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by Gary H. Everett
STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
Using a Theme-based Approach
to Identify Literary Structures
By Gary H. Everett
THE EPISTLE OF PHILIPPIANS
January 2013 Edition
All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.
All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.
© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.
Foundational Theme The Doctrines of the New Testament Church
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Structural Theme The Foreknowledge of God the Father in Bringing Redemption to Mankind
Being confident of this very thing,
that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
But my God shall supply all your need
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Imperative Theme Becoming A Partner In The Great Commission
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF PHILIPPIANS
Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
The Message of the Epistle of Philippians - The founding of the church at Philippi in Acts 16:6-44.16.40 is the most extensive account of any found in the New Testament. Because of this lengthy narrative we know more about the history of this church than about any other church that Paul founded. The story itself serves as an example of Paul’s message to the Philippians that for us to live is to serve Christ and for us to die is gain.
Paul’s epistle to the Philippians teaches us the great lesson of how to fulfill our destinies by first helping those whom God has place over us to fulfill their destinies. Just because someone becomes a Christian does not mean that he will fulfill the destiny for which he was created. It only comes when a believer serves those whom God has placed over him. This great truth is clearly illustrated in the church at Philippi. These believers had given support to Paul on numerous occasions. As a result, Paul promised that God would fulfill His destiny in their lives (Philippians 1:6) and would supply every one of their needs (Philippians 4:19). The promises in this epistle of Philippians are for those who partner and support God’s servants. When we become partners with an anointed ministry, we then come under the same grace and blessings and anointing that the minister we support walks in. The believers were helping Paul complete his good work, and thus, God would now help these believers to complete a good work in their lives. This was all because of the divine principle of partnership. Jesus referred to this principle in Luke 16:12, “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?”
For example, years ago, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You take care of My needs first.” I knew that the Lord was telling me that if I would take care of His needs, that is, the ministries that He was raising up across this world, then He would take care of my needs. For example, Isaiah 58:0 tells us that when we begin to care for the needs of those who are around us, then God will bless us in every area of our lives.
Isaiah 58:8, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.”
Terry Nance, writing in his two-volume book, God’s Armorbearer, says, “In 1982, we started a mission school to reach around the world. My call was to direct that school and place missionaries wherever the Lord led. One night in 1983, the Lord quickened my heart to read the story of David and Saul. I turned to 1 Samuel 16:21 and read, ‘And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.’ At that time, the Lord said to me, ‘Son, I have called you to be Pastor Caldwell’s armorbearer.’….The Lord said, ‘Run with the vision I have given him, and I will see to it that yours will be fulfilled.’”  Terry Nance writes, “One day I asked God, ‘What about my dreams and desires?’ He told me to give them to Him and to work at fulfilling the desires and visions of my pastor, assuring me that if I would do so, He would see to it that my dreams and desires would be fulfilled. He reminded me that that is exactly what Jesus did. He gave up His own will and desire in order to do the Father’s will for His life. In turn, the Father made sure that Jesus’ dreams and visions were all fulfilled.” 
 Terry Nance, God’s Armor Bearer: Book II (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, Inc., c1994), 14.
 Terry Nance, God’s Armor Bearer: How to Serve God’s Leaders (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, Inc., c1990), 12.
With these two illustrations we have the theme of the epistle of Philippians, which calls believers to join with God’s servants in fulfilling the Great Commission, and God in turn will help those believers fulfill their dreams and plans.
Introductory Material - The introduction to the epistle of Philippians will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework.  These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.
 Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).
“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture
if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”
(J. Hampton Keathley) 
 J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of Philippians will provide a discussion on its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the Paul the apostle wrote his epistle to the Philippians along with his other Prison Epistles during his first imprisonment in Rome that took place between A.D. 60 to 62.
I. Historical Background
Its Location - The ancient city of Philippi was located in the Roman province of Macedonia nine miles inland from the Aegean Sea. It was said to be founded in the sixth century B.C. by the Thracians. Diodorus of Sicily (1 st c. B.C.)  and Strabo (63 B.C. to A.D. 24)  tell us that its original name was Crenides, which means “springs,” because of the springs that watered this marshy lowland. Afterwards it took the name Dathos, or Datos, from its gold and silver mines.  Ancient historians tell us that the city was later reconstructed by Philip II, king of Macedonia (359-336 B.C.) and father of Alexander the Great, in 356 B.C. and renamed after him. It appears that Philip II was attracted to this well-watered and fertile plain because its strategic location could serve to fortify the natural land-route from Europe to Asia and protect the eastern frontier of Macedonia against Thracian inroads. In addition, the gold mines in this area supplied a large amount of gold per year for revenue to the kingdom. Thus, Philip II took the city by force and drove out its inhabitants during his rule.
 Diodorus of Sicily writes, “Thence he [Philip II] marched to Cremides, which he enlarged, and made more populous, and called it after his own name, Philippi.” ( Bibliotheca Historica 16.2) See The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian in Fifteen Books, trans. G. Booth, vol. 2 (London: J. Davis, 1814), 85.
 Strabo writes, “There are numerous gold mines among the Crenides, where the city of Philip now stands, near Mount Pangseus.” ( Fragments 34). He also write, “Philippi was formerly called Crenides ; it was a small settlement, but increased after the defeat of Brutus and Cassius…The present city Philippi was anciently called Crenides.” ( Fragments 41, 43) See The Geography of Strabo, vol. 1, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer (London: George Bell, 1903), 512, 515.
 Appian writes, “Philippi is a city that was formerly called Datus, and before that Crenides, because there are many springs bubbling around a hill there. Philip fortified it because he considered it an excellent stronghold against the Thracians, and named it from himself, Philippi.” ( Civil Wars 4.105) See Appian’s Roman History, trans. Horace White, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1961), 315.
Its History - The city of Philippi came under Roman rule in the second century B.C. During these Roman times, the entire region of Macedonia was formed into a single Roman province (146 B.C.). In the autumn of 42 B.C., two years after the assassination of Julius Caesar, the famous Battle of Philippi was fought just west of this city in which Brutus and Cassius, the conspirators who had assassinated Julius Caesar, battled with Octavian and Antony.  After a number of encounters of victories and defeats, Octavian’s army eventually won. In 31 B.C. Octavian defeated Antony in the Battle of Actium, which led to the city of Philippi becoming a Roman colony and it held this status throughout the New Testament period. Octavian rewarded his soldiers by giving them cities and land, which included Philippi.  In 27 B.C., Caius Octavius Caepias was titled “Augustus” by the Roman senate and became the person we recognize in Luke 2:1 as Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of Roman (31 B.C. to A.D. 14).
 See Appian, Civil Wars 4. 105-106 in Appian’s Roman History, trans. Horace White, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1961), 315-319.
 Dio writes, “…those who had served with him throughout his campaigns he also made an additional assignment of land. For by turning out of their homes the communities in Italy which had sided with Antony b.c. 30 he was able to grant to his soldiers their cities and their farms. To most of those who were dispossessed he made compensation by permitting them to settle in Dyrrachium, Philippic and elsewhere, while to the remainder he either granted money for their land or else promised to do so…” Roman History 51.4.6) See Dio’s Roman History, vol. 7, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1955), 13-15.
Luke 2:1, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”
The city of Philippi became an important city during the time of Paul the apostle. This is why Acts 16:12 calls it a “chief city” and a colony.
Acts 16:12, “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.”
Its geographical advantage is that it stood along the Via Egnatia, the main Roman highway that connected Asia to the western Empire. This highway brought much commerce and activity to the city. In addition, near the city was the river Gangites (modern Angitis), which river is referred to in Acts 16:13 where Paul met a group of women who gathered for prayer. This river also served as an avenue of transport.
As a Roman colony, it held a political advantage to its neighboring cities. A Roman colony was simply a military outpost used to protect the Empire as well as “Romanize” the region in which it was located. It was the only Roman colony in the province of Macedonia. In return for this service from the citizens of this colony, its inhabitants held special privileges, such as immunity from taxes, an autonomous government, and Roman citizenship.
Philippi In the Time of Paul - When Paul visited this city, he found that the majority of inhabitants were Greek, with a second large group of Roman colonists and magistrates who dominated the city and a third, much smaller group of Jews who apparently gained little voice in this community. Ancient inscriptions have been found in both Latin and Greek in the ancient ruins of Philippi, testifying to the fact that both cultures and languages cohabited together here. Latin was the official language spoken in the government functions of the Empire, but Greek was the common language of the people. Paul first visited Philippi during his second missionary journey about A.D. 50 after receiving in a vision what we have labeled as the “Macedonian Call.” After receiving a vision from the Lord in Asia Paul immediately departed and sailed some sixty miles from Troas to Macedonia in Europe. He and his companions landed on the island of Samothracia, then sailed the rest of the way to the port city of Neapolis, from where they embarked upon the famous Egnatian Way that connected the western Empire to the East. From Neapolis they headed ten miles inland over the coastal range to the city of Philippi. In the account of Paul’s first visit to Philippi in Acts 16:6-44.16.40 we learn that there was no synagogue in this Greek city. We therefore conclude that this city did not have a large number of Jews. Paul did however find a group of women, some Jews and some proselytes, who met regularly by the river for prayer. There he made his first convert, a woman named Lydia, a Greek proselyte from Thyatira, a city of Lydia in Asia Minor, who opened her home to Paul and his companions, which consisted of Silas, Timothy, and Luke. This makes the church at Philippi the first one to be established in Europe. From Philippi Paul headed to Thessalonica where he established the second church in Europe. Some scholars suggest that Paul left Luke in Philippi until his return because the “we” passages stop after his departure from Philippi and are not found until Acts 20:5-44.20.6 when Paul returns to Philippi. Luke would have naturally been chosen out of Paul’s group of traveling companions because of his Gentile status.
The most notable incident that Paul encountered at Philippi was the exorcism of a young lady and his immediate imprisonment. Acts 16:0 records how a miraculous earthquake shook his chains loose and the jailer was converted. The city magistrates asked Paul to leave the following day and Paul departed to Thessalonica with his companions. Paul refers to this event in his first epistle to the Thessalonians by saying that he was “shamefully entreated” (1 Thessalonians 2:2).
1 Thessalonians 2:2, “But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”
When Paul departed from the city of Philippi, he traveled to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth before heading back to Antioch with a brief stop at Ephesus to end his second missionary journey. We have a record that the Philippians sent a number of financial gifts to Paul while he was still in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15-50.4.16). While he worked for eighteen months in Corinth (A.D. 50 51), they send him an additional offering (2 Corinthians 11:7-47.11.9). It is possible an additional visit to Philippi took place by Paul’s companions later during this second missionary journey. For example, when Paul sent Silas and Timothy back into Macedonia to visit the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:1-52.3.2) while he waited in Athens, it is likely that they revisited the church in Philippi also (Acts 18:5).
During his third missionary journey, which began about A.D. 52, while ministering for three years in the city of Ephesus, Paul sent Timothy and Erastus back into Macedonia to prepare them for his coming (Acts 19:22). It is very likely that they visited all of the churches in Macedonia at the time, including Philippi. Paul tarried for a while in Asia before making his second trip into Macedonia to strengthen the churches (Acts 20:1-44.20.2). This was Paul’s second visit to the region. Having moved on to Greece and staying for three months, he decides to return to Jerusalem via Macedonia. We know from Acts 20:6 that he visited Philippi on this return trip, which would have been around A.D. 55-56. But how many times he visited the Philippian church during this third missionary journey is only speculation, but it was probably at least two times, on his way entering Macedonia and on his way leaving thru Macedonia.
We also have evidence of a third occasion when the Philippian church contributed greatly to Paul’s collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, for Paul referred to the sacrificial offering of the churches in Macedonia when exhorting the Corinthian church to give (2 Corinthians 8:1-47.8.5). In addition, we have evidence from his final epistles to Timothy that he visited Macedonia between his two Roman imprisonments (1 Timothy 1:3) and most likely Philippi was one of his stops. We know from 2 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:20 that he traveled extensively between these two imprisonments.
