WRITER: The Apostle Paul ( Philippians 1:1 )
DATE: The date of Philippians cannot be positively fixed. It is one of the prison letters. Whether Paul was twice imprisoned, and if so, whether Philippians was written during the first or second imprisonment, affects in no way the message of the Epistle. A.D. 64 is the commonly received date. The immediate occasion of the Epistle is disclosed in Philippians 4:10-18 .
THEME: The theme of Philippians is Christian experience. Soundness of doctrine is assumed. There is nothing in church order to set right. Philippi is a normal New Testament assembly--"saints in Christ Jesus, with the bishops (elders) and deacons." The circumstances of the apostle are in striking contrast with his Christian experience. As to the former, he was Nero's prisoner. As to the latter, there was the shout of victory, the paean of joy. Christian experience, he would teach us, is not something which is going on around the believer, but something which is going on within him.
The key-verse is, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" ( Philippians 1:21 ). Right Christian experience, then, is the outworking, whatever one's circumstances may be, of the life, nature, and mind of Christ living in us ( Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:11 ; Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:13 ).
The divisions are indicated by the chapters:
- Christ, the believer's life, rejoicing in suffering, 1:1-30.
- Christ, the believer's pattern, rejoicing in lowly service, 2:1-30
- Christ, the believer's object, rejoicing despite imperfections, 3:1-21.
- Christ, the believer's strength, rejoicing over anxiety, 4:1-23.