Unger's Bible Dictionary: Philippians



PHILIP'PIANS, EPISTLE TO. A letter of the apostle Paul addressed to the church at Philippi. It was the first city of the district called Macedonia Prima, correctly rendered "a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony" (Acts 16:12). It was made a Roman colony by Augustus in honor of his celebrated victory over Brutus and Cassius. As a colony it was "a little Rome" itself, transplanted to the provinces. Its inhabitants were Roman citizens who had the privilege of voting and were governed by their own senate and legislature.


Purpose. The epistle is general, correcting no disorders, false doctrines, or disturbances, but exhorting the Philippians to consistency of Christian living. The immediate occasion was the expression of thanks for a contribution sent by Epaphroditus, who was now returning to take back the apostle's letter. The only disturbance behind it was a lack of lowliness of mind among some with resulting disputing and friction between two women, Euodia and Syntyche.


Background and Date. The Philippian church had been established by the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:9-40). The vision at Troas induced him to cross over into Europe and to visit the city of Philippi. There was apparently no synagogue in the city, and the church began by the riverside. Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira, was converted. As a result of Paul's experience with a demon-possessed slave girl, he was cast into prison, miraculously delivered, and saw other converts in the Philippian jailor and his house. After this experience, he had to leave the city, but Luke remained at Philippi. This is obvious because from that point onward Luke uses the third person in speaking of the party. The small church established here was a nucleus of a work of God. The church was loyal to Paul and twice sent a contribution while he was at Thessalonica (Phil 4:15-16). The church also sent him a gift at Corinth (2 Cor 11:8-9; cf. Acts 18:5). To thank the Philippians and to send them instruction and comfort, Paul wrote the letter, since Epaphroditus was about to return to Philippi (Phil 2:28). The epistle was manifestly penned from Rome (cf. 1:13; 4:22) and very likely near the end of Paul's two years there (Acts 28:30-31). The general background would suggest that Philippians is the last of the four so-called prison epistles. The first three of those epistles were written about A.D. 60 AD; therefore, Philippians must be dated at the close of the year A.D. 61 AD.



BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. C. G. Moule, Philippian Studies: Lessons in Faith and Love (n.d.); J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (1897); J. H. Jowett, The High Calling (1909); K. Barth, The Epistle to the Philippians (1962); W. Hendriksen, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians (1962); J. A. Motyer, Philippian Studies (1966); J. Eadie, A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (1977); R. Johnstone. lectures on the Epistle to the Philippians (1977); H. C. G. Moule, Studies in Philippians (1977); C. J. Vaughan, Epistle to the Philippians (1985).

(from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

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New Testament Books and Authors The Book of Matthew The Book of Mark The Book of Luke The Book of John The Book of Acts The Book of Romans The Book of 1 Corinthians The Book of 2 Corinthians The Book of Galatians The Book of Ephesians The Book of Philippians The Book of Colossians The Book of 1 Thessalonians The Book of 2 Thessalonians The Book of 1 Timothy The Book of 2 Timothy The Book of Titus The Book of Philemon The Book of Hebrews The Book of James The Book of 1 Peter The Book of 2 Peter The Book of 1 John The Book of 2 John The Book of 3 John The Book of Jude The Book of Revelation Books of the New Testament The New Testament

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