As with the Hauptbriefe, Philippians has enjoyed virtually full acceptance. Apart from F. C. Baur’s skepticism and a few scholars who followed in his train in the nineteenth century,1 Philippians has been unassailed. The external evidence is quite strong, beginning with Polycarp (in his letter to the Philippians) and Ignatius (who alludes to 4:13 and other places). Irenaeus quotes from every chapter and calls it Pauline. Marcion puts it on his short list.
Baur’s critique may be worth mentioning. Essentially he found two elements which were unPauline: (1) the opening verse in which two classes of church leaders (“bishops and deacons” ) are mentioned, suggesting a period later than Paul’s day in terms of ecclesiastical development; and (2) the kenosis passage, or Carmen Christi (Phil. 2:6-11), which seemed to have a developed Christology. But this is Hegelianism gone awry. It was typical of Baur to superimpose a philosophical framework on top of the evidence—or rather, to replace real evidence with such a framework! Denial of authenticity simply cannot stand up to the external evidence. But even internally, the evidence to support authenticity is overwhelming. As Zahn points out, “One would suppose that the inimitable freshness of feeling[,] betrayed in every line of this letter, the naturalness, even carelessness of its style . . . , the large number of facts hard to invent, regarding which the readers are not definitely informed, but which are touched upon and elucidated in a conversational way under the presupposition that they are already known, together with the strong external evidence, particularly the evidence of the Philippian letter of Polycarp, a disciple of one of the apostles—might have safeguarded Philippians more even than the other Epistles of Paul against the suspicion of being the product of a later period.”2
What should we make of 1:1 and 2:6-11, then? If all else points to authenticity, then 1:1 seems to indicate that bishops and deacons were already a part of church order when Paul penned this letter. There is so little real information to go on regarding ecclesiastical offices in the nascent period that arguments of this sort simply beg the question. As for the Carmen Christi, there is quite a bit of debate as to the Pauline authorship of this hymn. However, denial of Pauline authorship is not necessarily denial either of authenticity of the whole epistle or of Paul’s inclusion of this hymn in his letter. We will address this issue in our discussion of interpolations (under “Unity of the Letter”).
In sum, Philippians has as great a claim to authenticity as do the Hauptbriefe. Externally and internally it is unassailable.
Paul was in prison when this letter was penned (cf. 1:7, 13, 16), but where? Until modern times, a Roman imprisonment was almost universally accepted. But in the last two centuries, Ephesus and Caesarea have become rivals to the traditional view. A valid principle of historical reconstruction is to “go with the external evidence if internal considerations are at least compatible with it. (To put it differently, we should not dismiss external attestation unless the internal evidence against it is very clear and persuasive.)”3 Nevertheless, the external evidence for a Roman imprisonment might well be due to early harmonizations with Acts. All three views,4 therefore, need to be given a hearing.
Although Guthrie lists seven different arguments which favor Ephesus as the place of origin,5 the most substantive argument is the geographical proximity of Ephesus to Philippi. In other words, the argument for Ephesus revolves around the issue of distance.
Since there were apparently several communiqus between Paul and the Philippians while he was is prison, and since Rome was so far away, it is argued that there would not be enough time for such correspondence on the assumption of a Roman imprisonment. If Paul were in prison in Ephesus, there would be no problem with the number of communications.
However, in one rather plausible reconstruction, only two or three communiqus actually took place:
 The Philippians hear that Paul is imprisoned in Rome. (It may well be, however, that the Philippians became aware of the circumstances even before Paul actually reached Rome.)
 Paul receives a gift through Epaphroditus.
