Who Wrote the Book of Philippians?

Who wrote Philippians? The author is easy to identify. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church of Philippi. Paul was in prison when he wrote this Epistle.

Dr. Sandra Hamer Smith
philippians, book of philippians, philippians summary

Who wrote Philippians? 

The author is easy to identify. The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church of Philippi. Paul was in prison when he wrote this Epistle. The co-author is listed as Timotheus. You can look at the first verse of Philippians to see this. He had previously ministered at Philippi spending about three months there.

Paul is found primarily in the New Testament. His original name was Saul until Jesus changed it. He consented to the death of Stephen who was stoned to death (Acts 7:59-60). He persecuted Christians. He would enter households and jail men and women.

He had an encounter with Jesus on his road to Damascus. (Acts 9) Jesus asked him why he was persecuting the church. Basically, Paul was persecuting those who believed in Jesus. Thus, the Lord asked him “Why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul was afraid and asked the Lord what He would have him to do. The Lord told him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:6).

The Lord blinded Saul. He was three days without sight. Later in chapter 9, we see that Saul is baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost and the scales come off his eyes. Shortly thereafter, his ministry begins.

What Is the Main Message of Philippians?

The main message of the book of Philippians is to encourage the church to work out their differences, have faith, and continue to believe in Christ. Throughout the whole book, Paul pours out his heart concerning the Christian walk. He talks about his own struggle and imprisonment. He appreciates their concern towards him. He also appreciates them seeking advice and help.

Paul is teaching them how to live and interact. “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:10-11).

He talks about why he has been imprisoned. “But I would have you understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). So, it is safe to assume that his imprisonment was helping others to hear the gospel. 

His third missionary journey ended in Jerusalem. His teachings did not always sit well with Jewish people. He preached that salvation would come to the Gentiles and then Jewish people.

This is one of many Epistles Paul wrote while being imprisoned. He also wrote Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon while being imprisoned. Biblical commentary states that he was imprisoned at his home for two years and was free to write the gospel. The Philippian churched offered financial assistance during his imprisonment.

In What Context Was the Book Written?

According to Bible scholars, Epaphroditus went to visit Paul bringing assistance from the church of Philippi. He also brought Paul news of trouble in the church. Paul is in prison currently. Some say he was in Rome others say he was in Ephesus. The time is between A.D. 61 and 62. Calendars also vary depending on which commentary you read.

There were many issues that were raised. Jewish Christians told Gentiles that they had to become Jews first to be saved. The church also had financial troubles according to Biblical scholars (KJV Study Bible, 2011). Strife had reared its head in the church and Philippians were struggling with their faith. The church had reached out to Paul to send Timothy. He was not immediately available. Instead, Paul sent a letter back by Epaphroditus. The letter included “thanksgiving, encouragement, instruction, correction, doctrine, and exhortation.”

Paul also included warnings in the Epistle. He warned the church about legalists or Judaizers.

The Judaizers are Christians. Some are Jewish and some are not. They want Christians to conform to Jewish law, especially the Torah.

What Are Some Popular Verses from Philippians?

These are some of the popular verses of Philippians. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) This is good news and encouragement. It lets us know that God is not going to give up on us. He will continue to perfect us until we leave this earth or are raptured up.

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) This verse is so famous that a song was created around it.Daryl Coley is one of the artists who wrote a song regarding this verse.

I have heard this verse in churches a lot, “Let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). I suppose they want to make sure that we are striving to have our minds renewed. If we say this verse, we are asking God to give us a mind like Christ. If we have a mind of Christ, we will know how to love our enemies. If we have a mind of Christ, we will desire to live holy. If we have a mind of Christ, we will be charitable. If we have a mind of Christ, we will strive to live a life of purpose.

Another popular verse is “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). I hear this preached a lot, but I do not see a lot of this manifestation. What does it really mean? I think it is important for people to get the correct interpretation. I think it means that we are supposed to respect each other. I think it means that people need to be giving. I have heard some ministers say that you must give from a place of strength. Some may interpret this as giving your neighbor the shirt off your back. You can be charitable and still prosper. It is possible to give, give, give, and have nothing for yourself at that moment. But you will eventually reap what you have sowed. We just have to sort of have an idea when that might come back to us. So, I say, do it from a place of strength.

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:14) This verse is often heard in church. It gives us something to shoot for in this life. We should be aiming to have a good resting place when we leave here. So, it is a high calling to be a Christian. We are believing in God by faith. We also believe that His Son came to earth in human form and was crucified on a cross. We must understand that many people choose not to believe, but those who do believe will be rewarded for their faith.

Another popular verse: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). There are so many verses in Philippians that are popular today. You can literally go through every chapter and find verses that you have heard used over and over in society. Some of the popularity of the verses may come from the fact that you have studied a particular book of the Bible frequently like Philippians and the verses are now very familiar. So now, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Also, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me” (Philippians 4:13).

Further Reading

Did Paul Write Philippians in Rome?

Photo credit: ©Sparrowstock

Dr. Sandra SmithDr. Sandra Hamer Smith is a Christian and wife to Sylvester Smith. She has one stepson, Greg. Smith lives and resides in Memphis, Tennessee. The University of Memphis alumnae has been in education for about 20 years after receiving the call to teach. Dr. Smith primarily teaches language arts. Prior to education, she worked in local and national television news for 13 years including positions as an overnight news anchor, reporter, and assignments editor at two local network affiliate stations. Smith was also a freelance correspondent for BET news. Dr. Smith has freelanced for the Tri-State Defender newspaper and Contempora magazine.  She is the author of the self-published novel GLORY…THE HAIR.  Smith is also a playwright and poet. The Tennessee native is a member of Temple of Deliverance COGIC, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, Omicron Delta Kappa, The Golden Key International Honour Society, and Kappa Delta Pi.


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Originally published April 09, 2021.