Philippians Chapter 1:1-11 Sunday School Notes

These are some of my notes for Sunday, March 6, 2011 in the Lifeway Explore the Bible series. Books consulted in making these notes include:

Oldest Extant Editions of the Letters of Paul by David Trobisch

Peter O’Brien NIGTC:Philippians

Frank Theilman: NIVAC:Philippians

Moises Silva:BECNT:Philippians

Howard Clark Kee: Cambridge Annotated Study Bible(NRSV)

E. Randolph Richards: Paul and First Century Letter Writing

Geoffrey Bromiley: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

NET Bible

1:1-2: Traditional ancient Greek letter format ran:

1. Sender name

2. Addresee name

3. Greeting

Paul’s letters further follow the pattern:

4. Thanksgiving

5. Main body of letter

6. Section of admonitions and encouragement about Christian living (Kee)

Greek Manuscripts of Philippians:
P46: The oldest copy of the Pauline epistles known now, P46 is generally dated between 150-200 AD. It was formed of a single quire of 52 papyrus leaves, folded in the middle, forming a book with 104 leaves and 208 pages from the front and back of the leaves. The scribe who copied out P46 tried to be careful and figure how to fit the Pauline corpus (without the Pastorals?) in the 208 leaves, so that he ended up organizing the epistles by size, longest to shortest. Nevertheless, the scribe miscalculated and in the latter half of the book he writes more letters per line than in the first half to make the text fit. (Trobisch, Oldest Extant Editions of the Letters of Paul)

P16: A fragment, a single leaf of Philippians 3-4 from 280-330 AD

Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus: Two large Greek Bibles (OT/Apocrypha/NT) from roughly 350 AD, these are probably the two most reliable Greek New Testament manuscripts we have, and their readings form the basis for the text of the modern critical Greek NTs.

Making estimates based on cost of papyrus and standard charge for scribal work, E. Randolph Richards has estimated the cost of penning the Letter to the Philippians and a duplicate and converted it to 2004 dollars for a sum of five hundred fifteen dollars. (Richards)

Timothy: Not an author in this case, but mentioned both as Paul’s right hand man and one soon to be sent to Philippi. (2:19-23)

Fausset’s Bible Dictionary
First mentioned (Act_16:1) as dwelling in Lystra (not Derbe, Act_20:4; compare 2Ti_3:11). His mother was Eunice, a Jewess (2Ti_1:5); his father a Greek, i.e. a Gentile; he died probably in Timothy’s early years, as he is not mentioned later. Timothy is called “a disciple,” so that his conversion must have been before the time of Act_16:1, through Paul (1Ti_1:2, “my own son in the faith”) probably at the apostle’s former visit to Lystra (Act_14:6), when also we may conjecture his Scripture-loving mother Eunice and grandmother Lois were converted from Judaism to Christianity (2Ti_3:14-15; 2Ti_1:5): “faith made its “dwelling” (enookesen; Joh_14:23) first in Lois and Eunice,” then in Timothy also through their influence.

The elders ordained in Lystra and Iconium (Act_14:21-23; Act_16:2) thenceforth superintended him (1Ti_4:14); their good report and that of the brethren, as also his origin, partly Jewish partly Gentile, marked him out as especially suited to assist Paul in missionary work, labouring as the apostle did in each place, firstly among the Jews then among the Gentiles. The joint testimony to his character of the brethren of Lystra and Iconium implies that already he was employed as “messenger of the churches,” an office which constituted his subsequent life work (2Co_8:23). To obviate Jewish prejudices (1Co_9:20) in regard to one of half Israelite parentage, Paul first circumcised him, “for they knew all that his father was a Greek.” This was not inconsistent with the Jerusalem decree which was the Gentiles’ charter of liberty in Christ (Acts 15); contrast the case of Titus, a Gentile on both sides, and therefore not circumcised (Gal_2:3).

