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PHILIPPIANS: A LETTER OF JOY

The church in Philippi was Paul’s ‘Joy and Crown’ (4:1). The Philippian church gave apostle Paul no trouble, instead, gave him the most satisfaction. So Philippians is a letter of joy brimming over with expressions of gratitude, affection, and love.

THE CITY OF PHILIPPI:
Philippi was a leading city of Macedonia and a commercial center of the ancient world. The city’s name came from its founder, Philip, the father of Alexander the Great.

THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI:
Paul had been the means of founding the church at Philippi. The conversion of three people, Lydia an Asian lady who was a seller of purple, a Greek slave girl who was a fortune-teller, and the Philippian jailer, was instrumental in the founding of the church in Philippi.

AUTHOR AND DATE OF THE LETTER:
It’s clear that apostle Paul wrote this letter from the prison cell, most probably from the Roman imprisonment. If so, the date of the writing should have been around AD 61-63.

PURPOSE OF THE LETTER:
We find at least four purposes in writing this letter:

  1. Paul expressing gratitude for the financial support (4:10, 15-18)
  2. Encouraging the Philippians to live in joy regardless of their circumstances 1:12-26; 4:4-9)
  3. To influence those in disagreement to get united (2:2-4; 4:2-3)
  4. To correct the wrong teachings of legalism (3:1-9)

KEY THEMES:

  1. JOY: The letter emphasizes on the importance of having an inward, deep, and abiding joy, which is unaffected by external conditions.
  2. CHRISTLIKENESS: We are to have the mental outlook of Christ. In other words, to be utterly self-effacing.
  3. VALUES: Christ directs our gaze to higher things and reminds us of our citizenship which is in heaven.
  4. CONTENTMENT: Learning contentment through life’s lessons is very important.

MESSAGES OF THE LETTER:

  1. THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR: a. Fellowship in the gospel (1:5-7; b. Use adverse circumstances for Gospel expansion (1:12); c. Evangelistic preaching even in mixed motives(1:15-18)
  2. MATTERS TO PRAY FOR:

a. For greater love (1:9)b. For true discernment (1:10)c. For God-honoring lives (1:11)

3. ATTITUDES TO ADOPT:a. A selfless mind (2:4)b. A serving mind (2:7)c. A sacrificial mind (2:8)

4. VALUES TO REASSESS:
a. Religious background (3:5)b. Sincerity of purpose (3:6)c. A moral life (3:6)

5. GLORY TO ANTICIPATE:
a. Citizenship of heaven (3:20)b. The coming of Christ (3:21)

APPLICATION OF THE LETTER:

To live in harmony (4:2)
To rejoice at all times (4:4)
To overcome anxiety (4:6)
To think positively (4:8)
To be content (4:11)
To trust God (4:29)

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