His final visit to Jerusalem resulted in his imprisonment at Caesarea and eventually at Rome, where it is believed that he wrote his four prison epistles, of which one of these was his letter to the church at Philippi. We know that the Philippians would have helped him during this two-year imprisonment at Caesarea, but they lacked the opportunity (Philippians 4:10). About ten years after Paul established the Philippian church on his second missionary journey, they send him our fourth recorded evidence of an offering by the hands of Epaphroditus, having learned of his Roman imprisonment (Philippians 4:18). This faithful servant delayed his return and rendered assistance to Paul. However, illness almost cost Epaphroditus his life and for this Paul informs the Philippians of this great sacrifice by writing them this epistle as a way of thanking for their love offering. In his epistle to the Philippians, Paul expresses his intent to send Timothy to visit them (Philippians 2:19-50.2.23) with his expectations to visit later (Philippians 1:25-50.1.26, Philippians 2:24).
The Church of Philippi After the Time of Paul - The writings of the early Church fathers reveal that the church at Philippi played an important role for centuries to come. Polycarp (A.D. 69 to 155), the bishop of Smyrna and a Church leader of the second century, writes to this church.  M. N. Tod says there are historical records that identify some of the bishops during the history of the church at Philippi. These names are attached “to the decisions of the councils held at Sardica (344 AD), Ephesus (431), and Chalcedon (451),” and its seat of episcopal power “appears to have outlived the city itself and to have lasted down to modern times.”  Philippi was destroyed during the Turkish domination and lies in ruins today. The physical site where this ancient city used to stand is now uninhabited although a number of unexcavated ruins can be identified, such as a colonial archway, a marketplace, and an amphitheater.
 Polycarp, The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, vol. 1: The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, American ed., eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, Grand Rapids; Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997, electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2009).
 Tod cites Michel Le Quien, Oriens christianus in quatuor patriarchatus digestus, in quo exhibentur Ecclesiae patriarchae caeterique praesules totius Orientis, 3 vols. (Paris, 1740); John Mason Neale, A History of the Holy Eastern Church, 2 vols. (London: Joseph Masters, 1847). See M. N. Tod, “Philippi,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).
II. Authorship and Canonicity
In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of Philippians: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1 st and 2 nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2 nd century thru 3 rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4 th century).
A. Apostolic Authority - Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which “the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice.” He says the “elements of the Catholic faith” were established during this period in Church history.  At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke, the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude, the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book’s apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.
 Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D. 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, “The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time.” ( Fragments of Caius 3.3) ( ANF 5); Corey Keating says, “In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority’ was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing.” See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ ChurchHistory/Criteria for Development of the NT Canon in First Four Centuries.pdf; Internet.
The fact that Paul declares himself the author of the epistle of Philippians, along with its internal characteristics that are distinctly Pauline, with its historical illusions that coincide with the book of Acts and other Pauline epistles, and with the fact that all of the church fathers universally accepted this epistle as genuine together make a case for Pauline authorship that no one has been able to tear down in the last two thousand years. Thus, internal and external evidence gives strong support to Pauline authorship for Philippians. The authorship of the epistle of Philippians was uncontested until the rise of higher criticism in the eighteenth century. Even today, those who question Pauline authorship find little support from modern biblical scholarship.
1. Internal Evidence - Internal evidence overwhelmingly supports Pauline authorship of the epistle to the Philippians. There are three traditional arguments for its authenticity: its declaration, its style, and its theology.
a) The Author Reveals His Identity We have both direct and indirect identification of the author within the text of this epistle.
i) His Name is Paul - The opening salutation of the epistle declares Pauline authorship.
Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”
This is typical of Paul who introduces his name in every one of his New Testament epistles. In addition, Paul introduces himself in association with Timothy in six of the thirteen Pauline epistles.
2 Corinthians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:”
Colossians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,”
1 Thessalonians 1:1, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 1:1, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:”
Philemon 1:1, “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,”
The evidence of Paul’s relationship with Timothy in the books of Acts and epistle of Hebrews and throughout the Pauline epistles supports the identity and validity of the association of these two individuals in the opening verse of Philippians.
ii) His Indirect Identity The epistle to Philippians is full of first person statements that indirectly identify the author as Paul. Like 2 Corinthians, Paul’s personal life is so clearly stamped on this letter that it leaves little doubt who this individual is. The author refers to Timothy as his co-worker and assistant (Philippians 1:1, Philippians 2:19-50.2.23). He refers to his imprisonment (Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:12-50.1.19, Philippians 4:14). The church at Philippi had given financial support to him thru Epaphroditus (Philippians 1:5, Philippians 2:25-50.2.30, Philippians 4:10-50.4.18). The author had visited the church at Philippi (Philippians 2:12) and had endured suffering (Philippians 1:29-50.1.30) and had traveled to Thessalonica (Philippians 4:16). He describes his background as being a Hebrew, born of Hebrews, educated as a Pharisee and a persecutor of the Church of Christ (Philippians 3:4-50.3.8). There remains little doubt these passages are referring to Paul the apostle.
b) Its Style and Structure is Pauline - The style of the epistle of Philippians appeals to Pauline authorship.
i) The salutation, thanksgiving, doctrinal exposition, application of that doctrine, closing remarks and benediction are all typical of the other Pauline epistles.
ii) As mentioned above, the author often uses the first person singular throughout his letters with many personal references to events that he shares in common with the recipients of his epistles.
iii) The structure of this epistle is typical of all Pauline Epistles; with the first part emphasizing doctrine while the second part emphasizes practical application.
iv) There are many words and phrases that are clearly Pauline in the book of Philippians.
c) Its Doctrinal Themes are Pauline - The doctrinal positions taught within the epistle of Philippians are clearly Pauline with its characteristic emphasis upon justification by faith and the theology of the Cross. Although it contains some unique insights into the doctrines of the Church, there are sufficient references common to other epistles to distinguish it from the other New Testament writers.
2. External Evidence The Church fathers were in universal agreement as to the Pauline authorship of the thirteen epistles New Testament epistles authored under his name. Thus, external evidence supports Pauline authorship of the book of Romans without exception.
It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to Pauline authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2 Peter , 2 and 3 John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing’s apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.
B. Church Orthodoxy - The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, “To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment.”  The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church’s Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth.  This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2 nd century thru 3 rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.
 Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co., 1875), 12.
 Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co., 1875), 331.
1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy - External evidence from the early Church fathers reveals that the epistle of Philippians was in wide circulation by the middle of the second century. We know that its origin was undisputed by A.D. 140 when the heretic Marcion listed it in his canon. All of the Church fathers support a Pauline authorship without exception.
The early Church fathers make direct statements declaring Pauline authorship, as well as direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. Louis Berkhof notes that Philippians is not quoted as much as other Pauline epistles, perhaps because it contains less doctrinal material.  Nevertheless, the witnesses of the early church fathers for Pauline authorship are strong. We find possible allusions to Paul’s letter to the Philippians in Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and the Epistle to Diognetus. The earliest clear reference is from Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. It is often quoted and attributed to Paul by Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. By the end of the second century it was well attested to by the early Church fathers, as were all of the Pauline epistles. It was not until the eighteenth century that its authorship was brought into question by a liberal school of scholars. Thus, the epistle of Philippians was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.
 Louis Berkhof, The Epistle to the Philippians, in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23 April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/ newtestament.html; Internet, 112.
Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of Philippians. 
 There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221 vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161 vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).
a) Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) Clement of Rome makes a possible allusion to the epistle of Philippians.
“We know many among ourselves who have given themselves up to bonds, in order that they might ransom others. Many, too, have surrendered themselves to slavery, that with the price which they received for themselves, they might provide food for others.” ( 1 Clement 55)
Philippians 2:30, “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”
b) Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35 to 107) - Ignatius of Antioch makes an illusion to the epistle of Philippians.
“these spiritual jewels, in which may I be perfected through your prayers, and become a partaker of the sufferings of Christ, and have fellowship with Him in His death, His resurrection from the dead, and His everlasting life.” ( The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 11)
Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”
c) Polycarp (A.D. 69 to 155) - Polycarp gives us the earliest reference to Philippians, telling us that Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi.
“These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because ye have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom” of the blessed and glorified Paul . He, when among you, accurately and stedfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter , which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, ‘is the mother of us all.’” ( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 3:0)
He also alludes to the epistle of Philippians.
“…and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days long gone by…” ( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 1:0)
Philippians 1:5, “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;”
“To Him all things in heaven and on earth are subject.” ( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 2:0)
Philippians 2:10, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;”
“[This do] in the assurance that all these have not run in vain,” ( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 9)
Philippians 2:16, “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
d) Justin Martyr (A.D. 100 to 165) Justin Martyr makes possible allusions to Philippians 2:6-50.2.7.
“Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ; and in obedience to Him” ( First Apology 5)
Philippians 2:7, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”
“…since we see that these are soulless and dead, and have not the form of God (for we do not consider that God has such a form as some say that they imitate to His honour)” ( First Apology 9)
Philippians 2:6, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:”
e) The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (2 nd or 3 rd c.) The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus makes a weak allusion to Philippians 3:20.
“They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven.” ( The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus 5) ( ANF 1) 
 The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, vol. 1: The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, American ed., eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, Grand Rapids; Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997 electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2009).
Philippians 3:20, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:”
f) Irenaeus (A.D. 130 to 200) - Irenaeus quotes from every chapter in Philippians. He acknowledges Pauline authorship in his quote of Philippians 4:18.
“Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God. As Paul also says to the Philippians , ‘I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you, the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, pleasing to God.’” ( Against Heresies 4.18.4)
g) Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150 to 215) - Clement of Alexandria quotes from Philippians 3:12; Philippians 3:15 and acknowledges Pauline authorship.
“And it occurs to me to wonder how some dare call themselves perfect and gnostics, with ideas of themselves above the apostle, inflated and boastful, when Paul even owned respecting himself, ‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I am apprehended of Christ. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forth to those that are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.’ And yet he reckons himself perfect, because he has been emancipated from his former life, and strives after the better life, not as perfect in knowledge, but as aspiring after perfection. Wherefore also he adds, ‘As many of us as are perfect, are thus minded,’ manifestly describing perfection as the renunciation of sin, and regeneration into the faith of the only perfect One, and forgetting our former sins.” ( The Instructor 1.6)
He then quotes from Philippians 2:7.
“And the flesh being a slave, as Paul testifies, how can one with any reason adorn the handmaid like a pimp? For that which is of flesh has the form of a servant. Paul says, speaking of the Lord, ‘Because He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,’ calling the outward man servant, previous to the Lord becoming a servant and wearing flesh.” ( The Instructor 3.1)
He then quotes from Philippians 2:15.
“‘For it is not he who brings a stealthy vocal word to men,’ as Bacchylidis says, ‘who shall be the Word of Wisdom;’ but ‘the blameless, the pure, and faultless sons of God,’ according to Paul, ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, to shine as lights in the world.’ ( The Instructor 3.12)
h) Tertullian (A.D. 160 to 225) - Tertullian quotes the book of Philippians and attributes it to Paul.
“Concerning this expectation and hope Paul writes to the Galatians: ‘For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.’ He says, ‘we wait for it,’ not we are in possession of it. By the righteousness of God, he means that judgment which we shall have to undergo as the recompense of our deeds. It is in expectation of this for himself that the apostle writes to the Philippians : ‘If by any means,’ says he, ‘I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect.’” ( On The Resurrection of the Flesh 23)
i) Origen (A.D. 185 to 254) - Origen quotes from the book of Philippians, mentioning Paul’s letter to the Philippians as one of Paul’s epistles.
“The words, moreover, used by the Apostle Paul, that ‘it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy;’ in another passage also, ‘that to will and to do are of God:’” ( de Principiis 3.1.7)
“And we say to those who hold similar opinions to those of Celsus: ‘Paul then, we are to suppose, had before his mind the idea of no pre-eminent wisdom when he professed to speak wisdom among them that are perfect?’ Now, as he spoke with his customary boldness when in making such a profession he said that he was possessed of no wisdom, we shall say in reply: first of all examine the Epistles of him who utters these words, and look carefully at the meaning of each expression in them--say, in those to the Ephesians, and Colossians, and Thessalonians, and Philippians, and Romans,--and show two things, both that you understand Paul's words, and that you can demonstrate any of them to be silly or foolish.” ( Against Celsus 3.22.1)
j) Cyprian (d. 258) - Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, quotes Philippians 2:6-50.2.11 as being Pauline.
“Also Paul to the Philippians: ‘Who, being appointed in the figure of God, thought it not robbery that He was equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, He was made in the likeness of man, and was found in fashion as a man. He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and the death of the cross. For which cause also God hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name, that it may be above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowed, of things heavenly, and earthly, and infernal; and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in glory of God the Father.’” ( Testimony Against the Jews 3.39) 
 Cyprian, The Writings of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, vol. 2, in Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings Down to A.D. 325 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1869), 170-171.
k) Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340) - Eusebius, the church historian, in quoting the letter of the churches of Lyons and Vienne dated A.D. 177, quotes from Philippians 2:6.
