Getting back to the gospel is always a good thing. Philippians is a book I have often wanted to look at closer. In this first segment we will introduce ourselves to the book of Philippians. I hope you will return each week to the Pew and if there is a particular section or verse we could explore together email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We start on a happy note, Philippians is undoubtedly an authentic letter of Paul. You can say that Paul was a man that chose his ground carefully. Always being aware of God’s will, the direction of the spirit and he looked to places that were key to the area and provided the opportunity to preach the word to as many as possible. Philippi was one of those places. It had become a great commercial center of the ancient world due to the gold and silver mines that had once been there. Philippi was founded by Philip, the city being named after him and he was the father of Alexander the Great. The city was so situated that it commanded the road from Europe to Asia. A great battle was fought there which decided the future of the Roman Empire. One result of this battle was that soon after Philippi was raised to the status of a Roman colony. There is a lot of interesting facts that give us a bigger picture of the Roman Empire, that impacted Paul’s ministry in Philippi but for now lets just look at one that stands out more than the rest because it confronted Paul the most in his daily ministries there. These colonies were like little Romes, and their pride in their Roman citizenship was their dominating characteristic. The Roman language was spoken; they wore Roman style clothing; observed Roman customs and those who ruled there did so under Roman titles. Their ceremonies and procedures were the same as those carried out in Rome.
‘You are a colony of heaven’ (Authorized Version), Paul wrote to the Philippians church (3:20). Just as the Roman colonists never forgot in any environment that they were Romans, so the Philippians must never forget in any society that they were Christians. Nowhere were people prouder of being Roman citizens than in these colonies; and Philippi was one such colony. (DBS W. Barclay)
One result of this kind of Roman pride is best recorded in Act 16: 20-21. After Paul’s vision of the man of Macedonia (Acts 16: 6-10) he set sail from Asia Minor, landing in Europe, then made his way to Philippi. In the coming weeks we will meet Lydia, a slave girl, a Roman citizen and a member of the Roman middle class who was a jailer; the top, the bottom and the middle of society are all represented. Paul would eventually have to leave Philippi due to persecution and at one time suffering an illegal imprisonment. Paul was a proud man who boasted he had never taken anything from any individual or from any church but there was a strong bond of friendship between him and the Philippian church. He would at a later date accept a gift from them.
There would be more gifts to Paul over the years from the Philippians church.This letter we are reading is a letter of thanks to the church and written by Paul in prison in Rome. We will also be introduced to Epaphroditus whom the Philippians had sent as not only a bearer of their gift, but also to stay with Paul and help with his needs. It is also intended to be a letter of encouragement to the Philippians during the trials they are going through. This letter also is an appeal to maintain the unity of the church. Philippians is a personal letter and includes many of Paul’s thoughts about the church and the people of Philippi. There are parts that change the tone and direction of the letter as new information from Philippi arrives and gives us an insight into the things on his mind as he wrote the letter. The letter has had other titles, Epistle of Excellent Things and Epistle of Joy.
Next week we will take a closer look at this interesting letter from Paul to the church in Philippi.
Life is Good