Paul writes to the church in Philippi to encourage them to rejoice in their trials and to be considerate of one another. In chapter 3, he comments on the foundation of the faith and exhorts them to finish well. He tells them that salvation is not by works, but he exhorts them to work. Let’s see how he balances these two thoughts.
The true people of God
Although Paul is only in the middle of his letter, he indicates his transition by writing, "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!" (3:1). He wants to stress that joy is found "in the Lord."
Paul, in prison, is writing to thank and encourage Christians in Philippi. They face their own trials and have their own problems. They, like many churches today, had some petty disagreements and selfishness. Paul points them to a better approach to interpersonal relationships and gives them three examples they can imitate.
Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi says more about joy than any other New Testament book. Even though Paul is under arrest and in chains, he rejoices because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He writes to thank the Philippian Christians for the help they gave him and to encourage them to face their own trials with "joy in Christ Jesus."
Paul has been called the greatest Christian who ever lived. He also suffered greatly for the name of Jesus Christ. When Paul defended his calling to the church, he defined suffering as a major proof of his spiritual office. “I have worked much harder,” he insisted, “been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again” (2 Corinthians 11:23).
Let me tell you about two people who worked side-by-side in the church. But something happened. They fell into a trap—a disagreement arose between them. Perhaps it began as a small argument, but it mushroomed into a rift that not only affected them but began to hurt the entire congregation.
You may know of similar circumstances. The people I'm referring to, however, lived more than 1,900 years ago. Their story is told by the apostle Paul in Philippians. He doesn't provide much detail, but we get the picture if we read carefully.