“They were also so zealous in their imitation of Christ, -- ‘who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God,’ -- that, though they had attained such honor, and had borne witness, not once or twice, but many times, - having been brought back to prison from the wild beasts, covered with burns and scars and wounds, -- yet they did not proclaim themselves witnesses, nor did they suffer us to address them by this name.” ( Ecclesiastical History 5.2.2)
2. Manuscript Evidence Paul’s epistles are found in numerous early Greek manuscripts. One of the earliest manuscripts, the Chester Beatty codex (p46), which was probably written in Egypt near the end of the second century, contains eight Pauline epistles (Romans , 1 & 2 Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, 1 Thess) and the epistle of Hebrews.  It probably contained the entire Pauline corpus in its original collection. There are a number of third century manuscripts that contain portions of the Pauline corpus, and a number of fourth century manuscripts that originally contained the entire New Testament (Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus). These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of Pauline epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.
 Philip W. Comfort, and David P. Barrett, eds., The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., c1999, 2001), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), “P46 (P. Chester Beatty II + P. Mich. Inv. 6238).”
3. Early Versions - The earliest translations of the New Testament, written when the canon was being formed, included the Pauline epistles;  the Old Latin (2 nd to 4 th c), the Coptic (3 rd to 4 th c), the Peshitta (4 th c), the Armenian (5 th c), the Georgian (5 th c), and the Ethiopic (6 th c).  The Pauline epistles would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.
 Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Oxford: University Press, 1968), 69-86.
 The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts, Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis (Acts, Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome’s Vulgate (beginning A. D. 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.
C. Catholicity - The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, “The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church.”  This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.
 Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 12.
1. Early Church Canons The thirteen Pauline epistles are found within the earliest Church canons and versions. Thus, they support the epistle of Philippians as a part of the body of Pauline epistles. It is listed in the two earliest canons. Tertullian (A.D. 160-225) tells us that Marcion the heretic accepted it in his Instrumentum (A.D. 140),  and it is found in The Muratorian Canon as one of Paul’s thirteen New Testament epistles (A.D. 180) ( Fragments of Caius 3: Canon Muratorianus 2) ( ANF 5). It is found in every canonical list thereafter. Eusebius (A.D. 260 to 340) includes them in his list of “acknowledged books.”  Athanasius gives us a canonical list includes them (c. 367).  Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 315-386) includes them in his list. 
 See Against Marcion 5.17.
 See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.3.1-7; 3.24-25.
 Athansius, Festal Letters 39.5 (Easter, 367) ( NPF2 4)
 See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4.36 ( NPF2 7)
2. Early Church Councils - The earliest major Church councils named the Pauline epistles as authentic writings; Nicea (c. 325-40), Hippo (393), Carthage (397), and Carthage (419). This would not have been done unless the church at large believed them to be canonical.
During the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures.  The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.
 Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co., 1875), 422-426.
III. Date and Place of Writing
Most scholars agree that Paul the apostle wrote his epistle to the Philippians along with his other Prison Epistles during his first imprisonment in Rome that took place between A.D. 60 and 62.
A. Date - There are a surprising number of factors that can be used to date the epistle of Philippians.
1. The Prison Epistles - The most logical method of dating Philippians is to place it within the group of writings called the Prison Epistles and evaluate their dates together.
a) Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon - The date of writing of the Prison Epistles relies largely upon one’s view of the place where he wrote it. If Paul wrote it during his imprisonment in Caesarea, it would have been between A.D. 58 and 60. But, if he wrote it during his first Roman imprisonment, which most scholars believe and which is the traditional view held up until the eighteenth century, he would have written it between A.D. 60 and 62. This is because Church tradition tells us that Paul was martyred during his second Roman imprisonment, which took place around A.D. 65 or 66. For those who opt for a single Roman imprisonment, the date of writing would be as late as A.D. 62 to 64.
We can use internal evidence to establish the fact that Paul wrote and sent Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon at the same time using the same messengers. According to Ephesians 6:21, the letter of Ephesians was sent by the hand of Tychicus.
Ephesians 6:21, “But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:”
According to Colossians 4:7-51.4.9, the letter of Colossians was sent by the hands of Tychicus and Onesimus.
Colossians 4:7-51.4.9, “All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”
The epistle of Philemon was probably sent by the hand of Onesimus. Thus, it is very likely that Paul sent these three letters at the same time by the same group of men who traveled together from Rome to Asia Minor.
Regarding the date when these men traveled, Paul’s statement in Philemon 1:22 is interpreted by some to refer to an immediate release. If so, this would place the date of Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon late in his two-year captivity.
Philemon 1:22, “But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.”
However, other scholars interpret Philemon 1:22 to read that Paul was simply being optimistic regarding his release and not referring to an immediate release. The safest date to give these three epistles is the middle of his imprisonment.
b) Philippians - Regarding Philippians, we can note verses within this epistle to establish a date near the end of his two-year imprisonment and after the writing of the other three Prison Epistles. Here are several supporting indications:
(1) The Illness of Epaphroditus - In Philippians 2:25-50.2.30, Paul discusses the illness of Epaphroditus, which is not mentioned in the other three epistles although he was well known to Philemon (Philemon 1:23) and to the Colossians (Colossians 4:12). Perhaps his illness took place after the writing of the first three epistles.
(2) References to Paul’s Co-workers - We know that Timothy, Luke, Demas, Aristarchus, Tychicus, Onesimus, Mark, and Epaphras were with Paul when he wrote Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. However, Paul’s epistle to the Philippians only mentions Timothy and Epaphroditus. Thus, we may conclude that Paul had sent the others out and was left with Epaphroditus as his messenger to the Philippians.
(3) Epaphroditus Sent to the Philippians - In Philippians 2:25-50.2.30 Paul sends Epaphroditus to the Philippians while in the other three epistles, this individual remains with Paul.
(4) References to Paul’s Release from Prison - In Philippians 1:25 Paul speaks of being confident of his release while in the other prison epistles he lacks this assurance.
Thus, most scholars date Philippians after Ephesians-Colossians-Philemon and near the end of his imprisonment.
2. The Writings of the Early Church Fathers - We can look to the early Church fathers for support that one of these Prison Epistles, that of Ephesians, enjoyed early acceptance and widespread use among the churches. Since most scholars believe that the language of Ephesians can be found in Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians ( 1 Clement 2, 36, 46), we know that it must have been written before A.D. 95.
3. Historical References - Donald Guthrie wisely notes that the absence of certain historical events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) and the Roman persecution of the church (beginning about A.D. 64) suggest a date of writing that precedes such important events. In addition, the description of the church in its early stages of development along with the absence of descriptions of developed ecclesiastical order fits the dates given by early Church tradition.  This means that we can look into the Pauline epistles and place the church within a particular historical setting that preceded the order found in the late first century and early second century.
 Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 499.
We can therefore date the Prison Epistles between A.D. 60 and 62 with Philippians being written last and near the end of his two-year imprisonment. We are certain that they were all written before the burning of Rome in A.D. 64 during the time of Nero.
B. Place of Writing - The strongest evidence supports a Roman imprisonment as the place of the writing of the Prison Epistles.
1. Internal Evidence - Internal evidence supports the popular view that the epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians were written while Paul was in prison. This is because there are a number of verses within these letters that refer to this imprisonment:
Ephesians 3:1, “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,”
Ephesians 3:13, “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
Ephesians 4:1, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,”
Ephesians 6:20, “For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Philippians 1:7, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”
Philippians 1:13-50.1.14, “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Philippians 1:16, “The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:”
Colossians 1:24, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:”
Colossians 2:1, “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;”
Colossians 4:18, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.”
Philemon 1:1, “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,”
Philemon 1:9, “Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”
Whether it was Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea or Rome or another place is still debated. Here are some reasons why Rome is the favored place of origin among scholars today.
a) Roman Origin (A.D. 60-62) - There is strong internal evidence within the Prison Epistles to support a Roman origin. We know that Paul had more liberties to preach in his Roman imprisonment. The references to a palace and the Imperial household better describe Rome. Ephesians describes Paul as an ambassador with a message to a King. The Prison Epistles suggest a pending Roman trial and release. Paul’s list of companions suggests a Roman origin. Finally, early Church tradition supports a Roman imprisonment.
(1) Paul Had More Liberties to Preach in His Roman Imprisonment - We know that Paul wrote these epistles in an environment that allowed him free intercourse with his friends (Ephesians 6:18-49.6.20, Philippians 1:12-50.1.18, Colossians 4:2-51.4.4). From the book of Acts, we know that Paul did have some liberties to have visitors while imprisoned in Caesarea.
Acts 24:23, “And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.”
However in Rome somewhat greater liberties were granted to Paul so that he “preached the kingdom of God and taught those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
Acts 28:30-44.28.31, “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
Thus, Paul had greater liberties in his Roman imprisonment than he did at Caesarea. Therefore, most scholars support a Roman origin for the epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon because of such internal evidence and because of the weight of early church tradition.
(2) References to a Palace and the Imperial Household Better Describe Rome - If we consider references found within the Prison Epistles, which most scholars do, then we find in Philippians comments about a palace and the Imperial household. This description more easily fits Rome than Caesarea.
Philippians 1:13, “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;”
Philippians 4:22, “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.”
(3) Ephesians Describes Paul as an Ambassador With a Message to a King - Ephesians 6:19-49.6.20 describes a situation in which Paul considered himself to be an “ambassador” with a message.
Ephesians 6:19-49.6.20, “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
This verse implies that Paul believed he had been given a message by his Lord to deliver to a king. He appears to consider the fact that he was being given many other opportunities to minister to other people of great influence. Thus, he requested prayer that he would speak words that would bring about the greatest impact in the hearts of his hearers. This fits a Roman imprisonment.
(4) The Prison Epistles Suggest a Pending Roman Trial and Release - We see from Philippians 1:19-50.1.26; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:23 and Philemon 1:22 that Paul was soon facing a trial with the expectation of being released. These verses fit better with a trial before Caesar than the intermediate trial in Caesarea that is recorded in Acts 24-26, because there was nothing about his Caesarean imprisonment that pointed towards a release.
(a) Paul’s Life Was Hanging in a Balance - Philippians 1:19-50.1.26 reveals that Paul’s life was hanging in the balance. However, this was not the atmosphere of Paul's Caesarean imprisonment, as he was prepared to appeal unto Caesar had a conviction of punishment been decreed. Note:
Acts 25:11, “For if I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar .”
(b) The Trial Was Nearing Completion - Philippians 1:25; Philippians 2:24 reveal that the trial seems to be nearing its completion and Paul expects to be set free. He expresses strong conviction that he “shall remain and continue with you all” (Philippians 1:25; cf. also Philippians 2:24). The concept of a trial coming to a final conclusive end fits a Roman trial, rather than a Caesarean trial.
Philippians 1:25, “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;”
Philippians 2:24, “But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.”
(5) Paul’s List of Companions Suggests a Roman Origin - Also, the fact that Ephesians 6:21-49.6.22, Colossians 4:7-51.4.9 and Philemon 1:10-57.1.12 reveal that Paul was dispatching Tychicus accompanied by Onesimus with all three of these letters on the same journey strongly suggests a Roman origin. This is because Onesimus was not associated with Paul’s Caesarean imprisonment according to the book of Acts, although Tychicus was with Paul at the close of his third missionary journey. Onesimus would have had less chance of gaining access to and being discipled by Paul at Caesarea than at Rome.
In addition, Louis Berkhof notes that the many companions of Paul, viz. Tychicus, Aristarchus, Marcus, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Demas, are quite different from those that accompanied him on his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4). 
 Louis Berkhof, The Epistle to the Ephesians, in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23 April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/ newtestament.html; Internet, 106-107.
Acts 20:4, “And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
The mention of Marcus, the cousin of Barnabas in Colossians 4:10, is according to tradition, a clear reference to Rome.
In addition, we know from the book of Acts that Aristarchus and Luke accompanied Paul to Rome by ship.
Acts 27:2, “And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus , a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.”
Acts 28:14, “Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.”
We know from the epistles of Colossians and Philemon that both of these companions were with Paul when he wrote his prison epistles.
