Here are the matters which should occupy the minds and plans of believers. ‘Whatsoever things are true’ refers to the spiritual realities which should be our chief concern, unless we are becoming pliable, indifferent and ambivalent concerning the service and standards of the Lord.
Philippians has been called the epistle of love.
And certainly it indicates that there was a very close bond as far as Paul the Apostle and the Philippians were concerned. There are many autobiographical elements in this epistle – not so much of the practical events of Paul’s life, but his feelings and attitudes.
There are many practical counsels but there are no great rebukes, because this is a church that applied the Word – Philippi seems to have been a wonderful congregation, and an authentic church.
Philippi was very famous place. It was within the Roman province of Macedonia, but was one of the few privileged cities that was a colony in itself (which it became in 29 BC under Julius Caesar). Romans subsequently went there from all over the empire, and it had quite a large population of Roman citizens.
In Acts 16 the apostle Paul had a vision about a man from Macedonia who said ‘come over and help us.’ And so Philippi was the first place in Europe where the Gospel was preached by the Apostle Paul.
You may remember how on the very first Sabbath Paul, Silas and Luke went to the river at Philippi, where there was an open-air meeting of the Jews (there was no synagogue in Philippi). And there was Lydia. She wanted to know God. She met with the Jews, thinking she would find God among the Jews. But when Paul came, and explained about salvation through Christ, the Lord opened Lydia’s heart and she came to Christ.
And that’s how the church began. From that moment on, all the converts were great supporters of the journeys of the Apostle Paul. And they helped him, and they sent him gifts, and they prayed for him. And that church, even two generations later, was standing.
So Paul writes to them from prison in Rome in around AD 61. He writes to thank them for all their support over so many years. He writes to explain his situation to them. He doesn’t want them to be discouraged by the fact that he’s now a prisoner. He tells them that this is of God, and how God is using even his imprisonment. And he writes to give them joy, guidance and exhortation.
So, here is this letter of love to the church that applied the word.
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