Timothy accompanied Paul in his Macedonian tour; but he and Silas stayed behind in Berea, when the apostle went forward to Athens. Afterward, he went on to Athens and was immediately sent back (Act_17:15; 1Th_3:1) by Paul to visit the Thessalonian church; he brought his report to Paul at Corinth (1Th_3:2; 1Th_3:6; Act_18:1; Act_18:5). Hence both the epistles to the Thessalonians written at Corinth contain his name with that of Paul in the address. During Paul’s long stay at Ephesus Timothy “ministered to him” (Act_19:22), and was sent before him to Macedonia and to Corinth “to bring the Corinthians into remembrance of the apostle’s ways in Christ” (1Co_4:17; 1Co_16:10).

His name accompanies Paul’s in the heading of 2Co_1:1, showing that he was with the apostle when he wrote it from Macedonia (compare 1Co_16:11); he was also with Paul the following winter at Corinth, when Paul wrote from thence his epistle to the Romans, and sends greetings with the apostle’s to them (1Co_16:21). On Paul’s return to Asia through Macedonia he went forward and waited for the apostle at Troas (Act_20:3-5). At Rome Timothy was with Paul during his imprisonment, when the apostle wrote his epistles to the Colossians (Col_1:1), Philemon (Phm_1:1), and Philippians (Phi_1:1). He was imprisoned with Paul (as was Aristarchus: Col_4:10) and set free, probably soon after Paul’s liberation (Heb_13:23). Paul was then still in Italy (Heb_13:24) waiting for Timothy to join him so as to start for Jerusalem. They were together at Ephesus, after his departing eastward from Italy (1Ti_1:3).

Paul left Timothy there to superintend the church temporarily as the apostle’s locum tenens or vicar apostolic (1Ti_1:3), while he himself went to Macedonia and Philippi, instead of sending Timothy as he had intended (Phi_2:19; Phi_2:23-24). The office at Ephesus and Crete (Tit_1:5) became permanent on the removal of the apostles by death; “angel” (Rev_1:20) was the transition stage between “apostle” and our “bishop.” The last notice of Timothy is Paul’s request (2Ti_4:13; 2Ti_4:21) that he should “do his diligence to come before winter” and should “bring the cloak” left with Carpus at Troas, which in the winter Paul would so much need in his dungeon: about A.D. 67 (Alford). Eusebius (Ecclesiastes Hist. iii. 43) makes him first bishop of Ephesus, if so John’s residence and death must have been later. Nicephorus (Ecclesiastes Hist. iii. 11) reports that he was clubbed to death at Diana’s feast, for having denounced its licentiousness.

Possibly (Calmet) Timothy was “the angel of the church at Ephesus” (Revelation 2). The praise and the censure agree with Timothy’s character, as it appears in Acts and the epistles. The temptation of such an ardent yet soft temperament would be to “leave his first love.” Christ’s promise of the tree of life to him that overcometh (Rev_2:5; Rev_2:7) accords with 2Ti_2:4-6. Paul, influenced by his own inclination (Act_16:3) and the prophets’ intimations respecting him (1Ti_1:18; 1Ti_4:14; 2Ti_1:6; compare Paul’s own ease, Act_13:1), with his own hands, accompanied with the presbytery’s laying on of hands, ordained him “evangelist” (2Ti_4:5). His self-denying character is shown by his leaving home at once to accompany Paul, and his submitting to circumcision for the gospel’s sake; also by his abstemiousness (1Ti_5:23) notwithstanding bodily “infirmities,” so that Paul had to urge him to “use a little wine for his stomach’s sake.”

Timothy betrayed undue diffidence and want of boldness in his delicate position as a “youth” having to deal with seniors (1Ti_4:12), with transgressors (1Ti_5:20-21) of whom some were persons to whom he might be tempted to show “partiality.” Therefore he needed Paul’s monition that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2Ti_1:7). His timidity is glanced at in Paul’s charge to the Corinthians (1Co_16:10-11), “if I come, see that he may be with you without fear, let no man, despise him.” His training under females, his constitutional infirmity, susceptible soft temperament, amativeness, and sensitiveness even to “tears” (2Ti_1:4, probably at parting from Paul at Ephesus, where Paul had to “beseech” him to stay: 1Ti_1:3), required such charges as “endure hardness (hardship) as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2Ti_2:3-18; 2Ti_2:22), “flee youthful lusts,” (1Ti_5:2) “the younger entreat as sisters, with all purity.”

