Why did Paul write to the Philippians?
In examining Paul’s reasons for writing to the Philippians it is important to place the letter within the context of when it was written and whom it was written. Philippi was an ancient and major city in Macedonia, Greece. It was taken over by Philip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great. Phillip of Macedonia established the city as a military stronghold in order to protect his surrounding lands which were rich in silver and gold. It was also an important land route ,for travellers from Europe to Asia. This was called the Egnatian Way which was on the great north east-west highway. The Romans later took over the city after Octavian’s battles again Brutus and Cassius and later with Anthony, in around 168 BC. From then on it remained a military stronghold with its citizens enjoying Roman citizenship and all the privileges that went with this. In this city women enjoyed a higher status than was generally seen elsewhere, taking part in public life and business activities. By the time of Paul it had become an important place of trade and commerce as Acts records, ‘A leading city of the district’.i
William Barclay writes, ‘When Paul chose a place wherein to work and to preach the gospel, he always chose it with the eye of a strategist. He always chose a place which was not only important in itself, but which was a key point of the whole area.’ii Philippi was such a place.
Paul was first inspired, or felt called to go to Philippi after receiving a vision of a man from Macedonia begging him to come over and help them there.iii So on Pauls second Missionary Journey He travelled to Philippi. He always began by preaching to the Jews, and secondly to the Gentiles. Pauls first stop in Philippi was to the ‘place of prayer’ by the river where the Jewish people generally met(16:13).There he met a woman called Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, who it would seem became their first convert along with her household....
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