The Epistle to the Philippians is one of the “Epistles of the Captivity," written by the Apostle Paul during the season of his first imprisonment at Rome. It is an imperishable record of his stay in that metropolis of the ancient world.

THE AUTHOR.-The Apostle Paul is the undoubted author of the Epistle to the Philippian Church: for many years he had witnessed a bold confession for the Master whom he had once rejected, and whose disciples he had mercilessly persecuted. In the midst of his work he had cherished an ardent desire to visit Rome, there to preach Christ to a people sunk in profligacy and idolatry. At length the desire of his heart was accomplished, but, alas ! it was as a prisoner that he proceeded thither. He landed on the shores of Italy, about 150 miles from Rome. The first part of the route was from Puteoli, along the Appian Way, until he was met by a party of brethren at Appii Forum. Ten miles further on, at a place called the Three Taverns, a second company was waiting to salute him, and thus surrounded by Christian brethren, he entered the imperial city. There Julius the centurion delivered up his prisoner to the prefect of the Prætorian Guard, an office held at this time by Burrhus, one of the chief advisers of the Emperor Nero.* The kind of imprisonment to which St. Paul was subjected was custodia militaris, a species of custody introduced at the commencement of the Empire; the prisoner's right hand was chained to the left hand of a soldier, who was responsible with his life for his safe keeping; the place of imprisonment was either barracks or a private house. In this state of captivity the Apostle preached, and converted at least one sinner in his bonds;t in this condition he wrote four of his Epistles, the last of which was probably the Epistle to the Philippians. It is supposed that this Epistle was the latest of the four, because he seems to have less freedom than when

© Acts xxviii. 16.

+ Philemon 10.




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writing to the Ephesians; also because he seems to be expecting shortly a decision of his cause.*

THE OBJECT FOR WHICH THIS EPISTLE WAS WRITTEN.—The Epistle to the Philippian Church arose directly out of an incident which greatly cheered the heart of Paul, the prisoner in Rome. In the spring of A.D. 62, Epaphroditus, a leading presbyter of the Church at Philippi, arrived in Rome with a contribution which that loving and generous Church had sent to the Apostle in his time of need. At Rome Paul's hands were fettered, therefore he was unable to work for his livelihood, as he had been accustomed to do in other places. The Roman Christians were probably among the poorer classes, and therefore unable to minister to his necessities; but the Philippians, among whom were men and women of wealth and influence, sent as many as four pecuniary contributions, this being the fourth. It was upon the return of Epaphroditus to Philippi that St. Paul resolved to make him the bearer of a letter to that Church in acknowledgment of the kindness he had experienced from its members.

STYLE AND LANGUAGE.-It has been said that the Epistle to the Philippians is one of the least systematic, the least special in character, of

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