 The Philippians receive news that Epaphroditus has fallen ill. (However, if this incident took place during the journey, the distance involved would be reduced considerably.)6
It has been estimated that if a courier were to travel from Rome to Philippi—assuming that he went by sea across the Adriatic and then traveled on foot—it would take between 39 and 52 days. However, if the courier were to go by carriage when on land, the total time could be cut in half.7
Thus, three trips between Rome and Philippi would take at least two months and at most five months. But even if time is allowed for extended visits, unforeseen circumstances, etc., far less than a year is required. And in the reconstruction of most scholars, Paul had been in prison for some time. In our reconstruction, he had been imprisoned for almost two years when this letter was penned. In the least, “nothing in the data requires us to say that less than a year must have elapsed from Paul’s arrival in Rome to his writing of Philippians.”8 Consequently, since this is the strongest piece of evidence for the Ephesian view, “the only clear argument against the traditional view disappears. In other words, all other available internal evidence is at the very least compatible with a Roman imprisonment as the context for Philippians.”9
It should also be noted that there are two arguments against Ephesus as the point of origin. (1) Acts records no Ephesian imprisonment. Many scholars consider the silence of Acts to be decisive against this view,10 but it must be admitted that Luke is selective and, further, that Paul must have been imprisoned more times than Luke records (cf. 2 Cor. 6:5; 11:23). (2) There is no proof of a praetorian guard in Ephesus during Paul’s day (cf. Phil. 1:13). It must be concluded that although Ephesus is possible, any theory which turns possibility into likelihood must remain suspect.
A Caesarean imprisonment has been proposed by some scholars—especially in light of the weaknesses of the Ephesian hypothesis. Of course, this theory cannot claim geographical proximity in its behalf—any more than a Roman theory can—but it does have two other things going for it. (1) There was an imperial palace at Caesarea, and the mention of the praetorium guard in Phil. 1:13 may be referring to this. (2) Acts records Paul as in prison in Caesarea for two years.
Still, there is nothing to commend this view over the traditional one. And there is quite a bit against it. (1) Philippians gives indication that Paul’s trial is going on. Further, his life hangs in the balance: the outcome will be either life or death (Phil. 1:19-26). “If this is a correct assumption it could apply only to a trial from which no appeal could be made. This could certainly not apply to the Caesarean imprisonment during which Paul appealed to Caesar.”11 (2) The trial seems to be nearing its completion; further, Paul expects to be set free: he expresses strong conviction that he “shall remain and continue with you all” (1:25; cf. also 2:24). This can only refer to the Roman imprisonment, for Acts shows that toward the end of Paul’s Caesarean imprisonment, Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11), prompting Agrippa to say to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar” (Acts 26:32). Either Paul did not share Agrippa’s confidence—in which case he could hardly have penned Phil. 1:25 at this time, or else he intentionally appealed to Caesar for the sake of the gospel, knowing that it might cost him his life—in which case he would have even less reason to be confident of his release. These two reasons seem decisive against a Caesarean imprisonment.12
Not only is there no substantial evidence against the Roman theory, but the evidence against both Ephesus (silence of Acts) and Caesarea (life or death as the outcome of the trial) virtually demand Rome. Since the internal evidence can harmonize with Rome as well as any place else, this tradition must still be given preference.
Since we have placed the writing of this epistle within Paul’s (first) Roman imprisonment, it must be dated during his two-year tenure. If the imprisonment was from 59 to 61 CE,13 this would have to be dated somewhere within that period. However, since there had already been some correspondence between Paul and the Philippians, there is the possibility that this letter was written at least half way through his imprisonment. What is more, since Paul expresses confidence of his imminent release (Phil. 1:25; 2:24), the letter must almost surely have been written toward the end of his stay. Therefore, a date in 61 CE seems most reasonable.
As the opening verse makes abundantly clear, this letter was written to the church which Paul founded at Philippi—the first (Pauline) church of Europe. Although there was a Jewish element, it was very much in the minority (cf. Acts 16:13-14);14 most of the congregation was Gentile.
