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Philippians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition

ISBN: 9780834124110

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One of the shortest of Paul’s letters, Philippians is perhaps the most beloved by the church. No doubt, this is due in part to its high concentration of memorable passages that constantly challenge and encourage the people of God. What is more, the letter glows with affection and joy. The imprisoned Paul who writes Philippians is not hard to love. But we should not allow the letter’s warm and pastoral tone to mask its theological importance. Philippians is practical, but it is hardly “lightweight.” It holds some deeply theological reflections, particularly about Christ and the cruciform character of life in Christ.

Philippians is arguably Paul’s most personal letter. It gives us an intimate glimpse into the self-understanding of this incarcerated apostle to the Gentiles. Paul airs his inmost thoughts, tells his personal story, and testifies to his burning passion to know Christ his Lord and to make Him known. He also reveals his deep love and affection for this church, which has faithfully partnered with him in ministry from its earliest days.

But this letter is not about Paul. Above all, Philippians is concerned with the advance of the gospel and the formation of a local Christian community—a congregation that faces pressures from both inside and outside the church. Paul’s theological response to his own situation and that of his audience yields a Christ-centered letter that continues to shape Christian communities today. Dean Flemming moves verse-by-verse through Philippians after providing an in-depth introduction.

Resource Experts
  • The latest scholarship from notable experts in the Wesleyan tradition
  • Convenient introductory material for each book of the Bible including information on authorship, date, history, audience, sociological/cultural issues, purpose, literary features, theological themes, hermeneutical issues, and more
  • Clear verse-by-verse explanations, which offer a contemporary, Wesleyan-based understanding derived from the passage’s original language
  • Comprehensive annotation divided into three sections: 1. Background elements behind the text 2. Verse-by-verse details and meanings found in the text 3. Significance, relevance, intertextuality, and application from the text
  • Insight into theological issues, word meanings, archaeological connections, historical relevance, cultural customs, and more
  • Expanded bibliography for further study of historical elements, additional interpretations, and theological themes

Top Highlights

“Its function is not primarily to tell the Philippians what they should believe about Christ. It is rather to show them how they should act in light of the pattern of Jesus’ cruciform love.” (Pages 111–112)

“Three distinctive features stand out: First, instead of being thankful for safety, health, or good fortune, Paul normally gives thanks for his readers themselves (Richards 2004, 131). Second, Paul regularly combines his thanksgiving with a prayer of intercession for the church. Third, the thanksgiving section frequently introduces some of the main themes of the letter.” (Page 46)

“The church is not an army, where everyone marches in step. It is more like a philharmonic orchestra, in which each member uses his or her gifts, contributing toward the goal of creating a harmonious symphony.” (Page 99)

“This does not mean that Christ gave up equality with God in order to take on the form of a slave. Nor did he exchange one ‘form’ for another—a divine form for a human one. On the contrary, ‘it is in his self-emptying and his humiliation that he reveals what God is like, and it is through his taking the form of a slave that we see ‘the form of God’ ’” (Page 117)

“Paul teaches that unity depends on Christians considering others to be of superior status and deserving greater honor than themselves.” (Page 101)

  • Alex Varughese
  • Roger Hahn
  • George Lyons
  • Joseph Coleson
  • Robert Branson
  • Jim Edlin
  • Kent Brower
  • Jeanne Serrão
Dean Flemming has written what should become "the commentary of first reference" on the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians. He is thoroughly conversant with all of the serious scholarship on Philippians to date. But he makes scholarship easily accessible to average readers and points them to further reading on subjects he must treat in summary fashion. I highly recommend this commentary.

—George Lyons, Professor of New Testament, Northwest Nazarene University

  • Title: Philippians: A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition
  • Author: Dean Flemming
  • Series: New Beacon Bible Commentary (NBBC)
  • Publisher: Beacon Hill Press
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 256

Dean Flemming (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is Professor of New Testament and Missions at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas. A missionary educator for more than 20 years, he formerly taught at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary in the Philippines and European Nazarene College in Buesingen, Germany. He has written extensively on the subject of contextualization, as well as the New Beacon Bible Commentary on Philippians. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene and has pastored churches in Ohio and Japan.


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    Print list price: $27.99
    Save $8.00 (28%)