The letter to the Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome.  The church at Philippi held a special place in the heart of the Apostle.  In fact, it was the first church that he founded in Europe [1].  Prison carried a stigma and he wanted to ensure the congregation that he was still in good spirits.  Paul let the church know that God was greater than any prison, and that his imprisonment has only furthered the Gospel.   He also wished to thank them for the gift that Epaphroditus had brought them.    After recovering from a serious illness, Epaphroditus was ready to return to Philippi.  Paul sent a note of gratitude for the gift of this trustworthy friend [2].”    He encouraged the church to live with humility.  This was a huge deal since the church, though calm compared to those in Corinth and Galatia, had a tendency for disunity and contentiousness [3].

The church in Philippi faced Judaizers “and a group that reflected tendencies towards sensuality and materialistic greed [4].”   Paul wanted this letter to encourage the Philippians to resist these groups who tried to add to his Gospel.  He writes in 3:12-16, “Not that I have already attained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.  Only let us hold true to what we have attained [5].” 

Paul was very clear in these verses.  We have attained salvation through Jesus Christ, not from material goods or physical pleasure, and not from trying to be a perfectionist.  It was through faith in Christ that the Philippians were saved.  He urged the church to look ahead to Christ and forget all the things they were into before.  Those things are gone and they had to keep their eyes on the prize.

Image result for paul and the philippians

Works Cited

[1] ESV Study Bible.  Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2008, 2275.

[2]  Lea, Thomas D., and Black.  The New Testament: Its Background and Message.  2d ed.  Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2003, 443.

[3]  Ibid, 443.

[4]  Ibid, 443

[5]  Philippians 3:12-16, ESV

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