A. Introductory Questions Author Paul is the author (with Timothy) (1:1, Reyes-Chavez/Damico p274). Date The date is open to a time Paul was in prison (HCSB p2202, Philippians 1:7, 13-14, 17, Powell, p. 361) but that doesn’t really help as he was in prison a lot (HCSB p2202, Powell, p 361). The date is mid to late 50s through early 60s depending upon where Paul was inprison (HCSB p2202, Powell, p361). Audience To followers of the Way in Philippi (Philippians 1:1, HCSB p2202). This was a gathering of believers started by Paul (Phil 4:15, Powell p360). Genre Philippians is a friendship letter (Powell, p 363) however some scholars now think it was an oral message delivered to the community and later written down (Reyes-Chavez/Damico p274).
B. Outline Diagram and Summaries
Paul’s Imprisonment Paul is in prison (1:7) but he is still rejoicing (1:18) because his imprisonment has “helped the spread of the gospel.” (1:12) Christ Hymn Paul tells the Philippians to let the “mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (2:5) that Jesus didn’t exploit his status but thought of the other to the point of giving up his life to death on a cross. (Phil 2:6-8) So God has exalted Jesus above all and together they are God. (2:9-11) Paul’s Losses and Attainment Paul says that whatever he had gained is nothing compared to what Christ gives him, and anything he had is regarded as dung to what he has gained through Christ (3:8). Paul says it is better to know Christ than to have anything else, so we might get the resurrection from the dead (3:9-11). Giving and Receiving When no one else gave, the Philippians did (4:15-16). And Paul commends them not for giving but for what they received from giving (4:17).
C. Interpretive Issues An issue with Philippians is if the letter is one letter or multiple letters (HCSB p2202, Powell p362). Chapter 3 seems to end the letter and then starts up on a different tone that is “sarcastic” and “anxious” (HCSB p2022, Powell p362). Also scholars note that it seems to take Paul the full length of the letter to acknowledge Epaphroditus arriving and the gift he brings (Powell p362, HCSB p2202). There is a section in chapter 2 where Paul comments about how Epaphroditus has been with him for a considerable time (Powell p362). This leads some scholars to think this could be three separate letters (HCSB p2202). But other scholars say the letter anticipates the issues above and should be read as one letter (HCSB p2203).
D. Ministerial Application The Greek word κοινωνίᾳ is used in the letter in 1:5, 2:1 and3:10 (Powell p367). Paul says fellowship is the foundation of life. All people are a part of the kindom of God and the family and should be included. We use the language of family at Treehouse, where we are family, not by blood but by choice. We are family by choice and need fellowship. This means we work to full inclusion of all people. It is about the other and making sure they are included and that is what I try to help Treehouse do and be. A place of fellowship that is inclusive of everyone. It is about kinship and being family.