Colossians 4:10, “ Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)”
Colossians 4:14, “ Luke , the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.”
Philemon 1:24, “Marcus, Aristarchus , Demas, Lucas , my fellowlabourers.”
We must note that both Aristarchus and Luke accompanied Paul to Jerusalem also when he was arrested and imprisoned in Caesarea.
Acts 20:4, “And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
(6) Early Church Tradition - There is one witness from early tradition that supports a Roman origin. The Marcionite Prologue, which was attached to this epistle, says, “He composes a familiar letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus his servant. He writes to him, however, from Rome, from prison.” 
 Ben C. Smith, “The Marcionite Prologues to the Pauline Epistles,” (Text Excavation 2010) [on-line]; accessed 11 May 2010; available from http://www.textexcavation.com/ marcioniteprologues.html; Internet; See Codex Fuldensis: Novum Testamentum Latine Interprete Hieronymo, ed. Ernestus Ranke (Marburgi & Lipsiaei: Sumtibus N. G. Elwerti Bibliopolae Academici, 1867), 310.
b) Caesarean Origin (A.D. 57-59) - Of recent years, some scholars have asked if some or all of the Prison Epistles could have been written while Paul was being held in prison at Caesarea. We know from the book of Acts that the Roman procurator of Judea, Marcus Antonius Felix, hoping to receive a bribe from Paul, held him under house arrest for two years while allowing his friends free access to him. Those who support a Caesarean imprisonment base their argument upon its closer proximity to Asia. But arguments for a Caesarean location are only speculative and have no internal or external evidence to support it. The strongest argument against a Caesarean imprisonment is the fact that Paul was expecting his release to come soon (Philippians 1:19-50.1.26; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:23 and Philemon 1:22). This is because Paul understood that his appeal to Caesar at Caesarea meant a delay in his trial and release. The fact that Paul makes no mention of Philippi in his Prison Epistles makes a Caesarean origin questionable because he hosted Paul while visiting Caesarea.
c) Ephesian Origin (A.D. 54-55) - In recent years, there has been some speculation about an Ephesian origin. Although the New Testament tells us that Paul was in prison at other times besides Rome and Caesarea (2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23), we have no indications within the Scriptures or early Church tradition as to these locations. However, speculation as to an Ephesian imprisonment is not a recent idea. The heretic Marcion first suggested such a location. The Marcionite Prologue to Colossians reads, “The apostle, therefore, already arrested, writes to them from Ephesus.”  Some modern scholars suggest that Ephesus would be the most likely place for an imprisonment because it was where he faced his fiercest opposition. They point to passages such as Romans 16:4; Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Corinthians 1:8-47.1.10; 2 Corinthians 11:23 to support their arguments. Others base their argument upon its closer proximity to the destination of the prison epistles. Robert Brow suggests that Luke deliberately omitted an Ephesian imprisonment because the book of Acts was written as a legal defense of the Gospel and the story of this imprisonment would not have helped in Paul’s defense. Brow also suggests that the circumstances and people involved fit an Ephesian imprisonment better where Paul also wrote his second letter Timothy.  However, any support for this location from Scripture or the early Church fathers is entirely lacking.
 Ben C. Smith, “The Marcionite prologues to the Pauline epistles,” (Text Excavation 2010) [on-line]; accessed 11 May 2010; available from http://www.textexcavation.com/ marcioniteprologues.html; Internet.
 Robert Brow, Ephesians Commentary (Odessa ON: J.L.P Digital Publications, 2002) [on-line]; accessed 10 May 2002; available from http:// www.brow.on.ca . Internet; “Introduction: The Church in Ephesus.”
2. External Evidence - All of the early Church fathers place Paul in Rome during the writing of the Prison Epistles. (The one exception is the heretic Marcion who places Paul in Ephesus when writing the epistle to the Ephesians and then makes an apparent contradiction by placing Paul in Rome when writing his letters to the Philippians and to Philemon.)
a) Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) - Jerome placed the writings of the Prison Epistles in Rome during his imprisonment.
“The fourth ground of his censure is in the beginning of my Second Book, in which I expounded the statement which St. Paul makes ‘For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.’ The passage in itself is perfectly plain; and I give, therefore, only that part of the comment on it which lends itself to malevolent remark: The words which describe Paul as the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles may be understood of his martyrdom, since it was when he was thrown into chains at Rome that he wrote this Epistle, at the same time with those to Philemon and the Colossians and the Philippians , as we have formerly shewn.” ( Jerome’s Apology for Himself Against the Books of Rufinus 1) ( NPF2 3)
b) John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-406) - John Chrysostom the writings of the Prison Epistles in Rome during his imprisonment.
“But it was from Rome he wrote to the Philippians; wherefore he says. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household: and to the Hebrews from thence likewise, wherefore, he says, all they of Italy salute them. And the Epistle to Timothy, he sent also from Rome, when in prison; which seems to me, too, to be the last of all the Epistles; and this is plain from the end: For I am now ready to be offered, he says, and the lime of my departure is at hand. But that he ended his life there, is clear, I may say, to every one. And that to Philemon is also very late, (for he wrote it in extreme old age, wherefore also he said, as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner in Christ Jesus,) yet previous to that to the Colossians. For in writing to the Colossians, he says. All my stale shall Tychicus declare unto you, whom I have sent with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother. For this was that Onesimus in whose behalf he composed the Epistle to Philemon. And that this was no other of the same name with him, is plain from the mention of Archippus…And that to the Galatians seems to me to be before that to the Romans.” 
 John Chrysostom, Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Romans, in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol. 7 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 3.
“He wrote the epistle [Ephesians] from Rome, and, as he himself informs us, in bonds. Pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds.” 
 John Chrysostom, Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians, in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol. 5 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1840), 99.
c) Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D. 393-466) Theodoret places the prison epistles in Rome.
“And after these things he wrote to the Philippians from Rome, and it is clear (at) the end of the epistle. Clearly, he teaches us (at) the end; for he says, ‘They of the household of Caesar greet you.’ And also indeed at the same time he wrote to the Ephesians and to the Colossians. [ PG 82 41C-D] (author’s translation)
d) Euthalius (5 th c.) Euthalius places the prison epistles in Rome. In his argument to the epistle of Philippians, Euthalius writes, “This one he sent from Rome, having seen and taught them at the same time.” ( PG 85 col. 764D)
e) Pseudo-Athanasius (Synopsis of Sacred Scripture) (4 th -6 th c.) - In the Synopsis of Sacred Scripture, Pseudo-Athanasius (4 th -6 th c.) begins his summary of Philippians by saying, “This one he writes from Rome, having both seen and taught them.” ( PG 28 col. 420B)
f) Ebedjesu (d. 1318) Ebedjesu, the Syrian bishop, reflects medieval tradition by saying Paul wrote his epistle to the Philippians from the city of Rome. 
 Ebedjesu writes, “Besides these there are fourteen epistles of the great Apostle Paul…the Epistle to the Philippians, written at the same place [Rome], and sent by the hands of Epaphroditus.” See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol. 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 321; George Percy Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol. 2 (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), 362.
g) The Authorized Version (1611) - Euthalius, an unknown deacon of the fifth century, is believed to have provided the testimonies for the subscriptions to the Pauline epistles found in the Authorized Version (1611).  However, not all of these subscriptions match the comments of Euthalius (compare the differences in 1 and 2 Corinthians and 2 Thessalonians). Thus, the committee of the Authorized Version probably relied on various sources for their subscriptions. A subscription attached to this epistle of Philippians in the Authorized Version (1611) reads, “It was written to the Philippians from Rome, by Epaphroditus.” 
 Matthew George Easton, “Subscriptions,” in Easton’s Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c1897), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).
 The Holy Bible: A Facsimile in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, ed. Alfred William Pollard (Oxford: The University Press, 1911).
In conclusion, internal and external evidence support a Roman imprisonment for the writings of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. Any other conclusion lacks logical support.
The believers at Philippi are believed by scholars to have been made up largely of Gentiles. Internal evidence supports this suggestion. For example, we see from Acts 16:0 that the city of Philippi had no synagogue, probably because there were not enough Jews in the city to support such a project. In addition, Paul’s letter to the Philippians suggests that this church was as yet unaffected by the teachings of the Judaizers, unlike other churches established by Paul. This means that the Judaizers were not making their rounds to the city of Philippi because there was no synagogue. If we examine the list of names associated with the church at Philippi, we find Lydia, Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche and Clement of Rome, all of which point to a predominately Gentile church because these are all Gentile names. Finally, Paul tells them in Philippians 3:3 that “we are the circumcision” as if to suggest that they had not received Jewish circumcision.
Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
Some scholars go so far as to suggest that it was made up of a mostly women from the references in Acts 16:12-44.16.15 and Philippians 4:2-50.4.4; but this is not as easily substantiated.
We know that this was a giving church. The church at Philippi consisted of a group of believers who were loyal to Paul as well as some of the most dedicated givers towards his ministry (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 8:1-47.8.5; 2 Corinthians 11:8-47.11.9; Philippians 1:3-50.1.5; Philippians 4:15-50.4.18). In Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, he commends them for being the only church to support Paul's ministry shortly after his first visit (Philippians 4:15-50.4.17). They were faithful to give to him again during his Roman imprisonment (2 Corinthians 11:9; Philippians 4:10; Philippians 4:18). Thus, this was a giving church. We can gather from New Testament passages several additional descriptions of this congregation. We know that they were being persecuted (Philippians 1:28-50.1.30). In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he describes the churches in Macedonia as giving out of poverty (2 Corinthians 8:1-47.8.2). Thus, they were not wealthy, but had a liberal heart of generosity. We also know from the epistle of Philippians that there was little strife and division in this group, although Paul did address this issue on a less serious note when compared to his other epistles (Philippians 1:27; Philippians 2:1-50.2.4; Philippians 2:14; Philippians 4:2). This may partly be due to the fact that there were mostly Gentiles in this congregation and less effort by traveling Jews to divide them.
We know from internal evidence that the Prison Epistles, as they are formally called, were written while Paul, the apostle, was in prison. What situations would have occasioned Paul to write the four letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon? If we read Paul’s Prison Epistles, we find several specific occasions woven together to necessitate the writing of three of these epistles at one time and the letter of Philippians soon afterwards. While in his first Roman imprisonment, Paul enjoyed the privileges of entertaining guests. No doubt, the Jewish community came to inquire of the Christian sect for which Paul was bound in chains. Also, the believers at Rome as well as his faithful coworkers, such as Luke, Aristarchus, Marcus, Epaphras and Timothy, came to comfort him, which Paul appreciates by recognizing them within his Prison Epistles. While in prison, Paul was able to send and receive messages of his work in the East.
Colossians On one of these occasions when guests arrived to visit Paul, he received news from Epaphras about the believers at Colossi. This faithful messenger and perhaps the founding missionary of the church at Colossi (Colossians 1:7) had recently come to Rome and briefed Paul about the progress of the Gospel in this church that Paul had never actually visited. He informed Paul about their faith in Christ and of their love for one another (Colossians 1:4; Colossians 1:8). It was within the context of this report from Epaphras that Paul found out the disturbing news of heretical teachings within the Colossian church. He would have seen the immediate need to address a growing threat of false teachings brought in by the Greek minds as well as the Jews. Paul had to combat Jewish as well as Hellenistic thoughts. Louis Berkhof wisely notes that the Colossian error was a combination of Jewish doctrine, heathen philosophy and Christian beliefs that make it impossible to say that Paul was confronting a particular heretical group. 
 Louis Berkhof, The Epistle to Colossians, in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23 April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/ newtestament.html; Internet, 116.
An early form of Gnosticism, a heretical movement that would make its full expression during the second century, was being introduced the church at this time. This heresy taught that Jesus Christ was neither fully God nor fully man. They taught that the man Jesus received His divine nature at His water baptism and that the Christ ascended to Heaven just before His death on the Cross. This group introduced a lifestyle of either extreme asceticism or fleshly indulgence believing that the human body was inherently evil.
The Judaizers were also attempting to jeopardize the faith of this growing church. We find a description of the many Jewish sects and their teachings from the writings of Josephus, ( Wars 2.8.2-13), who tells us that these sects were scattered throughout the Diaspora. Paul came against these Jewish sects who were preaching that Christians had to embrace certain Old Testament rituals out of the Mosaic Law in order to continue in right standing with God. Therefore, Paul felt compelled to write to the church at Colossi as soon as possible in order to head off this threat and to establish them further in the faith.
