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by Daniel Whedon
THE history of the founding of the Church in the city of Philippi, the birthplace of European Christianity, is very fully narrated in the Acts 16:0, where see notes. Eleven years had now passed; years of growth in the midst of severe persecution. Twice had St. Paul visited his Philippian brethren, and thrice had they sent supplies to their suffering apostle, and now again a fourth time to him in prison at Rome. The present epistle is his response to their loving gift, with the simple purpose of expressing his thanks and showing his deep interest in themselves. None of his epistles more abounds with the language of true, heartfelt affection.
He had learned, doubtless through Epaphroditus, of the springing up of a self-seeking spirit, which imperilled their previous remarkable love and unity; and also of the attempts of Judaizers to pervert them, though thus far, having no old Jewish prejudices, as in Galatia, to which to appeal, apparently without success. Against these dangers Paul earnestly warns them, as well as against the immoral lives of some among them which he had known of before; while he praises them for their love, encourages them in their sufferings from persecution, and pours upon them the fulness of his loving heart.
It has been almost universally believed, and questioned only in recent times, that the epistle was written by St. Paul near the close of his imprisonment at Rome. The attempts to assign it to Corinth or Cesarea are failures, as they do not meet the conditions described in the epistle itself, while Rome does.
St. Paul reached Rome in February, A.D. 61, and was at once delivered into the charge of Burrus, the pretorian prefect, who allowed him to reside in his own hired house, constantly attended by a soldier. Burrus died A.D.
62, and was succeeded by Tigellinus, an infamous favourite of the emperor. Seneca’s influence was broken. Nero married his mistress, Poppea, and his character and administration constantly depreciated. These events would naturally render the apostle’s condition more severe and perilous. The tone of the epistle corresponds with his changed condition, and shows it to have been written later than those to Colosse and Ephesus. If, as Alford and others suppose, he was at the close of his two years’ imprisonment (mentioned Acts 28:30) removed from his hired house to the pretorian barracks, and put into closer custody, which seems quite probable, its proper date would be about the summer or autumn of A.D. 63.
PLAN OF THE EPISTLE.
I. INTRODUCTION Philippians 1:1-11
1. Inscription and greetingPhilippians 1:1-2; Philippians 1:1-2
2. Thanksgiving and prayer in behalf of the Philippians Philippians 1:3-11
II. PAUL’S STATEMENT RESPECTING HIMSELF Philippians 1:12-26
1. Result of his imprisonment Philippians 1:12-18
2. His feelings as to the issue Philippians 1:19-24
3. His hopes of his Philippians Philippians 1:25-26
III. EXHORTATIONS Philippians 1:27 to Philippians 2:18
1. To a befitting Church life Philippians 1:27-30
2. To unityPhilippians 2:1-2; Philippians 2:1-2
3. To self-forgetting lovePhilippians 2:3-4; Philippians 2:3-4
4. Illustrated by the example of Christ Philippians 2:5-11
a. His self-humiliation Philippians 2:5-8
b. His subsequent exaltationPhilippians 2:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11
5. In application of Christ’s examplePhilippians 2:12-16; Philippians 2:12-16
a. Paul’s joy in their final fidelity Philippians 2:17-18
IV. PLANS FOR THE PHILIPPIANS Philippians 2:19-30
1. To send Timothy Philippians 2:19-24
2. To dismiss Epaphroditus with commendations Philippians 2:25-30
V. COUNSELS AGAINST PERILS Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:1
1. From Judaizing teachersPhilippians 3:1-2; Philippians 3:1-2
2. Contrast between them and himself Philippians 3:3-16
3. From immoral examples Philippians 3:17 to Philippians 4:1
VI. CONCLUDING EXHORTATIONS Philippians 4:2-9
1. To individuals Philippians 4:2-3
2. To the whole Church Philippians 4:4-9
VII. PAUL’S PERSONAL RELATIONS Philippians 4:10-23
1. Thanks for their gift Philippians 4:10-14
2. Grateful remembrance Philippians 4:15-19
3. Doxology Philippians 4:20
4. Salutations and benediction Philippians 4:21-23
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20