The Vital Statistics of Philippians

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  • God willing, this Sunday morning I will begin a verse-by-verse exposition of the epistle of Paul to the Philippians. I am calling the series: “Philippians: Partnership in the Gospel.”

    Here is a summary introduction of the book of Philippians that gives abbreviated details about the contend and background of this letter. I hope you find it helpful as you read through, study, and meditate on this wonderful letter of Philippians.

    Author: The Apostle Paul is clearly identified as the author of Philippians (1:1)

    Intended Audience: Paul writes to the all the Christian believers in the local church of Philippi, along with the spiritual leaders of the church (1:1)

    Date of Writing: Some time between 61-63 A.D.

    Place of Writing: Paul is under house arrest in Rome, where he is awaiting trial. Philippians is one of the “Prison Epistles” of Paul (along with Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon)

    Occasion: The church had sent Paul a gift through Epaphrotidus. While ministering to Paul, Epaphroditus became gravely sick. God healed Epaphroditus and Paul sent him back to the church. Paul sent this letter to the church through Epaphroditus.

    Purpose: The letter is primarily a “thank you” note to the Philippians. Of course, because this is Paul writing, and because of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it become much more. He also gave an update on his circumstances, commendations to his colleagues, and various exhortations and warnings to the church.

    Theme: Partnership in the Gospel (1:5)

    Key Verses: 1:5, 6, 21; 2:5, 3:1, 13-14; 4:13, 19

    Special Features:

    1. Philippians is called “The Epistle of Joy,” as Paul speaks of joy or rejoicing at least 16 times.
    2. The Hymn of Christ (2:6-11)
    3. One of the Prison Epistles (along with Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon)
    4. One of Paul’s most personal and intimate letters.
    5. This is the only letter in which Paul greets church officers (1:1)
    6. Paul organized the church at Philippi during his second missionary journey (Acts 16)

    Chapter Summaries:

    Chapter 1 – There is joy in Christian suffering
    Chapter 2 – There is joy in humble service
    Chapter 3 – There is joy in being and growing in Christ
    Chapter 4 – There is joy in godly contentment

    Length: 4 chapters; 104 verses

    Key People:

    1. Paul
    2. Timothy,
    3. Epaphroditus
    4. Euodia
    5. Syntyche

    Key Concepts:

    1. Joy
    2. Partnership in the Gospel
    3. Christlikeness
    4. Unity
    5. Suffering


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.