Archibald Thomas Robertson

The Epistle to the Philippians

From Rome About A.D. 61

By Way of Introduction

There is something to be said for the idea that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Philippians while a prisoner in Ephesus if he ever was a prisoner there. All that can be said for that view has been presented by Professor George S. Duncan in St. Paul’s Ephesian Ministry (1930). But, when all is considered carefully in the light of the facts in the Acts and the Epistles, the best that one can say is that a possible case is made out with many difficulties remaining unexplained. The argument is more ingenious than convincing. It is not possible here to review the arguments pro and con that convince me that Paul was in Rome when he wrote this letter to Philippi. It is not clear whether it was written before the three that went together (Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians) or afterwards. Probably there was no great difference in time, but there was time for Epaphroditus to come to Rome, to fall sick, for the news to reach Philippi and for Epaphroditus to hear of their concern about him. The church in Philippi was Paul’s joy and pride and they had helped him before as they did this time.

The Epistle is a beautiful expression of gratitude for the love and gifts of the Philippian saints. He is a prisoner of hope in Rome with possible death before him, but with the note of joy running through all that Paul says. He hopes to be set free and to see them again.

Meanwhile he tells the Philippians about the difficulties and triumphs in Rome. The Judaizers have followed Paul here and there is an echo in chapters Philippians 1; 3 of their opposition. But Paul rises to full stature in the great Christological passages in chapters Philippians 2; 3 which prepare the way for the controversy with the Gnostics over the Person of Christ in Colossians and Ephesians. 

Taken from "Word Pictures in the New Testament" by Archibald Thomas Robertson