The Purpose of Philippians

Tue, 24/11/2009 - 12:04 -- James Oakley

I'm greatly enjoying spending some time in Paul's letter to the Philippians, in preparation for the first of our new quarterly combined services. The two churches (Kemsing and Woodlands) will come together for a shared Communion service 4 times a year. I am really looking forward to the occasion. In many respects, the two churches are very different. However the riches we share in Christ are many, and this quarterly celebration will be the chance to rejoice in that and to commit afresh to serving together in holding out the word of Christ. For that reason, we will be looking at the letter of Philippians when we get together in this way, and that starts this coming Sunday.

As I've been looking at Philippians, I've discovered just what a fine commentary Peter O'Brien's one is.

At the end of his introduction, he has a section on the purpose of the letter. He shows how Paul's purpose in writing develops in 4 ways, and then sums up what he has said in a single paragraph (page 38):

The apostle appears to have had a number of purposes in mind as he wrote it, namely to express his gratitude to his Philippian friends for their generosity, to explain why he decided to send Epaphroditus back so quickly, to inform his readers of his present circumstances and how his imprisonment has served to advance the gospel, to indicate his possible future plans including the visit of Timothy and his hopes of visiting them himself, to warn the Philippians of the dangers posed by the Judaizing opponents from outside the congregation, and especially to urge his Christian friends to stand firm for the gospel and to be united in Christian love.

“[May I] hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)

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