To the Philippians 1:1-30

1  Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the holy ones in union with Christ Jesus who are in Phi·lipʹpi,+ along with overseers and ministerial servants:+  May you have undeserved kindness and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God always when I remember you  in every supplication of mine for all of you. I offer each supplication with joy,+  because of the contribution you have made to the good news from the first day until this moment.  For I am confident of this very thing, that the one who started a good work in you will bring it to completion+ until the day of Christ Jesus.+  It is only right for me to think this regarding all of you, since I have you in my heart, you who are sharers with me in the undeserved kindness both in my prison bonds+ and in the defending and legally establishing of the good news.+  For God is my witness of how I am longing for all of you with such tender affection as Christ Jesus has.  And this is what I continue praying, that your love may abound still more and more+ with accurate knowledge+ and full discernment;+ 10  that you may make sure of the more important things,+ so that you may be flawless and not stumbling others+ up to the day of Christ; 11  and that you may be filled with righteous fruit, which is through Jesus Christ,+ to God’s glory and praise. 12  Now I want you to know, brothers, that my situation has actually turned out for the advancement of the good news, 13  so that my prison bonds+ for the sake of Christ have become public knowledge+ among all the Prae·toʹri·an Guard and all the rest. 14  Now most of the brothers in the Lord have gained confidence because of my prison bonds, and they are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.+ 15  True, some are preaching the Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16  The latter are proclaiming the Christ out of love, for they know that I have been appointed to defend the good news;+ 17  but the former do it out of contentiousness, not with a pure motive, for they are intending to create trouble for me in my prison bonds. 18  With what result? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and I rejoice over this. In fact, I will also keep on rejoicing, 19  for I know that this will result in my salvation through your supplication+ and with the support of the spirit of Jesus Christ.+ 20  This is in harmony with my eager expectation and hope that I will not be ashamed in any respect, but that with all freeness of speech Christ will now, as always before, be magnified by means of my body, whether through life or through death.+ 21  For in my case, to live is Christ+ and to die is gain.+ 22  Now if I am to live on in the flesh, this is a fruitage of my work; yet what I would choose, I do not make known.* 23  I am torn between these two things, for I do desire the releasing and the being with Christ,+ which is, to be sure, far better.+ 24  However, it is more necessary for me to remain in the flesh for your sakes. 25  So, being confident of this, I know I will remain and continue with all of you for your advancement and your joy in the faith,+ 26  so that your exultation may overflow in Christ Jesus because of me when I am again present with you. 27  Only behave in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ,+ so that whether I come and see you or I am absent, I may hear about you and learn that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one soul,+ striving side by side for the faith of the good news, 28  and in no way being frightened by your opponents. This very thing is a proof of destruction+ for them, but of salvation for you;+ and this is from God. 29  For you have been given the privilege in behalf of Christ, not only to put your faith in him but also to suffer in his behalf.+ 30  For you are facing the same struggle that you saw me face,+ which you now hear that I am still facing.


Or possibly, “I do not know.”

Study Notes

The First to the Corinthians: Titles like this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the letters. The papyrus codex known as P46 shows that scribes identified Bible books by titles. That codex is the earliest known collection of Paul’s letters, often dated to about the year 200 C.E. It contains nine of his letters. At the beginning of Paul’s first inspired letter to the Corinthians, this codex has a title that reads Pros Ko·rinʹthi·ous A (“Toward [or, “To”] Corinthians 1”). (See Media Gallery, “Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.”) Other early manuscripts, such as Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century C.E., contain the same title. In these manuscripts, the title appears both at the beginning of the letter and at the end.

To the Philippians: Titles like this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easy to identify the books.​—See study note on 1Co Title and Media Gallery, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.”

Paul and Timothy: Or “From Paul and Timothy.” Paul is the writer of this letter to the Philippians, but he includes Timothy in the opening greeting. Timothy was with Paul in Rome about the time of Paul’s first imprisonment there. Timothy is also mentioned in two other letters by Paul written from Rome during that time, namely, the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. (Col 1:1, 2; Phm 1) It appears that Timothy personally endured imprisonment in Rome sometime between the writing of the letter to the Philippians and the letter to the Hebrews.​—Php 2:19; Heb 13:23.

slaves of Christ Jesus: See study note on Ro 1:1.

the holy ones: See study note on Ro 1:7.

Philippi: See study note on Ac 16:12.

overseers: Paul here uses the plural form of the Greek word for “overseer” (e·piʹsko·pos) when referring to those taking the lead in the congregation in Philippi. (Compare Ac 20:28.) Elsewhere he mentions that a “body of elders” appointed Timothy to a special assignment. (1Ti 4:14) Since Paul does not single out any one individual in those congregations as the overseer, it is evident that there was more than one overseer. This provides insight into the way first-century congregations were arranged. The terms “overseers” and “elders” are used interchangeably in the Christian Greek Scriptures, showing that they refer to the same position. (Ac 20:17, 28; Tit 1:5, 7; compare 1Pe 5:1, 2.) The number of those serving as overseers in a congregation depended on how many men were qualified to serve as “elders,” or spiritually mature men, in that congregation.​—Ac 14:23; see study notes on Ac 20:17, 28.

