kingdom citizenship mental attitude
ought to be (2.5-11).
3.1. He did not arrogantly show off and claim His divine rights (did not
regard, `8geomai, a thing to be grasped, `arpagmos). He placed himself under
the authority and plan of God even though He was God (form of God, en morph8
theou, preincarnate Godness expressed in the OT period by power, majesty, and
holiness such as the burning bush, the cloud and fire, and the glory in the
temple which reflected His unseen divine attributes) (2.5-6).
3.2. Jesus Christ emptied Himself (kenow, aor act indic, gave of Himself for
mankind) by adding humanity to His person and accepting the limitations of
humanity (form of a slave means humanness under the Father’s authority;
likeness of men means similar throughout–body, soul, human spirit–except for
the sin nature; appearance means outward looks) (2.7-8).
3.3. Jesus Christ humbled (tapeinow, aor act indic) Himself by accepting the
plan of God for death on the cross. This demonstrated His humility (right
thinking about self in relation to God and others, authority orientation to
God the Father and the plan of God) (2.8).
3.4. God the Father exalted and honored Jesus Christ as God and man. All
people will honor Christ when He returns at the second advent (2.9-11).
4. Live the salvation kind of life (Christian way of life, CWL) 2.12-18.
4.1. Both God and the believer have a role in the CWL. The believer’s role is
seen by people, but God’s unseen role inside the believer is most important
4.1.1. The believer must accept the ministry of the gifted communicator and
follow his ministry (authority and doctrine). With this training he must live
out (katergazomai, achieve, accomplish, produce, pres midd impv, deponent) his
own day to day salvation kind of life (2.12).
4.1.2. God has committed Himself to energize (who is at work, energew,
articular pres act part) each believer’s volition and action (to thelein kai
to energein, articular pres act infinitives used as direct objects of God who
is at work) so that each may accomplish God’s good will (`uper t8s eudokias
[eudokia], the execution of God’s plan for the church age believer) (2.13).
4.2. Do not grumble or dispute (mental attitude sins and sins of the tongue).
When believers demonstrate good mental attitudes and good use of the tongue,
this becomes a clear witness for God (2.14-15).
4.3. Maintain a continual commitment (epechw, pres act part, to have and
firmly hold onto) to learned Bible doctrine. This saturation with Bible
doctrine will be the basis for one’s spiritual life. The believer that lives
the plan of God based upon the Bible doctrine that Paul taught will be proof
at the judgment seat of Christ of the value of Paul’s ministry (2.16).
4.4. Rejoice like Paul does about spiritual privileges and opportunities even
though they include testing and suffering (2.17-18).
5. Paul reports about two loyal subordinates in his ministry who are
fulfilling the profile of Phil 1.27-30 to live worthy of the gospel as
patriotic citizens of heaven. They are Timothy and Ephaphroditus. They live
the plan of God. They serve under Paul. They accept his authority and
doctrine. They specialize within their own gift and they are able to exercise
delegated authority without becoming proud (Phil 2.19-30.
5.1. Paul planned to send Timothy to Philippi to find out about the life of
the church there (2.19-24).
5.1.1. Timothy was right for the job because he was in agreement with Paul
(kindred spirit, isopsuchos, of like soul, have much in common) about
spiritual life, growth, and ministry (2.19-20).
5.1.2. The other believers around Paul at the time that are gifted for this
same kind of ministry are occupied with themselves and details of life instead
of Christ (2.20-21).
5.1.3. Timothy has developed under the training of Paul. He has learned Bible
doctrine from Paul. He has served under authority. He now can take delegated
authority. So Paul will send him to Philippi as his representative. Paul will
soon follow if possible (2.22-24).
5.2. Paul sent Epaphroditus back to the Philippians so he (Epaphroditus) and
the Philippians will be in the right place and continue their ministry
5.2.1. Paul considered Epaphroditus a valued team member (brother, adelphos,
believer; fellow worker, sunergos, fulfilled his responsibility within the
plan of God along with Paul; fellow soldier, sustratiwt8s, comrade in arms on
the spiritual battlefield; messenger, apostolos, delegate from Philippi to
Paul; minister, leitourgos, served Paul in the day to day details of the
5.2.2. Epaphroditus became so sick that he almost died. Paul could not heal
him, but God did heal him (Doctrine: temporary spiritual gifts. Paul could
have healed him earlier in his ministry [Acts 28.8-9]) (2.27).
5.2.3. Paul commended Epaphroditus (and all men that serve like he does) and
sent him back to the Philippians with the expectation of blessing and joy for
the Philippians. Epaphroditus was committed to the Lord and the ministry that
God gave him. He was oriented to the plan of God. He was dependable. He was
humble, authority oriented, and grace oriented. The Lord and Paul used him for
the spiritual benefit of others (2.27-30).
PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 3
Pursue Knowing Christ
1. Paul commands the believers to rejoice (chairw, pres act impv, second
person plural, to have genuine delight, to take pleasure in, be glad, to have
happiness or a good mood of the soul and human spirit) in Christ. He is God,
Savior, Head, Priest, King, and Leader. Believers are in the plan of God,
under the headship of Christ, with spiritual blessings. All this ought to
motivate joy. To rejoice in Christ protects the individual believer from 1)
preoccupation with self, 2) from preoccupation with the world system and its
religion, human good, and evil, and 3) from Satan’s plan and demons (3.1).
