Philippians 2: 1 - 4 Exegetical Analysis Introduction This paper is aimed at performing an exegetical analysis of Philippians 2:1-4, in order to establish the text, the genre and the integrity of the text, the author’s intended meaning, as well as the historical context, including the general historical-socio-logical-cultural setting and the specific occasion1, of the epistle…
Being part of one letter, written by Apostle Paul to his compatriots in Philippi – an outpost of the Roman Empire in the interior plain of eastern Macedonia3, the passage is generally considered a twofold appeal to unity and humility; where verses one and two contain Apostle Paul’s appeal to unity, based upon four shared experiences, and verses three and four – his appeal to humility4. Historical Context As Silva points out, the Epistle to the Philippians has been written by “a historical person to a historical church in a particular historical period”5 – respectively, Paul of Tarsus to the Christian church in Philippi, province of Macedonia, during the late 50s or early 60s when Paul was imprisoned for his activity6. The church in Philippi was founded by Paul himself7 in the early 1st century AD and became the first Christian congregation in Europe8. Apostle Paul’s experiences in Philippi included conflict and imprisonment as well, and after the authorities had expelled from the city, Paul left Luke in charge of the congregation and headed toward Thessalonica; from there he fled to Berea, then to Athens, and finally to Corinth, where he stayed for eighteen months before returning to Antioch9. It’s noteworthy that during these thorny wanderings, Paul had repeatedly received material assistance and spiritual encouragement from the congregation in Philippi; although when Paul’s Jewish opponents managed to get him imprisoned after his third journey through Macedonia10, both the Philippians own difficult circumstances and the uncertainty about Paul’s status prevented the Christian community from sending any assistance11. Nevertheless, having become aware of Paul’s worsened situation – in 59 or 60 AD, he sailed for Rome under guard, where he continued spreading the gospel among Jews, praetorian guards, etc.12 – the Philippi’s Christian community succeeded in raising considerable monetary assistance and sent it to Paul through Epaphroditus1314. On the other hand, the members of the congregation themselves were in a desperate need of spiritual help and guidance by that time, insofar as physical necessities and the pressing Judaizing threat had begun to cause disagreement, distrust, and the poisonous spirit of selfishness15 within the community16. These difficulties, additionally aggravated by the dissention within the church leadership, brought about considerably deteriorated general health of the Christian church in Philippi17. By the time Epaphroditus, at the risk of losing his life, reached Rome with both the offering and request for Timothy’s return to Philippi, Paul had been in prison for about one year; while too many people had deserted him, Timothy alone was his closest compatriot who could minister to him in this hard time18. According to Fee, the internal evidence of the letter clearly speaks in favor of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome – “it has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard… that my imprisonment is for Christ”.1920 The problems in Philippian congregation faced Paul with a serious challenge; ...
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