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Argument Paper on the Book of Philippians

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ARGUMENT ON THE BOOK OF PHILIPPPIANSThe book of Philippians has long been considered simply a letter of thanks for the financial gift of Philippian believers to the apostle Paul. Such a limited assumption hinders one when approaching God's Word for insight. The letter was written not merely with the intent of thanks, though Paul's gratitude is evident; it contains much spiritual exhortation and doctrine. Philippians also contains in it perhaps the most touching testimonies of life lived in Christ (i.e. 1:21; 2:5; 4:4-7). Throughout the text, Paul provides a disclosure of a way of life for the church as a corporate body facing an unbelieving world. This way of life is to be demonstrated in attitude and conduct, showing the body of Christ is a distinct community expressing humility in the cross. This paper, through introducing and analyzing the epistle to the Philippian church, will attempt to illuminate the reader to this way of life as it appears throughout the entire book.


No modern interpreter of repute doubts that the author of this letter is the apostle Paul. Paul identifies himself at the outset of the letter, and there is nothing to lead us to conclude that the letter was forged. It is very much Pauline in style, drawing several parallels to other books of Pauline authorship, none more than the epistle to the Romans (i.e. Phil. 1:3-7 and Rom. 1:8-11; Phil. 1:9-10 and Romans 2:18). The real question is when and where the book was written.

There have been several ideas as to where Paul was when this letter was composed. The point of origin down to three: Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea. Ephesus is assumed to be the location from where Paul wrote this letter by many particularly because of the issue of distance. Paul apparently communicated with Philippi several times while imprisoned, which leads many to conclude that Paul must have been imprisoned close to Philippi. This view is not widely accepted, mainly because we have no evidence of Paul being imprisoned there. Caesarea is often considered the location of writing because of the strict military supervision mentioned in 1:13. Acts records that Paul was imprisoned there for some time (cf. Acts 23). It is argued that Caesarea would have provided this strict atmosphere whereas the atmosphere in Rome would have provided more freedom of movement for Paul. Also, the praetorian guard mentioned in 1:13 is considered to refer to the guards at the palace of Herod at Caesarea. There are several arguments against this view. One would be the lack of certainty in praetorian referring to the guards at Caesarea only. Another would be the reference in 1:19-26 to Paul's life hanging in the balance. Being a Roman citizen by birth, Paul could appeal to Rome in the event of an execution sentence. Upon such an appeal, he would have to appear in Rome. Considering the imminence of his possible execution, we would have to conclude that he was already in Rome. The traditional view that he was imprisoned in Rome is the most logical and coincides best with the information given us in Scripture. Though there is nothing absolutely conclusive, this author takes Rome as the location from where the letter was written, during his first imprisonment there (cir. 60-62 AD). It seems most likely that it was written near the end of this two year incarceration, considering that Paul had communicated with the Philippians on several occasions already and his expressed confidence in the resolution of his trial in 1:19-26.


The book of Acts gives the account of Paul's first encounter with the Philippians (Acts 16:12-40). Paul and company (Silas, Timothy, and Luke) traveled to Philippi and have immediate impact, starting with Lydia of Thyatira. Paul and his associates spread the gospel and planted the first church in all of Europe there. Paul paid

the believers at Philippi a visit several times (Acts 20:1-6; II Cor. 2:12-18; 7:5-7) and seemingly took great joy in seeing and hearing of the prosperity of the church (Philippians 1:6-7). Paul's journeying ended with his captivity and ultimate imprisonment in Rome, and it was only a matter of time before the Philippians had heard the news. Without delay, they sent Epaphroditus, one of the beloved, to Rome bearing gifts and offering aid. Much to Paul's dismay, Epaphroditus became deathly ill while visiting (Philippians 2:27). When he had recovered Paul sent him home bearing this letter to the church.


Philippi was a city of Macedonia, located near the Aegean coast on the high road between Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. Originally Thebae, it became Philippi in 368 BC after being conquered by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. In the New testament times, it was best known for the battle of Philippi, a pivotal engagement in 42 B.C. between the army of Cassius and Brutus and the army of Marc Antony and Octavius in which the soldiers of Marc Antony and Octavius were victorious, leading to the destruction of the Roman republic and the establishment of the Empire. In the aftermath, Philippi became a Roman colony in which many veteran soldiers retired. The settlement of these Romans greatly influenced the society, not only in appearance but also in economy and religion. Roman patterns became the foundation on which the Philippian society built. Thus, the Philippians adopted the Roman way of life- a culture of competition, power, domination, immorality, violence, and adultery. Recognizing the fact that Philippi was made up primarily of Gentiles, this author is not suggesting that the Philippians were by any means holier than the Romans. However, there does seem to be an issue of disunity among the brethren in Philippi, one that would easily be explained by the impact of the dominating, competitive spirit of the Roman culture on their way of life.

Hopefully, one can perceive the general idea of the situation in Philippi from the preceding paragraphs. Paul does write to thank the Philippians for their generous gift to him, but there is definitely more on his mind. Perhaps Epaphroditus was concerned with the present state of the church and expressed his feelings to Paul, which led Paul to writing this letter. In any event, seeds of dissension were being sown within the church. When examining the book section by section, one will see how Paul uses illustration and exhortation to show how believers are to exhibit and conform to a way of life "worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phil 1:27a).


The first passage to be examined is the introduction to the book, Philippians 1:1-. The first two verses are fairly typical Pauline greetings, but still carry much weight in them. Paul, in identifying himself as the



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