Summary: Part 1 of a series on Philippians, this message describes Paul’s first visit to Philippi.
The First European Church
Melbourne Community Church
Today we’re going to start a series on Philippians. We will study Paul’s letter to the Philippian church verse by verse. First, let’s look at where the letter to the Philippians fits in the New Testament. It is easy to divide the New Testament into four main categories.
The gospel of Luke and Acts are essentially Luke I and Luke II, historical accounts of the life of Christ and the early church. We can separate the letters by author.
n Hebrews ?
Many New Testament letters are named for the author: Peter’s letters are I and II Peter; John’s letters are I, II and II John; James’ letter is called “James.” Paul’s letters are named for the recipients, either church congregations (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians) or individuals (Timothy, Titus, Philemon). The authorship of Hebrews is an interesting mystery, but the short answer is we really aren’t sure who wrote that letter. We can further divide Paul’s letters into smaller categories.
Paul’s early letters that clearly presented the gospel message are often considered his “gospel letters.” The pastoral letters were written to Timothy and Titus to guide them in leading their churches. The prison letters were written while Paul was imprisoned. Philippians was a prison letter.
After the gospels, much of the New Testament revolves around the life and ministry of Paul, born Saul in Tarsus. Let’s take a quick look at his life.
SHOW MAP – Roman Empire (Tarsus)
Life of Paul:
n Convert (Acts 9)
After his conversion, Paul began traveling to spread the gospel to Gentiles outside of Israel. His first missionary journey took him to several cities in Asia Minor, now Turkey.
SHOW MAP – 1st missionary journey
This journey gave rise to a question about the new converts: How much did the Gentile believers have to act like the Jewish believers? The Judaizers essentially taught that Gentiles must convert to Judaism, then Christianity. Paul battled their false teaching throughout his ministry, and he devoted considerable attention to this question in his letters, like Galatians. The church leaders wisely met at Jerusalem to resolve the dispute, and they concluded that it was not necessary for Gentile converts to fulfill Jewish law in order to become followers of Christ. They placed very few restrictions on the Gentiles:
Jerusalem Council (Acts 15)
n Don’t eat food sacrificed to idols.
n Don’t drink blood.
n Don’t eat the meat of strangled animals.
n Abstain from sexual immorality.
Paul was eager to spread the news of the Jerusalem Council, so he made plans for his second missionary journey. Today’s story takes place during this trip.
SHOW MAP – 2nd missionary journey
Paul made a third mission trip which retraced many of the steps he took in his second trip.
SHOW MAP – 3rd missionary journey