Philemon We know from the context of the short epistle of Philemon that Onesimus, a slave that belonged to Philemon, had fled to Paul for freedom. We do not know the cause of his flight nor why he sought Paul. During his exile in Rome Paul had led him to the Lord (Philippians 1:10). The need to bring reconciliation to this situation resulted in Paul’s letter to his owner. Paul’s letter implies from his use of the words “wronged” and “owes” that the slave may have robbed his master in some way (Philippians 1:18). Thus, in Paul’s epistle to Philemon, we find Paul anxious to reconcile the split between a master and his slave. He asked that the slave be reconciled to the household without suffering harsh punishment. Although Paul suggests that Onesimus would be more beneficial to his owner, at no place in the letter does he actually ask Philemon to set him free.
It is likely that the complicated Roman laws of dealing with the return of fugitive slaves to their masters caused Paul to deal with this situation privately rather than making it known to the Roman officials. Albert Barnes refers to Macknight, who says that the laws of Phrygia allowed the master to punish a slave “without applying to any magistrate.”  Barnes says history suggests that the Phrygians were a severe people.  Thus, we can assume that Philemon had some concerns of being restored to his owner.
 James MacKnight, “A New Literal Translation of St Paul’s Epistle to Philemon,” in A New Literal Translation From the Original Greek, of all the Apostolical Epistles, with a Commentary, and Notes, Philological, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical, vol. 3, fourth edition (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; T. Hamilton, Paternoster Row; R. Ogle; J. Ogle; M. Ogle, 1809), 308. MacKnight cites Hugo Grotius as the source of this comment. See Hugo Grotius, Annotationes in Epistolam Ad Philemonem, in Hugonis Grotii Annotationes in Novem Testamentum, vol. 7 (Groningae: W. Zuidema), 344.
 Albert Barnes, The Epistle of Paul to Philemon, in Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), “Introduction: Section 2.5.” Barnes cites Quintus Curtius Rufus, History of the Wars of Alexander 5.1. See Quintus Curtius His History of the Wars of Alexander, 2 vols., trans. John Digby (London: A. Millar, 1747).
We know from internal evidence that the epistle to the Colossians was delivered together with the epistle to Philemon. Therefore, we find Paul writing two letters, one to the church at Colossi and one to Philemon, using the same messengers to deliver them. Paul soon dispatched his close associate, Tychicus, a native of Ephesus, to this region with Onesimus to deliver these three letters. Paul’s letter to Philemon could have served as a cover letter as an indirect way of introducing Onesimus to the churches that he and Tychicus may encounter on their journey to this region.
Ephesians - From these two occasions, Paul also took the opportunity to write his less personal letter to the church at Ephesus, which he intended to be circulated among the other churches in this region. For the epistle to the Ephesians we do find one hint as to why he would have written to them in his last message to the elders of that church in Acts 20:17-44.20.38. In this speech, Paul warned them that “grievous wolves” would soon enter the flock and lead some astray. This foresight led Paul to write to them in order to further ground them in the hope of their salvation and in the doctrines upon which they placed their hope.
Paul was facing possible execution and his mind and heart were on eternal matters more than ever before: for he reveals his longing to depart and be with the Lord in his later epistle to the Philippians.
Philippians 1:23, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:”
Therefore, Paul took this opportunity to reveal in this circular letter the highest level of theology that God had revealed to him regarding the eternal purpose and plan of God for his Church.
Philippians - At a later date, the church at Philippi sent Epaphroditus to Paul with a love offering and with instructions to minister to his needs.
Philippians 4:18, “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.”
Philippians 2:25, “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.”
The events of this visit could have occasioned Paul’s letter to the Philippians. For we assume that Epaphroditus brought news of the progress of church growth at Philippi and any pending problems. While in Rome, this messenger becomes gravely ill, near unto death. When he was strong enough to return, Paul sent him back and informs the church of this illness (Philippians 2:26-50.2.30). This return gave Paul the opportunity to write them a thank you letter for their offering to him and to give Epaphroditus the praise the he was worthy of receiving for his deed. Therefore, he is most likely the one who carried this epistle to the Philippian Church. In addition, Paul was now intending to send Timothy to Philippi to deal with several issues that Epaphroditus has reported to him. Paul would first send Timothy and then follow up with a personal visit (Philippians 2:19; Philippians 2:24). This letter thus serves to notify the church at Philippi to prepare for such visits.
Summary - Thus, we find a number of occasions woven together in a way that compelled Paul to write three of his Prison Epistles at one time. Paul soon dispatched his close associate, Tychicus, a native of Ephesus, to this region with Onesimus to deliver these three letters. Paul’s letter to Philemon could have served as a cover letter as an indirect way of introducing Onesimus to the churches that he and Tychicus may encounter on their journey to this region. It was after these events that Epaphroditus arrived with a gift from the church at Philippi. The illness of this messenger and Paul’s need to give them a reply of gratitude occasioned Paul to sit down near the end of his first imprisonment and write his letter to the Philippians.
“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.
If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”
(Thomas Schreiner) 
 Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.
Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called “epistle genre,” In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the Pauline epistles.
VI. Comparison of the Pauline Epistles
The epistle to the Philippians is typical in style and structure to other New Testament Pauline epistles. Its introduction is also similar to contemporary letters of this period in history with its initial reference to the author and recipients followed by greetings.
A. Comparison of Usage of the Old Testament: Lack of Old Testament References - It can be concluded that the church at Philippi contained the least amount of Jewish believers of any of the seven churches that Paul wrote to during his ministry. This would allow Paul to not feel the need to make as many references to Old Testament prophecies and teachings. As a result, the epistle of Philippians contains no direct Old Testament references or allusions, since it is addressed to a largely Gentile audience of believers.
B. Comparison of Style: It is an Encouraging Letter - In the book of Philippians, there is no word for “sin(s).” But the phrase “be blameless” is used several times in this epistle.
Philippians 2:15, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Philippians 3:6, “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless .”
This is because it is not a letter of correction, but rather of thanksgiving for the offerings that the Philippians had given to Paul.
C. Comparison of Style: It is the Least Dogmatic Letter of Paul’s Epistles - Because of the very personal nature of this letter, Paul places more emphasis upon acknowledging his gratitude than he does on teaching doctrine. It is a letter of encouragement and not of correction. In this sense, Philippians is the least dogmatic letter of Paul’s epistles.
D. Comparison of Tone: It is a very Personal and Emotional Letter - Of all of Paul’s epistles to the churches, this letter seems to be the most personal. Paul’s words carry a joyful spirit without the heavy rebukes found in his letter to the Galatians or his severe warnings in Colossians. Scholars often call this a “Joyful Letter” because it contains words in the form of “joy,” “rejoice,” “rejoicing,” and “rejoiced” eighteen times in four chapters. It also contains emotions words such as “long after, full of heaviness, sorrow, and the less sorrowful.” Everett Harrison notes that Paul uses the word “I” around fifty-two times in this epistle, far above what is normal in his epistles, thus making this letter personal. 
 Everett F. Harrison, Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c1964, 1971), 203-204.
“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”
(Andreas Kösenberger) 
 Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.
Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of Philippians, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of Philippians for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.
The fundamental purpose for the nine Church Epistles is doctrinal, for God used Paul to lay down the doctrines for the New Testament Church, as he built upon the foundational teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to a doctrinal purpose, Paul’s epistles give practical instructions on how to apply the teachings of the New Testament Church to the believer’s daily conduct.
The epistle of Philippians is primarily occasional in its purpose. Because of its occasional nature, Paul deals very little with doctrinal issues in his epistle to the Philippians. He does deal briefly with Christ’s nature (Philippians 2:5-50.2.11) and eschatology (Philippians 3:18-50.3.21). He makes no quotes from the Old Testament. However, Paul does have the need to take an apologetic or defensive position against false doctrines within the congregation though he gives them a warning against this danger (Philippians 3:1-50.3.14). Nor does Paul have to take corrective actions against any misdeeds among its members. He had no need for rebuke, but took much time to commend them for their good deeds.
A. Practical: To Exhort them to Continue to Support the Ministry In this very personal letter of Paul to the Philippians, he deals mostly with particular issues taking place between him and these believers. He commends them for their generosity, expresses his desire to see them, and shows much interest in their welfare.
1. A “Thank You” Letter The most obvious purpose for Paul to write his epistle to the church at Philippi was to thank them for the financial support that they had given him. He opens his letter with a word of thanks (Philippians 1:3-50.1.5) to them and closes his letter with a final thanksgiving for their offerings (Philippians 4:10-50.4.19). Paul also took this opportunity to explain to the church at Philippi why Epaphroditus was delayed in his return to the Philippians (Philippians 2:25-50.2.30).
2. A Letter to Prepare Them for the Upcoming Visits of Timothy and Later Himself Paul informs them that he was soon sending Timothy to visit them and that he believed that he would be able to follow up with a visit himself. This epistle gives the believers the opportunity to prepare for such a visit.
Philippians 2:19, “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.”
Philippians 2:23, “Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”
Philippians 2:24, “But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.”
3. Warnings In addition to Paul’s comments of gratitude and of upcoming visits, he also warned them of the threat of Judaizers (Philippians 3:1-50.3.3), corrected some minor disunity (Philippians 4:2) and encouraged them to stand against pagan hostility by giving his testimony. Thus, Paul took the time to address false doctrines, church unity and persecution in this epistle.
Conclusion - The practical purpose of the epistle of Philippians reflects the third theme of the believer’s call to support God’s servants in fulfilling God’s call to bring the Gospel to the nations.
B. Doctrinal: To Establish them in the Faith Concerning God’s Plan of Redemption for Mankind Paul’s second purpose in writing his epistle to the Philippians was to establish them in the faith concerning God the Father’s plan of redemption for mankind.
1. Apologetic - Paul was compelled to take an apologetic or defensive position against false doctrines within the congregation though he gives them a warning against this danger (Philippians 3:1-50.3.14).
2. Doctrinal - Paul deal briefly with the divinity, incarnation, and exaltation of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-50.2.11), and eschatology predestined by God the Father (Philippians 3:18-50.3.21).
Conclusion - The doctrinal purpose of the epistle of Philippians reflects the foundational theme of establishing the doctrines of the New Testament Church. Its purpose of explaining God the Father’s plan of redemption reflects the secondary theme.
VIII. Thematic Scheme
There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority as they were collected into one body and circulated among the churches. All of these epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. This work of sanctification is the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. Of these twenty-one New Testament epistles, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification. In other words, these epistles are organized and structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to accomplish this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven together and knit into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church and into the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles can be grouped together by topic and theme.
Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories. There are epistles that emphasize (1) Church doctrine, those that deal with (2) Church order and calling and those that stress (3) the perseverance of the saints. There are nine Pauline epistles that focus upon Church doctrine (Romans to 2 Thessalonians). We can see that 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon focus on Church order. The General Epistles emphasize the perseverance of the saints. Within the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within (2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John, Jude).
A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of Philippians The Establishment of Church Doctrines - Introduction - The central theme of the Holy Bible is God’s plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God’s divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.
Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD,” to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.
This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.
1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer - There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.
Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2 Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon;  and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles.  Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church (Hebrews, James, 1 Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within (2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John, Jude).
 For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.
 For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.
2. The Central Theme of the Church Epistles: The Establishment of Church Doctrines Of the thirteen Pauline epistles, nine are addressed to seven particular churches. By the third century, the early Church fathers testified as to the emphasis that Paul placed upon church doctrine in his epistles. For example, Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 329 to 389) says that Paul wrote the Church epistles in order that the doctrines of the Church are “beyond question.”
“At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers.” ( Lectures 10.18) ( NPF2 7)
Isidore of Pelusium (A.D. d. 450) calls Paul “the expounder of the heavenly doctrines.” ( Epistolarum 1.7) ( PG 78 col. 184C). In his preface to his commentaries on the Pauline Epistles, Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D. 393-466) writes, “I know to be sure how I cannot escape the tongue of the fault-finders when attempting to interpret the doctrine of the divine Paul.” (author’s translation)  These nine “Church” epistles establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church. Thus, we may call the first nine Pauline epistles “Church Epistles.” In these epistles Paul builds his Church doctrine upon the foundational teachings laid down by Christ Jesus in the Gospels. We acknowledge that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Thus, every book of the Bible will contain doctrine, but these other books do not “add” to Church doctrine; rather, they support the doctrine laid down in the Gospels by Jesus Christ and in these nine Pauline epistles. For example, in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul tells Timothy and Titus to teach sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10, 2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1), a doctrine that is not contained within the Pastoral Epistles themselves. Therefore, Paul must be referring to doctrine that he taught to the churches, and most certainly doctrine that is contained within the Church epistles. Another example can be found in Hebrews 6:1-58.6.2, which refers to the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, doctrines that are not contained within the epistle of Hebrews. This epistle, rather, exhorts us to persevere in the divine doctrine that has previously been laid down, and a doctrine that is most certainly contained within the Church epistles.
