Friday, March 29, 2019

Philippians: Christ Centered Life Lesson 1

Philippians: Christ Centered Life

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Lesson 1: Background

The Writer to Philippi: Paul, friend and apostle

Paul was the author of this epistle.  He names his colaborer Timothy in the salutation of 1:1.  Timothy was with him during this time and may have been acting as his amanuensis. Paul was writing back to a church which had a very fond place in his heart and where he counted many friends who had supported him in the ministry of church building.

Purpose in writing

There are two reasons for the writing of the epistle.

·       To thank them for their gifts and to tell them of his circumstance in prison.

·       To instruct and them, especially in the joy that was theirs in Christ and to make Christ central in their daily living.

Place and time of writing

·       The letter was written from Paul’s Roman imprisonment around 61-62 AD.

The City of Philippi

History and Character

The town derives its name from Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, who took it from the Thasians about 360 bc. He enlarged the settlement, and fortified it to defend his frontiers against the Thasians. At this time the gold-mining industry was developed, and gold coins were struck in the name of Philip and became commonly recognized. After the battle of Pydna in 168 bc it was annexed by the Romans; and when Macedonia was divided into four parts for administrative purposes Philippi was included in the first of the four districts.
In 42 bc the famous battle of Philippi was fought with Antony and Octavian ranged against Brutus and Cassius. After this date the town was enlarged, probably by the coming of colonists; the title Colonia Iulia is attested at this time. This prominence was enhanced further when, after the battle of Actium in 31 bc, in which Octavian defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra, the town 'received a settlement of Italian colonists who had favoured Antony and had been obliged to surrender their land to the veterans of Octavian' (Lake and Cadbury, p. 187). Octavian gave the town its notable title, Col(onia) Iul(ia) Aug(usta) Philip(pensis), which has appeared on coins. Of all the privileges which this title conferred, the possession of the 'Italic right' (ius Italicum) was the most valuable. It meant that the colonists enjoyed the same rights and privileges as if their land were part of Italian soil.


The Church at Philippi

Map and Chronology 

Mission to Greece

1.     Paul and Barnabas agree to revisit the Galatian churches. But they disagree about taking John Mark who had left them on the earlier mission (Acts 15:36-38). After an argument, Barnabas takes Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:39).
2.     Paul takes Silas. At Lystra Paul asks Timothy to join them (Acts 16:1-3).
3.     They revisit the towns, telling the believers the decisions of the Jerusalem Council about Gentile converts (Acts 16:4-5). Paul tries to go into Bithynia, but is blocked by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-7).
4.     At night, Paul has a vision. A Macedonian urges him to come across to help. They decide to sail for Macedonia (Acts 16:8-10). At this point in Troas Luke  joins them. Narrative changes from 3rd to 2nd person.
5.     At Philippi (Acts 16:12-40): Paul at the river meets Lydia, she is saved and her home is used for their church. Later Paul delivers a girl fortune-teller from an evil spirit. The girl's owners protest and a crowd attacks. They are beaten and imprisoned, but then freed by an earthquake. Their jailer believes (Acts 16:11-40). They leave the next day after asserting their rights as a Roman citizenship.
6.     In Thessalonica, Paul convinces both Jews and Greeks. Some Jews stir up a riot—Paul leaves secretly (Acts 17:1-9). Luke is not in story again until Acts 20:5-15 then once again in 27-28. Some speculate that he stayed in Philippi to help or pastor the infant church.
7.     In Berea, Paul receives a better reception. But a mob is stirred up by those from Thessalonica. Paul leaves, but Silas and Timothy stay behind (Acts 17:10-15).
8.     Paul speaks to the court of the Areopagus which met to consider new religions. His teaching of the resurrection divides his audience: some mock but some believe (Acts 17:16-34).
9.     Paul travels to Corinth. Silas and Timothy arrive with news of Thessalonica. Paul writes 1 and 2 Thessalonians, encouraging that church. They spend almost 2 years here. Despite Jewish opposition, they are able to stay (Acts 18:1-17).
10. They stop briefly in Ephesus. He debates with the Jews who want him to stay longer (Acts 18:18-21).
11. They travel back to Antioch, via Caesarea and Jerusalem (Acts 18:22).

Founding of the Church.

In response to the Macedonian call, Paul and his companions had crossed the Aegean Sea from Troas to Neapolis and followed the renowned Egnatian Way some eight to ten miles up and over the coastal range to the city of Philippi. Philippi (named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great) was famous for its gold mines and its strategic location as the gateway to Europe. It was a miniature Rome, a proud Roman colony, exempt from taxation and modeled after the capital of the world. With the conversion of Lydia, the slave girl, and the jailer (Acts 16), it became the "birthplace of European Christianity." Soon Paul moved on towards Thessalonica, leaving Luke behind to care for this flock that held such a special place in his affections. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

The Epistle to Philippi




     Christ Our Life


     Christ Our Pattern


     Christ Our Goal


     Christ Our Sufficiency


Greetings and Benediction






For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain  (1:21)


Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (1:27)   

Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus (2:5-11)


I count all things to be loss (3:8)    That I may know him, and the power of His resurrection (3:11)             Forgetting what lies behind, I press toward the goal (3:13,14)        Citizenship in Heaven (3:20)


Have no anxiety about anything (4:6)                    I have learned to be content (4:11)             

I can do all things thru Christ (4:13)  

My God shall supply all your needs (4:19)

4:2            4:23

Key Verses




Christ Our Life

Christ Our Pattern

Christ Our Goal

Christ Our Sufficiency

Life In Christ

Glorify Christ

Be Like Christ

Gain Christ

Be Content in Christ


Supply of the Spirit

Fellowship in the Spirit

Worship by the Spirit

Grace thru the Spirit


The Christian Life - An Abiding Joy (2:17-18)


In fellowship of saints 1:3-11

Over afflictions 1:12-30


in the ministry for the saints (2:1-18)

in fellowship of Timothy and Epaphroditus (2:19-30)


that your hopes are in Jesus (3:2-16)

that your citizenship is in heaven (3:20)


always over all things (4:4-9)

in bounties of God’s people (4:10-19)



Much of our New Testament comes from Paul’s work on the 2nd Missionary journey. The gospel was preached and churches established in Europe for the first time. Our NT epistles of Thessalonians, Philippians, Corinthians, Ephesians as well as Timothy and Titus begin here. When you also consider that Luke was saved and later wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts this was an amazing open door in God’s providence and plan. We never know how God’s open doors will be used in the future. Like Paul it is impretive that we take full advantage of God’s providential opportunities with prayer, hard work and persistence.

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