1 "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thankfulness and Prayer
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ."
Well here we are starting a new book in the New Testament, a letter written to the church in Philippi while Paul was in prison. Before we get into the actual letter a little background will help. Unlike Paul’s letter to Colossae where Paul had never been the pastor/evangelist, this time Paul is writing to a church he started himself. We have quite a bit of the background info and it is found in Acts 16:
16:6 "Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit[a] did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days..."
The most significant thing about the church Paul started in Philippi is that it was the first Christian church in Europe. At the time the region was called Macedonia and was part of Greece. The city itself was well over 400 years old when Paul arrived there and historically was famous for one particular event. In 42 BC Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, in a battle at Philippi.
Like much of the Roman Empire Philippi was a very syncretistic city meaning many different gods were worshipped and many different religions were practiced by the locals. We know the Jewish faith was small there because there was no synagogue for Paul to preach in when he first arrived in AD 49 on his 2nd missionary journey.
Now that we have some background tomorrow we'll dive into what Paul had to say back then and what principles that has for us now. Jesus preserved this letter for our time for a reason. See you tomorrow.