Paul, Silas, and Timothy evangelized Philippi, Macedonia in about 51 A.D., while on Paul’s second great missionary journey. Among the converts were Lydia and her household, and a Philippian jailer and his household (Acts 16).
This began a long relationship between Paul and these brethren. They supported Paul’s work (Philippians 4:15-16; 4:10; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5). He visited Philippi again on his third great missionary journey (Acts 20:1-3, 6), in about 57 A.D.. He wrote to them while in custody of Roman authority in about 61 or 62 A.D. (Philippians 1:1, 12-14).
The book of Philippians seem to serve several purposes. First, it is a support letter (Philippians 4:15-18). Paul is grateful for their support. Second, it is a letter of commendation (Philippians 2:25-30). Epaphroditus work as a messenger for the church is appreciated. Third, it is an appeal for unity (Philippians 4:2). He wants Euodia and Syntyche to be of the same mind and work together. Fourth, it is an appeal to stay focused (Philippians 3:12-15; 3:20-4:1). Fifth, it is an appeal to stay positive (Philippians 4:4, 8-9).
This book also makes Christ prominent in every chapter. Let’s notice, Christ is…
1. The purpose of life.
“Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:20-21).
Paul is clear about his purpose in life. He is here to magnify (make large) Christ in this world. And if he were to die doing this? So be it. Death for the Christian is not loss. It is gain.
What about us? Are we clear about our purpose? We are here to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31).
2. The Pattern of Life
“Let this mind by in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
The context concerns our care and concern for others. The previous verse reads, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Jesus is our great example. He left the glories of heaven, came to this earth to live as a man, and die on a cross for us (Philippians 2:5-8). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Are we following His example? Christians should be concerned about others. “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28).
3. The Prize of Life
“I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ… I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-9, 14).
Paul considers what he had given up to follow Christ worth it, in order to gain Christ and the prize which is in Christ. This in context includes things in which he once placed his confidence for righteousness (Philippians 3:2-6).
What about us? Are we willing to count all things rubbish that we might gain Christ? Are we willing to set aside religious beliefs that stand in the way of gaining Christ? Are we willing to set aside earthly pursuits, if needed, to gain Christ?
Do we desire to gain Christ? “Oh I want to see Him, look upon His face, There to sing forever of His saving grace; On the street of glory let me life my voice; Cares all past, home at last every to rejoice (Song: Oh I Want to See Him by R.H. Cornelius). “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, And I look upon His face, the one who saved my by His grace; When he takes me by the hand, and leads my through the promised land, What a day, glorious day that will be” (Song: What a Day That Will Be by Jim Hill).
4. The Power of Life
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Paul is stating that he could cope with the situations of life. He could handle poverty and riches (Philippians 4:10-13). He could do this because Christ strengthened him. Credit belonged to Christ.
Do we have a “can do” attitude about the Christian life? The Christian life is not impossible (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can do it through Him (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Ephesians 6:10-17).