Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Book of Philippians

Introduction to the
Book of Philippians


Written by George Goldman

The background for this letter is found in the book of Acts (Acts 16). Paul received a vision of a Macedonian man saying, “Come over and help us.” (Acts 16:9). Three households became the nucleus of a new congregation. There was the aristocratic family of Lydis (Acts 16:11-15), the middle-class family of the jailor (Acts 16:25-34), and the lower class slave girl (Acts 16:16-18). In about a ten-year period this nucleus had become a full-fledged congregation with “bishops and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).

This ten-year period (53 – 63 A.D.) between Paul’s first visit and the writing of this letter shows quite a change in Paul’s ministry. While in Philippi Paul was performing miraculous feats such as casting out demons, but ten years later he simply trusts in God for the recovery of the sick (Phil. 2:25-27 cf. 2 Tim. 4:20). This should tell us something about the purpose and duration of miracles in the first Christian century.

If I could have been a member of one of the New Testament congregations, I would have chosen Philippi. This group seemed to embody more of the spirit of Christ than any other group. Paul has only praise for them. The terms “joy” and “rejoice” appear sixteen times in this letter. In it he evaluated his life (Phil. 3:12-16) and tells his secret of contentment (Phil. 4:10-13). Paul had not been perfect, but he did not retire to live on his reputation. His Christian life had not been free from problems, but he was a man who could turn things over to God (Phil. 2:1-11).

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