Introduction to the Book of Philippians
Short History Behind the Book
The author of Philippians is unanimous with the early Christians that started the church, Paul wrote the book of Philippians. The writing of the epistle was during his first imprisonment in the city of Rome, the capitol of the Roman Empire where he was guarded by Roman soldiers. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him (Acts 28:16). No better place for the spreading of the Gospel than in Rome where he was imprisoned and awaiting a verdict on his case. His charge, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ the long awaited Messiah who came and was crucified as promised by the Prophets.
(Acts 28:17-20) And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Cæsar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.
Paul felt that he was being misrepresented by certain members of the Sanhedrin accusing him of being an apostate Pharisee or a traitor to his country. His only crime was his firm faith in God’s spiritual deliverance of the Jews through the Messiah. The discussions were long and rather stormy in which the unbelieving Jews were severely warned by Paul, before leaving the meetings, that if they did not accept “truth,” they would be blinded by their own rejection of Christ’s salvation and God would send the salvation of the Lord unto the Gentiles. Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. (Acts 28:26-28)
Philippi was a Roman colony and the first church founded by Paul in Europe. There was a very small Jewish population in the city of Philippi with no synagogue to worship in being the requirement to form a synagogue was ten Jewish men who were heads of a household. Some devout women of the city met for prayer along side the Gangites River and there they met Paul. The call of God had brought him to Philippi where he preached the Gospel and Lydia became a believer. Most likely, the Philippian church initially began meeting in Lydia’s spacious home for she was a wealthy merchant dealing in expensive purple dyed goods. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. (Acts 16:14-15)
Thought: This epistle, written so long ago, should be read often with long meditation following it’s reading. The book of Philippians provides spiritual healing to the believer in a world so afflicted by unbelief, secularism and deteriorated faith. It is a triumphant book of a triumphant Savior overflowing with spiritual power and joy.