(1) In 49 CE,16 on Paul’s second missionary journey, the apostle sailed for Europe, along with his companions, Luke, Timothy, and Silas. This was in response to a vision (Acts 16:1-15). While in Philippi, Paul met with Jewish and God-fearing women. A few other folks were converted. He and Silas were imprisoned because of an exorcism which robbed the income of the ones who owned and exploited the demon-possessed girl (Acts 16:16-24). While in prison, they were beaten without a charge being filed, in spite of their Roman citizenship. The authorities, upon hearing of their citizenship, released them and asked them to leave the city. Paul left Luke in charge of the work in Philippi, perhaps with Timothy as his assistant.17
(2) While in Thessalonica for the space of “three Sabbaths”18 the Philippians sent Paul funds more than once (Phil. 4:15-16). Turmoil and opposition (this time, Jewish) again forced him to leave town, and he traveled through Berea, Athens, and finally, Corinth, where he received a divine promise of protection, allowing him to settle down for eighteen months (50-51 CE). During his stay at Corinth, the Philippian church again sent him aid (cf. 2 Cor. 11:7-9).19
(3) In the spring of 52 CE,20 Paul began his third missionary journey. This journey involved more than church-planting or follow-up; it also involved raising money for the Jerusalem congregations (cf. Acts 18:23; Rom. 15:25-26; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 9:1-2, 12-23). “There was a theological as well as practical reason behind this effort. Paul’s emphasis on the gospel of grace entailed accepting Christian Gentiles without their being required to fulfill any Jewish ceremonies (cf. Gal. 5:2-6). This approach raised a few eyebrows in some Jewish circles, created serious tensions even among moderate groups, and provoked furious opposition elsewhere (cf. Acts 15:1-5; Gal. 2:1-16).”21
This “furious opposition” was in the form of the Judaizers, who mounted a campaign of their own—one which was intent on destroying the credibility of Paul and his gospel. They had already infected the churches of Galatia. And, as the Acts record shows, they hounded Paul wherever he went. Not only this, but the evidence from Paul’s letters shows that they had infiltrated—or were about to infiltrate—several of his churches (cf. 1 Thess. 2:13-16; Phil. 3:1; etc.). Consequently, it is reasonable to suppose that—in an act of true love—Paul warned the churches of the Judaizers, while trying to raise money for the Jewish Christians in Judea!
(4) After almost three years in Ephesus, Paul resumed his fund-raising trek to Jerusalem. He came to Macedonia in the spring of 55 CE. Since the Philippians had given so much to Paul’s ministry, he asked nothing of them for this Jerusalem project. But they insisted, even though they themselves were poor (cf. 2 Cor. 8:1-5).
(5) Paul finally brought the money to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 21:17-19). Shortly after the visit, he was arrested and spent two years in prison in Caesarea (spring, 56 CE–summer, 58 CE). During this imprisonment, the Philippians were both uncertain as to Paul’s fate, and lacked funds to help him (Phil. 4:10).
(6) When Paul appealed to Caesar in the summer of 58 CE, he sailed for Rome for trial (Acts 25:10-12; 27:1). News of his appeal would certainly have spread to his churches. The Philippians would have wanted a share in his expenses (Phil. 4:10).
(7) They dispatched Epaphroditus to Rome with their gift (Phil. 4:18). But Epaphroditus came with more than money: he also had questions for the apostle about the church’s opponents, and the members’ own poverty (cf. Phil. 3:2, 18-19; 4:6, 19). As well, the church was hoping that Paul would retain Epaphroditus as his assistant and send Timothy back to them (Phil. 2:19-30).
