1-2: Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians while in prison 10 years after he planted their church. Lydia and the Philippian jailer were among those in the church who responded to the Gospel on his first visit (Acts 16:4-40).
3-8: He loved the Philippian church so much that he thanked God for them every time he prayed. They shared in the ministry of spreading and defending the Gospel, even when Paul was in prison.
9-10: Paul's primary prayer for them was that they would grow in love, knowledge, and discernment. The end goal was that they could be presented to Christ as pure and righteous. Verse 11 specifies that this righteousness comes through Jesus (not their works) and is for God's glory.
12-18: God sovereignly used Paul's imprisonment to spread the Gospel. Not only did the guards and prisoners hear the Gospel, other believers were emboldened to preach it as well. Although not everyone who preached had good intentions, Paul was still happy that the Gospel was being shared.
19-24: Paul resolved that through their prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit, he would honor God no matter what happened to him. If he didn't get executed, he would serve God by spending his time building up his Christian brothers and sisters and if he died it would be considered a gain because he would be with Christ in heaven.
25-26: Paul was convinced that God would deliver him from death because it seemed more necessary that he stay alive and build up the church.
27: Paul's instruction for them to 'live lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel also applies to us. The only way to do this is to live lives of repentance and faith. Repentance means to acknowledge the sin in your life and turn from it. Faith means to trust in Jesus' finished work on the cross: that He paid the penalty for our sins and we are now positionally righteous in God's sight. When a church lives in a continual state of repentance and faith, they are Spirit filled and unified.
28: When facing persecution or threats we ultimately have nothing to fear. Though we may experience pain, grief, or even death, we will spend eternity with Jesus because he saved us from God's wrath. The fearless demeanor of a Christian in times of persecution can be a sign to their opponents that life continues beyond the grave: salvation for those who have received Christ's pardon, and judgement for those who reject it.
29-30: We are commanded not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him. This can be anything from being made fun of to being murdered for your faith. Paul used himself as an example because he was currently suffering in prison.
1-2: Paul wanted the church to be unified in his list of God honoring characteristics.
3-4: This teaching echoes much of what Jesus said about living a selfless life, himself being the purest example. As Christians we should live selfless as Jesus did.
5-8: During the incarnation, Jesus set aside His privileges as deity, humbly living the life of a servant. Though He could have come down from the cross and destroyed his enemies in an instant, he willingly bore God's wrath on the cross to pay for our sins.
9-11: Now that atonement has been accomplished, Jesus has returned to His exalted place in Heaven. On judgement day all of creation will confess that Jesus is Lord and this will bring the Father glory. Even those condemned to judgement will bow and confess that He is Lord.
12-13: Working out our own salvation means we turn away from our sins (repent), and put our trusts in Jesus' finished work on the cross. By his death and resurrection we are saved from the wrath of God and given his sinless record. Looked at in isolation, the phrase "work out to your own salvation" sounds like we are saved by our own efforts. However, the very next verse makes it clear we are not. It is God working through us, giving us the desire and ability to do what's required.
14-15: As Christians we must not complain or fight with one another. Though we live in a twisted, broken world we must remain 'spotless' to accurately represent our savior.
16-18: Paul points out his hope for the "Day of Christ", which is when Christ returns at the end of the age and judges His people. Paul's hope is that the Philippians would have a genuine, saving faith. But even if his life's work was like a sacrificial drink offering poured out on the ground, he would still rejoice.
19-24: Paul planned to send Timothy ahead of himself because Timothy was a proven spiritual leader who selflessly served others and advanced the Gospel.
25-30: Epaphroditus was sent from Philippi to serve Paul and bring a monetary gift from the church. During his visit, he almost died of an illness and the news caused the church to worry. Paul sent him back to the church with this letter, informing them of Epaphroditus' great service to him and concern for them. It's also worth noting from verse 27 that when we recover from an illness it is a merciful gift from God. As sinful people he doesn't owe us good health. All we have earned is death and judgement, but by his grace he often heals us.
1-11: Paul is warning against a heretical teaching in the church that claimed you had to be circumcised to be a Christian. They put their confidence of salvation in the obsolete Jewish practice of circumcision rather than in Jesus' sacrifice. But without trusting in Jesus, they will be judged for their sins on Judgement day. Circumcision doesn't cancel out sin. Paul makes this point by using his own life as an example. As a devoted Jew, he was circumcised and did everything according the law but counted it all loss compared to true forgiveness in Jesus. Before, he was relying on ritual and his own good works to save him, but after receiving Christ he relied on Jesus' works to save him. The last verse is a humble admission that he accepts God's terms of salvation rather than his own, prideful approach.
12-16: Paul openly admits that he's not in his perfect resurrected state as he one day will be. In response to Jesus' gift of righteous standing before God, Paul pressed on to be as righteous as possible. We should follow his example in spiritual maturity and focus on the call of God in Jesus rather than dwelling on the past.
17-19: People live as enemies of Christ by rejecting Him and disobeying God's word. They focus on earthly things like food, sex, drugs, and success—anything to bring pleasure and glory to themselves, yet in the end it will only bring shame and destruction.
20-21: Those who have been redeemed are already citizens of heaven and will be resurrected in transformed bodies like Jesus.
1-3: Paul's mention of the two women Eudodia and Syntych serving God "Side by side" with him and the other men demonstrates that Paul practiced what he preached about the equality of women.
4-7: We are commanded "to rejoice in the lord". Jesus made a way for condemned sinners to be forgiven and accepted by God. This should cause us to rejoice no matter what hardships we face in this life. We shouldn't feel anxious about anything because God is sovereign and we have access to Him through prayer. When we tell God our requests, we can have peace because he has our best interest in mind while orchestrating the events around us. Even if he doesn't grant our request, we know it's for a greater purpose.
8-9: We should meditate on things of virtue such as truth, selflessness, respect for others, etc. All we have to do is look to Jesus' life and scripture to find out what these things are. What they have "learned and seen in Paul" was the Gospel preached and lived out. It is through the Gospel (repentance and faith) that we have the "God of Peace" with us.
10-23: The Philippians were faithful in funding Paul's missionary journey to spread the Gospel. Although he was grateful and had trained himself to be content even when he was in need, their gift was pleasing to God and they were partners in furthering the Gospel.