In this accessible and erudite commentary, respected New Testament scholar Linda Belleville shows how Paul’s letter to the Philippians provides a unique opportunity to see the similarities between the culture of his day and ours and to understand not only what is needed to cope in a hostile society but also to be bold in sharing the sole hope for our global world. The value that Paul placed in a heritage and accomplishments that exceeded his peers is now merely rubbish compared with knowing Christ and eternal citizenship in heaven. Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in the imperial barracks, awaiting the outcome of a life-or-death trial. His most beloved church was facing strong opponents without and selfish division within. Paul’s foes were taking advantage of his forced absence to stir up fear and division. Paul’s strategy is to remind the church of the reasons to rejoice and forgo selfish opinion differences. There is much cause to rejoice because, despite imprisonment, the gospel had reached the entire imperial guard and emboldened Christians everywhere to boldly proclaim Christ. To help them reject selfish attitudes, Paul reminds them of his own selflessness. Although Paul considered a death verdict as the personal gain of union with Christ, a life verdict is the Philippians’ gain. Paul’s ministry of preaching Christ will continue and his example of finishing the earthly race with integrity and joy will carry on. Yet, even in his absence, their best exemplar is Christ himself, who, while enjoying his heavenly riches, willingly took on the human condition with its pain, suffering, and death so that they might gain their own heavenly riches.
In an age when some commentary series produce massive tomes on even as short a book as Philippians, Linda Belleville’s work, like the NCCS in general, is a model of succinctness. Yet all the basics are here and there are wonderfully incisive applications in the ‘Fusing the Horizons’ section and a bonus in-depth look at the famous hymn in 2:5–11. A nice treat.
—Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
Belleville has offered a ringing, lucid, and skillful guide for reading Philippians that gets to the heart of the matter. It is filled with keen insights that pastors, teachers, and students alike will find to be of immense help for understanding what Paul is doing in this letter.
—David E. Garland, Professor of Christian Scriptures, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University
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