Among the extant epistles of Paul there is none more genial in its attitude and more revealing of the author than the epistle to the Philippians. Like an excerpt from an intimate diary, this short letter, occupying about three pages in the average copy of the Bible, speaks of the fulness of Paul’s Christian experience and contains some of his ripest teaching. Although it is not primarily theological in character, it deals with an aspect of the Incarnation that has kept theologians arguing about it for years. Probably Paul would be quite dismayed if he knew how much controversy his seemingly incidental reference to the selfemptying of Christ had aroused.

History And Authorship

From the earliest times that the epistles of Paul were quoted, Philippians has been known to the Church. There are allusions to it in the writings of Ignatius and Polycarp, early in the second century, and the later writers of that century, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, all mention it. The authorship of Philippians has never been seriously questioned, for it bears the unmistakable imprint of Pauline thought and experience.

Date And Origin

The exact date of Philippians is uncertain, but it was probably written toward the close of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Some commentators like G. S. Duncan have argued for an Ephesian imprisonment about the time of the third journey, around 55 or 56. If Paul were imprisoned in Ephesus during or at the end of his three-year ministry there, neither his own writings nor the tradition of the Fathers has preserved any certain evidence of it. Internal evidence indicates that he wrote it when the issue of his case was still unsettled (Phil. 1:22, 23; 2:7). He was certainly confined to prison (1:7), and had ...

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