(8) Paul, however, was unable to send Timothy until he found out more about his own circumstances. Instead, he decided to send Epaphroditus back (Phil. 2:25-30). “Aware that the Philippians would be deeply disappointed to see Epaphroditus rather than Timothy return, Paul was faced with a serious challenge. How would he cushion the inevitable disappointment?”22
(9) Paul dispatched Epaphroditus with his letter to the Philippians. “The very difficulty of the task that was before the apostle would draw from him, under divine inspiration, a message full of comfort and joy, rebuke and encouragement, doctrine and exhortation. Quite beyond Paul’s own powers of anticipation, the letter he was about to dictate would speak to the hearts of countless believers for many centuries to come.”23
As we can see, the occasion for this letter, if the above historical reconstruction is correct, is multifaceted: (1) it is a “thank you” note to the Philippians for their most recent gift, with a reminder that God will take care of Paul and them; (2) it is a response to the various questions and problems raised by Epaphroditus, including issues of poverty, quarrelsomeness, selfishness, as well as outside opposition to Paul’s gospel; (3) finally, the letter is a diplomatic reintroduction of Epaphroditus in light of the Philippians’ hope that Timothy would be sent.24
Paul’s opponents are mentioned in 1:15-17; 1:27-28; 3:2; and 3:18-19. Although some would like to see all these texts referring to the same group of opponents,25 others see four distinct groups. One of the overlooked items in this discussion is the location of the opponents: some are in Rome, others are in Philippi.
It seems quite clear the group in 1:15-17 is true believers in Rome who are merely jealous of Paul’s success, for he does not condemn the message, just their motives. In the other passages (except, perhaps, 3:18-19), the enemies are all in Philippi. In 1:27-28, Paul is responding to opponents in Philippi, though the referent is quite vague. They are certainly outsiders, but could be Gentiles or Jews. Further, there is no hint as to whether they ever were part of the church or are now attempting to infiltrate it. Very little more than this can be said. In 3:2 Judaizers are in view, while in 3:18-19 it seems that Gentiles (antinomians?) are clearly in view26—that is, those who had been part of the church but had defected.
In short, there is at least one group in Philippi (Judaizers) which are attacking (or about to attack) the church. As well, there may well be another group, antinomians, who have defected from the church (though these could be in Rome). It is quite possible that a third group, pure pagans, are also persecuting the church, though this is not necessary. Beyond this, we cannot definitely say.
Many commentators regard 3:1 as a fragment from a different letter sent to the Philippians. Thus, although the entire epistle is genuine, it is not a literary unity. Four arguments are advanced for this fragmentary view: (1) the tone of chapter 3 is quite different from what precedes it; (2) 3:1 begins with “finally,” but Paul goes on for two chapters; (3) why would Paul wait until the end of his letter (4:10-20) to thank the Philippians? and (4) Polycarp speaks of Paul’s letters (plural) to the Philippians, not letter (singular).
In response, none of these arguments seem very weighty: (1) Paul’s tone frequently changes in his letters; (2) “finally” could refer easily to the final question that Epaphroditus raised, viz., how to deal with the Judaizers; (3) Paul certainly alludes to the Philippians’ gift in 1:5-7, and in any event, to finish the letter with a warm note of thanks would be literarily appropriate; (4) as to Polycarp’s use of the plural, Guthrie suggests that “Polycarp, Ad Phil. xi, 3, appears to be a citation from 2 Thess. 1:4, used as if the Philippians were addressed in that epistle. This would support the suggestion that in Polycarp’s collection the Macedonian epistles were united.”27 It is equally possible that Polycarp is referring to a lost letter sent to the Philippians along with the canonical epistle.
Furthermore, there is a great deal against this fragmentary theory. (1) There is zero textual evidence in support of it. In particular, P46 (c. 200 CE)—our earliest MS of the Pauline corpus—has Philippians intact. Indeed, it has recently been dated by one scholar as belonging to the first century!28 (2) There is a lack of discernible motive for uniting these two letters. (3) There are striking verbal and conceptual parallels between the two halves of this epistle (cf. 2:6-11 with 3:7-11).29 In sum, the fragmentary theory, as ingenious as it is, fails to convince.