Paul bears testimony to his disinterested and sympathizing affection for both his spiritual father, the apostle, and those to whom he was sent to minister; with him Christian love was become “natural,” not forced, nor “with dissimulation” (Phi_2:19-23): “I trust to send Timothy shortly … for I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state, for all seek their own not the things which are Jesus Christ’s; but ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father he hath served with me in the gospel.” Among his friends who send greetings to him were the Roman noble, Pudens, the British princess Claudia, and the bishop of Rome, Linus. Timothy “professed a good profession before many witnesses” at his baptism and his ordination, whether generally or as overseer at Ephesus (1Ti_1:18; 1Ti_4:14; 1Ti_6:12; 2Ti_1:6).

Less probably, Smith’s Bible Dictionary states that it was at the time of his Roman imprisonment with Paul, just before Paul’s liberation (Heb_13:23), on the ground that Timothy’s “profession” is put into juxtaposition with Christ Jesus’ “good confession before Pilate.” But the argument is “fight the good fight of faith.” seeing that “thou art called” to it, “and hast professed a good profession” (the same Greek, “confession.” (homologia) at thy baptism and ordination; carry out thy profession, as in the sight of Christ who attested the truth at the cost of His life “before or under” (epi) Pilate. Christ’s part was with His vicarious sacrifice to attest the good confession, i.e. Christianity; Timothy’s to “confess” it and “fight the good fight of faith,” and “keep the (gospel) commandment” (Joh_13:34; 1Ti_1:5; Tit_2:12; 2Pe_2:21; 2Pe_3:2).

servants: Greek douloi, “slaves”. Ancient slaves could run from pitiful mine workers to trusted family retainers who ran businesses for their masters. There is the Jewish tradition of calling prophets and kings God’s slaves Hebrew ebed), which connotes honorable service, but writing to the the non-Jewish Philippians, Paul more likely had the Greco-Roman meaning in mind. Paul’s point in using the term doulos of Anointed Jesus of himself then, is to stress that he is not his own man really, but about Jesus’ business and under His orders.(Silva, Thielman, O’Brien)

Saints: Greek hagioi, “holy ones”. The background for this terminology in regards to Christians doubtlessly comes from verses like Lev 20:26 NET You must be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the other peoples to be mine.

Fausset’s Bible Dictionary
A city of Macedon, in a plain between the Pangaeus arid Haemus ranges, nine miles from the sea. Paul from the port Neapolis (Kavalla) on the coast (Act_16:11) reached Philippi by an ancient paved road over the steep range Symbolum (which runs from the W. end of Haemus to the S. end of Pangaeus) in his second missionary journey, A.D 51. The walls are traced along the stream; at 350 ft. from it is the site of the gate through which Paul went to the place of prayer by the river’s (Gangites) side, where the dyer Lydia was converted, the firstfruits of the gospel in Europe. (See LYDIA.) Dyed goods were imported from Thyatira to the parent city Philippi, and were dispersed by pack animals among the mountaineers of Haemus and Pangaeus. The Satriae tribe had the oracle of Dionysus, the Thracian prophet god. The “damsel with the spirit of divination” may have belonged to this shrine, or else to Apollo’s (as the spirit is called “Pythoness,” Greek), and been hired by the Philippians to divine for hire to the country folk coming to the market.

She met Paul several days on his way to the place of prayer, and used to cry out on each occasion “these servants of the most high God announce to us the way of salvation.” Paul cast out the spirit; and her owners brought him and Silas before the magistrates, the duumvirs, who inflicted summary chastisement, never imagining they were Romans. Paul keenly felt this wrong (Act_16:37), and took care subsequently that his Roman privilege should not be set at nought (Act_22:25; 1Th_2:2). Philippi was founded by Philip of Macedon, in the vicinity of the famed gold mines, on the site “the springs” (Kremides). Augustus founded the Roman “colony” to commemorate his victory over Brutus and Cassius Act_16:12), Act_16:42 B.C., close to the ancient site, on the main road from Europe to Asia by Brundusium, Dyrrachium, across Epirus to Thessalonica, and so forward by Philippi. Philippi was “the first (i.e. farthest from Rome and first which Paul met in entering Macedon) city of the district” called Macedonia Prima, as lying farthest eastward, not as KJV “the chief city.”

