Philippians 1:1-2

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015


A famous road named Via Egnatia ran through Philippi from east to west. It was the trade route between East and West. It would eventually become the way the gospel message would make its way to Philippi.

Acts 16:6-40 - 6 Now when they [i.e. Paul, Silas, and Timothy] had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured [Luke joined them at this time] to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13 And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont [i.e. accustomed] to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. 16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. 19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21 And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes [i.e. tore off Paul and Silas' clothes], and commanded to beat them [with rods]. 23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 35 And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

After visiting with their fellow believers and encouraging them, Paul, Silas, and Timothy left town (Acts 16:40 ) and headed toward Thessalonica, where the Philippian believers sent gifts to them on several occasions (Philippians 4:16 ). It would only be a matter of a few weeks before they would be forced to flee for their lives from Thessalonica.

Paul refers to his treatment in Philippi in I Thessalonians 2:2 .

I Thessalonians 2:2 - But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.


Paul wrote Philippians from prison in Rome in approximately A.D. 61 or 62, about ten years after Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke first arrived in Philippi with the gospel message. Acts closes in about A.D. 60 with Paul in prison in Rome awaiting trial. Philippians seems to have been written after the close of Acts but before Paul's release from his first Roman imprisonment. No correlations are able to be made between what is stated in Philippians and the events recorded in Acts to enable anyone to be more specific than this. In addition to Philippians, Paul would also write Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon at about this same time during his first Roman imprisonment. As Paul writes Philippians, he is hopeful of being released soon; whereas, in II Timothy, which was written about five years after Philippians, he is expecting execution. Certain statements in Philippians hint that Paul's trial may have already concluded and that he was only awaiting the verdict of life or death at the time he wrote this epistle. Although the verdict could call for him to be executed, Paul was expecting to be released from prison.

Philippians 1:19-26 - (19) For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

(20) According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

(21) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

(22) But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

(23) For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

(24) Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

(25) And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

(26) That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again (emphasis added).

In Philippians 2:17 Paul recognizes that he may soon be executed,

Philippians 2:17 - Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all (emphasis added).

In Philippians 2:23-24 Paul indicates that he is expecting to be able to visit Philippi soon. To do this, he will have to be released from prison first.

Philippians 2:23-24 - (23) Him [i.e. Timothy] therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. (24) But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly (emphasis added).

Paul would eventually be released from prison and enabled to continue his missionary travels for a few years. He would then be rearrested and imprisoned in Rome a second time before his execution in approximately A.D. 67. He would write I Timothy and Titus between his first and second Roman imprisonments.


Philippians was written as a thank you note for a gift sent to Paul by the believers in Philippi. This gift was apparently delivered by Epaphroditus, but specifics regarding the gift are not known. This was not the first time the Philippian believers had sent gifts to Paul. When he was in Thessalonica, the believers in Philippi had sent gifts to help him on at least two occasions.

Philippians 4:15-17 - (15) Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. (16) For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. (17) Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account (emphasis added).

Paul left Thessalonica and fled to Berea, but Berea was still in Macedonia. However, when Paul fled from Berea, he left Macedonia and entered Achaia.

Apparently, Epaphroditus advised Paul of some difficulties among the believers in Philippi between Euodias and Syntyche, which also involved others. In Philippians 1:27 , 2:2-5, and 3:13-16 Paul urges the Philippian believers to be likeminded, and in 4:1-3 he admonishes Euodias and Syntyche to be likeminded.

Philippians 1:27 - Only let your conversation be [i.e. live or conduct yourselves] as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs [i.e. of the things concerning you], that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (emphasis added).

Philippians 2:2-5 - (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through strife [i.e. contentiousness] or vainglory [i.e. excessive ambition]; but in lowliness [i.e. humility] of mind let each esteem [i.e. consider or regard] other better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (emphasis added).

Philippians 3:13-16 - (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended [i.e. attained it or achieved it]: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect [i.e. mature], be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (16) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing (emphasis added).

Philippians 4:1-3 - (1) Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (2) I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. (3) And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow [i.e. companion or partner], help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life (emphasis added).

Unfortunately, problems between two individuals in the same church are not terribly uncommon and are often left unresolved. This always adversely affects the entire church. Paul was preparing to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi, and Paul would take advantage of his return to send this letter to the Philippian believers along with him.

In Philippians 4:8-9 Paul lays out an appropriate and unified mindset for their consideration. This is in contrast to any disunity or squabbling among themselves.

Philippians 4:8-9 - (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (9) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

IV. Paul's Opening Greeting - 1:1-2

Philippians 1:1 - Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

With the bishops and deacons is together with the bishops and deacons, which indicates that there were only these two church offices among the believers at Philippi.

A bishop is an overseer or superintendent and is responsible for overseeing the work of the local church. The fact that bishops is plural indicates that there was more than one bishop in Philippi. A bishop is another name or designation for pastor or elder. As bishop he oversees the work of a local church. As pastor he shepherds or tends a flock, i.e. a local church. As elder he is in control of the assembly, i.e. of the local church.