ministerial servants: Or “assistants.” The Greek word di·aʹko·nos, literally meaning “servant,” is here used in an official sense, referring to appointed “ministerial servants” in the Christian congregation. It is used in a similar sense at 1Ti 3:8, 12. Paul’s use of the term in the plural indicates that the congregation had a number of such servants assisting the overseers with various assignments. Instead of the terms “overseers and ministerial servants” in this verse, some Bibles use such titles as “bishops and deacons,” which Christendom uses to give the impression that there was a hierarchy among first-century Christians. However, renderings that clearly convey the intended meaning of these terms show that positions of responsibility in the Christian congregation do not elevate one above another. The rendering “ministerial servants” highlights the service that these hardworking men render in behalf of the congregation.

May you have undeserved kindness and peace: See study note on Ro 1:7.

because of the contribution you have made to: Or “because of your participation in furthering.” Among other things, Paul may have had in mind the occasion when Lydia and her household got baptized and she hospitably insisted that Paul and his preaching companions stay at her house.​—Ac 16:14, 15.

my prison bonds: Paul may have been imprisoned more often than any of the other apostles. (Compare 2Co 11:23.) About ten years earlier, while in Philippi, Paul had spent a short time in prison. (Ac 16:22-24) Now, at the time of writing his letter to the Philippians, he was under house arrest in Rome. Constantly guarded by a soldier, Paul awaited trial before Caesar. (Ac 25:11, 12; 28:30, 31) Appreciating that Paul needed help while in prison bonds, the Philippians sent him material gifts by means of Epaphroditus. During his time with Paul, Epaphroditus provided further assistance, even to the point of endangering his own life.​—Php 2:25, 30; 4:18.

the defending: The Greek word rendered “defending” (a·po·lo·giʹa) is often used regarding a defense in court. (Ac 22:1; 25:16) Jesus had foretold that his followers would be handed over “to local courts” and be brought “before governors and kings for [his] sake, for a witness to them and the nations.” (Mt 10:17, 18) When opposition by the Jews in Jerusalem resulted in Paul’s arrest, he was brought to the Roman governor at Caesarea. (Ac 23:23-35) Paul’s “appeal to Caesar” while in Caesarea opened the way for him to make a defense of his faith before the highest court of the Roman Empire. (Ac 25:11, 12) Whether he actually appeared before Caesar Nero or one of Caesar’s agents is not stated in the Scriptures. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, he was awaiting trial in Rome as a result of his appeal.​—Ac 28:17-20.

the . . . legally establishing of the good news: The term Paul here uses has legal connotations. It refers to promoting the good news actively by legal means. When Paul was in Philippi about ten years earlier, he had appealed to the Roman legal system to establish the right to preach the good news. (Ac 16:35-40) He was in a fight to establish the right to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom freely in the Roman Empire. One reference work states: “Paul was a witness not only in the dungeon but also in the courtroom.”

accurate knowledge: Paul here relates love for God and for fellow believers to accurate knowledge of God and discernment of what his will is. As used in the Scriptures, the Greek terms for “to know” and “knowledge” often carry the meaning “knowing through personal experience.”​—For a discussion of the Greek term here rendered “accurate knowledge,” see study notes on Ro 10:2; Eph 4:13.

full discernment: The Greek word here rendered “discernment” (lit., “sense perception”) occurs only in this verse. A related word is used at Heb 5:14 in the phrase “those who through use have their powers of discernment [or “perceptive powers”; lit., “sense organs”] trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” In the Bible, these terms are used about discernment with regard to moral and spiritual matters. Paul prayed that the love of the Philippian Christians would abound with such discernment so that they could distinguish between what is more important and what is less important from God’s standpoint. (Php 1:10) A Christian’s moral sense is focused; he can perceive right from wrong, not only in clear-cut matters but also in complex situations in which the right course is not immediately apparent. He can then make proper decisions that will help him preserve his friendship with Jehovah.

the Praetorian Guard: During his first imprisonment in Rome (c. 59-61 C.E.), Paul “was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier guarding him.” (Ac 28:16) While under house arrest, Paul wrote that his “prison bonds for the sake of Christ [had] become public knowledge among all the Praetorian Guard.” This guard was an elite group of Roman soldiers, numbering into the thousands. The Greek word used here is derived from the Latin praetorium, which originally referred to the place (a tent or a building) where a Roman army commander resided. Starting with the reign of Caesar Augustus, the soldiers in the Praetorian Guard served as the Roman emperor’s bodyguard, which is why the Greek word used at Php 1:13 is rendered “the imperial guard” or “the palace guard” in some translations. Their role required that they be stationed near the emperor and his household.

some are preaching the Christ out of envy and rivalry: Some were serving God with a wrong motive. These likely included certain Jewish converts to Christianity who had broken away from the pure teaching that had been conveyed through the apostle Paul. They were chiefly concerned with promoting themselves and their ideas rather than with glorifying God. (Ga 6:12, 13) They became envious of Paul’s reputation, authority, and influence, so they sought to discredit him. (Php 1:17) Nevertheless, Paul maintained his joy because he saw that Christ was being proclaimed.​—Php 1:18.

