Philippians 1:1-10

Introduction to the epistle to the Philippian church:
We see in Acts 16:12 that Philippi was a town in Macedonia, in the territory of the Edones, on the border of Thrace and very near the northern extremity of the Aegean Sea. It was a little eastward of Mount Pangaeus, about midway between Nicopolis on the east and Thessalonica on the west. It was at first called Crenides and afterwards Datus, but Phillip, King of Macedonia and father of Alexander, having taken posession of it and fortified it, called it Philippi, after his own name. Julius Ceasar planted a colony here, which was afterwards enlarged by Augustus, and hence the inhabitants were considered as freemen of Rome.

The gospel was first preached here by the apostle Paul. About AD 53 Paul had a vision in the night; a man of Macedonia appeared to him and said, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." He was then at Troas in Mysia. From there he immediately sailed to Samothracia, came the next day to Neapolis, and thence to Philippi. There he continued for some time and converted Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira and afterwards cast a demon out of a Pythoness, for which he and Silas were persecuted, cast into prison, scourged and put into the stocks; but the magistrates afterwards finding that they were Romans, took them out of prison and treated them civilly. see the account in Acts 16:16-40.

The Philippians were greatly attached to their apostle and testified their affection by sending him supplies even when he was laboring for other churches. They appear to have been the only church that did so.

There is not much controversy concerning the date of this epistle. It was probably written in the end of A.D. 62, about a year after the letter to the Ephesians. Nero Caesar was in the 9th year of his reign as emporor of the Romans. Paul had been imprisoned in Rome for some time.

After considerable duration in Rome, Paul now regards the decision of his fate to be near at hand. He contemplates either alternative; that of his deliverence, (Chapter 2:23-24) or of his death, (Chapter 2:17).

The epistle to the Philippians is written in a very pleasing and confortable style; bearing evidence of his contented state of mind and of his great affection for the people. It appears that there were false apostles, or Judaizing teachers, at Philippi who had distrubed the peace of the Church. He warns against these, exhorts them to unity, comforts them in their afflictions for the Gospel, returns them thanks for their kindness to him, tells them of his condition and shows great willingness to be a sacrifice for the faith he had preached to them.

1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

[Paul and Timotheus]We learn from chapter 2:19, that Timothy was at this time with the apostle in Rome and also that he was very high in the apostle's estimation. He had also accompanied the apostle on his two voyages to Philippi, see Acts 16:1-12, Acts 19:21-22 and Acts 20:1-6, and was therefore deservedly dear to the Church in that city. It was on these accounts that Paul joined his name to his own.

2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

[Upon every remembrance] As often as you come to my mind, so often do I thank God for the great work wrought among you. Some think that the words should be translated, for all your kind remembrance; referring to their kind attention to the apostle in supplying his wants.

4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

[Always in every prayer] I pray often for you and have great pleasure in doing it, seeing what God has already wrought among you.

5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

[For your fellowship in the Gospel] Spiritual fellowship or communion. It signifies not only their attention to the Gospel, their readiness to continue it and persevere in it, but also their unity and affection among themselves. Some understand the word as expressing their liberality to the apostle and to the Gospel in general; for the term may not only be applied to communion among themselves, but to communications to others.This sense does not appear to be the best though we know it to be a fact that they were liberal in supplying the apostle's necessities, and, no doubt, in ministering to the support of others.

6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

[Being confident] There shall be nothing lacking on God's part to support you; and to make you wise, holy and happy; and bring you at last to his kingdom and glory.

7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

[It is meet for me to think this] It is just that I should think so, because I have you in my heart - you live in my warmest love and most affectionate remembrance.

[Inasmuch as both in my bonds] Because you have set your hearts upon me in my bonds, sending Epaphroditus to minister to me in my necessities, chapter 2:25, and contributing of your own substance to me, sending once and again to me while I was in bonds for the defence of the faith, those things which bring a sweet savor, a sacrifice well pleasing and acceptable to god, chapter 4:14-18, confirm my hope concerning you; especially when I find you yet standing firm under the like afflictions, having the same conflict which ye saw in me when I was among you and now hear to be in me.

8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

[For God is my record] I call God to witness that I have the strongest affection for you and that I love you with the same tender concern with which Christ loved the world when he gave himself for it.

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

[This I pray] This is the substance of all my prayers for you, that your love to God, to one another, and to all mankind may abound yet more and more.

[In knowledge] Of God's naure, perfections, your own duty and interest, his work upon your souls and his great designs in the Gospel.

[And in all Judgement] In all spiritual; or moral feeling; that you may at once have the clearest perseption and the fullest enjoyment of those things which concern your salvation; that ye may not only know but feel that you are of God by the Spirit which he has given you; and that your feeling may become exercised in Divine things so that it may be increasingly sensible and refined.

10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

[That ye may approve things that are excellent] By the pure and abundant love which they received from God they would be able to try whatsoever differed from the teaching they had received, and from the experience they had in spiritual things.

[That ye may be sincere] The word which we translate sincerity is compounded of the spledor of the sun and I judge; a thing which may be examined in the clearest and strongest light without the possibility of detecting a single flaw or imperfection. Be so purified and refined in your souls by the indwelling spirit that even the light of God shining into your hearts shall not be able to discover a fault that the love of God has not purged away.

Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 09/28/2008

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