Introduction and Background to our series on the Letter to the Philippians
Author: Apostle Paul (probably around AD 61)
Theme: A number of theories have been proposed about when and where Paul wrote Philippians but the one best fitting the evidence is that he wrote it while under house arrest for two years in Rome. (see Acts 28:30 and 31; Philippians 1:13). The dominant theme of the letter is joy in the circumstances of life with the idea of joy occurring some 16 times throughout.
The city of Philippi was located in Macedonia and named after King Philip of Macedon who was also the father of Alexander the Great. Under the Romans, the city enjoyed the status of being a Roman colony. Thus, citizens of Philippi were also regarded as citizens of the city of Rome.
The main highway that connected the eastern provinces of the Empire with Rome ran straight through the Forum of Philippi and ensured that the city was wealthy and prominent. As a result of it being a Roman colony, Philippi had many ex-military men from the Roman regions retiring there.
By comparison, the Jewish population was so small that they were unable to make up the numbers required to form a synagogue. You may remember that Paul led his first converts to Christ in Philippi (who were Jews) after speaking with them at their “place of prayer” outside the gate of the city (Acts 16:11-15). Paul encourages the Philippians to be joyful in any and every situation they find themselves in. He even appeals to his own situation and the example he has given them to follow. (See Philippians 4:9). The Philippians knew well how Paul reacted to the difficult situations of life. When he was imprisoned in the Philippian jail with Silas we are told they both “were praying and singing hymns to God.” (Acts 16:25). So when Paul said he could be content in every situation (Phil. 4:11), his words had authority because the Philippians had seen him live it out!
The pressures of life quickly erode our joy, which is why the message of Philippians is so relevant today. Join us in the journey of finding joy in Jesus in the circumstances of life.
Grace and peace,