Philippians 1:1, 2
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi…
This Epistle of Paul breathes throughout the tenderest affection and most passionate longing toward the Philippians. It was called forth by a token of their affection in a contribution for his support sent by Epaphroditus. It is pervaded by a deeper tone of satisfaction than any other of his Epistles. It is characteristically epistolary in its freedom of plan and familiarity of expression. Written without a dogmatic purpose, there is one important doctrinal passage in it; and there is a breaking off to warn against two antagonistic types of error - Judaic formalism and antinomian licence. With all that was commendable in the Philippians, there was something of the spirit of rivalry among them. The counteracting of this gives, in several places, a turn to the thought.
1. The writers. "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus." The Philippians are so loyal to Paul that he does not need to make use of his official designation. He associates with himself Timothy, as both of them standing in common subordination to Christ as Savior. They are both his servants, i.e. bound to carry out the ends of his salvation. Timothy was known to the readers of this Epistle, as having assisted in the foundation of their Church and as having subsequently visited them. From the natural interest he thus had in them he was to be at no distant period Paul's ambassador for the purpose of inquiring into their state. There can be no doubt that Paul is properly the writer of the Epistle; for, in the third verse, Timothy is lost sight of, and, when he is afterward referred to, it is in the third person. At the same time, Timothy must be regarded as joining with Paul, not only in the salutation, but in the whole sentiment of the Epistle. Written down by him, or read over by him or to him, he was of one mind with Paul in every expression he used to the Philippian Church.
2. The persons addressed.
(1) The members of the Church. "To all the saints in Christ Jesus." They were saints, not by nature, but through the cleansing efficacy of Christ's blood. They were saints, not so much in actuality, as in idea, in aspiration. They regarded purity, separation from the world, as their distinctive badge. They were like the wearers of the white robes in the temple, appointed to dwell under the Infinite Purity. They might not be all genuine; but the apostle addresses them with a studied universality according to what they professed to be. Locality. "Which are at Philippi." The city of Philippi was situated in Macedonia, on the borders of Thrace; it derived its name from the great Philip of Macedon, who, about B.C. 356, founded it on the site of the ancient Crenides, or Wells. The plain on which it was situated was watered by the Gangites, a tributary of the Strymon. In the battle of Philippi, fought in B.C. 42, between Antony and Octavius against Brutus and Cassius, the fortunes of the Roman Republic were finally lost, and the place, thus made memorable, soon afterwards became what it is styled in the Acts of the Apostles, a Roman colony. It is especially memorable for the Christian Church as the first place in Europe where the gospel was preached. This was about the year 53, in the course of Paul's second missionary journey. Brought by a compulsion from "the Spirit of Jesus" opposite the European coast, in a night vision there appeared to Paul a man of Macedonia beseeching him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia, and help us." Without delay, he crossed the sea, and from the port of Ncapolis pressed on to Philippi. On the sabbath day he sought the Jewish place of prayer, which was without the gate by the banks of the Gangites; and, sitting down, he addressed the assembled women. The baptism of an Asiatic proselytess, Lydia, and her household is mentioned as the first triumph of the gospel on European ground. The first European converted on European ground, of which the record tells us, was a Python-possessed slave-girl. And this led on to the conversion of the Roman jailor. Amid a storm of persecution Paul had to leave Philippi; at a distance of five years he paid them a double visit, and at a distance of ten years from his first visit he writes this letter.
(2) The office-bearers. "With the bishops and deacons." There was a regularly constituted Church at Philippi. Two orders of office-bearers are mentioned. The deacons who attended to the temporal affairs of the Church are included in the salutation, as to them it would specially fall to see to the contribution. The retention of the title "bishops" in the Revised translation is objectionable on the ground of ambiguity. No one imagines that within ten years there was a plurality of bishops, as a third order of office-bearers, in the Christian community of Philippi.
II. THE SALUTATION (same as in Ephesians).
1. The two words of salutation. "Grace to you and peace." The best security for others being blessed is the Divine graciousness which makes all the Divine dealings mean peace.
2. The twofold source to which we look in salutation. "From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The Father who has blessed us bless them too. Jesus Christ, who has revealed the Father's power to bless, as Lord dispense to them out of the stores in his Father's house as he has dispensed to us. - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: