Book type: Letter (Epistle)
Author: Apostle Paul
No. of chapters: 4
Key character(s): God, Jesus, Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus 
Brief description: Philippians – The gospel makes us partners.
01) Salutation (1:1-2)
02) Introduction (1:3-11)
03) Pastoral admonitions (1:27-2:18)
04) Pastoral concerns (2:19-30)
05) Pastoral warnings & encouragements (3:1-4:1)
06) Final exhortations (4:2-9)
07) Conclusions (4:10-23)
The Christian church at Philippi was established by Paul on his 2nd missionary journey, in response to a vision from a man in Macedonia saying “Come over… & help us” (Acts 16:9-10). Once established the church at Philippi church sent financial aid to Paul on several occasions ( 2 Corinthians 11:7; Philippians 4:15-16) & also contributed to the poor in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8). The gospel creates partnerships; one such partnership resulted in the letter from the apostle Paul (then in a Roman prison) to the church in Philippi. The letter was in response to another gift they had sent to Paul, via Epaphroditus (Philippians 4:18).
This letter celebrates a partnership between missionary apostle & a concerned congregation & presents some of the most profound insights in the New Testament.
The joy of partnership in the gospel rests on strong theological foundations:
01) Fellowship with Christ.
02) Commitment to the Gospel.
03) Understanding of life as stewardship.
04) Imitation of the Suffering Servant.
05) The unity of the church.
06) The hope of resurrection.
[Source: NIV Disciple’s Study Bible]
Themes in the Book of Philippians:
Joy in the Christian life is all about perspective. True joy is not based on circumstances. The key to lasting contentment is found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the divine perspective Paul wanted to communicate in his letter to the Philippians.
Christ is the ultimate example for believers. Through following his patterns of humility and sacrifice, we can find joy in all circumstances.
Christians can experience joy in suffering, just as Christ suffered:
…he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8, NLT)
Christians can experience joy in service:
But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. (Philippians 2:17-18, NLT)
Christians can experience joy in believing:
I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. (Philippians 3:9, NLT)
Christian can experience joy in giving:
I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:18-19, NLT)
Philippians 2:8-11 (ESV)
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV)
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Fuller list of major characters in Philippians:
|Jesus||”Saviour”. Christ means “the Anointed One”. (aka Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ, The Messiah, Son of man, Son of God). The central figure of the New Testament, whose life, death, and resurrection are chronicled in the 4 Gospel books.|
|Paul||(aka Saul, “Asked for” Hebrew.) Native of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the south-east of Asia Minor. Jew with Roman citizenship; Pharisee; persecutor of the early Christian church. Converted from Judaism to Christianity after encounter with resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-30). Thereafter called an apostle (Ro 1:1, 1Co 1:1, 2Co 1:1, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:, Col 1:1, 1Ti 1:1, 2Ti 1:1, Tit 1:1). Author of at least 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament: Romans, Phillipians, 1 & 2 Timothy, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Titus, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Galatians, Ephesians.|
|Timothy||Τιμόθεος, Timótheos. Mother was a Jewess convert to Christianity, his father was Greek (Acts 16:1). Resident, and probable native of Lystra a city of Lycaonia. Apostle Paul’s companion and fellow-laborer, one of Paul’s own converts (1 Corinthians 4:17). (Acts 17:14; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Cor. 16:10; 2 Cor. 1:1, 19; Phil. 1:1; Phil. 2:19; Col. 1:1; 1 Thes. 1:1; 1 Thes. 3:2, 6; 2 Thes. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:2, 18; 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:2; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 13:23)|
|Epaphroditus||Ἐπαφρόδιτος, Epaphróditos, “lovely”, “fair” or “graceful”. The name corresponds to the Latin Venustus (= handsome), and was very common in the Roman period, whether at full length Epaphroditus, or in its contracted form Epaphras. Mentioned only in Philippians 2:25 & 4:18, Epaphroditus was the delegate of the Christian community at Philippi, sent with their gift to Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul calls him “my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier.” After recovering from near fatal sickness, Paul sent him back to Philippi with this letter to quiet the alarm of his friends there.|