Philippians Overview

From Peter Kreeft’s You Can Understand the Bible:

Philippians is a pastoral, personal, intimate letter whose unifying theme is sanctity, or Christ-mindedness (2:5). It was written from house arrest in Rome where Paul was awaiting death.

1. The letter begins with a dash of confidence for parents, pastors, and those entrusted to care for souls in danger of losing the faith: “I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (1:6).

2. The whole Christian life is summed up in two words in the passage of 1:9-10: love and discernment. All you need is love, but love needs eyes. And love makes eyes: see John 7:17.

3. The most perfect and simple statement ever written on the meaning of life and of death is in 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

4. The most famous passage in Philippians is the “kenosis” (emptying) passage (2:5-11), which demands of all Christians the same emptying as Christ chose in the Incarnation. Christianity calls for an emptying in order to take on the mind of Christ.

5. In the life of the Christian, our free will and God’s grace are one, as they were in the life of Christ: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (2:12-13).

6. A perfect slogan for the Christian in a decadent and dying culture is 2:15 “Be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

7. “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” – 4:13.  The answer to the question: How much can we do? is the answer to the question: How much can Christ do? For we are “in Christ”, branches of that one vine.

Christ-mindedness, the pervasive theme of Philippians, means learning to bring our wants into alignment with our needs by learning to bring our minds into alignment with the mind of Christ.

Sanctity cannot be taught, like theology – only caught, like measles. The more we expose ourselves to highly contagious words like these, the more likely it is that we will be increasingly infected. They are words to get under our skin, under our conscious minds, into our memories and our hearts.



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