Most of Paul's writing is in the form of letters or epistles to various churches or individuals. This tends to give these instructive missives personality and immediacy. Of all of Paul's letters his letter to the Philippians is the most personal. In it he describes some of his past life; he thanks the church members for their long and heartfelt support of his ministry; he writes of his faith in Christ; he even finds room to personally intercede in a quarrel between two worthy women of the church.
We read Philippians with the same interest we would read the collected letters of a famous person. There is a certain fascination with what life must have been like for Paul, especially as he awaits judgment of his fate by the Roman authorities. Not surprisingly, Paul is confident in his ultimate vindication, whether or not the judgment of Caesar (Nero) goes against him. He contemplates the possibilities, yet because of his faith can only see good coming from his situation. His imprisonment has brought notice to the Christian cause, and he has had the opportunity to convert even his own prison guards.
It was in Philippi that Paul met Luke (the physician). The city was situated in Macedonia in modern day Greece. It was a trade crossroads and the historic site where Brutus and Cassius were finally defeated by Caesar Augustus. Even as it was the grave of the Roman Republic (the battle secured the coming empire) it was also the birthplace of Christianity in Europe. For it was the first place Paul evangelized upon that continent. Luke led the Philippian Church for some five or six years before he joined Paul in his travels.
No wonder Paul felt personal attachment to the Philippians and he does, indeed, pour out his heart to them. Yet he also imparts fatherly advice that speaks to the modern reader as clearly and eloquently as it did to the Philippians.
Paul's letter to the Philippians makes an excellent short study, and has potential for an interesting multi-part bible class that analyses each section of the letter in-depth and compares them to some of Paul's other work.
Philippians and Colossians: A Life Application Bible Study is inexpensive and contains 13 lessons, charts, maps, study questions and notes. Visit our Life Application page for more information on how to use this work in a Bible study.
Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, by William Barclay is great both as an in-depth study for a group and as a daily guide for individuals. Visit our page on Barclay for more information on how to use Barclay's works in a Bible study.
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