Unlike Paul’s other letters Philippians seems disjointed which can make it difficult to read. Goodspeed wrote that:
In chapter 1 he is making the best of his imprisonment; in chapter 2 he is sending Epaphroditus back to them; in chapter 3 he bursts forth against the Judaizers; in chapter 4 he acknowledges the gift Epaphroditus has brought him. Paul is usually much more orderly than this.
Polycarp (c.60-150AD) writing to the Philippians mentions that Paul “wrote letters” (plural) to Philippi. Maybe what we have is parts of more than one letter.
Despite the muddle the letter is treasured because it contains so many good things: like the Christological hymn in ch.2, and the line “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Phil 4:4) or the blessing in our reading (Phil 4:7) But our seven verse reading shows up the confusion too, since it opens with the sort of personal greetings and instructions we expect right at the end of the letter: urging Eudoia and Syntache to get along etc. then we return material suited to the more general body of a letter (Phil 4:4-6)
A lovely passage from a great if somewhat confusing letter – I like to imagine that the people who think sheets from more than one letter to Phillipi have got jumbled together somehow are right, then this letter is also a fine example of God bringing out fine pearls from human error and muddle and confusion. For “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards us in Christ Jesus.”
Tags: letters, Paul, Philippians
Excellent as always Tim.