On his second journey to bring the gospel to the Gentile world, the apostle Paul helped start a church in the city of Philippi (see Acts 16:11-40), a colony of retired Roman soldiers. The Philippians became Paul’s friends and supporters for the rest of his life. When they heard that he was in Rome as a prisoner, they collected money to assist him and sent it with one of their members, a man named Epaphroditus. Later Paul sent him back with a letter to thank the Philippians for their friendship and support.
Paul knows the Philippians were experiencing a lot of opposition, so he appeals to his own life as an example of how to respond to hardship with joy. Throughout the whole palace guard – that is, right in the centre of Caesar’s realm – Paul is boldly making the royal announcement that Jesus is Lord. Paul’s desire is that the Philippians will gain the same confidence and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
In an amazing hymn, Paul urges the Philippians to have the servant attitude that Jesus had. He did not grasp his high position but humbled himself even to the point of death – all for the sake of others. This is the new way to be human that is revealed in God’s kingdom. Our citizenship is in God’s realm and so we eagerly await the Saviour’s return to us. Then he will transform our lowly bodies to become like his glorious resurrected body.