Philippians is a letter written by the apostle Paul (1:1).

The recipients of the letter are clearly identified: “the saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons” (1:1).

Acts 16:11-40 details how Paul preached the gospel in Philippi, leading to the conversion of Lydia and the Philippian jailer.

Paul’s delight and joy in the Philippians is evident in his letter, and unlike so many of his letters, this was a church for whom he has great amount of praise and very little critique.

Paul writes the letter from prison (1:7). As ever with Paul, he sees what has happened as part of God’s plan to spread the gospel, telling the Philippians that his imprisonment has allowed him to preach to the “whole palace guard” as well as encourage local believers to become bolder in their proclamation of the gospel (1:12-14). The reference to the palace guard or Praetorium suggests the place of Paul’s imprisonment is Rome.

There seem to be a number of reasons that occasion Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

The first concerns news about Epaphroditus, whom the Philippians had sent to take care of Pauls needs while in prison, but who had fallen seriously ill and had now recovered (2:25-30). Because Paul knows they have been concerned about Epaphroditus, Paul says he is sending him back.

In addition, Paul speaks of sending Timothy to them soon, giving Timothy a glowing recommendation (2:19-23).

Paul adds that he is confident that he himself will come and see them soon (2:24)!

Paul also thanks them for the gifts they have sent to him (4:14-19) and uses the letter to share something of his own personal circumstances (1:12-26).

Philippians contains some of the best known passages of the New Testament, texts that speaks of God’s purposes even in the midst of suffering, of the necessity of rejoicing and of prayer in the midst of difficulty, and of course the incredible hymn about imitating Christ’s humility.