Paul concludes his letter wrapping him up major themes of embracing the gospel individually and striving toward unity around that common belief and thanking them for their support and partnership in proclaiming the gospel.
What do you do when you try harder and still struggle with sin? That’s the question Paul answers in Philippians 3:12-31. Paul pauses to clarify what he means by perfection and the goal of the Christian life.
With chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul begins a new but related topic. While his major concern is still that the Philippians sincerely embrace the gospel and so find eternal life, he now warns them against the false teaching of the Judaizers. While warning against legalism, Paul explains his view of his own “accomplishments” under the law.
Paul concludes this first section of the body of the letter by again encouraging them to persevere in the faith and telling them of 3 ways he hopes to communicate with them.
Philippians 2:12-13 is one of Paul’s most famous statements and it’s one we forget to place in the context of the letter. At first reading, it looks like Paul is highlighting a paradox of YOU work out your salvation because GOD is working in you. But in context, I think Paul is still concerned that the Philippians are living their lives in a manner worthy of the gospel (1:27) and are motivated to do so for the right reasons.
Philippians 2:5-11 is traditionally associated with the doctrine of the Trinity. However, I think the context suggests that Paul’s main point is not to teach the doctrine of the Trinity. From an interpretative standpoint, I believe the context suggests that Paul intends to teach something about unity and our attitude towards other believers, and he uses Christ as an example to make that point. If we also learn something about the Trinity, that is icing on the cake.
Philippians 1:27 begins a new section in which Paul urges his readers to live a life worthy of the gospel. Living such a life does not mean that you will live a perfect life. Rather if we actually believe the gospel is true, we now see the world differently and, we begin to view some things as right, proper and good, and begin to view other things as wrong, selfish and evil. And we choose accordingly.
What are we to make of Paul’s joy that selfishly ambitious teachers are proclaiming the gospel? And, what can we learn from his famous statement “to live is Christ, to die is gain”?
Paul’s opening prayer in Philippians reflect what he hopes and confidently expects God to do in the lives of his readers and it introduces the main theme of his letter. From this short prayer, we can learn what we ought to most want for ourselves and for each other.
Paul’s message in Philippians is essentially the same as Moses in Deuteronomy 30:19-20: Choose life by loving the lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him. He opens the letter expressing his gratitude — not because the Philippians have sent him financial support. But rather he is grateful that the gospel was so important to the Philippians that they wanted to support it.