30 September 2014

Philippians 1:1-11

“And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless.” (vv. 9-10)


Despite the fact that Paul ended up in prison on his first visit to Philippi it is clear that he has fond memories of some of the folk there, as can be seen in this letter and the way in which it is addressed. The first thing to notice is the way in which he greets the people at the head of the letter, not only is he greeting the friends he has made on his visits there, but also the bishops and deacons. This would seem to indicate that the church in Philippi is already becoming established to some extent and has appointed folk to oversee it and helpers to assist with the work.

Moving to the body of the letter, it is striking that, considering the circumstances in which he finds himself, writing again from a prison cell, he thinks not about himself but speaks of the way in which he remembers the people. He gives thanks for all that they have done as a burgeoning church and offers prayer for the ongoing work. This greeting is reminiscent of the greetings to the church at Colossus and Ephesus but is particularly warm in tone here. It may be that he has heard of the work they were doing on the ground, alternatively he could be speaking of the financial help he had received for his ongoing work through their generosity. He also seems to be particularly encouraged by the way in which their faith is holding firm even though times are difficult and expresses his wish that it will continue to hold firm, until as the text says the imminent day of Christ (verses 6, 10).

There is some sense of vulnerability in his longing so see the people to whom he is writing, which seems to demonstrate the difficult and lonely circumstances he finds himself in.

To Ponder

  • It is unlikely that we will find ourselves in the position Paul finds himself in as he writes - but who are the people we would be giving thanks for as we follow a faith journey?
  • 'The imminent day of Christ' - how do we rationalise the fact that the day which was expected so soon didn't arrive?
  • What  similarity can you see in the events in the Middle East at the moment with the stress the early Church was going through at the time of Paul's letter?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pat Billsborrow

Pat Billsborrow is a supernumerary minister in the Northwich and Winsford Circuit, and is at present part of a district ministry team working within that circuit with pastoral care of four churches. She is ecumenical officer in the Cheshire part of the Chester and Stoke on Trent Methodist District.