Exposit The Word Philippians Biblical Teaching Expository Teaching Verse by Verse MIKE RICCARDI

Philippians Overview

Philippians derives its name from the Greek city where the church to which it was addressed was located. Philippi was the first town in Macedonia where Paul established a church.

Originally known as Krenides (“The Little Fountains”) because of the numerous nearby springs, Philippi (“city of Philip”) received its name from Philip II of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great). Attracted by the nearby gold mines, Philip conquered the region in the fourth century B.C. In the second century B.C., Philippi became part of the Roman province of Macedonia.

The city existed in relative obscurity for the next two centuries until one of the most famous events in Roman history brought it recognition and expansion. In 42 B.C., the forces ofAntony and Octavian defeated those of Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi, thusending the Roman Republic and ushering in the Empire. After the battle, Philippi became aRoman colony (cf. Acts 16:12), and many veterans of the Roman army settled there. As acolony, Philippi had autonomy from the provincial government and the same rights grantedto cities in Italy, including the use of Roman law, exemption from some taxes, and Romancitizenship for its residents (Acts 16:21). Being a colony was also the source of much civicpride for the Philippians, who used Latin as their official language, adopted Roman customs,and modeled their city government after that of Italian cities. Acts and Philippians both reflect Philippi’s status as a Roman colony.

Paul’s description of Christians as citizens of heaven (3:20) was appropriate, since the Philippians prided themselves on being citizens of Rome (cf. Acts 16:21). The Philippians may well have known some of the members of the palace guard (1:13) and Caesar’s household (4:22).

The church at Philippi, the first one founded by Paul in Europe, dates from the apostle’s second missionary journey (Acts 16:12–40). Philippi evidently had a very small Jewish population. Because there were not enough men to form a synagogue (the requirement was for 10 Jewish men who were heads of a household), some devout women met outside the city at a place of prayer (Acts 16:13) alongside the Gangites River. Paul preached the gospel to them and Lydia, a wealthy merchant dealing in expensive purple dyed goods (Acts 16:14), became a believer (16:14, 15). It is likely that the Philippian church initially met in her spacious home.

Since it is primarily a practical letter, Philippians contains little historical material (there are no OT quotes), apart from the momentous treatment of Paul’s spiritual autobiography (3:4–7). There is, likewise, little direct theological instruction, also with one momentous exception.

The magnificent passage describing Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (2:5–11) contains some of the most profound and crucial teaching on the Lord Jesus Christ in all the Bible. The major theme of pursuing Christlikeness, as the most defining element of spiritual growth and the one passion of Paul in his own life, is presented in 3:12–14. In spite of Paul’s imprisonment, the dominant tone of the letter is joyful (1:4, 18, 25, 26; 2:2, 16–18, 28; 3:1, 3; 4:1, 4, 10).

Text used with permission from GTY.org

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”  2 Timothy 3:16


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