2. Paul warns them to be alert to self righteous religious people. He used to
be one and knows the danger (3.2-6).
2.1. They live outside the plan God (dogs), claim to obey God but really
produce evil (evil workers), and emphasize ritual (false circumcision) (3.2).
2.2. Grace believers 1) value spiritual circumcision (true circumcision,
baptism with the Holy Spirit), 2) serve daily through the enabling power of
the Holy Spirit (worship in the Spirit of God, latreuw, which is translated
worship, means to serve by the carrying out of religious duties. It refers to
each believer serving God by carrying out His plan and will for his or her
Christian way of life [CWL]. See serve in Matt 4.10, Acts 26.7, Rom 1.9), 3)
take great pride in Jesus Christ (glory in, the only one worthy of boasting
and glory), and 4) do not depend upon human ability to please God (no
confidence in the flesh) (3.3).
2.3. Paul had great ability, intelligence, heritage, education, zeal, and
experience, but his relationship with the resurrected Christ completely
changed his values and priorities (3.4-7).
3. Paul therefore greatly values (his divine perspective) salvation knowledge
of Christ (knowing Christ Jesus my Lord) and union with Christ or position in
Christ with all the benefits (gain Christ and be found in Him). Christ’s
righteousness and life became Paul’s righteousness and life. Paul gained all
this by faith. Identification with Christ or positional truth, retroactive and
current, describes the believer’s relationship and identity with Christ. (3.8-
4. Along with salvation faith, union with Christ, and all the grace benefits
gained by union with Christ, Paul greatly values (additional divine
perspective) experientially knowing Christ, experientially knowing Christ’s
resurrection power, experientially participating in Christ’s kind of
suffering. Furthermore, he wants to live the resurrection kind of life in the
present time, and looks forward to physical resurrection in the future. Paul
presses on toward them. Each believer should do the same (3.10-16).
4.1. Paul purposes for his day to day life (PERSONAL PRIORITIES) to know
(ginwskw, genitive articular aor act infin of purpose) 1) Christ (genuine
occupation with Christ through learning and application of doctrine,
especially Christology), 2) Christ’s resurrection power (God’s omnipotent,
[dunamis] resurrection power that is available to every believer through union
with Christ and spirituality), 3) the fellowship (koinwnia) of His sufferings
(to participate in the same kind of sufferings that Christ endured and for
some of the same reasons. This was an honor) (3.10).
4.2. He also wants (PERSONAL GOAL) to experience freedom from every trace of
fallen Adam (control by the sin nature with its results) which Christ provided
through His death (conformed to His death, summorphizw, to grant or invest
with the same form, in the passive to take on the same form, pres pass part,
attendant circumstances. Application of retroactive positional truth) so he
can live like his resurrected position (plan of God, current positional truth,
spirituality, spiritual maturity) and then move into physical resurrection at
the right time (3.10-11).
4.3. Paul presses on (diwkw, to run, press on, persecute, run after, pursue,
strive for, pres act indic) toward spiritual maturity and physical
resurrection (STRONG POSITIVE VOLITION) (3.12).
4.4. Paul’s divine policy is to FORGET (epilanthanw, to forget, neglect,
overlook, care nothing about, pres midd part, attendant circumstance to I
press on) THE PAST successes, sins, and failures, REACH FORWARD (epekteinomai,
to stretch out, strain toward something, pres midd part, attendant
circumstance to I press on) AND PRESS ON (diwkw, to run, press on, persecute,
run after, pursue, strive for, pres act indic) toward consistent function in
the plan of God, spiritual maturity and resurrection kind of life in time, and
future physical resurrection. Preoccupation with the past only distracts him
from God’s grace plan. He tells all believers to do this (3.13-15).
4.5. Paul stresses that he and all believers need to follow (translated keep
living, stoichew. It originally meant to be drawn up in a line. In Christian
literature it means to be in line with, stand beside a person or thing, hold
to, agree with, follow [with the dative case which is used here], pres act
infin) their present level of spiritual learning, application, and growth (ACT
YOUR SPIRITUAL AGE). They must not regress (3.16).
5. Believers are kingdom citizens. Their future physical resurrection to be
just like Christ is certain. Because this is true Paul commands all to follow
his divine perspective for the CWL (personal priorities; personal goal;
positive volition; forget the past, reach forward, and press on; and act your
spiritual age) of 3.10-16 (3.17-21).
5.1. There are those that accept the plan of God (this is Paul’s pattern) and
those that reject the plan of God (the enemies of Christ and His work). Follow
Paul’s pattern, not the enemy’s pattern (3.17-19).
5.2. Kingdom or heavenly citizens (politeuma, commonwealth, state) anticipate
Christ’s return. At that time He will exert (energeia, working, operation,
action, activity) His unlimited ability (dunamai, to be able, genitive
articular pres midd infin describing God’s ability to actively work) and will
transform (metasch8matizw, to change the form of, to transform from one form
to another form, future act indic) the physical body of every believer so that
each body will be exactly the same kind of body as His resurrection body.
Believers will live in their resurrection bodies forever with the Lord (3.20-
1986 By Tod M. Kennedy