 Theodoret, Preface to Interpretation XIV Epistolarum Sancti Pauli Apostoli ( PG 82 Chronicles 3:0 6A).
In order to identify this New Testament doctrine, we must first go to the six foundational doctrines mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-58.6.2 in order to identify this doctrine. This passage tells us that everything Jesus Christ said and taught in the Gospels can be summed up in the six foundational doctrines of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-58.6.2.
Hebrews 6:1-58.6.2, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”
Here we find the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, which were first laid down by Christ in the Gospels.
1. repentance from dead works
2. faith toward God
4. laying on of hands
5. resurrection of the dead
6. eternal judgment
If one were to go through the four Gospels, he would find that all of Christ’s teachings could be placed under one of these six doctrines. Later, the Heavenly Father used Paul to build upon these foundational doctrines through the Pauline epistles in order to establish the Church doctrinally. Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that He had many things to teach them, but they were not yet ready (John 16:12).
John 16:12, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”
John 16:12 tells us that the message of the Gospel that Jesus Christ taught His disciples was still incomplete at the time of His departure. This implies that we should look to the Epistles to find its fullness. Therefore, it is upon these six foundational doctrines of Christ that Paul lays down the doctrines of the Church. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of repentance from dead works and faith toward God by teaching on the justification of the believer through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of baptisms and of the laying on of hands by teaching on the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Paul builds his eschatology that Jesus began in the Gospels in the two doctrines of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment by teaching on the future glorification of the Church, which falls under the divine foreknowledge and election of God the Father. Thus, the Church epistles can be grouped by the three-fold office and ministry of the Trinity.
B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of Philippians The Office of the Father (Glorification) The Father’s Divine Provision When the Believer Takes Care of God’s Needs First Introduction - The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central “claim” of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5.6.5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.
The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.
The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind’s depravity and God’s plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2 Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.
The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2 Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.
The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews, James, and 1 Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1 Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2 Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God’s Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3 John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.
The Apocalypse of John, though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.
1. The Secondary Theme of the Church Epistles - Within the nine Pauline “Church” epistles there are three epistles that serve as witnesses of the doctrine of justification through Jesus Christ (Romans, Galatians, Colossians); three serve as witnesses of the doctrine of sanctification by the Holy Spirit (Romans , 1 and 2 Thessalonians , 1 and 2 Corinthians); and three testify of the doctrine of glorification by God the Father (Romans, Ephesians, Philippians). Note that the secondary epistles of Thessalonians and Corinthians can be considered as one witness because they share the same theme with their primary epistles. Noting that the epistle of Romans reflects all three aspects of Church doctrine in his exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the early Church fathers recognized the doctrinal preeminence of the epistle of Romans. For example, Theodoret of Cyrrus writes, “The epistle to the Romans has been placed first, as containing the most full and exact representation of the Christian doctrine, in all its branches; but some say, that it has been so placed out of respect to the city to which it was sent, as presiding over the whole world.” ( PG 82 Chronicles 4:0 4B)  In the same way that the Gospel of John serves as the foundational book of the Gospels as well as the entire New Testament, the epistle of Romans serves as the foundational epistle of the Church epistles because it carries all three themes that the other eight epistles will build upon.
 See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol. 5 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 17.
As mentioned above, Paul’s church doctrine builds upon the six-fold doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-58.6.2. This means that all of the Pauline church doctrine can be grouped within one of these six foundational doctrines of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 3:10-46.3.11 and Ephesians 2:20 when he said that he was laying the foundation of Church doctrine in which Jesus Christ Himself was the foundation.
1 Corinthians 3:10-46.3.11, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 2:20, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;”
Thus, Paul’s doctrine can be placed into three groups of doctrine: (1) the foreknowledge, calling and glorification of God the Father, (2) the justification by Jesus Christ His Son, and (3) the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:29). In fact, the six foundational doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-58.6.2 can also be placed under the same three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit by placing two doctrines under each one. Therefore, we will find that the themes of each of the Pauline “Church” epistles finds itself grouped under Paul’s three-fold grouping of justification, sanctification and glorification, and this three-fold grouping is laid upon the six-fold foundation of:
1. Repentance from dead works Justification Jesus Christ
2. Faith toward God Justification Jesus Christ
3. The doctrine of baptisms Sanctification Holy Spirit
4. Laying on of hands Sanctification Holy Spirit
5. Resurrection of the dead Glorification God the Father
6. Eternal judgment Glorification God the Father
The doctrine of faith towards God builds upon the doctrine of repentance from dead works, which is the doctrine of Justification; for we must first repent of our sins in order to receive Christ’s sacrificial death for us. The doctrine of the laying on of hands builds upon the doctrine of baptisms, which is the doctrine of Sanctification. After partaking of the three baptisms (baptism into the body of Christ, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit), we move into our calling and anointing through the laying on of hands. The doctrine of eternal judgment builds upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which is the doctrine of Glorification. These are the three parts of our redemption that are addressed by the six foundational doctrines that Jesus Christ laid down in the Gospels and Acts. Thus, Paul builds upon these three foundational doctrines of Christ within his nine “Church” epistles.
The epistle of Romans plays a key role in the Church Epistles in that it lays a foundation of doctrines upon which the other eight Epistles build their themes. A mediaeval proverb once said, “All roads lead to Rome.”  This means that anywhere in the ancient Roman Empire, when someone embarked on the Roman road system, if one traveled it long enough, it would lead him to the city of Rome. In a similar way, as all roads lead to Rome, so do all of Paul’s Church Epistles proceed from the book of Romans. In other words, the themes of the other eight Church Epistles build upon the theme of Romans. Thus, the epistle of Romans serves as a roadmap that guides us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and into the process of sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit and finally into the Father’s eternal plan in the lives of mankind through His foreknowledge and divine election, which themes are further developed in the other eight Church Epistles. However, the epistle of Romans is presented largely from the perspective of God the Father divinely orchestrating His plan of redemption for all mankind while the other eight epistles place emphasis upon the particular roles of one of the God-head: the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. The systematic teachings laid forth in the book of Romans serves as a foundation upon which the other eight epistles to New Testament churches are built. For example, the letter to the Ephesians places emphasis upon the Father’s divine election and equipping of the Church in order to fulfill the purpose and plan of God the Father upon this earth. Philippians emphasizes partnership as we give ourselves to God the Father in order to accomplish His will on this earth. The epistle to Colossians emphasizes the preeminence of Christ Jesus over the Church. Galatians emphasizes the theme of our deliverance and justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The theme of 1 and 2 Thessalonians emphasizes the sanctification of the whole man, spirit, soul, and body in preparing us for Christ’s Second Coming. 1 and 2 Corinthians take us to the Cross and shows us the life of sanctification as we live in unity with one another so that the gifts of the Spirit can manifest through the body of Christ, which serves to edify the believers. Paul deals with each of these themes systematically in the epistle to the Romans. Thus, these other eight Church epistles emphasize and expand upon individual themes found in the book of Romans, all of which are built upon the three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For this reason, Romans serves as a foundation of the doctrine of Christ Jesus upon which all other New Testament epistles are built.
 The Milliarium Aureum was a monument erected in the central forum the ancient city of Rome by Emperor Caesar Augustus. All of the roads built by the Romans were believed to begin at this point and transgress throughout the Empire. The road system of the Roman Empire was extraordinary, extending east to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and west to the British Isles, and north into central Europe and south into northern Africa. See Christian Hülsen, The Roman Forum: Its History and Its Monuments, trans. Jesse Benedict Carter (New York: G. E. Stechert & Co., 1906), 79; Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, vol. 1 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 1.
a) The Doctrine of the Office and Ministry of God the Father - The epistle of Ephesians is built upon the theme of God the Father’s office and ministry of orchestrating a divine plan of redemption for mankind. While Romans takes a broad view of the Father’s redemptive plan for all of mankind, Ephesians focuses entirely upon the role of the Church in this great plan. And in order for the believer to partake of this divine plan, the Father provides His spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3) so that we, the Church, might accomplish His divine purpose and plan on earth. Man’s role is to walk worthy of this calling (Ephesians 4:1) and to fight the spiritual warfare through the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-49.6.13). The epistle of Philippians, which also emphasizes the work of God the Father, reveals how the believer is to serve God the Father so that He can fulfill His divine purpose and plan on earth. In this epistle the believer is to partner and give to support God’s servants who are accomplishing God’s purposes (Philippians 1:5) and in turn, God will provide all of his needs (Philippians 4:19). While Ephesians places emphasize upon the Father’s role in the Church’s glorification, Philippians emphasized the believer’s role in fulfilling the Father’s divine plan of redemption. Ephesians reveals how it looks in Heaven as the Father works redemption for the Church, and Philippians reveals how the Church looks when it is fulfilling the Father’s redemptive plan. Reading Ephesians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Father’s role in redemption, while reading Philippians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Father’s role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Philippians is a mirror image of Ephesians.
b) Jesus Christ the Son - The epistle of Colossians reveals the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Church and His preeminence over all Creation. Man’s role is to fulfill God’s will through the indwelling of Christ in him (Colossians 1:9; Colossians 4:12). The epistle of Galatians, which also emphasizes the work of Jesus the Son in our redemption, teaches us how Jesus Christ has delivered us from the bondages of this world (Galatians 1:4). Man’s role is to walk as a new creature in Christ in order to partake of his liberties in Christ (Galatians 6:15). While the epistle of Colossians emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ our Lord in our justification, Galatians emphasizes our role in having faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Colossians reveals how it looks in Heaven as Jesus the Son works redemption, while Galatians reveals how the Church looks when it is walking in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and giving Him preeminence in our daily lives. Reading Colossians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Son’s role in redemption, while reading Galatians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Son’s role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Galatians is a mirror image of Colossians.
c) God the Holy Spirit The epistles of 1 and 2 Thessalonians teach us the office of the Holy Spirit, which is to sanctify the believer in spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23) in order to prepare him for the Second Coming of Christ Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:10). The epistles of 1 and 2 Corinthians, which also emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in our redemption, reveals how the believer is to live a crucified life of walking in love and unity with fellow believers (1 Corinthians 16:13-46.16.16) in order to allow the gifts of the Spirit to work in and thru him as he awaits the Second Coming of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7). While the epistles to the Thessalonians emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification, the epistles to the Corinthians emphasize our role in this process. 1 and 2 Thessalonians reveal how it looks in Heaven as the Holy Spirit works redemption, while 1 and 2 Corinthians show us how the Church looks when it is going through the difficult process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit. Reading 1 and 2 Thessalonians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Holy Spirit’s role in redemption, while reading 1 and 2 Corinthians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Holy Spirit’s role in redemption. Thus, the epistles of Corinthians are a mirror image of the epistles of Thessalonians.
Finally, the epistle of Romans deals briefly with all three doctrines in systematic order as Paul the apostle expounds upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-45.1.17) in order to establish the saints in the Christian faith (Romans 16:25-45.16.27).
d) Illustration of Emphasis of Two Roles in the Pauline Epistles We find a discussion of the important of the two-fold aspect of the writer and the reader in Booth-Colomb-Williams’ book The Craft of Research.  These three professors explain that when a person writes a research paper he must establish a relationship with the intended reader. He does this by creating a role for himself as the writer and a role for the reader to play. This is because conversation is not one-sided. Rather, conversation, and a written report, involved two parties, the reader as well as the writer. Thus, we see how God has designed the Pauline epistles to emphasize the role the writer, by which we mean divine inspiration, and the reader, who plays the role of a believer endeavoring to become indoctrinated with God’s Word.
 Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 17-25.