The composition of the hymn to Christ in Phil. 2:6-11 has been viewed in three ways: (1) Paul is the author; (2) Paul is quoting a hymn already in existence; or (3) the hymn is nonPauline and a later interpolation. Without getting into any detailed analysis, it is our tentative position that the second view is substantially correct. Neither the terms nor the theological formulation fits nicely into a view of authorship by Paul. However, what is interesting is that two lines in the hymn disrupt the meter—and it is precisely these two lines which do fit Pauline forms of expression. Our suggestion is that Paul incorporated this hymn, with some modifications, into his letter to the Philippians.30
Philippians is essentially a “thank you” letter for the sacrificial giving that the Philippians had made on Paul’s behalf. But because their own sacrifice was so great they began to doubt God’s continued provision. Thus the themes of (1) thanksgiving for God’s provision, (2) regarding one another as more important than oneself, (3) rejoicing over their salvation in the face of opposition, and (4) trusting God for his care are all found in this occasional letter. To reduce the theme to one item is to ignore its very occasional character.
Paul and Timothy greet the saints together with their leaders at Philippi (1:1-2). Paul continues with his customary opening thanksgiving and prayer (1:3-11). First, he thanks God for their participation in the gospel (1:3-5) and expresses confidence of their continued perseverance in the faith since God is at work in their hearts (1:6-8). Then he prays that they will grow in a discerning love (perhaps as a foreshadowing of his discussion of the opponents in chapter 3) (1:9-10), capping the prayer with an expression of confidence of their continued growth until the return of Christ (1:11). Thus Paul’s prefatory remarks are both a thanks for the Philippians’ involvement in the gospel—a sure sign that they are true believers—and a confident assertion that God will bring them safely home. The perseverance of the saints and the perseverance of God are thus plainly seen in this opening section.
The apostle now turns to his own circumstances, which the Philippians had been desperate to learn about (1:12-26). First, without so much as really giving any details so as to invoke sympathy, Paul boldly states that his circumstances have advanced the gospel (1:12). He is obviously more concerned about the gospel than about his own life and thus begins to detail the effect that the gospel has had: (1) the praetorian guard has heard the good news (1:13) and many have responded (cf. 4:22), and (2) other evangelists have been emboldened by Paul’s imprisonment (1:14). But some brothers have gained courage in their preaching for the wrong reasons, viz., namely to make Paul jealous (1:15, 17), while others are properly courageous (1:15, 16).
What is Paul’s attitude toward all this? First, toward the evangelists: he is pleased that the gospel is being proclaimed regardless of the motive (1:18). Second, toward Christ: he longs to be with him since Christ is his whole reason for living (1:19-23). Third, toward the Philippians: because he can still impact their lives he knows that he will be joined to them again (1:19-26).
By concluding the section on his own circumstances with a note about his continued ministry to the Philippians, he now, appropriately enough, continues his ministry to the Philippians! The real heart of the epistle is seen in 1:27–2:30 where Paul instructs the church in matters of sanctification. First, Paul draws on the political background of Philippi (viz., it is a free city) and encourages the believers to live boldly as citizens of heaven (1:27-30). Such bold living, in the face of (imminent?) opposition will be a sign to their opponents that God is both with the Christians and against their enemies.
Second, the apostle exhorts them to live humbly as servants of Christ (2:1-11). He appeals to them on the basis of membership in the body of Christ (2:1-4), reminding them that selfishness hurts everyone. Then he weaves an early Christian hymn (which they probably had sung many times) into the fabric of his argument. The Carmen Christi (2:6-11) functions as a reminder for them to follow in the steps of Christ: if he who was in the “form of God” could humble himself, what right do believers have to refrain from doing the same thing? Further, after Christ “emptied himself” (by adding humanity, 2:6-8) God exalted him (2:9-11). The implication, if this is part of Paul’s argument, is that God will exalt believers who also humble themselves. (Of course, believers’ exaltation cannot compare to Christ’s since, in part, believers’ humiliation does not compare to Christ’s.)
