Philippi was a "little Rome" in the midst of a Greek culture. The soil there was very fertile and the land was noted for its farming and its gold. It was governed by Roman laws and completely subject to Roman rule. The first church founded in Europe was planted by Paul in Philippi (see Acts 16) on his second missionary journey. After Paul moved on to Thessalonica, the Philippian believers sent support to him (Philippians 4:15 and II Corinthians 11:9). Five years later, while on his third journey, Paul visited Philippi on the way to Corinth, and then on the return trip (Acts 20:1-6). There seemed to be a deep love between Paul and the people of Philippi.

Paul had several purposes for writing this letter to the Philippians: (1) To explain his circumstances to friends who were concerned about him; (2) to explain the ministry of Epaphroditus and defend him to his critics; (3) to thank them again for their generous support; and (4) to encourage them in the Christian life.

The key thought in Philippians is joy. "Joy" and "rejoice" are mentioned over and over in these four brief chapters. Another emphasis is the mind. As you read Philippians, note how many times Paul talks about the mind, remembering, thoughts, etc. We can summarize the theme of the book as "the person who has a Christ- like mind will have Christian joy.".

Paul teaches us much about Christ in this epistle. In chapter 1 we see Christ is our life; in chapter 2 our example; in chapter 3 our goal; and in chapter 4 our strength.

The word "sin" is nowhere mentioned in Philippians, and the only suggestion of sorrow is in chapter 3:18 where Paul weeps over the worldly minded people who dishonor Christ.

Two wonderful promises are found in chapter 4:13,19. Every Christian should memorize these two great verses and say them over and over again! Christ truly is our strength and our provision in all things. If we do all things through Him who gives us the energy, He will provide all of our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Paul believed in the providence of God; that God was in control of events, and that He was able to meet every need. When the child of God is in the will of God, all things work for him; but when he is out of the will of God, everything works against him. This is the providence of God.

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