Paul (and Timothy) had started this church on their second missionary journey...the first church he started in Europe (Acts 16). Paul was personally very close to this church. They helped him financially two times before this letter was written (4:16) and when they heard of his confinement in Rome they sent Epaphroditus with another gift. Philippians is a letter thanking them for that gift (Ryrie Study Bible). Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter...but there is disagreement as to where. Some say Caesarea, others Ephesus, but most likely Rome (Ryrie, cf. 4:22; also 1:20-this was probably the trial before Caesar in Rome).
For a map locating Philippi see:
For an insightful article describing the history of Philippi as well as Paul’s ministry there see: https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=IT0 006898
Philippians 1:1-11-Paul’s Greeting to the Philippians
Philippians 1:1-5-His Gratitude for Their Help
Philippians 1:4-Despite the fact that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter...words that find a common root with "joy" are used 15 times in this letter (joy-7, rejoice-8).
Philippians 1:6-8-His Confidence in God’s Work
Philippians 1:6-Paul expresses his confidence that God will complete the work of transforming these believers into the image of Christ. The word "perfect" means "finish, complete".
epi, "up," intensive, and No. 3, is a strengthened form of that verb, in the sense of "accomplishing." The fuller meaning is "to accomplish perfectly;" in Rom 15:28, RV, "accomplish;" "perfecting" in 2Cr 7:1; "complete" in 2Cr 8:6,11; "completion" in the latter part of this 11th verse, which is better than "performance;" "perfected" in Gal 3:3; "perfect" in Phl 1:6. In Hbr 8:5 the margin rightly has "complete" instead of "make," with regard to the Tabernacle. In Hbr 9:6 it is translated "accomplish" and in 1Pe 5:9.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2 005&t=KJV
The old song comes to mind: “He’s still working on me. To make me what I ought to be. It only took a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth, Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient He must be. ‘Cause He’s still working on me.” Amen. I’m not what I used to be. But then, neither am I what I’m going to be.
Philippians 1:7-8-There are several courtroom terms used in these verses...imprisonment, defense, confirmation, witness. Paul is telling them that he sensed their presence with him in his trial. During those dark and difficult days, Paul knew that they had not abandoned or forgotten him. It is as if he is saying, “Despite whatever happened...I knew that you were there for me.” How many Missionaries and Ministers can say that of us? Remember the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind”? Too often, we pat them on the back and smile with them...while they are with us. But not long after they leave our company, we forget about them. Certainly we should be more intentionally mindful of those who are serving the Lord! How can we do this? In this modern day we can easily communicate with people all over the world. We can pray for them. We can send them gifts...perhaps items that they cannot purchase where they are. There are numerous ways that we can continue to participate with them in the Gospel.
Philippians 1:9-11-His Prayer for their Lives
Paul prays that they will be able to clearly determine “the things that are
excellent”...those issues that are of greater significance and importance from those things of lesser value.
Philippians 1:12-29-Paul’s Circumstances
Philippians 1:12-18-His Imprisonment has been Productive for the Gospel Philippians 1:12-14-Paul tells them that God has used his imprisonment to further the Gospel. The entire praetorian guard (Ryrie-9,000 men) had heard the Gospel as a result of Paul being chained to many of them. And, because they saw God's faithfulness to Paul in his imprisonment, other Christians had more courage to speak out for God.
Philippians 1:15-18-In this midst of this, there were certain men who tried to take advantage of Paul’s misfortune. They used it as a means of benefit for themselves. You can hear them saying, “See, if Paul was really the man of God that He claims to be, he wouldn’t be having these problems. He wouldn’t be in prison.” But Paul tells his friends in Philippi to not let these men worry them. He says that as long as the true Gospel is being preached, whatever the attitude or reasoning behind it, he is satisfied.
Commenting on these verses, Chuck Smith writes...
Paul, because he was a dynamic leader and a strong leader, had his enemies as well as his friends. That is the price of leadership. Just the very fact that God is using you is going to create enmity, jealousy, animosity, in the hearts of people. Paul was no exception. There were those who were jealous of Paul's ministry and what God was doing through Paul. They thought to take advantage of the fact he is in bonds. They are going to go out and they are going to try and do their work, out of contention. Their motive was contention, rivalry; rivalry against Paul, building up their own little flock or whatever. Their motives were really wrong in what they were doing, but the very fact that they were doing it, Paul rejoiced.
I think that this is just a tremendous example of the true Christian minister. He doesn't care who is getting the credit; all he cares is that the work of Christ is being accomplished. So God is blessing the Baptist church and it's bursting at the seams; praise the Lord! The Spirit of God is moving in the hearts of those people. Rather than feeling jealous or competitive, rather than saying, "I don't know why God would bless them when we are so much better than they are." You rejoice that God is working and that the work of God is being accomplished. Even if a person comes in with wrong motivations, and they say, "I don't like that Chuck Smith. I am bitter at him. I am going to rip off a part of his flock. We're going to establish our ministry right down the block, and we are going to pick up the disgruntles and everyone else that comes out of there." Praise the Lord people are being ministered to. They are disgruntled with me. They won't come here anymore. Well, bless God there is a place for the disgruntles to meet. Chuck Smith, C2000 series on Philippians 1, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/c2000_Phl/Phl_001.cf m?a=1104015
Philippians 1:19-26-His Determination to Live for Christ in all Circumstances Paul says that through their prayers and the work of the Holy Spirit he will not disgrace the Lord...but, will remain strong in faith. Whether he lived or died...both were to serve Christ. Paul was obsessed with living for Christ. But if necessary, he was ready to die in a manner that also expressed his total devotion to Him. He is completely transparent and honest in what he says here. On one hand, he feels pulled towards staying alive. There was still much work for the Gospel to be done. On the other, he looks longingly at the blessings of departing this life and going to Heaven. However, he realizes that God still has a purpose for his being on earth. So, with that in mind, he determines that no matter what happens to him...he will face it in a manner that will bring glory to Jesus and
would strengthen the faith of other believers.
