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Bible Commentaries

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament


- Philippians

by John & Jacob Abbott

THE Epistle to the Philippians is a friendly letter of encouragement and exhortation addressed to a church which was in a prosperous and happy condition. Many causes conspired to make this church an object of Paul's special regard. The circumstances attending his first visit to Philippi, as related Acts 16:9-40, were extraordinary; and the church which was planted at that time appears to have afterwards evinced, perhaps more than any other church, a strong and constant attachment to the apostle, and veneration for his authority. He repeatedly alludes, in this Epistle, to the proofs of friendly regard which he had continually been receiving from them.

In fact, the occasion on which this Epistle seems to have been written, was the return of a messenger, Epaphroditus, (Philippians 2:25,) who had come from Philippi to Rome, to visit Paul in his imprisonment there, and relieve his wants by a pecuniary supply. Some years before this time, Paul had interested himself very deeply in inducing these Philippians, and the Christians of Corinth, to collect contributions for their destitute brethren in Judea; and the funds so collected he took great pains to carry to Jerusalem, and to apply to the purpose intended. That the seed of benevolence which he thus planted, should have produced, after so long a time, such a fruit as the leading of this people to send their messenger hundreds of miles by sea and land, after the lapse of many years, to seek out Paul in his wearisome confinement at Rome, with the proceeds of a contribution, made voluntarily for him, is a very happy exemplification of the faithfulness of the promise, "Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt find it after many days."