Epistle to the Philippians in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE I. Paul and the Church at Philippi. Paul was on his second missionary journey in the year 52 AD. He felt that he was strangely thwarted in many of his plans. He had had a most distressing illness in Galatia. The Spirit would not permit him to preach in Asia, and when he essayed to enter Bithynia the Spirit again would not suffer it. Baffled and perplexed, the apostle with his two companions, Silas and Timothy, went on to the seacoast and stopped in Troas. Here at last his leading became clear. A vision of a man from Macedonia convinced him that it was the will of God that he should preach in the western continent of Europe. The way was opened at once. The winds were favorable. In two days he came to Neapolis. At once he took the broad paved way of the Via Egnatia up to the mountain pass and down on the other side to Philippi, a journey of some 8 miles. There was no synagogue at Philippi, but a little company of Jews gathered for Sabbath worship at "a place of prayer" (proseuche, Acts 16:13), about a mile to the West of the city gate on the shore of the river Gangites (see PROSEUCHA). Paul and his companions talked to the women gathered there, and Lydia was converted. Later, a maid with the spirit of divination was exorcised. Paul and Silas were scourged and thrown into prison, an earthquake set them free, the jailer became a believer, the magistrates repented their treatment of men who were Roman citizens and besought them to leave the city (Acts 16:6-40). Paul had had his first experience of a Roman scourging and of lying in the stocks of a Roman prison here at Philippi, yet he went on his way rejoicing, for a company of disciples had been formed, and he had won the devotion of loyal and loving hearts for himself and his Master (see PHILIPPI). That was worth all the persecution and the pain. The Christians at Philippi seem to have been Paul's favorites among all his converts. He never lost any opportunity of visiting them and refreshing his spirit with their presence in the after- years. Six years later he was resident in Ephesus, and having sent Titus to Corinth with a letter to the Corinthians and being in doubt as to the spirit in which it would be received, he appointed a meeting with Titus in Macedonia, and probably spent the anxious days of his waiting at Philippi. If he met Titus there, he may have written 2 Corinthians in that city (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6). Paul returned to Ephesus, and after the riot in that city he went over again into Macedonia and made his third visit to Philippi. He probably promised the Philippians at this time that he would return to Philippi to celebrate the Easter week with his beloved converts there. He went on into Greece, but in 3 months he was back again, at the festival of the resurrection in the year 58 AD (Acts 20:2,6). We read in 1 Tim 1:3 that Paul visited Macedonia after the Roman imprisonment. He enjoyed himself among the Philippians. They were Christians after his own heart. He thanks God for their fellowship from the first day until now (Phil 1:5). He declares that they are his beloved who have always obeyed, not in his presence only, but much more in his absence (Phil 2:12). With fond repetition he addresses them as his brethren, beloved and longed for, his joy and crown, his beloved (Phil 4:1). This was Paul's favorite church, and we can gather from the epistle good reason for this fact...

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