Although three terms apply to the same individual, there is no such thing in the New Testament as a bishop who is not also both a pastor and an elder, as an elder who is not both a bishop and a pastor, or as a pastor who is not both a bishop and an elder.

Two New Testament passages are sufficient to demonstrate this. One is I Peter 5:1-4 .

I Peter 5:1-4 - (1) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

(2) Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

(3) Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

(4) And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

In verse 1, Peter exhorts the elders; and in verse 2, Peter instructs these elders to feed (i.e. shepherd, tend, or pastor) the flock of God among them. He also instructs them to take the oversight of that flock, which means that each of these elders is to superintend his local church or function as a bishop over it. The same group is thus functioning in three ways: as elders, as pastors, and as bishops.

The other passage is Acts 20:17-35 where Paul met with the elders of the church at Ephesus (verses 17-18) and where he exhorted them in verse 28,

Acts 20:28 - Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

These elders had been made overseers (i.e. bishops or superintendents) by the Holy Spirit; and they were to feed (i.e. tend, shepherd, or pastor) the church of God. The same men functioned in three different ways.

The fact that bishops is plural suggests that there may have been a number of local churches in Philippi. Most likely they were house churches with each one having its own bishop or pastor. In view of this, it is interesting to note that Philippians is not addressed to the church at Philippi.

Deacons means servants and refers to those men who were placed over the temporal matters in a local church. They were not church bosses as if they had authority over the bishops or pastors.

The office of deacon was first established in Acts 6 . The church in Jerusalem had grown to such an extent that the apostles were not able to manage everything that needed to be done and were not doing an adequate job in spiritual things, such as prayer and the ministry of the word, or in temporal things, such as managing the tables in the daily distribution (i.e. in financial matters). Therefore, the church appointed seven men, of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, over the business of waiting on tables so that the apostles could give themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Acts 6:1-7 - (1) And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

(2) Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason [i.e. desirable] that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.

(3) Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you [i.e. look among you for] seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

(4) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

(5) And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:

(6) Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.

(7) And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

The two offices of bishop and deacon are the only two mentioned in the New Testament, and those who add office upon office in their local churches build a complex structure which goes beyond the simplicity of the New Testament.

Philippians 1:2 - Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is unmerited or undeserved favor.

The Philippians had experienced unmerited or undeserved favor when they trusted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, but grace in this verse is not saving grace because they already had this. The grace mentioned here is something they still needed which goes beyond the grace they received at salvation. It is grace which will enable them to live their Christian lives.

It is reminiscent of James 4:6

James 4:16 - But he giveth more grace. . . .

It is also reminiscent of Hebrews 4:16

Hebrews 4:16 - Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

It indicates that believers have additional grace for daily living readily available to them.

Be unto you expresses Paul's wish that this grace be made available or given to the Philippian believers.

Peace is likewise something the Philippian believers received at salvation.

According to Romans 5:1 , all believers have peace with God because they have been justified by faith.

Romans 5:1 - Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the saints in Philippi were already saved; so, this peace the Apostle Paul is wishing upon them is not the peace they received at the time of their salvation. They already had peace with God. Instead, Paul is wishing peace which will enable them to live the Christian life. It goes beyond the peace with God they received at salvation and comes as a result of the fruit of the Spirit being produced in their lives. This fruit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 .

Galatians 5:22-23 - (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

(23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

It also refers to the peace found in Philippians 4:6-7 where Paul indicates that believers are to pray rather than to be unduly anxious about things. As a result of their prayers, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

From God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ indicates the source of both grace and peace. They were not able to go and buy grace or peace at a local store, but they were able to obtain both of them from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes it seems that people want peace at all costs or at any cost. However, peace purchased through compromise will not last. The only source that readily provides grace and peace that will last is God the Father and God the Son.

Our makes God the Father's relationship to believers very personal. God is the Father of all believers, and Christ is the Lord of all believers.

There are those who teach that Jesus Christ is inferior to God the Father, but this verse contradicts this sort of false teaching. The fact that grace and peace are both seen to proceed equally from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ indicates that God the Father and Christ are equal. If They were not equal, grace and peace would have to come from God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. Although the Lord Jesus Christ has voluntarily subordinated Himself to God the Father, this is only for the purpose of a proper administration. Jesus Christ is not in any way inferior to God the Father; instead, He possesses the very same attributes.

The fact that grace and peace come from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ also indicates that they are distinct persons of the Godhead. There are those who incorrectly teach that the Old Testament is the age of God the Father, that the gospels are the age of Christ or God the Son, and that Acts and the epistles are the age of God the Holy Spirit. They teach that one God manifested Himself as Father in Old Testament times, as Son in the gospels, and as Holy Spirit in Acts, the epistles, and in the present time. Here, however, both Father and Son are seen to be separate and distinct personalities or persons in the Trinity. One should be reminded that Paul wrote Philippians within a year or two after the conclusion of Acts.