This principle of self-emptying, other-exalting is then skillfully woven into 2:12-30. In 2:12-18 Paul exhorts the believers to live obediently as children of God. He first articulates the available resources—“God is at work in you” (2:12-13), then the effect such resources should have on believers—they should become blameless and pure (2:14-18). In this section Paul has encouraged them to obey and not to complain or grumble (2:12). Then he shocks them with the news that Timothy cannot return, but Epaphroditus can (2:19-30). The section on obedience interposed between the Carmen Christi and the news about Timothy and Epaphroditus is therefore no accident: Paul does not want them to grumble about Epaphroditus’ return (and Timothy’s retention), but to recognize that both men are following Christ’s example of humble service. A further implication seems to be that just as God has highly exalted Christ, so also the Philippians should exalt Epaphroditus (“honor men like him” [2:29]). Thus Paul concludes the section on sanctification with the offer of Epaphroditus even though they had hoped for Timothy, hoping that his audience will not be selfish, nor grumble, but will instead exalt and honor Epaphroditus.
Now Paul launches into a diatribe against the Judaizers, since he had gotten wind of their increased activity (3:1–4:1). Perhaps Epaphroditus had brought news of the Judaizers, or else Paul was simply writing a preemptive warning. What is interesting about the structure is that just as in 1:12-26 Paul first chronicled his own attitude, then the work of his opponents; now in the body of the epistle (1:27–4:1) he first deals with the Philippians’ attitude, then their opponents.
First, Paul articulates the basis that the Judaizers were resting on: the works of the flesh (3:1-2). He then points out that he would have a greater claim to boast in the flesh than they since he had the proper Jewish credentials (3:3-6). Yet Paul does not boast; in fact, he very graphically explains that the only thing the flesh can produce is dung (3:7-11; especially v. 8). The basis of his righteousness, therefore, is the faithfulness of Christ (3:9) and the goal is Christ’s resurrection power (3:10-11).
Then, so as to thwart any syncretistic tendencies among the Philippians which might have arisen (viz., the idea that they could be saved by faith but sanctified by the flesh), Paul explains that the flesh is still with the believer. Those who might claim perfection are warned that although that is the goal, one cannot attain it in this life (3:12-16). In this section (3:1-16) Paul has effectively condemned both the Judaizers’ view of salvation and their doctrine of sanctification.
To finish his doctrinal polemics, Paul offers himself as an example (3:17–4:1). Once again he speaks first of his own conduct, then that of his opponents (a pattern already seen in 1:12-26 and 1:27–4:1). The order seems important: our attitude and conduct before God should concern us more than the doctrine and behavior of our opponents. Although the Christian life is often portrayed as a fight, it first must be conceived as an act of worship.
Paul now concludes the letter with three exhortations, a note of thanks, and final greetings (4:2-23). He exhorts them (Euodia and Syntuche especially) to get along with each other (4:2-3), to rejoice over God’s provision without being anxious (4:4-7), and to think and act purely (4:8-9). Then he thanks them once again for their sacrificial help (4:10-20). In this note of thanks Paul expresses his own contentment in God’s provisions (4:10-13), tactfully releasing them from further obligation (4:14-18) since the giving had apparently caused so much hardship. Then to relieve their consciences as to God’s provision—especially if they were to stop helping Paul—Paul gives them the assurance that God provides for all his children (4:19-20).
The apostle closes the letter with final greetings and a benediction (4:21-23).
