Introduction to Philippians

An overcoming joy

Pressing on! A lifetime pursuit of intimacy with God

How to read Philippians

Joy, joy, and more joy! It’s not the impossible “happily ever after” of your favorite fairy tale; Paul describes the current reality every believer can experience! He confidently claims that nothing can stamp out the joy we have in Jesus! There is joy in living even in the midst of painful conflicts; there is joy in serving in a spirit of humility; there is joy in knowing Jesus and in making him and his incomparable blessings known; and there is joy when we walk in contentment and gratitude.

At the heart of this joy-filled, thank-you letter to his dear friends and supporters in Philippi, Paul shares the driving ambition of his life. Even after more than two decades of Christian service, Paul passionately declares, “that I may know him” (Phl 3:10). In his insatiable hunger for God, Paul yearned for an ever-growing intimacy with him, a desire he hoped would fill the heart of every believer.

Among many gems, you’ll find one of the Bible’s most prominent psalms of praise to Jesus (Phl 2:5-11); you’ll see the futility of religious activity compared to a relationship with Jesus (Phl 3:4-11); and you’ll gain practical tools to help reshape your thinking according to God’s ways (Phl 4:4-9).

Who wrote this book and when?

The apostle Paul wrote it about AD 60–62, while under house arrest in Rome where he was awaiting trial on an appeal to the Roman emperor Nero.

To whom was it written?

Believers in the city of Philippi, located in northeastern Greece. It lay ten miles inland from the modern port city of Kavalla.

What led to the writing of this letter?

The Roman colony of Philippi was where Paul planted the first church on European soil (Act 16:11-40), probably around AD 50. When Paul moved on, the church occasionally sent him financial aid, one of the few churches to do so (Phl 4:15). Paul wanted to thank the Philippians for sending him money to help defray his living expenses as he awaited trial (Phl 4:10-18). Paul also wanted to warn them against false teachers and urge them to greater unity among themselves.

SourceView Insights

This letter contains only Paul’s side of the dialogue with his dear friends in Philippi; thus all the SourceView text is in black. To give the letter the original handwritten feel, it is displayed in a cursive script.

World English Bible (WEB)
a Public Domain Modern English translation
of the Holy Bible.

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