Book of the Week 50: Philippians


 Human Author: Paul (and Timothy)                      

OT or NT: New Testament 

Number of Chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Philippians is the fiftieth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Philippians is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Philippians is PROS PHILIPPESIOUS, which means “to the Philippians” or “for the benefit of the Philippians.”

  4. Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison.

Paul insisted that his imprisonment for Christ has served to advance the gospel.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter with a short greeting and by assuring the church at Philippi that he is praying for them (Philippians 1:1-11). Paul then assures believers that his imprisonment has served to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12-18). He urges the believers to imitate his faith as he expresses his confidence in Christ in all circumstances including imprisonment, life, and even in death (Philippians 1:19-30). The letter continues as Paul urges the church toward humility, unity in faith, and to be of like mind with him (Philippians 2:1-18). Next, Paul discusses his plans to send Timothy and Epaphroditus to visit the Philippians and to encourage them (Philippians 2:19-30). Paul warns the church to be on the lookout for those who try to convince them to depend on obedience to the Law, stressing that salvation is through faith in Christ alone (Philippians 3:1-11), and that Christian citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:12-21). Paul closes his letter with personal greetings (Philippians 4:1-3, 21-23), a call to prayer (Philippians 4:4-7), and a call to encouragement (Philippians 4:8-20).

Jesus Revealed in Philippians

In Philippians, Paul reveals Jesus as the one who is worthy to receive our faith and allegiance in both life and death. At the time in which he wrote his letter to the Philippians, Paul was in prison. He encourages the church to remain confident in Christ in all circumstances, seeing even his imprisonment as an opportunity to advance the gospel. Paul is even so bold as to proclaim, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) This same confidence that Paul has in Christ is the very thing he tries to instill in the Philippian church. Paul also urges the Philippian church to adopt a stance of humility because of the example of Jesus. He proclaims that, while Jesus is equal with God, He did not considered equality with God a thing to be grasped. Rather, Jesus took on the form of a servant and was obedient to the Father in all things, even to the point of death on the cross to redeem fallen, sinful people from sin. (Philippians 2:1-11) Christians are to follow the example of Jesus by being like-minded. In so doing, we are to consider others within the body of Christ to be more important than ourselves. Jesus laid down His very life for us and gave His life so that we might be set free from sin. Just as we have been freely given salvation in Christ, in humility we are also to freely love and serve one another by following Jesus’ example in humbling Himself. Because of this finished work of Jesus, Paul has the confidence to proclaim that for him to live is Christ (for to live is to have opportunity to serve Christ by serving others), and to die is gain (for then Paul can depart and be with Christ).