Philippi was a Roman colony right along the Ignatian Way, an old major highway from Byzantium to the Grecian cities, which made Philippi a great place to start a congregation. It was also a large military settlement, apparently consisting of current and former soldiers, which can be seen from the various military terms Paul used throughout his letter.

See Acts 16:11-40 for details regarding the founding of the congregation in Philippi. The church in Philippi was visited by Paul twice after it was founded (Acts 20:1,3) before he wrote this letter to the Philippians. It was a congregation that was predominantly Gentile (Acts 16:13). The members of the Philippian church were also very generous, as Paul points out that they were his “partners” in the proclamation of the gospel (Php 1:5; 4:15), they assisted him when he was in Thessalonica (Php 4:16, more than once), Corinth (2 Cor 11:8,9), and Rome (Php 2:25; 4:10,18—through Epaphroditus), and they eagerly and generously shared with the poor in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:1-5).


The early church unanimously attributes the letter to the Philippians to the apostle Paul. It was alluded to already as early as the first century in the writings of Clement of Rome and early second century in the writings of Ignatius, and it was found in the Muratorian Canon (approximately 175 AD) and Marcion’s list (approximately 140 AD).

For more information about the apostle Paul, see his bio page as well as the Chronology of Paul’s Ministry.

Purpose for Writing

Paul is sending Epaphroditus, whom the congregation at Philippi has sent to help Paul, back to Philippi. With him he sends a letter to the church.

Paul apparently wanted to inform the Philippians about his present situation (Php 1:1-19), to encourage them to welcome back their brother Epaphroditus (Php 2:25-30), to formally acknowledge the gift brought by Epaphroditus (Php 4:10-18), to urge them to live a godly life in the midst of persecution (Php 1:27-2:18) and to reject the teaching of those who taught a false way to righteousness (Php 3:2-4:1).

Place and Date of Writing

Paul wrote the letter in approximately 61-63 AD while he was in prison in Rome (see Php 1:13; 4:22), most likely during the latter part of his two-year imprisonment to allow time for a number of communications between Philippi and Rome.

See also the Chronology of New Testament Books.

Notable Passages

  • Philippians 1:3-6
  • Philippians 1:21
  • Philippians 1:27
  • Philippians 2:5-13
  • Philippians 3:7-14
  • Philippians 3:20-21
  • Philippians 4:4-9
  • Philippians 4:11-13


  1. Joy that Christ is being preached, whatever the motives may be – Ch. 1
    • Greeting, thanksgiving, and prayer for the Philippians (Php 1:1-11)
    • Thankfulness that Christ is being preached (Php 1:12-18a)
    • Confidence in the future (Php 1:18b-26)
    • Encouragement to remain steadfast (Php 1:27-30)
  2. Christ humbled himself to death and God highly exalted him – Ch. 2
    • Encouragement for harmony and humility (Php 2:1-4)
    • The example of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (Php 2:5-11)
    • Encouragement to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12-18)
    • The Christ-like example of Timothy (Php 2:19-24)
    • The Christ-like example of Epaphroditus (2:25-30)
  3. Righteousness through Christ alone – Ch. 3
    • Warnings against the Judaizers (Php 3:1-3)
    • Paul’s grounds for confidence in the flesh (Php 3:4-6)
    • Paul’s real confidence (Php 3:7-11)
    • Pressing on toward the goal (Php 3:12-16)
    • Warnings against those who live according to their earthly desires (Php 3:17-4:1)
  4. Christian joy and contentment – Ch. 4
    • A plea for reconciliation (Php 4:2-3)
    • Encouragement to rejoice in the Lord (Php 4:4-7)
    • Encouragement to think about godly things (Php 4:8-9)
    • Thanksgiving for the Philippians’ gift (Php 4:10-20)
    • Final greetings (Php 4:21-23)