Philippians 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Philippians as the Apostle Paul, likely along with the help of Timothy.
Date of Writing: The Book of Philippians was written in approximately 61 A.D.
Purpose of Writing: The Epistle to the Philippians, one of Paul’s prison epistles, was written in Rome. It was at Philippi, which the apostle visited on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12), that Lydia and the Philippians jailer and his family were converted to Christ. Now, some few years later, the church was well established, as may be inferred from its address which includes “bishops (elders) and deacons” (Philippians 1:1).
Key Verses: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
“What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ" (Philippians 3:7).
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
“Rejoice in the Lord always, Again, I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
Paul was Nero’s prisoner, yet the Epistle fairly shouts with triumph, the words “joy” and “rejoice” appearing frequently (Philippians 1:4, 18, 25, 26; 2:2, 28; Philippians 3:1, 4:1, 4, 10). Right Christian experience is the outworking, whatever our circumstances may be, of the life, nature, and mind of Christ living in us (Philippians 1:6, 11; 2:5, 13). Philippians reaches its pinnacle at 2:5-11 with the glorious and profound declaration regarding the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brief Summary: The occasion of the Epistle was to acknowledge a gift of money from the church at Philippi, brought to the apostle by Epaphroditus, one of its members (Philippians 4:10-18). This is a tender letter to a group of Christians who were especially close to the heart of Paul (2 Corinthians 8:1-6), and comparatively little is said about doctrinal error.
Philippians can be called “Resources through Suffering.” The book is about Christ in our life, Christ in our mind, Christ as our goal, Christ as our strength, and joy through suffering. It was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about thirty years after the Ascension and about ten years after he first preached at Philippi.
Philippians may be divided as follows:
I. Christ the Christian’s Life: Rejoicing in Spite of Suffering, 1:8-30
II. Christ the Christian’s Pattern: Rejoicing in Lowly Service, 2:1-30
III. Christ, Object of the Christian’s Faith, Desire, and Expectation, 3:1-21
IV. Christ The Christian’s Strength: Rejoicing through Anxiety, 4:1-9
Practical Application: This is Paul’s happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious. Before we’ve read a dozen lines, we begin to feel the joy ourselves – the dance of words and the exclamations of delight have a way of getting inside us.
But happiness is not a word we can understand by looking it up in the dictionary. In fact, none of the qualities of the Christian life can be learned out of a book. Something more like apprenticeship is required, being around someone who out of years of devoted discipline shows us, by his or her entire behavior, what it is. Moments of verbal instruction will certainly occur, but mostly an apprentice acquires skill by daily and intimate association with a “master,” picking up subtle but absolutely essential things, such as timing, and rhythm and touch.
When we read what Paul wrote to the Christian believers in the city of Philippi, we find ourselves in the company of just such a master. Paul doesn't tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He simply and unmistakably is happy. None of his circumstances contribute to his joy: He wrote from a jail cell, his work was under attack by competitors, and after twenty years or so of hard traveling in the service of Jesus, he was tired and would have welcomed some relief.
But circumstances are incidental compared to the life of Jesus, the Messiah, that Paul experiences from the inside. For it is a life that not only happened at a certain point in history, but continues to happen, spilling out into the lives of those who receive Him, and then continues to spill out all over the place. Christ is, among much else, the revelation that God cannot be contained or hoarded. It is this “spilling out” quality of Christ’s life that accounts for the happiness of Christians, for joy is life in excess, the overflow of what cannot be contained within any one person.