READ PHILIPPIANS ONE THROUGH FOUR
Yesterday we did the intentional and hard work of studying the book of Philippians as a whole. We looked at the original author and audience, and the circumstances surrounding the writing of the book. Today I’ll share the answers I came to with you, but even if your answers don’t line up with mine, I want to remind you of three things:
1) Mine are not the “right” answers necessarily. I’m learning even as you’re learning, so test my answers – ALWAYS test my answers – against the Word of God. I’m fallible, the Word is not.
2) Even if you struggled through this exercise the fact that you’re doing the hard work of exegetical Bible study is forming you! It is teaching you how to study the Bible and teaching you that His Word is worth studying. Keep at it. Don’t be discouraged!
3) We’re all learners. We are all “Pilgrims on the way” as we learn about God, His Word, and His Kingdom. There is grace and space for each of us to assume a posture of learning.
Okay … let’s dive in! Below are my answers and references to which chapter and verse gave me insight into the answer.
Book of the Bible:
Who is the author:
Primarily Paul, the apostle (1:1). From my other studies I know that Paul was once name Saul, was a persecutor of Christians as a loyal Jew, and met Christ on the road to Damascus where he converted and became a primary missionary to the Gentiles in the New Testament. Co-authoring this letter with Paul is Timothy, “servants of Christ Jesus” (1:1).
Who is the audience:
“The saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons” (1:1)
What do we know about the situation of the writing?
Paul is in prison (1:17) and yet he is proclaiming the Gospel in an ongoing way (1:16). He is possibly close to death (1:21-26), and is absent from those he loves, the Philippians (1:27).
Author’s relationship with the audience:
He loves them and longs for them (1:8). Paul has an intimate, spiritual friendship with the Philippian believers because of their “partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:5). Paul calls them “my beloved” (2:12), and is anxious to see them again and hear how they are doing (2:28).
Historical circumstances surrounding the writing of the book:
The Church is facing opposition. The Philippians are being harassed in some way to the point that they would reasonably be afraid (1:27-28) and Paul is facing opposition from others “preaching from revelry” (1:15-17). The opposition seems to be coming from within since Paul warns the Philippians to “beware of the dogs; beware of the mutilation of the flesh” (3:2-3) which is a reference to those who insisted that Christian Gentiles be circumcised in the likeness of the Jews.
What do we know about the satiation of the audience?
Audience’s cultural background:
They are Gentiles (3:2-3) who might be young in their faith since Paul warns them against false teaching. As Gentiles they do not have the same cultural background as Paul and as most of the church at the time (which was Jewish).
Is the audience mentioned anywhere else in the Bible:
Paul preached in Philippi during his second missionary journey, spending about three months with the believers there. The ministry at Philippi started Paul’s journey into Macedonia, which came from the vision the Lord gave him while he was in the city of Troas. (Acts 16:8–12).
From the book of Act we learn that during this first stay in Philippi—he later briefly visited the city on his third missionary journey (Acts 20:6)—Paul led several characters to faith in Christ, people who would form the core members of the Philippian church. Among them were Lydia, a businesswoman who opened her home to Paul and his coworkers (Acts 16:13–15), and the Philippian jailer, who was converted under Paul’s ministry after an earthquake miraculously broke open the prison (16:22–34)
Where does this book fall within the metanarrative of Scripture:
It falls within the era of teachings in the New Testament. Christ has come, died, and rose again; He ascended into heaven and the Church is starting to spread throughout the region and world.
After reading these answers, how did you feel about your own? Where do you need practice? How would you like to grow in doing Book Overview studies? I’d love to hear from you! If you want to dialogue on the topic, jump over to Facebook and comment on the Book Overview graphic. I can’t wait to hear what you’re thinking about!
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that His Word is living and active. Thank Him that we don’t come to the Word is insolation, but in the community of the global and historic Church! Thank Him that His Word is for you, and thank Him that it was not for you first.