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Epistle to the Philippians
The Philippians had sent Epaphroditus, their messenger, with contributions to meet the necessities of the apostle; and on his return Paul sent back with him this letter. With this precious communication Epaphroditus sets out on his homeward journey.
The church at Philippi was the first-fruits of European Christianity. Their attachment to the apostle was very fervent, and so also was his affection for them. They alone of all the churches helped him by their contributions, which he gratefully acknowledges (Acts 20:33-35; 2 Cor. 11:7-12; 2 Thess. 3:8). The pecuniary liberality of the Philippians comes out very conspicuously (Phil. 4:15).
The contents of this epistle give an interesting insight into the condition of the church at Rome at the time it was written. Paul's imprisonment, we are informed, was no hindrance to his preaching the gospel, but rather “turned out to the furtherance of the gospel.” The gospel spread very extensively among the Roman soldiers, with whom he was in constant contact, and the Christians grew into a “vast multitude.” It is plain that Christianity was at this time making rapid advancement in Rome.
The doctrinal statements of this epistle bear a close relation to those of the Epistle to the Romans. Compare also Phil. 3:20 with Eph. 2:12, 19, where the church is presented under the idea of a city or commonwealth for the first time in Paul's writings. The personal glory of Christ is also set forth in almost parallel forms of expression in Phil. 2:5-11, compared with Eph. 1:17-23; 2:8; and Col. 1:15-20. “This exposition of the grace and wonder of His personal majesty, personal self-abasement, and personal exaltation after it,” found in these epistles, “is, in a great measure, a new development in the revelations given through St. Paul” (Moule). Other minuter analogies in forms of expression and of thought are also found in these epistles of the Captivity.