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Literature / Book of Philippians

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The eleventh book of the New Testament and the sixth of the Pauline Epistles.

Structure of the book:

  • Greeting (Philippians 1:1-2)
  • Thanskgiving and prayer (Philippians 1:3-11)
  • The advance of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12-18)
  • To live is Christ (Philippians 1:19-30)
  • Christ's example of humility (Philippians 2:1-11)
  • Living as lights of the world (Philippians 2:12-18)
  • About Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:19-30)
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  • Righteousness through faith in Christ (Philippians 3:1-11)
  • Straining toward the goal (Philippians 3:12-4:1)
  • Exhortation, encouragement, and prayer (Philippians 4:2-9)
  • God's provision (Philippians 4:10-20)
  • Final greetings (Philippians 4:21-23)

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Badass Boast: Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things because of Christ who strengthens me," tends to be used as this, saying that Christians can do all sorts of supernatural things (possibly linking it to what David says in Psalm 18:29: "For by You [God] I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap a wall"), although contextually it is talking about Paul being able to endure all kinds of hardships in his ministry, whether he goes hungry or is full.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Philippians 2:6-11 tells us that Jesus, although He was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God "something to hold onto", but "made Himself nothing", taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in the appearance of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Because of this, God has highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee in heaven, on earth, and under the earth should bow, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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  • Circumcision Angst: Paul warns the Philippian believers to "watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh," speaking about those who would demand believers in God to be circumcised.
  • God Is Good: Paul begins the letter by saying He (meaning God and/or Jesus) who began a good work in him will be able to bring it to completion until "the day of Christ".
  • Heaven Seeker: In Philippians 1:21-24, Paul implies that he is conflicted on whether he should live to do labor or to die to meet with Christ, which is what he desires the most. He decides that he must continue to live for the sake of preaching to the people in Philippi.
  • It's All Junk: Paul in this letter treats the things he used to boast about — being circumcised on the eighth day, being born a Hebrew of the tribe of Benjamin, being raised a Pharisee, his zeal for persecuting the church, his blameless conduct according to the Law of God — as being nothing more than garbage in comparison to the excellence of knowing Jesus Christ and seeking to be found in the Lord's righteousness.
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  • Think Happy Thoughts: In this case, thoughts that please the Lord. As Philippians 4:8 says, "whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things."


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