Tuesday, July 29, 2014

EXPLORE IT - Philippians 1

The New Testament book of Philippians is an epistle, or letter, written by the Apostle Paul.  It is interesting that Paul does not refer to himself as an Apostle in this letter as he does in most of the letters he wrote.  Some scholars believe this omission illustrates Paul’s close relationship with the Church in Philippi.  This church had been founded by Paul in the early 50’s in the first century.  Timothy seems to have been very involved in this church plant and a deep bond was created between him and the Philippi Church.  The writing of this letter is dated during the late 50’s or early 60’s while Paul was in prison.  The letter is in response to a monetary gift the Philippians had sent to Paul through their delegate, Epaphroditus.

Philippians begins like most of Paul’s epistles with an introductory paragraph including a salutation, followed by a thanksgiving.  Philippians then moves into a substantive prayer of intercession.  The inclusion of a significant prayer is included in Philippians and Colossians only.  Another distinction in this letter is the inclusion of a detailed account of Paul’s current circumstances immediately following the opening paragraph.  This report is usually included towards the end of the body of the letter in the “travelogue.”  After Paul shares a description of his circumstances (vv. 12-17), he then includes a very moving expression of his attitude towards the Philippian believers (vv. 18-26).  The inclusion of these unique elements reveals the close bond between Paul and the Philippi Church. 
It is also possible Paul is including these sections in response to the monetary gift given by the Philippi Church.  Not unlike modern-day missionaries, Paul is reporting what is going on with his current ministry and how it is able to flourish with the help of their support.  Even though Paul is imprisoned, his work of the gospel has not ceased.  He reassures them by sharing his hope that he will be released from prison soon.  Paul concludes this chapter by encouraging the Philippians towards sanctification, standing firm in their faith and joining together in unity as a Church.
This is a great letter and I encourage you to read through these powerful four chapters!

Pastor Amy

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