Paul wrote the Epistle to the Philippians while he was under house arrest in Rome. The epistle was from both Paul and Timothy, for Timothy was with him when the letter was written to the elders, the deacons, and the rest of the church at Philippi. A chief city of Macedonia, Philippi was a stopping-off point in the land route to Athens, Corinth, and Rome. This land route was especially used at certain times of the year when the sea route was treacherous. Philippi was an established ecclesia with bishops (elders) and deacons (plural). By including them in the salutation, Paul showed that he knew them personally. There were several reasons for this personal touch, as follows:
Paul started this second chapter by urging the Philippians to all be of one mind. Then he introduced Jesus as the best example of like-mindedness. He traced Jesus’ attitude as a way of telling the brethren in Philippi that their attitudes should be similar. He ended up by saying the Father has decreed that Jesus is to be honored. In the present life, the Philippians were to be like Jesus before his exaltation. After his exaltation, every knee will bow to Jesus, but before that, he had a different spirit, a spirit of humility. The point was, now that Jesus had been exalted, he should also be exalted in their efforts. Then whatever the class did would honor the name of Christ. Jesus is preeminent, and all else should be subservient to that cause. As far as possible, the brethren were to serve with one mind and unity of spirit in honor of Jesus (rather than to serve individual personalities in the class). The danger there was a party spirit.
“We … have no confidence in the [works of the] flesh.” Paul then took the other side of the issue in succeeding verses. The Judaizing problem did not yet exist in Philippi, but it would, so he warned in advance with regard to the nature of the faultfinders’ arguments. In Corinth and Galatia, the problem had already occurred, and Paul knew that when this element entered Philippi, they would use a certain type of argument. Hence he used the strategy of telling about his own background (verses 4-6) so that the Philippians would be prepared to combat the soon-to-come false reasoning. Paul was giving them a rebuttal in advance.
The Philippian brethren were laying up treasure in heaven by their love and concern for Paul. They were storing up “credit” with God for the day of the Lord’s appearance. Their consistency of giving was not equaled by any other church. The others gave only sporadically if at all. Paul labored over the Philippian brethren like a mother, and seeing their development gave him great satisfaction. He especially appreciated them because they seemed to respond more than any other ecclesia. They were his “joy and crown” (Phil. 4:1).