Background (Zondervan Handbook to the Bible)
Philippi in Northern Greece was the first church established by Paul in Europe. It was founded in 50 AD during his second missionary tour (Acts 16:12-20).
When Paul, Silas and Timothy left, Luke the doctor stayed on.
Philippi was a medical center and may possible have been Luke’s home. He no doubt did much to put the group on its feet and continue the evangelistic outreach.
The letter reveals a church taking it’s share of suffering (1:29) and in some danger of division (1:27, 2:2)
This letter was written to encourage progress rather than to solve problems.
The Letter: Paul was in chains when he wrote this letter (1:12)
The condition he describes seem harsher in Acts,
Judgment is imminent, and there is real possibility
The Romans did not sentence people to prison they simply held them in custody awaiting judgment.
Paul writes: to explain why he was sending Epahproditus back; he wanted to thank them for their gift and he had news for them
The letter starts out with a greeting: Paul and Timothy bondservants of Jesus Christ. It demonstrates the same servant like attitude of Christ.
Paul is addressing all of the saints (Christians in Philippi) along with the overseers and deacons (deacons were charged with serving the congregation by handling the physical and material concerns of the church; while the bishops (overseers) were responsible for the spiritual welfare of the local church. The office of bishops is sometimes exchanged for the term elders.
Paul addresses this church with (joy v4). He gives thanks for them to God every time he thinks of them and prays for them continuously.
It is evident that the church in Philippi was a blessing to the Apostle. The same way that a parent is filled with joy when they hear that their children are doing well.
Paul was convinced that the work that the LORD began in this church will be completed and his confidence remained unshaken.
On a personal note I happen to love (v6) as well. …that He that began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. It fills me with joy to know that God is the One who began this good work in me. God and not me so that I don’t have to worry about whether or not it will continue, how is it going to turn out or when is it going to be completed.
The One who knows the end from the beginning will complete His work in me.
- It was indeed a good work begun in the Philippians and in all believers. “The work of grace has its root in the divine goodness of the Father, it is planted by the self-denying goodness of the Son, and it is daily watered by the goodness of the Holy Sprit; it springs from good and leads to good, and so is altogether good.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Because this good work was begun, Paul was confident of its completion. God is a worker who completes His works. “Where is there an instance of God’s beginning any work and leaving it incomplete? Show me for once a world abandoned and thrown aside half formed; show me a universe cast off from the Great Potter’s wheel, with the design in outline, the clay half hardened, and the form unshapely from incompleteness.” (Spurgeon)
iii. This work in the believer will not be finally complete until the day of Jesus Christ, which in context has the idea of the second coming of Jesus and our resurrection with Him. “Holy Scripture does not regard a man as perfect when the soul is perfected, it regards his body as being a part of himself; and as the body will not rise again from the grave till the coming of the Lord Jesus, when we shall be revealed in the perfection of our manhood, even as he will be revealed, that day of the second coming is set as the day of the finished work which God hath begun.” (Spurgeon)
Amen, what a marvelous promise.
Soli Deo Gloria