Overview of Philippians

SOURCE: Gospel Advocate, 1/13/1972
What a GREAT privilege it was for me to sit in classes for two years under the late Wendell Winkler!!! When he taught us “Prison Epistles,” he provided an outline/overview of the Book of Philippians. As I was thumbing through some old Advocates, I found the article below, which is a shortened version of what I was taught in class. I hope it helps you have a better and richer understanding of this wonderful message to the church at Philippi.

The Christian Life According to Philippians

by Wendell Winkler

The church of our Lord had its beginning upon European soil with the establishment of the Philippian church. This congregation was established upon Paul’s second missionary tour upon answer to the Macedonian call. While in Troas there appeared unto Paul in a vision a man from Macedonia saying, “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” Whereupon Paul and his company sailed the Aegean Sea, came to Samothracia, Neapolis, and thence to Philippi. First, the gospel was preached to Lydia and her household; and, then, to the jailer and his household. And, upon the obedience of these, the church of our Lord had its beginning (Acts 16:8-34). Sometime later, during his first Roman imprisonment, Paul wrote four epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. A study of the Philippian epistle most graphically and interestingly portrays unto us the Christian life. Let us study it chapter by chapter.

Chapter 1: The SAVIOR-CENTERED Life

There must be a center around which one’s life gravitates. Paul teaches us in Philippians 1 that the center is Christ. Christ is mentioned on an average of more than every other verse in this chapter:

  • 01. Servant of Christ (v. 1).
  • 02. Grace and peace from Christ (v. 2).
  • 03. Day of Christ (vv., 6, 10).
  • 04. Longed after them in the bowels of Christ (v.8).
  • 05. Fruits of righteousness are by Christ (v. 11).
  • 06. Bonds in Christ (v. 13).
  • 07. Brethren in Christ (v. 14).
  • 08. Christ is preached (v. 15-18).
  • 09. Spirit of Christ (v. 19).
  • 10. Christ to be magnified in our bodies (v. 20).
  • 11. To live is Christ (v. 21).
  • 12. Desired to be with Christ (vv. 22-24).
  • 13. Rejoice in Christ (v. 26).
  • 14. Conversation to be after the gospel of Christ (v. 27).
  • 15. Believe on Christ (v. 29).
  • 16. Suffer for Christ (v. 29).

Indeed, Christ is the emphasis of Chapter 1. Not around ourselves, not around the social calendar, etc., but around Christ our lives are to gravitate. With Paul we must come to say, “For me to live is Christ” (v. 21). What does that mean?

  • 1. His will must be considered in every decision I make.
  • 2. His church must come first in every preference I make (Matthew 6:33).
  • 3. All I do is done for His glory, not my own.
  • 4. In my thoughts by faith I look back with gratitude to when He came to earth as my Saviour, and in hope look forward to when He will appear the second time unto salvation–and, in the meantime, walk with Him day by day.

Chapter 2: The SELF-EMPTYING Life

(1) The principle of the self-emptying life is stated in verses 3 and 4: “Let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

(2) The self-emptying life is exemplified by Christ in verses 5-11, “…and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

(3) The self-emptying life is illustrated by Timothy and Epaphroditus in verses 19-24 and 25-30. Of Timothy it is said, “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” Concerning Epaphroditus Paul says, “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” We must divest ourselves of self and let Christ live within (Galatians 2:20). Such obtaining, it will no longer be what do I want and what will I decide to do; rather, it will be what does Christ desire, and what is His will in the matter? Only then can we sing with meaning, “None of Self and All of Thee.” Too, whenever we start living the self-emptying life, we will no longer concentrate upon what others have failed to do for us; instead, we will busy ourselves in thinking of, and in doing for, others.

Chapter 3: The SOUND Life

In verses 2 through 11, Paul warns against the doctrinal errors of Judaism. Then, in verses 12 through 21, we have his warnings against the doctrinal errors of anti-nomianism. This system of thought said that salvation was already attained; therefore, a person need not strive for salvation, nor be concerned with moral and ethical standards. Today we must be armed and ready to expose and refute the errors of Catholicism, denominationalism, modernism, hobbyism, liberalism, and experimentalism. Yes, it is upon these issues that the battle lines are drawn today; and, here is where the Christian stands with the sword of the Spirit unsheathed to fearlessly attack error (Philippians 1:7, 17; Jude 3; Ephesians 5:11; 6:17; Titus 1:9-11).

Chapter 4: The SERENE Life

In chapter 4, Paul outlines for us why the Christian life is a serene life.

(1) The Christian life is a steadfast life.So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (verse 1).

(2) The Christian life is a happy life.Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice” (verse 4). When Paul wrote this he was in prison; yet, he said, REJOICE. Why? How could he say such? Simply because he had come to learn that happiness is not dependent upon external circumstances, but upon inner qualities of the heart.

(3) The Christian life is a worry-free life. Be careful for nothing” (verses 6-7). Though prayer, as the text suggests, the Christian casts his every care upon the Lord; and, correspondingly, God sends his peace as a military garrison to guard his heart against the intrusion of all anxious alarms and fears.

(4) The Christian life is a contented life.For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (verse 11). The Christian is not to be content with what he is (Philippians 3:13-14), but with what he has (Hebrews 13:4-5).

(5) The Christian life is a victorious life. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (verse 13). With Christ, and through the strength He supplies, there is no burden we cannot bear, there is no mission we cannot fulfill, there is no challenge we cannot meet, there is no responsibility we cannot shoulder, and there is no problem we cannot solve.

(6) The Christian life is a sacrificial life. Ye sent once and again unto my necessity … Having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (verses 15-18). Mothers and missionaries are some of the happiest people on the earth. Why? Because happiness is to be found in giving (Acts 20:35); and, they give so much.

(7) The Christian life is a sufficient life.But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (verse 19). This has been called the Christian’s banknote. With MY GOD being the president; SHALL SUPPLY being the promise to pay; ALL YOUR NEED, being the amount; ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY, being the capital of the bank; and BY JESUS CHRIST, being the cashier.

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