To Paul's third journey
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bPHILIPPIANS: Written by Paul in 56-57C.E. from Ephesus (mid 56C.E.).
The tone of the letter is very melodramatic. Paul was in prison (or house arrest), in chains. He complimented the Philippians who, contrary to the Corinthians, never gave him any problem.
Philippi was the first Christian community created by Paul and his helpers, totally among Gentiles.
There is no O.T. reference or trace of Judaism or "Son of God". This is probably according to the earliest Pauline gospel, which Paul did not have to "update" because he had no challenge, competition & interference here. And there are reminders of "the day of Christ" to come.
1:3 ... I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul talks about in stay in chains and what
is happening outside:
It is obvious Paul did not approve of some Christian preaching but he had come resigned to the fact.
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole
[Ephesus, as the capital city of the Roman Province of Asia Minor, had an imperial mansion (to be used when the emperor was visiting) and consequently, a permanent small palace guard]
` and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Paul goes back on his condition:
Paul went through a very brief bogus analysis of his situation and pretended pondering about staying alive or accepting death (in Christ). Then, to no surprise, he decided it was better for him to be alive, so he could, as the reason, help the Philippians.
19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
I suspect a plan was at work to have Paul out of jail through the effort of the Christians of Philippi. That plan might have involved getting a Roman citizenship for Paul.
Paul's advice to the Philippians:
Paul was obviously very fond of them.
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you
or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
[what follows is a hymn, to which it is thought Paul added on "even the death of the cross". I think it was composed by Apollos around 53C.E. Let's notice the divine pre-existence and the ultimate title for Jesus, "Lord", which happens to be the most used in Luke's gospel]
` 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, [He] did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Paul still suggests the possibility of his
He alluded also at the Eucharist, with him as the would-be sacrificed one!
17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
Paul plans to send Timothy to Philippi:
Paul mentioned also an upcoming decision about his future.
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
Epaphroditus was a liaison between Paul and
the Philippians ('aPhilippians': Php4:10-20):
Here, Epaphroditus had been with Paul for a long time (and very sick). However, in 'aPhilippians', the same Epaphroditus had just arrived to give a gift to Paul.
25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; 30 because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.