Some tips on How to Read the Book of Philippians
Philippians was a letter written by Paul to the church of Philippi. The letter was a response to the news about the church from Epaphroditus who also brought gifts from the church to Paul. It was written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome while under house arrest.
Philippi was the first city that Paul visited in mainland Europe when he saw a vision of a Macedonian man begging him to come to his country. It was a special place for Paul and as you will discover, the church had a special place in his heart.
In Paul’s day, Philippi was a large and prosperous city due to its location on the major east-west trade route called the Ignatian Way. Because of its location, it had a strategic role as a base for the gospel. It was a gateway to Europe!
In order to fully understand this letter to the Philippians, read the whole letter in one sitting. Do this a few times until you get some ideas from this letter. Read the letter as if Paul wrote it to you. Put yourself in the shoes of the Philippians. As you read this letter, look out for some of these things:
- The relationship between Paul and the church of Philippi and their partnership in the gospel.
- The example of Christ, knowing Him and becoming like Him.
- Some issues the church was facing.
- Paul’s encouragement to them.
- Rejoicing in Christ even in suffering.
- Unity through humility and love.
The church in Philippi was facing many challenges and issues. They were persecuted because of the gospel, discouraged because people were envious and competing in preaching Christ, there was disunity among the believers, false teachers causing confusion and they were also complaining and arguing in serving. That is quite a lot to handle for a church. There must have been much gloom and unhappiness among the people. Paul’s letter to them had a totally different tone all together. Albeit in prison, he was full of encouragement and joy! He kept asking them to stand firm and to rejoice!
Paul was one man who truly understood how the work of Christ affected his life – “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). A life that is Christ-centered at all times. No time for shallow chit-chat, no time for meaningless living, just of showing Christ and preaching Christ, both in his life and words. How has the work of Christ affected OUR lives? Has our lives been Christ-centered in all that we do? Has it been pleasing to Him?
Because of the disunity of the believers, Paul brought to attention the humility and love of Christ, calling them to imitate Christ in their lives. Not only should they enjoy life with Christ and have good fellowship with Him, but because of it, being united in mind, love and purpose with believers, having a humility that considers others better and looking at others’ interests (Chapter 2). Have we been imitating Christ’s humility and obedience in our lives? How have I been selfish in my ways with others?
For Paul, knowing Christ is the ultimate goal in his life. He has also challenged the Philippians, as matured Christians, to also put this as their ultimate goal – knowing Christ. What about us today? Do we KNOW Christ?
How has reading this letter changed / affected you?