I. Preface (1:1-11)
A. Salutation (1:1-2)
B. Thanksgiving for the Philippians’ Participation in the Gospel (1:3-8)
C. Prayer for the Philippians’ Discerning Love to Increase until the Day of Christ (1:9-11)
II. Paul’s Present Circumstances (1:12-26)
A. Paul’s Imprisonment (1:12-13)
B. The Brothers’ Response (1:14-17)
C. Paul’s Attitude (1:18-26)
III. Practical Instructions in Sanctification (1:27–2:30)
A. Living Boldly as Citizens of Heaven (1:27–2:30)
B. Living Humbly as Servants of Christ (2:1-11)
1. The Motivation to Live Humbly (2:1-4)
2. The Model of Living Humbly (2:5-11)
a. Christ’s Emptying (2:5-8)
b. Christ’s Exaltation (2:9-11)
C. Living Obediently as Children of God (2:12-18)
1. The Energizing of God (2:12-13)
2. The Effect on the Saints (2:14-18)
D. Examples of Humble Servants (2:19-30)
1. The Example of Timothy (2:19-24)
2. The Example of Epaphroditus (2:25-30)
IV. Polemical Doctrinal Issues (3:1–4:1)
A. The Judaizers Basis: The Flesh (3:1-6)
B. Paul’s Goal: The Resurrection (3:7-11)
C. Perfection and Humility (3:12-16)
D. Paul as an Example of Conduct and Watchfulness (3:17–4:1)
V. Postlude (4:2-23)
A. Exhortations (4:2-9)
1. Being United (4:2-3)
2. Rejoicing without Anxiety (4:4-7)
3. Thinking and Acting Purely (4:8-9)
B. A Note of Thanks (4:10-20)
1. Paul’s Contentment (4:10-13)
2. The Philippians’ Gift (4:14-18)
3. God’s Provision (4:19-20)
C. Final Greetings (4:21-23)
12 One wonders if the Caesarean/Ephesian imprisonment theories arose precisely because of Phil. 1:19-25. That is to say, since Paul expresses such incredible confidence of his release, but since (according to the majority of scholars) he was not released from prison in Rome, but was instead beheaded, this note must refer to a previous imprisonment. In response, we have already shown the inadequacy of the Ephesian hypothesis; and regarding the Caesarean view, Paul was in fact not released from prison because he appealed to Caesar. If the Roman imprisonment is correct, then, Phil. 1:19-25 becomes some of the strongest support of a second imprisonment view. This, in turn, allows at least a couple of years for the production of the pastoal epistles to have been composed and explains how they would not have fit within the chronology of Acts.
13 Some argue for a date of 60-62 CE (based, in part, on Gallio’s proconsulship beginning in 52 instead of 51); others argue for a 62-64 CE date, supposing this to be the only Roman imprisonment. Our view is based on a 51 CE date for Gallio’s proconsulship to begin, the supposition of two Roman imprisonments (which even Philippians supports), and, among other things, a short stay (three sabbaths) of Paul in Thessalonica.
14 When Paul looked for a synagogue, all he found were women praying. Further, Lydia was apparently one of the first converts, yet she herself was not Jewish (as Luke’s non-technical generic phrase for Gentile worshiper, “worshiper of God” implies). (Incidentally, what is most interesting is the role of women in the Philippian church—from Lydia to Euodia and Syntuche. Perhaps all three were part of that original women’s prayer meeting.) Finally, Paul left Philippi not because of Jewish hostility, but because of Gentile hostility—a fact which comports with the view that the church only had a minimal Jewish element to begin with.
17 It is evident that Luke was left behind since the “we” section does not continue when Paul resumes his travels to Thessalonica. In our reconstruction of the writing of 1-2 Thessalonians, Timothy also was left behind temporarily.
18 That is, between fifteen and twenty-seven days (cf. Acts 17:2).
19 Phil. 4:15-16 seems to imply this as well, for though Paul explicitly mentions only Thessalonica as the place where he received aid, he seems to suggest that the Philippians helped him more than that, Thessalonica being an example of their sacrifice.
29 See Silva, Philippians, 14-16, for a decent discussion (also Guthrie, 555-58). Silva cites D. E. Garland’s article, “The Composition and Literary Unity of Philippians: Some Neglected Factors,” NovT (1985) 141-73 as “the most important contribution in this field,” with the accolade that Garland’s article “has, in my opinion, changed the complexion of the contemporary debate.”