Perhaps a good illustration of this two-fold aspect of the Trinity’s role and perspective of redemption being emphasized in Ephesians, Colossian and 1 and 2 Thessalonians and man’s role and perspective being emphasized in Philippians, Galatians , 1 and 2 Corinthians is found in a dream that the Lord gave to me in the mid-1990’s. I was serving in my church Calvary Cathedral International in the ministry of helps as an altar worker. This meant that during each altar call we were to follow those who responded to the altar call back into a prayer room and pray with them. One Sunday morning the Lord gave me a dream in which I found myself in my local church during an altar call. As people responded and began to step out into the aisle and walk forward I saw them immediately transformed into children of light. In other words, I saw this transformation taking place in the spiritual realm, though in the natural we see nothing but a person making his way down the aisle. However, I saw these people transformed from sinners into saints in their spirits. I later made my way to church that morning, keenly aware of my impressionable dream a few hours ago. During church the altar call was made, people responded and I followed them into the prayer room along with the associate pastor and other altar workers. Suddenly, the associate pastor, Tom Leuther, who was over the altar work, received an emergency call and had to leave the prayer room. He looked at me and quickly asked me to lead this brief meeting by speaking to those who had responded and turn them over to prayer ministers. As I stood up and began to speak to these people I remembered my dream and was very aware of the incredible transformation that each one of them had made. Thus, Ephesians, Colossian and 1 and 2 Thessalonians discussion redemptive doctrine from a spiritual perspective while Philippians, Galatians 1:0 and 2 Corinthians discuss doctrine from a natural, practical perspective, which we see being worked out in the daily lives of believers. In the natural we see a dirty sinner weeping before the altar, but with our spiritual eyes we see a pure and holy saint clothed in white robes.
2. The Secondary Theme of the Epistle of Philippians - In identifying the secondary theme of the New Testament epistles, we must keep in mind that most of Paul’s epistles are built on a format of presenting a central theme, or argument, that runs throughout the entire epistle. This central theme is usually found within the first few verses of each epistle, and often in the closing verses. The first part of the Pauline epistles gives the doctrinal basis for this argument, and the last part gives the practical side of living by this doctrine. So it is with the epistle to the Philippians. Paul builds a general argument by developing a number of specific arguments. A reader must not lose sight of this general argument or central theme, as he interprets the specific arguments; for the major argument undergirds the minor ones.
The secondary, or structural, themes of each the New Testament epistles can be found in the open verses or passages of each book, and often in the closing verses. This is certainly the case with the epistle to the Philippians. Under the foundational theme of the foreknowledge and divine election of God the Father, the secondary theme of the epistle of Philippians teaches us how God the Father is at work in each of us to fulfill His purpose and plan in our lives (Philippians 1:6). But unlike the epistle of Ephesians, which emphasizes the role of the Father, Philippians places emphasis upon the role of the Church. Philippians explains that the secret to God supplying all of our needs (Philippians 4:19) is when we take care of God’s servants first (Philippians 2:20). This is God’s way of bringing each of us into the fulfillment of our destiny.
Several key verses that reveal this theme are also some of the most popular quotes from this epistle.
Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Philippians 2:20, “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.”
Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
C. Third Theme (Imperative) of the Epistle of Philippians - The Crucified Life of the Believer (Becoming A Partner In The Great Commission) Introduction - The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one’s Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God’s children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves (Deuteronomy 6:4-5.6.5).
The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-45.8.30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.
1. The Third Imperative Theme of the Church Epistles - Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of these epistles also reveals a central truth about our Christian life, or a secret truth, or a divine guiding principle, by which we can walk victorious in this life.
a) God the Father. According to Ephesians, the way that God the Father fulfills His divine plan through the Church is by our submission to one another (Ephesians 4:1-49.4.2; Ephesians 5:21) and praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18); thus, the enemy of our divine destiny is putting on the old man and walking like the Gentiles in their futile minds (Ephesians 4:17). Philippians expands upon this central truth by explaining the secret to God supplying all of our needs when we take care of God’s servants first (Philippians 2:20); thus, the enemy to having our needs met is selfishness (Philippians 2:21).
b) Jesus the Son. According to Colossians the secret of walking in the fullness and riches and completeness of Christ is by setting our minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-51.3.2); thus, the enemy of a full life in Christ is minding these earthly doctrines (Colossians 2:20-51.2.23). Galatians expands upon this central truth by telling us the secret to walking in liberty from the bondages of this world is by being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16); thus, the enemy of our freedom is walking in the flesh, which brings us back into bondage (Galatians 5:17).
c) God the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians reveals to us that the way we are motivated and encouraged to go through the process of sanctification is by looking for and waiting expectantly for the Second Coming of Christ; thus, the enemy of our sanctification is being ignorant of His Second Coming and pending judgment. 1 Corinthians expands upon this central truth of sanctification by telling us that the secret to walking in the gifts of the Spirit is by walking in unity within the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10); thus, the enemy of walking in the gifts is strife and division (1 Corinthians 1:11).
d) Summary - All three of these doctrines (justification, sanctification and glorification) reveal the process that God is taking every believer through in order to bring him from spiritual death and separation from God into His eternal presence, which process we call divine election. God’s will for every human being is justification through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on Calvary as He serves as our Great High Priest at the right hand of the Father, into sanctification by the Holy Spirit and into divine service through the laying on of hands, until we obtain glorification and immortality by the resurrection from the dead and are judged before the throne of God. If God be for us, who can be against us? Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.
2. The Third Imperative Theme of the Epistle of Philippians - The third theme of each of Paul’s church epistles is an emphasis on how to apply the doctrinal truths laid down in the epistle to the Christian life. It is a life of crucifying the flesh and taking up our Cross daily to follow Him. In Philippians, our crucified lifestyle is manifested as we partner with God’s servants and help them fulfill the work that they have been called to do. This is the secret to God fulfilling His plan in our lives, when we first take care of the needs of our spiritual leaders. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). The epistle of Philippians emphasizes one aspect of this conformity through the crucified life of faith and obedience in Him.
Figure 1 The Themes of the Pauline Church Epistles
IX. Literary Structure
The literary structure of the epistle of Philippians must follow the thematic scheme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.
In the epistle to the Philippians, Paul tells the church how to apply the truth of God’s divine provision to their daily lives. Paul teaches them that as they supply the needs of his ministry, God will supply their needs. Thus, this epistle from Paul to the church at Philippi is a letter to his partners. Just as ministers today receive financial support from partners and they write their partners letters to encourage them, so Paul does so here.
I. Introduction (Philippians 1:1-50.1.2 ) Philippians 1:1-50.1.2 serves at Paul’s customary salutation, or greeting, for the epistle of Philippians. A salutation is found in all thirteen of Paul’s New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity (2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).
2 Thessalonians 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”
II. Predestination & Calling (Philippians 1:3-50.1.11 ) - After greeting the church (Philippians 1:1-50.1.2), Paul opens this epistle thanking them for their fellowship, or partnership, in the ministry (Philippians 1:3-50.1.11). This passage reveals that God has predestined and called the believers at Philippi to abound with love, being sincere and without blame, filled with the fruits of righteousness until Jesus comes back. The foundational theme of the epistle of Philippians is God the Father’s office and ministry in His plan of redemption. However, it places emphasis upon the church’s role and participation in this plan. Therefore, Philippians 1:3-50.1.11 describes His plan by describing how the believer participates, or partners with God, in fulfilling this plan of redemption.
A. Paul’s Thanksgiving for Their Partnership (Philippians 1:3-50.1.8 ) The epistle of Philippian can be viewed as a thanksgiving epistle in response to their partnership with Paul in the Gospel from the first day he met them until now (Philippians 1:5). He will explain that their financial offerings are the way they communicated with, or partook of, his ministry (Philippians 4:15). In this partnership they were able to partake of the same divine blessings from God that he was partaking of, for Paul says, “ye all are partakers of my grace” (Philippians 1:7). Thus, this epistle will teach the Philippians how their participation in fulfilling Paul’s work will result in God fulfilling His divine plan of redemption in each if their personal lives.
Philippians 1:5, “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;”
Philippians 4:15, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”
Philippians 1:7, “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace .”
These blessings that they partake of with Paul mean that God will supply their needs because they have supplied God’s needs first by giving to Paul’s ministry. One Old Testament illustration of how partners partake of the grace of others, as Paul says in Philippians 1:7, is in David and his six hundred men. These men shared in the anointing that David received as they fought his enemy. In fact, thirty of these men walked in a mighty anointing (see 2 Samuel 23:8-10.23.39).
In Philippians 1:3-50.1.8 Paul thanks the church at Philippi for their partnership with him in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It could be paraphrased, “When I am reminded to pray for you, I am filled with joy as I mention you before the Lord. (Philippians 1:3-50.1.4). I rejoice for your fellowship with me in the Gospel. I remember the many times you have given to me and supported this ministry from the first time I met you until now (Philippians 1:5). I am certain that because you have stood with me until now, God is going to stand with you until the end (Philippians 1:6). This is the proper way to think since your labours to give financial gifts into this ministry translates into fellow-labours with me as I am imprisoned and endeavour to defend and even establish the Gospel of Jesus Christ upon the earth (Philippians 1:7). God knows my heart, that I have a genuine love for you (Philippians 1:8).”
B. Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians (Philippians 1:9-50.1.11 ) Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well,  with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome (Romans 1:8-45.1.12) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul’s prayer of thanks for the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:4-46.1.8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul’s prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations (2 Corinthians 1:3-47.1.7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:15-49.1.22) reflects the theme of the believer’s participation in God the Father’s great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul’s prayer to the Philippians (Philippians 1:3-50.1.11) reflects the theme of the believer’s role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul’s prayer to the Colossians (Colossians 1:9-51.1.16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2-52.1.4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul’s second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 1:3-53.1.4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer’s sanctification.
 John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a “health wish” and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, “Epistolary Genre,” in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.
Paul basically prays that the believers at Philippi might abide in Christ and bear much fruit. We find this same teaching in John 15:1-43.15.8, where Jesus Christ teaches that He is the vine and we are the branches. Because the Philippians were in fellowship, or partnership, with Paul’s ministry, they were abiding in Christ’s love and bearing fruit for the kingdom of God. Since they had continued to take care of Paul’s needs from the beginning, Paul could promise them that God was going to take care of their needs until the end (Philippians 1:6). This church was bearing much fruit. Paul will refer to the fruit of his labours shortly in Philippians 1:22 since this is the topic being discussed in this passage of Scripture.
Philippians 1:22, “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.”
In Philippians 1:9-50.1.11 Paul prays for the church at Philippi. It could be paraphrased, “As my love abounds towards you, I pray for your love to abound continuously as He gives you knowledge and insight into His divine ways (Philippians 1:9); for with this knowledge and insight into the ways of God you will be able to discern how to live a superior and better life that pleases God. This choice to live at a higher level of Christian service will produce within you sincerity and blamelessness when you stand before the Lord on the Day of Judgment (Philippians 1:10). Your life will be certain to be fruitful both in this life as it brings much praise and glory and honor unto God, and this fruit of righteousness will bring great rewards in that Day (Philippians 1:11).”
III. Justification (Philippians 1:12-50.1.30 ) Philippians 1:12-50.1.30 reveals God’s plan for justifying mankind through the preaching of the Gospel. In this passage Paul gives himself as an example in fulfilling this plan, and the exhorts Philippians to follow his example by “striving together for the faith of the Gospel” (Philippians 1:27). Paul tells of how he left the Jewish religion to know Christ and how it cost him everything (Philippians 1:12-50.1.26), then exhorts his readers to follow his example (Philippians 1:27-50.1.30). This passage closes with Paul stating that they “have been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” (Philippians 1:29).
A. A Description of Paul’s Sacrifice (Philippians 1:12-50.1.26 ) In Philippians 1:12-50.1.26 Paul gives the believers a description of his sacrifice to follow Christ. He will give himself as the first of several examples of men who have decided to put God first, doing His will before their own will. Paul will then exhort the Philippians to follow his example (Philippians 1:27-50.1.30), then give the supreme example of Christ Jesus’ example of doing the Father’s will, and receiving glory as a reward of His great sacrifice on Calvary (Philippians 2:1-50.2.11). Paul will exhort the Philippians to follow the example of Christ (Philippians 2:12-50.2.18), then give two final testimonies of men who had also sacrificed their lives to do God’s will, using Timothy (Philippians 2:19-50.2.24) and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-50.2.30), men whom the Philippians knew well.