It is amazing how powerful such a resolve can be in our lives. Once we make
the decision that we have sold out for Jesus Christ...everything else falls under its influence and sway. But, as long as we falter, as long as we sway back and forth, one moment making the things of this world our priority and the next moment making the things of God our priority, we will never stand on firm ground. If we are ever to become secure and stable in our faith, we must agree with Paul, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Everything we are...from life to death...is given over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There is no placing one foot in this world and one foot in Heaven. There is no straddling the fence. There is no place of middle ground. We must choose. It is one, or the other.
At this point, Paul was facing Caesar Nero, and he really did not know whether or not he would receive the sentence of death from Nero. Now, he knew that Nero had a general opposition to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He knew that Nero saw Jesus Christ as a threat. Nero had ordered that the people confess that Caesar is Lord. Those that refused to confess that Caesar was Lord would be put to death. Paul was going to be facing now this little tyrant. He says, "Pray for me that I might be as bold as I have always been, not going to back down now in this situation, just because I am going to be facing this tyrant Caesar. My expectation, my hope that I will not be ashamed, that I will speak the truth boldly, though the consequence may be my head."
It is interesting from a historical standpoint that Paul appeared before Caesar Nero twice. Once, on his appeal in Caesarea, he had appealed to Caesar, and the first time Paul appeared, Caesar Nero set him free. The charges were baseless. Paul was set free. A couple of years later he was rearrested and brought back to Rome and Caesar Nero ordered him beheaded. So, Paul died a martyr death and he was beheaded by the edict of Caesar Nero. But, as you look at history, an interesting thing: number one, we know that Jesus had told his disciples that they were going to be hailed before the magistrates and before kings. But He said, "Don't take any forethought what you are going to say because in that hour the Holy Spirit will give you the words, and these things will turn for your testimony, or the appearances will give you an opportunity to testify." So, as you read Paul's defenses before the judges and before the kings, he appeared before King Agrippa; he appeared before Felix and before Festus. On every occasion Paul took the occasion to testify, to tell of the work of God's Spirit in his life, and he witnessed to his being born again by the power of Jesus Christ. Every time that he appeared before any of these magistrates, it was just to Paul an opportunity to testify for Jesus Christ. The higher the position of the person before whom Paul was appearing, the more fervent was Paul's testimony, the more earnest was Paul in his endeavor to convert the person, because Paul always thought, "Wow, with the influence and position this guy has, think of what it could do for the gospel if he were saved."
When he appeared before King Agrippa, man, did he ever lay on a heavy testimony. When he was coming to the close, he said, "Agrippa, do you believe the scriptures? I know you believe the scriptures." And he was really coming to the close, and Festus cried out, "Paul, you're crazy! You have been studying too hard. You have lost your mind." Paul came right back and began to press Agrippa, until he said, "Wait a minute, you mean you are trying to convert me to be a Christian? You're trying to persuade me?" Paul said, "I sure wish you were, just like me, except I wouldn't wish you to have these bonds on you. But oh, how I wish you were."
Paul appearing before Nero, don't you know he really turned it on. I mean, he felt no doubt, if I can convert Nero, think of what that will do for the gospel if the emperor becomes a Christian. I am sure he laid on the heaviest witness anybody has ever heard at any time in history when he got before Nero.
It is interesting as you study the history of Nero, up to this point in history, up to the point that Paul appeared before him, he was a fairly decent ruler. After Paul's appearance, there was a sudden and dramatic change in Nero's personality recorded in history. He became almost a mad man. In fact, many did think that he became insane. There is that likelihood that God, through Paul, was giving to Caesar Nero the opportunity of being saved and the testimony and the witness was so powerful, that in his rejection of that testimony, his complete rejection of Jesus Christ, that Caesar Nero at that point became demon possessed. There are certainly things in history to indicate demon possession in Caesar Nero, and also in the scriptures.
Caesar Nero became a madman. In his persecution of the church, he became inhumane. They would tie Christians on posts in his garden, cover them with tar, and set them on fire to light his garden in the evening, as he would get in his chariot naked and race through the paths of his garden. Christians lighting them, torched there in the garden. It was inhumane and horrible.
It is an interesting study as you study carefully the history of Nero, and this dramatic change just about the time that Paul witnessed to him. He then, of course, burned Rome in his desire to build a new and greater Rome, one that would be named after him and leave his monument, and then blame the Christians. That was when Paul was recalled and arrested in Ephesus, and brought back to Rome, and then beheaded by Caesar Nero.
Chuck Smith, C2000 series on Philippians 1, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/smith_chuck/c2000_Phl/Phl_001.cf m?a=1104015
Philippians 1:27-29-His Encouragement that They Have the Same Attitude Philippians 1:27-Having said that, Paul has earned the right to admonish them to also live in a way that is "worthy of the Gospel of Christ...standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (:27), "in no way alarmed by your opponents" (:28).
Philippians 1:28-As believers we have been granted for Christ's sake (in order that He might be given glory)...to believe in Him, and to perhaps even suffer for Him.
Prayer: Father, please help me to bring praise and glory to You in difficult times. Lord, sometimes we are only grateful for the good things that accompany salvation. But please make me aware that no matter what happens in life it is an opportunity for me to bring You praise. Help me to live faithfully in both good and bad times.