Introduction To Philippians
The book of Philippians is a letter written from Paul to the church at Philippi [Map], a town in Greece at the northern end of the Aegean Sea, about 410 miles (660 km) north-east of Athens. The town was founded by, and named after, Philip II of Macedonia. During New Testament times it was under the control of Rome.
During Paul’s second missionary journey he founded churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) but a vision from the Holy Spirit prompted him to go to Macedonia (modern-day Greece) [Acts 16:6-12]. There he founded a church in Philippi – the first Christian church on the European continent. In these days churches were small gatherings meeting in private residences.
One of the interesting things about the church at Philippi is that its charter member was a female, Lydia, who was a wealthy business woman [Acts 16:14-15] in whose home the church met [Acts 16:40]. This is just one of many passages in the Bible that portray women with intelligence and skill and clearly debunk those who falsely claim the Bible is demeaning to women. I, too, used to believe such lies but that was before I had read the Bible. Most misunderstandings about the Bible exist simply because people don’t read it.
The next convert to Christianity in Philippi was a demon-possessed girl who was being used for monetary gain by those who had enslaved her for this purpose. Once she became a believer and gave up her way of life to follow Jesus, her masters became enraged at Paul (and his traveling companion, Silas) and had them beaten and thrown in prison [Acts 16:16-24]. There are many in the world today who oppose the Bible because it disrupts their evil way of life. Those who promote abortions are a prime example. Following God’s command to respect all life, even the life of the unborn, would shut down the abortion industry, leaving many without any source of income.
While in prison one of the guards also came to believe in Jesus after observing Paul’s ethical behavior [Acts 16:25-34]. Our behavior is often being observed by those around us. How we conduct ourselves, especially in times of crisis or when we have an opportunity to act immorally, can make a difference in other people’s lives.
So the church at Philippi initially consisted of a wealthy business woman, a young girl who was formerly as servant of Satan, and a tough Roman guard. Not exactly the kind of trio who had much in common. Yet God brought them together through a common-faith in Christ. This is exactly what a church should be – a group of people who are not divided by their differences but who are united in their faith.
Many years after leaving Macedonia Paul found himself in prison again, this time in Rome. It was during this period of incarceration that he wrote this letter to his friends in Philippi to thank them for the support they had shown him since they had last seen him.
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