1. Paul Recognizes Divine Providence in the Midst of His Trials (Philippians 1:12-50.1.18 ) In Philippians 1:12-50.1.18 Paul acknowledges God’s hand a work in the midst of his trials while imprisoned in Rome. The issues surrounding this imprisonment were beyond his ability to control. He had the spiritual maturity to entrust himself to the Lord, and God showed Paul that He was a work all around him. This imprisonment had become an opportunity to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the very heart of the Roman government, thus affecting the decisions made throughout the empire.
2. Paul’s Struggle to Depart or to Stay (Philippians 1:19-50.1.26 ) Philippians 1:19-50.1.26 reveals how Paul was struggling whether or not to depart and go to Heaven, or to stay and continue his ministry to the churches. With this struggle, he decided that it was more needful at the time to stay with the Church. This passage implies that Paul is being given a choice as to whether to depart and be with Christ or to remain and continue his ministry to the saints; for he says, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1:23-50.1.24) It is very possible that Paul has finished his course by testifying before Caesar. This is because the book of Acts ends with Paul’s first imprisonment. We find very little information about his ministry and travels after his release, as if to say that these final years did not matter because he had taken the Gospel to Rome and fulfilled his divine calling.
B. Exhortation to Follow His Example (Philippians 1:27-50.1.30 ) After giving himself as an example of someone who has forsaken his will to do the will of God, Paul exhorts the believers to follow him in the same.
IV. Sanctification (Philippians 2:1-50.2.18 ) Philippians 2:1-50.2.18 reveals God’s plan for sanctifying the believers. In this section Paul exhorts the Philippians to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Paul uses Jesus as his second example of someone who fulfilled the Father’s will in that He left His glory to come to earth and serve the plan of the Father, and He was then ushered into His own glory as His reward from the Father (Philippians 2:5-50.2.11). Paul asks the Philippians to have the same mind as Christ in following His example of suffering and sacrifice.
In this passage Paul is going to give them the secret to how to endure suffering as he exhorts them to follow Christ’s example (Philippians 2:12-50.2.18). He will teach them to have an attitude of humbling themselves before God and others. It is this humility of spirit that grants a person the inner strength to endure suffering in the process of sanctification.
A. A Description of Christ’s Sacrifice (Philippians 2:1-50.2.11 ) In Philippians 2:1-50.2.11 Paul explains the sacrifice that Christ Jesus made as He forsook His own will to do the will of His Father. As a result of such a sacrifice the Father exalted Christ into His calling as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
Jesus, who made the greatest sacrifice, has been given the greatest exaltation. He abandoned His position, which was equal to God (verse 6-7) and further humbled Himself by going to the Cross (verse 8), which is the humblest position that man can take. Note the translation of Goodspeed on verse 8, “When he had assumed human form, he still further humbled himself and carried his obedience so far as to die, and to die upon the cross.” Thus, the greater the humility in this life, the greater the reward in Heaven (verse 9). So it will be with us. Those Christians who make the greatest sacrifices for the Kingdom will receive the greatest rewards.
B. Exhortation to Follow His Example (Philippians 2:12-50.2.18 ) After Paul gives the example of Christ sacrifice, he then exhorts the saints to humble themselves in a similar manner.
V. Divine Service (Philippians 2:19-50.2.30 ) Philippians 2:19-50.2.30 reveals God’s plan for divine service for the believers. Paul uses Timothy (Philippians 2:19-50.2.23) and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-50.2.30) as examples of men who served with Paul in the ministry to fulfill God’s plan of redemption.
All four individuals that Paul uses as an example (Christ Jesus, Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus) may represent the levels or ranks of apostolic authority in the Church. All were sent out by God to fulfill a task. Kenneth Hagin teaches about four levels of anointing in the five-fold ministries. He says that Jesus represented the first and highest level of anointing; the twelve apostles of the Lamb, including Paul the apostle, served at a second level of anointing; the second generation of ministers, including Luke, John Mark, Timothy, etc, served at a third level of anointing; and all other succession of ministers until today serve at the fourth, and lowest level of anointing. Thus, it is possible that Christ Jesus, Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus represent these four levels. 
 Kenneth Hagin, He Gave Gifts Unto Men: A Biblical Perspective of Apostles, Prophets, and Pastors (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1992, 1993), 8-16.
A. The Example of Timothy (Philippians 2:19-50.2.24 ) In Philippians 2:19-50.2.24 Paul uses Timothy as another example of someone who has forsaken his own will to do the will of God.
B. The Example of Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-50.2.30 ) In Philippians 2:25-50.2.30 Paul uses one of their own church members as an example of someone who has forsaken his own will to do the will of the Father.
VI. Perseverance (Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:1 ) Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:1 reveals God’s plan for the perseverance of the saints. Paul gives the Philippians an example of false humility and sacrifice by using himself before his conversion (Philippians 3:1-50.3.14). He then exhorts the brethren to follow the examples of true partnership and sacrifice which he has previously given (Philippians 3:15 to Philippians 4:1). It closes with Paul’s exhortation for the Philippians to “stand fast in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1).
A. An Example of False Humility and Sacrifice (Philippians 3:1-50.3.14 ) In Philippians 3:1-50.3.14 Paul warns the Philippians of false humility and sacrifice, those who are actually enemies of the Cross of Christ, which can been seen in the religious zeal of the Jews. The Jews sought to please God through religious ceremonies and the pagans sought divine favor through their pagan celebrations. Paul had seen both extremes. He uses himself as an example of this extreme religious lifestyle so as not to bring discredit to anyone, especially the Jews. He explains how he had studied as a Pharisee in Jerusalem with the greatest of zeal for the Law. However, despite the appearance of righteousness, this was false humility and an enemy of the Cross.
1. Paul’s Warning Against Judaism (Philippians 3:1-50.3.3 ) - Paul, who constantly had to struggle with the Judaizers, says in Philippians 3:1-50.3.3 that it is safe for him to constantly remind the Philippians of false teachers and their false doctrine especially. Paul especially emphasized the Judaizers in verse 2. There was no particular doctrinal issue that Paul needed to address at this time. He seems to be simply warning them of these traveling Jews that have caused so many disturbances in the other cities where Paul had established churches.
2. Paul Boasts in His Credentials as a Jew (Philippians 3:4-50.3.6 ) After warning the Philippians to beware of Judaizers who sneak into their congregations with false pretenses, Paul takes a minute to boast in his fleshly Jewish credentials. If anyone had a right to boast in his accomplishments as a Jew, Paul certainly had this right.
3. Paul’s Pursuit of Salvation (Philippians 3:7-50.3.11 ) In Philippians 3:7-50.3.11 Paul the apostle describes his daily pursuit of Christ in light of his salvation. This passage of Scripture makes a clear reference to the spiritual journey that every believer is to work out. Paul first describes the priceless value of every man’s divine calling of salvation in comparison to this world’s corruptible good (Philippians 3:7-50.3.8), which reminds us of the Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:44-40.13.46). He then explains his justification in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:9). The phrase “that I may know him” reflects the process of indoctrination, the phrase “know…the power of his resurrection” reflects divine service, and “knowing…the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” reflects perseverance (Philippians 3:10). Paul then mentions his future glorification in his attainment of “the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:11). However, he describes his spiritual journey from the perspective of our role in God the Father’s plan of redemption for mankind, which is the underlying theme of the epistle of Philippians. We, too, are to follow Paul’s example and pursue Jesus first, or put Jesus first each day.
4. Paul’s Example of Genuine Perseverance in the Faith (Philippians 3:12-50.3.14 ) In Philippians 3:12-50.3.14 Paul measures himself against his calling in Christ rather than his carnal achievements as a Jew. Paul perseveres in the high calling in Christ Jesus.
B. Exhortation to Follow The Examples of True Humility (Philippians 3:15 to Philippians 4:1 ) In Philippians 3:15 to Philippians 4:1 Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to follow the examples of himself, Christ Jesus, Timothy and Epaphroditus as true servants and to avoid false humility.
VII. Glorification: The Father’s Promise of Divine Rest and Provision as Partners (Philippians 4:2-50.4.20 ) In Philippians 4:2-50.4.20 Paul reveals practical ways in which they were to think in order to enter into rest in the mist of hardships. In Philippians 4:2-50.4.9 Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to put on the mind of Christ, in their relationships with others (Philippians 4:2-50.4.3), in their own physical activities (Philippians 4:4-50.4.7), in their thought life (Philippians 4:8) and in what they had learned from the example of Paul. In Philippians 4:10-50.4.20 Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi on their giving as a way of receiving divine provision from the Lord. The key verse in this section is Philippians 4:19, in which Paul promises that “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
A. Exhortation to Put on the Mind of Christ: A Promise of God’s Peace Spiritual and Mental Provision (Philippians 4:2-50.4.9 ) In Philippians 4:2-50.4.9 Paul exhorts the church at Philippi to put on the mind of Christ, in their relationships with others (Philippians 4:2-50.4.3), in their own physical activities (Philippians 4:4-50.4.7), in their thought life (Philippians 4:8) and in what they had learned from the example of Paul.
B. Exhortation on God’s Provision: A Promise of God’s Provision Physical and Material Provision (Philippians 4:10-50.4.20 ) In Philippians 4:10-50.4.20 Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi on their giving as a way of receiving divine provision from the Lord.
VIII. Conclusion (Philippians 4:21-50.4.23 ) Paul closes his epistle with final greetings (Philippians 4:21-50.4.22) and a benediction (Philippians 4:23).
A. Final Greetings (Philippians 4:21-50.4.22 ) In Philippians 4:21-50.4.22 Paul gives a short final greeting to the believers in Philippi.
B. Benediction (Philippians 4:23 ) Philippians 4:23 is called the final benediction.
Note: Woven within each section of Paul’s epistle are examples of those who have made the sacrifice, which examples he asks the Philippians to copy (Philippians 1:27-50.1.30, Philippians 2:12-50.2.18, Philippians 3:15 to Philippians 4:1).
Philippians 3:17, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”
This is perhaps the reason that two Greek words ( ηγε ́ ομαι ) (G2233), which means, “think, consider, regard,” and ( φρονε ́ ω ) (G5426), which means, “form an opinion, set one’s mind on, be minded,” are used sixteen times in this one epistle. Paul is exhorting them to think of themselves as servants of Christ and partners with Paul in the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
X. Outline of Book
The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the epistle of Ephesians: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of Ephesians. This journey through Ephesians will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to partner with God’s servants and help them fulfill the work that they have been called to do, which is the secret to God fulfilling His plan in their lives, when they first take care of the needs of their spiritual leaders.
I. Salutation Philippians 1:1-50.1.2
II. Predestination & Calling Philippians 1:3-50.1.11
A. Paul’s Thanksgiving for Their Partnership Philippians 1:3-50.1.8
B. Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians Philippians 1:9-50.1.11
III. Justification Philippians 1:12-50.1.30
A. A Description of Paul’s Sacrifice Philippians 1:12-50.1.26
1. Paul Recognizes Divine Providence in the Midst of Trials Philippians 1:12-50.1.18
2. Paul’s Struggle to Depart or to Stay Philippians 1:19-50.1.26
B. Exhortation to Follow His Example Philippians 1:27-50.1.30
IV. Sanctification Philippians 2:1-50.2.18
A. A Description of Christ’s Sacrifice Philippians 2:1-50.2.11
B. Exhortation to Follow His Example Philippians 2:12-50.2.18
V. Divine Service Philippians 2:19-50.2.30
A. The Example of Timothy Philippians 2:19-50.2.24
B. The Example of Epaphroditus Philippians 2:25-50.2.30
VI. Perseverance Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:1
A. The Example of False Humility and Sacrifice Philippians 3:1-50.3.14
1. Paul’s Warning Against Judaism Philippians 3:1-50.3.3
2. Paul Boasts in His Credentials as a Jew Philippians 3:4-50.3.6
3. Paul’s Pursuit of Salvation Philippians 3:7-50.3.11
4. Paul’s Example of Genuine Perseverance in the Faith Philippians 3:12-50.3.14
B. Exhortation to Follow These Examples of True Humility Philippians 3:15 to Philippians 4:1
VII. Glorification: God’s Divine Provision as Partners Philippians 4:2-50.4.20
A. Exhortation to Put on the Mind of Christ Philippians 4:2-50.4.9
B. Exhortation on God’s Provision Philippians 4:10-50.4.20
VIII. Conclusion Philippians 4:21-50.4.23
A. Final Greetings Philippians 4:21-50.4.22
B. Benediction Philippians 4:23
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