Philippians 1:12-26 – Partnership of Paul and the Philippians
SummaryPaul's imprisonment and the uncertainty about his future prompt him to reflect on his relationship with the believers in Philippi.
AnalysisThese verses reveal Paul's current circumstances and offer a glimpse into his connections with the Philippians. The beginnings of the Christian community in Philippi are also discussed in Acts 16:6-40. The story begins with Paul in the city of Troas in Asia Minor. Paul's night vision of a man from Macedonia requests: "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). Paul sets sail across the Aegean Sea, arrives in the seaport city of Neapolis (16:10-11), and travels inland to Philippi, "a leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony" (16:12). The story of Paul and Silas in Philippi is recounted in a dramatic way with Lydia, a seller of purple goods (16:13-15); a demon-possessed girl, whom Paul exorcizes only to incite the rage of her owners, who lose their source of income (16:16-24); Paul and Silas's imprisonment, the earthquake that releases their shackles, and the response of the jailor and his household, whom Paul baptizes (16:23-34); the city magistrates' apology for imprisoning Roman citizens and the release of Paul and Silas (16:35-39); and Paul and Silas's final gathering with Lydia and "the brothers and sisters" before leaving Philippi (16:40).
Situated on the Egnatian Way, the main east-west land and trade route through Macedonia, the community in Philippi is privileged to information from travelers, and the Christians there learn of Paul's imprisonment. Since Paul was the bearer of the gospel to them, they decide to respond by sending Epaphroditus to minister to Paul (2:25-30). While Epaphroditus is with Paul, he gets seriously ill and nearly dies. The Philippians learn of this and assume that Epaphroditus has only compounded Paul's hardship. Paul learns of the despondence in Philippi and decides to write to them, commending the ministry of Epaphroditus, which exceeded any expectations they might have had: "Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me" (2:30).