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English Bible Dictionary

Epistle to the Philippians

 

Was St. Paul from Rome in A.D. 62 or 63. St. Paul's connection with Philippi was of a peculiar character, which gave rise to the writing of this epistle. St. Paul entered its walls A.D. 52. (Acts 16:18) There, at a greater distance from Jerusalem than any apostle had yet penetrated, the long-restrained energy of St. Paul was again employed in laying the foundation of a Christian church, Philippi was endeared to St. Paul not only by the hospitality of Lydia, the deep sympathy of the converts, and the remarkable miracle which set a seal on his preaching, but, also by the successful exercise of his missionary activity after a long suspense, and by the happy consequences of his undaunted endurance of ignominies which remained in his memory, (Philemon 1:30) after the long interval of eleven years. Leaving Timothy and Luke to watch over the infant church, Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica, (1 Thessalonians 2:2) whither they were followed by the alms of the Philippians, (Philemon 4:16) and thence southward. After the lapse of five years, spent chiefly at Corinth and Ephesus, St. Paul passed through Macedonia, A.D. 57, on his way to Greece, and probably visited Philippi for the second time, and was there joined by Timothy. He wrote at Philippi his second Epistle to the Corinthians. On returning from Greece, (Acts 20:4) he again found a refuge among his faithful Philippians, where he spent some days at Easter, A.D. 58, with St. Luke, who accompanied him when he sailed from Neapolis, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Once more, in his Roman captivity, A.D. 62, their care of him revived-again. They sent Epaphroditus bearing their alms for the apostle's support, and ready also to tender his personal service. (Philemon 2:25) St. Paul's aim in writing is plainly this: while acknowledging the alms of the Philippians and the personal services of their messenger, to give them some information respecting his own condition, and some advice respecting theirs. Strangely full of joy and thanksgiving amidst adversity, like the apostle's midnight hymn from the depth of his Philippian dungeon, this epistle went forth from his prison at Rome. In most other epistles he writes with a sustained effort to instruct, or with sorrow, or with indignation; he is striving to supply imperfect or to correct erroneous teaching, to put down scandalous impurity or to schism in the church which he addresses. But in this epistle, though he knew the Philippians intimately and was not blind to the faults and tendencies to fault of some of them, yet he mentions no evil so characteristic of the whole Church as to call for general censure on his part or amendment on theirs. of all his epistles to churches, none has so little of an official character as this.

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