The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 203–5


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Author and Audience: Philippians was written by Paul to Church members in the city of Philippi during his first Roman imprisonment (see Philippians 1:1, 7, 13, 16; see also Acts 28:14–21).

Historical Background: Philippi was located in eastern Macedonia (northern Greece) on a major highway that linked Rome and Asia (see Bible map 13). This was the first city in Europe to receive the gospel. A woman named Lydia and her household were Paul’s first converts there (see Acts 16:9–15). Approximately ten years after his first missionary visit to Philippi, Paul was preaching the gospel as a prisoner in Rome. The Philippians, hearing of Paul’s situation, sent Epaphroditus bearing gifts for him. He was to stay with Paul and assist him as needed. But a life-threatening illness forced Epaphroditus to return home (see Philippians 2:25–27). Paul sent this letter of thanksgiving and counsel to the Philippian Saints sometime around A.D. 60–62 (see Bible Dictionary, (“Pauline Epistles,” p. 743).

Theme: “This Epistle is a letter of friendship, full of affection, confidence, good counsel and good cheer. It is the happiest of St. Paul’s writings, for the Philippians were the dearest of his children in the faith. …

“… It admits us to [his] prison meditations and communings with his Master. We watch his spirit ripening through the autumn hours when patience fulfilled in him its perfect work” (J. R. Dummelow, ed., A Commentary on the Holy Bible [1936], 969).