Philippians Chapter 1: 1-11

Let’s begin with a quick look at a schedule. To make it simple, we’ll follow the outline from the InterVarsity Press (IVP) Commentary.

This session: Chapter 1 Verses 1-11

Next session: Chapter 1: 12 – 26

Then we’ll look at 1:27 – 2:18, and so on…

This LINK will show you their Outline.

When you click on Introductory Matters you get an expanded outline of the first session. I found the explanation of the Greco-Roman style of writing interesting.

*(If you have trouble navigating this Internet Document, please contact me. I can help you.)

My vision of this Bible Study Website is for us to point out “interesting things” to each other. To get us started, I’ll put some comments up front, then you can make your own comments. The IVP Commentary is most useful, but as you read it, remember that it is “Evangelical” theology. There are other viewpoints.

Note that St. Paul does not use his title of “Apostle” in his introduction. The section on “The Writers” covers this. Several other commentaries found this remarkable. Compare this greeting with some of his other letters, like the letters to the Corinthians and to the Thessalonians. Any ideas on why he does not use the title Apostle?

We get a good bit of information about the nature of servanthood and slavery in the section on “The Writers”. Some of us will find new information here, while others may find it a repeat of ideas they knew.

I looked at several commentaries. Much is made of the fact that Paul and Timothy address both the “Saints” and the “Clergy” in this greeting. I wondered if the inclusion of the clergy makes this an even more intimate letter than Ephesians, for example.

(Now, if you’re interested, you can check Paul’s other letters to see if he includes the clergy in his greetings to those churches. This is “our” Bible Study in that we are sharing ideas. We can “dig deeper” into stuff that we find interesting and ignore things that we don’t. I mention this merely as an example of how that might work.)

 All three of the essays concerning the first two verses contain much good information. 

The next section, verses 3 – 8, is straightforward. Explanations of Greek words are always helpful. Verse #6 is a very famous quotable verse, one of many in this letter. As we are, in part, an Evangelical church we will find the IVP Commentary theology here quite comfortable.

Verses 8 – 11 are the most interesting to me. Verse #8 is a nice transition into prayer. “I love you, I miss you and I am praying for you.” How many times do we say these words to absent loved ones? Paul truly cares for the people of Philippi. In verses #9-11 Paul refers back to verse #6 and offers one of the best prayers or blessings that can be found. (My opinion.) 2nd Peter 3:18 is nice, but this is much better. Yet it’s not one of the famous, highly quotable verses. I wonder why?

I find that commentaries often drown the Scriptural Concept in verbiage. The Asbury Bible Commentary is helpful here. It offers that “blameless” is not “faultless” but that one who is blameless has pure motives, even with a flawed performance.

These four verses really spoke to me. As I read them I felt the love Paul and Timothy had for their friends in Philippi. Paul has mentioned that he is in prison. We know, from Acts 16, of Paul’s imprisonment and the subsequent miracle concerning his incarceration when he was in Philippi. In this letter he is again imprisoned. He knows what’s going on in Philippi and he tells his friends that they share his chains. Now he prays for them. Comparing Ephesians, Galatians and Colossians, I see nothing like this. Paul is, for me, filled out here. He speaks as a friend, not as an apostle or clergy.

Well, I have tossed out a few bones for you to gnaw. So go ahead and make your comments in the section below. You can make an original comment or you can reply to a comment someone else has made. There are a couple of examples in the Introduction to Philippians session. You don’t have to “keep to the subject” … at least for a while we can “chase rabbits”. We will see how it goes.

This lesson might have been broken into a couple of parts. So take your time with it. There’s a lot here and, if we are to understand the rest of the letter, we really should understand this introduction. If you have a problem with one of the links, please let me know. I’m trying to set them to open in another tab so you can keep your place.

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4 thoughts on “Philippians Chapter 1: 1-11”

  1. I wonder if Paul refers to himself as a servant because he wants the people to realize that everyone is on the same plain in Christ. God doesn’t see us as on being his favorite over another. We are all sinners saved by grace in Christ Jesus.

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    1. Okay. Sounds right to me. I suspect that Jesus’ teachings about being a servant have a lot to do with Paul’s attitude about servanthood. Jesus was always frustrated by the Disciples’ seeking ‘position’ in the coming Kingdom. Why did none of the Disciples wash the feet of the others? Question: is there more to servanthood than everyone being equal? If all Christians are ‘Bondservants of Jesus’ then are all Christians equal? How are we bondservants of Jesus? What do we do that others would know this? Should what we do reveal to others that we are bondservants of Jesus?

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