Background on the book of Philippians begins with its author–the Apostle Paul. He wrote it as a letter to the church while he was imprisoned in Rome. Here are other elements that form the background on the book of Philippians.
Background on the book of Philippians involves the city of Philippi
The city of Philippi was named after Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It was a Roman colony where many Roman soldiers retired and its inhabitants enjoyed the privileges of Roman citizenship.
These colonies, located on the outskirts of the Roman empire, and populated with former soldiers, effectively secured the empire borders.
The book of Philippians is commonly called one of Paul’s prison epistles. Paul wrote two other epistles during his prison stay. The New Testament books of Ephesians and Colossians.
Background on the book of Philippians involves a call by God
God uses Christ-followers to carry out his will. And God initially called Paul while traveling to the city of Damascus. At the time, Paul actively persecuted the Christian church. But on the road to Damascus, God appeared to him in a blinding light.
Because of the encounter, Paul commits his life to Christ and makes a course correction. Ok actually, a complete change in direction. And what the Bible calls repentance.
Has God ever affected a course correction in your life? Take a moment to reflect and write down what it involved. How did it impact your life today?
Then Paul dreamed about a man from Macedonia who asked for his help. And he concluded God was calling him to go there and preach the gospel.
Background on the book of Philippians involves a woman entreprenuer
So Paul ends up in the city of Phillip and on the Sabbath, he looks for a group of Jewish worshipers to join. And he meets Lydia, a business woman who sells purple cloth.
She’s described as a “worshiper of God” which probably means she practiced the Jewish faith. But when Paul shares the gospel with her, she opens her heart to faith in Jesus and is baptized. And immediately offers her home as a meeting place for other followers of Jesus.
Background on the book of Philippians involves a fortune teller
Next Paul encounters a young, demon possessed slave girl. And the demon gives her the power of fortune telling, which is highly profitable for her owners.
As Paul and Silas share the gospel around the city, she follows them for several days announcing, These men are servants of the Most High God who proclaim to you the way of salvation.
It’s easy to imagine her mocking tone of voice. As if to say, these guys are complete losers. Take them seriously and you’re a loser too. Similar to the way many skeptics view Christ-followers today.
But after several days of this verbal onslaught, Paul had enough. He commanded the evil spirit to leave her.
It obeys Paul’s command and with the vacating spirit went the slave girl’s fortune telling abilities. Her lucrative income. Which left her owners very unhappy.
So they dragged Paul and Silas before the city rulers and complained. And the rulers–seeking to please the citizenship–had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown in jail.
Background on the book of Philippians involves a suicidal jailer
That evening around midnight, with bruised bodies and feet lock in stocks, Paul and Silas do just what you expect after a hard beating…pray and sing hymns to God.
Suddenly, an earthquake occurs, prison doors fly open, chains fall off, and the jailer behaves with a clear head. He draws his sword to kill himself. An impulsive, act first, think later, knee jerk reaction that accomplishes half your goal.
He stops, however, when Paul assures him no one has escaped. And he falls before them and asks how to be saved.
They share the gospel with him, he believes in Jesus, and then takes them into his house and treats their wounds.
The next day, the city rulers told the Jailer to let Paul and Silas go. But Paul tells him to inform those leaders that he and Silas are Roman citizens who were denied due process. And demands the city rulers to personally escort them from jail.
Which they do. Afterwards, Paul and Silas encourage their new group of believers and leave.
And so you get a glimpse into the beginning of the Philippian church.
Join me next week as I dive into Philippians 1:1-5.