History Of The Philippian Church
In our Sunday messages, we’re taking a brisk walk through Philippians during the month of March. I’ve shared a good bit about the letter in my articles, but I haven’t really mentioned much about the beginning of the church.
The history of the Philippian church begins in Acts 16:11-40. This church was formed around AD 49 from a “ladies Bible class” that met down by the river each Sabbath for prayer. There was no synagogue in the city so Paul and his entourage met with these “god-fearing,” gentile women. Lydia, a wealthy (?) merchant from Thyatira, was baptized along with her household. She invited Paul and his group to stay in her home which was probably more akin to a villa.
We don’t really know how long Paul and his companions (Silas, Timothy, and Luke) stayed in Philippi, but during this time they established a close friendship with this small community of believers. The eventual departure of Paul, Silas and Timothy was the direct result of Paul casting out a divining spirit from a young slave girl which was followed by imprisonment, an earthquake, the conversion of the jailer, and the anxiety of the town officials when they realized they had beaten and imprisoned an uncondemned Roman citizen. Luke remained with the Philippian church and does not resurface again in Acts until 20:1-5 when Paul returns to Philippi (4-6 years later). Apparently, Luke remained in Philippi for a number of years.
Paul visited Philippi at least three more times previous to this epistle (1 Corinthians 16:5; 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; Acts 20:3) and two following (1 Timothy 1:3; Titus 3:12; 2 Timothy 4:13). His deep affection for the church is echoed in his extravagant testimony about them,
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5
In Sunday’s lesson, we’ll look at Philippians 3 – It’s All Good! Your Gains are More than Your Losses.