As he continued his plea for unity among the Philippians, Paul appealed to their sense of humility. Christians have a common bond with God, the Father; Christ, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These are three distinct individuals, but are united as one and the Holy Spirit guided him as he wrote this letter.
Paul wrote that there is no place in a Christian’s life for selfishness and conceit. These attitudes are the very foundation of division. God is tender and compassionate. Humility causes Christians to exercise those same characteristics toward others. He urged them to seek the well-being of others instead of always demanding their own ways.
Examples are great teachers and Paul used the ultimate example of humility by reminding the Philippians of the life of Christ. Even though He was equal with God, Christ took upon himself the likeness of man and became a servant to lead man back to God. His humility and love led Him to give His life in the most shameful of deaths, on the cross for mankind.
Christ has been exalted in heaven. Every person that is living or has lived or will live in the future will bow his knee in worship at His name and will confess that He is Jesus Christ the Lord. For those who refuse to confess the name of Christ until after death, it will be too late. Their fate will have already been sealed.
Paul instructed the Philippian church to continue to obey his teaching even in his absence. He pointed out that it is the responsibility of each Christian to do the things necessary for his own salvation. No one can obey for another.
The Christian life is sometimes difficult to follow because of the temptations and persecutions that occur. Paul encouraged the Philippians to press on without complaining or questioning God. Even though the flesh may suffer, the mind or spirit must press on and shine as a light in a dark world. The final reward will come at the judgment with the salvation of the faithful. If necessary, he was ready and willing to be offered as a sacrifice for the Philippians (and all of the church).
Paul was anxious to know of the condition of the church at Philippi. Timothy was his right-hand man during his imprisonment in Rome and he was like a son in this relationship. Several years earlier, he had visited Thessalonica and Corinth for Paul. Because of his dependability, Paul determined to send him as soon as he knew more about his own fate even though he thought that he would be able to see them soon.
Paul’s later letters indicate that he was indeed released from prison in Rome and had some time to preach before being arrested again and sentenced to death in Rome.
Epaphroditus, the messenger from Philippi who had delivered their gift of aid to Paul had been deathly sick. Since he had recovered sufficiently to return home, Paul was sending him back to complete his recovery. It is highly likely that he carried this epistle with him as well.