POSTED 25 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 61 C.E.
Time period: first imprisonment of Paul
Author: the Apostle Paul
Location of author: Rome (majority view), Ephesus or Caesarea (minority view)
Target audience and their location: largely non-Jewish Believers in Philippi
Theological Summary: The letter to the Philippians is commonly classified among the Prison Epistles (also including Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon). Genuine Pauline authorship of Philippians has not been substantially challenged by either conservatives or liberals, per the many personal references witnessed in this letter (even though the latter may argue that some sections of Philippians are non-Pauline, or that the letter has been strung together from various fragments of other writings by Paul to the Philippians). Paul composes this letter from prison (1:13-14), even though it is debated where Paul was imprisoned when Philippians was written. Largely, Philippians is a letter of personal thanks, as the Philippian congregation of Believers helped support Paul financially (4:15-20; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:7-9). The great advantage, of a letter like Philippians, is that there is no detection of a major crisis, problem, or false teaching that has erupted. Philippians is a letter of thanks and appreciation from the Apostle Paul to some of his closest friends, who have always been kind and courteous to him.
The city of Philippi was named after King Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It was the place of a decisive battle in 42 B.C.E. between the Second Triumvirate of Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus against the Roman Republicans. The victory of Octavian resulted in the city being made a Roman military colony. The people of Philippi were chiefly Roman, and many retired military personnel resided there. “Phillipi had been thoroughly colonized by the Romans after 30 B.C., but the city was still more Greek in culture than Roman” (NIDB). Philippi, as a Roman colony, would be administered not that much differently than Rome itself. Philippi did not have a large enough Jewish presence to warrant a synagogue. “[E]vidently, because of the strong Roman consciousness of the citizens, the Jews were not allowed to have a synagogue within the city walls, so they had only a place of prayer outside the west gate at a river (Acts 16:13)” (ISBE), which was the first place Paul would have gone when evangelizing. Philippi was the first European congregation established by Paul (Acts 16:11-40). Being aware of the high Roman patriotism of the city of Philippi, can certainly unlock some difficult statements that Paul makes in his letter (cf. 1:27; 3:20).
As a Messianic Believer, do you have a problem reading the New Testament? When you read the Apostolic Scriptures, are you confused when you encounter the Gospels, Acts, or Epistles? Have you possibly been taught that the “New Testament” replaces the “Old Testament,” and that there are contradictions between the two, only to be reconciled by the coming of Yeshua? Do you have difficulty reconciling the words of the Torah to Yeshua, Peter, Paul, John, and the other Apostles?
If you have ever asked any of these questions, it is time that you receive a re-introduction to the Apostolic Scriptures. These texts record the ministry and teachings of Yeshua the Messiah, the history of the First Century Messianic community, and the challenges that the early Believers in Yeshua faced. These texts are not contrary to the Torah, but do continue God’s progressive story that begins in Genesis. They have valuable lessons that every Messianic Believer and Messianic congregation must learn in this hour, as the Messianic community grows and matures.
A Survey of the Apostolic Scriptures for the Practical Messianic takes you on a journey through the New Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Apostolic Scriptures, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the New Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.