Thessalonica was chief city of the province, and Amphipolis of the district “Macedonia Prima.” A “colony” (accurately so named by Luke as distinguished from the Greek apoikia) was Rome reproduced in miniature in the provinces (Jul. Gellius, 16:13); its inhabitants had Roman citizenship, the right of voting in the Roman tribes, their own senate and magistrates, the Roman law and language. That the Roman “colonia,” not the Greek apoikia is used, marks the accuracy of Act_16:12. Paul visited Philippi again on his way from Ephesus into Macedon (Act_20:1), and a third time on his return from Greece (Corinth) to Syria by way of Macedon (Act_20:3; Act_20:6). The community of trials for Christ’s sake strengthened the bond which united him and the Philippian Christians (Phi_1:28-30). They alone supplied his wants twice in Thessalonica soon after he left them (Phi_4:15-16); a third time, through Epaphroditus, just before this epistle (Phi_4:10; Phi_4:18; 2Co_11:9).

Few Jews were in Philippi to sow distrust between him and them. No synagogue, but merely an oratory (proseuchee), was there. The check to his zeal in being forbidden by the Spirit to enter Asia, Bithynia, and Mysia, and the miraculous call to Macedon, and his success in Philippi and the love of the converts, all endeared it to him. Yet the Philippians needed to be forewarned of the Judaizing influence which might assail their church at any time as it had crept into the Galatian churches (Phi_3:2). The epistle (Phi_4:2-3), in undesigned coincidence with the history (Act_16:13-14), implies that females were among the prominent church members.

Its people were poor, but most liberal (2Co_8:1-2); persecuted, but faithful: only there was a tendency to dissension which Paul reproves (Phi_1:27; Phi_2:1-4; Phi_2:12; Phi_2:14; Phi_4:2). In A.D. 107 the city was visited by Ignatius, who passed through on his way to martyrdom at Rome. Immediately after Polycarp wrote to the Philippians, sending at their request a copy of all the letters of Ignatius which the church of Smyrna had; so they still retained the same sympathy with sufferers for Christ as in Paul’s days. Their religion was practical and emotional, not speculative; hence but little doctrine and quotation of the Old Testament occur in the epistle of Paul to them. The gold mines furnished the means of their early liberality, but were a temptation to covetousness, against which Polycarp warns them. Their graces were doubtless not a little helped by the epistle and the oral teaching of the great apostle.

With/including: Including/together with is probably the better translation, as it makes plain the fact that the overseers and deacons are included among “the saints”.

Overseers/bishops: Greek episkopoi. The term meant “overseer” since classical Greek times, someone charged with directing and taking care of something, including jobs like treasurers, military strategists, judges, etc. Bishop is a bad translation in that it makes one think of post-New Testament church government. That overseers equal elders (Greek presbuteroi) is seen in Titus 1:6-7 and Acts 20:17, 28, as well as the comparison between 1 Tit 1:6-7 and 1 Tim 3:1-7.(O’Brien, NET)

Deacons: Greek diakonoi. Originally a term for menial service, like waiting at tables, the difference between the elder/overseer and the deacon seems to be that the deacon was dedicated to service the church membership but was not expected to teach (1 Tim 3:8-13). The origin of the position is in Acts 6:1-4.

Why did Paul mention these two titles in a letter that will focus on humility? Doubtless to gain the Philippian church leadership’s sympathy before he admonishes them.

Philippians 1:2
Grace and peace: Grace is the Greek charis. Here Paul modifies the standard Greek greeting in letters (Greetings, Greek charien) to remind his audience of theology, that their salvation comes as a gift from God through Jesus Christ. Peace, Greek eirene, is a bit harder to peg, because one suspects most of Paul’s Gentile audience would understand it as the absence of war or a quiet life. Paul, on the other hand, is likely referring back to the Hebrew shalom, the standard Jewish greeting, which carries connotations of well-being, of being right with God and the world. It is interesting Paul mixes Jewish and Gentile greetings. (Silva, Thielman, OBrien)

Philippians 1:3
I… my…: If there were doubts Paul is the letter’s single author, this language eliminates it.

It is possible to take the Greek here to mean “your every remembrance of me” rather than “every time I remember you”, but Paul’s style in places like Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon, and 2 Timothy make it unlikely. (Silva)

Philippians 1:4
I thank my God… in my every prayer remembering you all: While this is surely a sincere admission of Paul’s, it is nonetheless stereotypical language for ancient letters as well. (Thielman)

with joy: This both indicates Paul’s fondness for the Philippians and also marks the introduction of a major theme of the letter, the need for believers to be joyful in all circumstances. (Thielman)

Philippians 1:5
What is fellowship/partnership? The Greek is koinonia, and Paul habitually uses this word or other forms of it to refer to monetary giving (Rom 15:26, 2 Cor 8:4, Rom 12:13, Gal 6:6, Phil 4:15).(Silva)

first day until now: The Philippians have given money to Paul’s ministry consistently. (Phil 4:15-16) (Silva)

Philippians 1:6
This sentence is replete with deep theology. Basically it says, “God began this work, and it being His nature, he will finish it in you until Christ returns” .

Parallels here include:
Php 2:12-13 NET. So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, (13) for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort — for the sake of his good pleasure — is God.

Rom 8:28-30 NET. And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, (29) because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (30) And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

Eph 2:8-10 NET. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; (9) it is not from works, so that no one can boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

2Th 2:13 NET. But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

Heb 13:20-21 NET. Now may the God of peace who by the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, (21) equip you with every good thing to do his will, working in us what is pleasing before him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

2Th 1:11 NET. And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith,

1Th 5:23-24 NET. Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.

Philippians 1:7
How are the Philippians partners of Paul in grace (even “my grace” perhaps)? Typically commentators see it either as a reference to the Philippians being saved. But Paul regularly uses grace (Greek charis) to refer to his ministry (Rom 1:5, 12:3, 15:15; 1 Cor 3:10; Gal 2:9). (Silva)

“defense” and “confirmation” are Greek legal terms (apologia, bebaiosis). They are often taken as a pair here, referring presumably to Paul’s upcoming trial, but they might also be separate terms referring instead to Paul’s ministry and his current imprisonment. In essense, then, “you supported me in good times and bad”. (Obrien, Silva)

Philippians 1:8
Paul here affirms both his uniquely strong fondness for the Philippians by using an oath while indicating that his feelings are controlled by his complete devotion to Christ.

Philippians 1:9-11
You can view Paul’s “and this I pray” either as a resumption of verse 1:4 or a continuation of verse 1:8, in the sense of “I long for you, but can’t see you, thus I pray for you like this”. (Silva)

Love: Greek agape. One might be tempted to see this love as being restricted to for and among the Philippian believers themselves, but “love” has no grammatical object here, encouraging us to take it in the broadest manner, as the love that characterizes all of Christians’ lives.(OBrien)

abound/keep on growing: Greek perisseuo, to overflow, to have more than enough, to increase.(TDNT)

knowledge:Greek epignosis, used by Paul more specifically as “spiritual knowledge”, almost a term for Christian understanding.(Thielman, TDNT)

judgment/discernment: Greek aisthesis, moral discernment.

Thus Paul prays for the Philippians to know the ways of God better and to be able to apply God’s ways to life. (TDNT, Thielman)

Philippians 1:10
Specifically now Paul prays the Philippians use this knowledge in action by choosing the higher ways, the best ways, what in difficult situations a Christian should do.

Sincere/pure: Greek eilikrinesis, moral purity.(Silva)

Without offense/Blameless: Greek aproskopoi can be passive “not stumbling/faultless” or active “not causing to stumble/inoffensive”.(Silva)

fruit of righteousness: Can mean either ethical conduct, or simply the quality of righteousness.

comes through Jesus Christ:

Joh 15:5 NET. “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me — and I in him — bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.

Eph 2:10 NET. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.


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