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Bible Commentaries
Philippians

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

- Philippians

by Manly Luscombe

INTRODUCTION

The following is from an introduction to a study of Philippians by Michael Hall. He introduces the book with these words:

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There are dark clouds upon the horizon of our age which threatens our victory and joy in Christ. Clouds of despair, loneliness, inflation, divorce, crime, frustration, and meaninglessness which hover over our lives and blot out all light and life! Unhappiness is rampant. Our society is miserable, though it runs madly after happiness and fun. Beneath all the facade of prosperity and outward gaity, there is a prevailing sense of frustration. Yet this sad situation is climaxed tragically by children of God who have imbibed this spirit of defeat, disgust, distress, and deplorable despair! They doubt their Christian experience. They are insecure in their hope for eternal life. They question their fellowship with Christ. Our need, then, if for a joyous victory!!

How we need the revival of a joyous, conquering church! For it's very evident that spiritual depression doesn't recommend our precious faith to an already depressed, defeated, and degenerated world. Certainly, the exuberant joy of the early Christians was a potent factor in their phenomenal growth and power!

Philippians is a book of joy and victory. There we realize that victory and joy springs from a steadfast faith in Jesus, a deep love and sweet unity with each other, an unshakable peace with God and the mighty power of Christ working in us! Their is joyous victory in suffering (ch. 1) in service (ch. 2) in Christ (ch. 3) and over our problems (ch. 4). Philippians is a book which breathes the rare perfume of Christian joy and peace in the midst of dark, gloomy clouds of suffering. And it's preciousness is climaxed by its writer --- a chained prisoner under the shameless tyranny and ungodly dictator of Rome, who found joyous victory even there.

So read, meditate, study, ponder and prayerfully imbibe this principles in this very powerful and revealing book. The book is addressed to those who were already achieving a very high level of Christian experience. It has a depth of spiritual awareness, a real intimacy with Jesus Christ, and a picture of the victorious life in Christ. There are constant exhortations to joy, love, unity, peace and Christian maturity. And what could be more needed in this day of materialism and over-involvement with the affairs of this life than a clear vision of our LORD?

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To all of the above, I add a hearty AMEN and AMEN! Christian ought to be the happiest people on earth. We are saved, cleansed from sin, headed for heaven. We are "children of the King." Why is there so much depression, despair, frustration and gloom in the lives of God's people?

BACKGROUND MATTERS

1. Origin of the Church at Philippi.

The establishment of the church in Philippi served as the entrance of the gospel into Europe. Philippi was established by Philip of Macedon in 360 BC. When it became part of the Roman Empire in 168 BC it became the capital for this region.

The book of Acts details two conversions in Phillipi. Lydia was first converted ( Act_16:12-15 ). Then the jailer was baptized ( Act_16:25-34 )

2. Date and Place of Writing.

This is one of a group of letters of Paul known as the prison epistles. It is clear that Paul was in "bonds" when he wrote this letter. The letter was probably written from Rome because:

A. Paul was a prisoner - 1:7, 13, 14, 16.

B. His imprisonment was serious - 1:20, 1:30, 2:17.

C. He send greetings from Caesar's house - 4:22.

3. Authenticity and Unity.

There is little dispute about the authenticity of Philippians. It is genuinely Paul's style of writing. The book does not divide itself into spiritual and practical matters like the books of Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians. But, this letter is written when Paul a prisoner, He seeks to cheer, comfort and encourage rather than deal with the issues of the day.

4. Occasion and Purpose.

Paul's plans for the future are on hold. He is in prison and does not know if he will ever be released. He realizes that he may die in prison or be killed. He desires to encourage and console the church with words of reassurance and cheer.

He also wanted to warn them of the Judaizers. He calls them "dogs" and "evil workers" (3:2). Paul urges them to be aware and alert.

5. Features of the Letter.

The key theme of this letter is JOY. Paul wants to cheer them with news of Timothy and Epaphroditus. He speaks in positive terms of his own situation. He rejoices in the midst of adversity.

NOTE: There are all kinds of churches. Every preacher of several years in the ministry can talk about their "Corinth" church with all kinds of problems. They can also remember their "Philippi" church with few problems. Some congregations require must work, patience, and firm preaching. Others have few problems and the primary task is to encourage them to "KEEP ON KEEPING ON."

OUTLINE

Several outlines are offered in various commentaries. The one that I prefer comes from the book, Be Joyful, by Warren Wiersbe.

KEY THEME: THE JOY OF THE LORD

KEY VERSE: Php_3:1

1. THE SINGLE MIND - Chapter 1

A. The Fellowship of the Gospel 1:1-11

B. The Furtherance of the Gospel 1:12-26

C. The Faith of the Gospel 1:27-30

2. THE SUBMISSIVE MIND - Chapter 2

A. The Example of Christ 2:1-11

B. The Example of Paul 2:12-18

C. The Example of Timothy 2:19-24

D. The Example of Epaphroditus 2:25-30

3. THE SPIRITUAL MIND - Chapter 3

A. Paul's Past (The Accountant - "I Count") 3:1-11

B. Paul's Present (The Athlete - "I Press") 3:12-16

C. Paul's Future (The Alien - "I look") 3:17-21

4. THE SECURE MIND - Chapter 4

A. God's Peace 4:1-9

B. God's Power 4:10-13

C. God's Provision 4:14-23

PLAN OF STUDY

This book is given to you for a study guide. I will not always follow the format given here when teaching the class. I have written the following to serve as a means to guide you through the book of Philippians. This material has been prepared to serve as a guide to:

A. Stimulate you to do advanced study and meditation.

B. Open topics of discussion that need serious examination.

C. Raise questions which require discerning study.

D. Examine the richness of the truths in this epistle.

I have divided the book into the sections in the outline. These thirteen lessons follow the outline of the book. This material is provided for your study and analysis of the book of Philippians. In class, we will move at our own pace. We will not always study a lesson each week.

Each lesson is examined in three sections.

Part 1 The Key Words to study.

Part 2 The Key Issues to examine.

Part 3 The key Questions to answer.

It is my hope and prayer that you will study this book with a very personal view. At each verse, we must learn to ask, "What is God saying to me in this passage?" Before we can apply the teachings of God to others, it is a requirement that they become a part of our own lives.

We will never (I said, "NEVER!") convert the world, which is lost in despair, to the blessings of Christianity until they see those blessings in our lives. Joy is feasible. Peace is possible. Contentment is conceivable. Victory is ours. Fellowship in the gospel is workable. Real, genuine joyous victory in Christ is attainable!

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