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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Philippians, Epistle to the

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This epistle is of profound interest on account of certain marks in it, which connect the truth presented with a state of things much akin to that of the present day. The testimony is not viewed as opposed by the Jewish leaders, as in the beginning of the Acts, nor in conflict with Judaising influences, as at Antioch; but as in contact with the world power (Rome), which was holding Paul, the vessel of it, in bondage.

Further, in Philippians 3 the Jews are viewed as utterly debased, and are spoken of as 'the concision;' and in the same chapter many of those professedly Christian are described as 'enemies of the cross of Christ,' serving their own desires, whose end is destruction.

Again, as regards the preaching of the gospel, though the apostle could rejoice in the fact of its being preached, he could find but little satisfaction in the motives that prompted activity in it. All this exhibits a state of things to which Christendom in our own day presents a striking analogy.

The immediate occasion of the epistle was the effect produced on the apostle by the practical expression which the Philippians had given to their fellowship with him in the gospel; and the object of his writing was that they might complete his joy in perfectly answering to God's mind for them down here. This was in order that, in the complete abnegation of self, as to the state of their minds, by the death of Christ, they might by God's power be manifest as a divine generation (children of God), occupying collectively the place which Christ had occupied in the world — lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. This is the proper place of the church in testimony here.

The second part of the epistle (Philippians 3 and Philippians 4 ) is intensely individual. In view of religious pretensions, in which men gloried, the apostle presents himself as the example of a man running a race. The course meant the distancing in spirit, at every step, all that which gave importance to him as a man after the flesh — all was in his account dross and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. At the same time every step brought his soul more distinctly under the power of the calling above of God in Christ Jesus.

While encouraging saints to follow him, he exhorts them to walk in unity by the same rule, to mind the same thing. In contrast to many who were earthly-minded, he reminds them that their citizenship was in heaven, and they were expecting Christ as Saviour from heaven completely to conform them to Himself.

The closing chapter shows the apostle's interest in, and consideration of individuals; his anxiety that saints should by prayer and supplication be kept in divine peace as to everything that might naturally occasion anxiety; and the moral superiority in which he himself was maintained through circumstances: the secret being his absolute confidence in the goodness of the God whom he had faith to appropriate as 'my God.'

The epistle was written when Paul was a prisoner at Rome, and probably near the close of his imprisonment, about A.D. 62, when he was expecting to be released and again to visit the Philippian saints.


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Philippians, Epistle to the '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/p/philippians-epistle-to-the.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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