but others out of goodwill: Sincere Christians were preaching the message about the Christ out of goodwill, or with pure motives. They also expressed goodwill (or pleasure, favor) toward Christ’s representatives, including Paul. As a result, they experienced the approval, or goodwill, of God.​—Ps 106:4; ftn.; Pr 8:35.

my salvation: Or “my being released.” Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians during his first imprisonment in Rome (c. 59-61 C.E.). The term that Paul uses here may convey the idea that he was confident that he would be released from prison as a result of the intense prayers of the Christians in Philippi. This is in harmony with his expressed wish to visit the Philippians again. (Php 2:24) His release from prison would make such a visit possible. (See Media Gallery, “Paul’s Journeys After c. 61 C.E.”) The Greek word Paul uses here (so·te·riʹa, often rendered “salvation”) could in this context also be understood to refer to Paul’s eternal salvation.

the spirit of Jesus Christ: Apparently referring to Jesus’ use of God’s holy spirit, or active force. Ac 2:33 says that Jesus “received the promised holy spirit from the Father.” At Php 1:11, Paul prayed that Christians might “be filled with righteous fruit, which is through Jesus Christ, to God’s glory and praise.” Ever since Jesus was resurrected and he ascended to heaven, God has used him to supply the needs of Christians on earth. At Joh 14:26, Jesus said: “The Father will send [the holy spirit] in my name,” and at Joh 15:26, he said: “When the helper comes that I will send you from the Father, the spirit of the truth, . . . that one will bear witness about me.”​—See study note on Ac 16:7.

freeness of speech: See study note on 2Co 7:4.

to live is Christ and to die is gain: Paul here seems to draw a contrast between his life and his death. While living, he could enjoy a life in God’s service and in the service of fellow Christians, whereas if he died faithful, he would gain immortal life in heaven.​—2Ti 4:6-8.

I am torn between these two things: While under house arrest, awaiting trial before Caesar, Paul felt torn between two possibilities. One was to remain alive in order to continue serving his brothers. The other was to die as a faithful servant of God. (2Ti 4:7, 8) Paul did not say which one he would choose. (Php 1:22) However, he did say that “the releasing and the being with Christ” was the better option. He knew that his remaining faithful until death was the only way to be assured of his heavenly reward during Christ’s presence.​—Re 2:10.

the releasing: Paul is apparently referring to his death. In his second letter to Timothy, written about 65 C.E., he uses a related Greek word when he says regarding his death: “The time for my releasing is imminent.” (2Ti 4:6) The expressions “the releasing and the being with Christ” are apparently parallel to what Paul says at 2Co 5:8: “We . . . would prefer to be absent from the body and to make our home with the Lord.” He viewed his death as a faithful anointed servant of God as a “releasing,” paving the way for him to be resurrected later to life in Christ’s “heavenly Kingdom.” (2Ti 4:18) As Paul explained at 1Co 15:23, “those who belong to the Christ” would be resurrected to heavenly life “during [Christ’s future] presence.” So Paul is here expressing his desire to finish his earthly course faithfully so that he could later be resurrected to heavenly life. Paul’s usage of the term “releasing” is not unique. Other Greek writers used the term as a euphemism for dying.

when I am again present with you: Or “when I am with you again.” The Greek phrase here used contains the noun pa·rou·siʹa, which literally means “being alongside.” It is often rendered “presence,” especially in connection with the invisible presence of Jesus Christ. (Mt 24:37; 1Co 15:23) Here Paul uses the term when expressing his hope to visit the Philippian Christians again. The renderings “presence” and “present” are supported by the way Paul uses the term pa·rou·siʹa at Php 2:12 (see study note) to describe his “presence” in contrast with his “absence.”​—See study notes on Mt 24:3; 1Co 16:17.

behave: Or “carry on as citizens.” The Greek verb that Paul uses here is related to the Greek words for “citizenship” (Php 3:20) and “citizen” (Ac 21:39). Roman citizens generally took an active part in the affairs of the State because Roman citizenship was highly prized and it carried with it responsibilities and privileges. (Ac 22:25-30) Thus, when Paul uses a form of this verb in connection with behaving in a manner worthy of the good news about the Christ, he conveys the idea of participating in Christian activity, especially in the declaring of this good news. Since the inhabitants of Philippi had been given a form of citizenship by Rome, they would have been familiar with this aspect of active participation.​—See study notes on Ac 23:1; Php 3:20.

with one soul: Or “with one accord; as one man.”​—See study note on Ac 4:32.


Paul’s Letter to the Philippians
Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

Shown here is a leaf from a papyrus codex known as P46, believed to date from about 200 C.E. The codex contains a collection of nine of Paul’s letters, but the letters do not appear in the same order as in modern-day Bibles. (See Media Gallery, “Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians” and “Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians.”) This leaf shows the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians and the beginning of his letter to the Christians in the city of Philippi. It is part of the Papyrus Chester Beatty 2, which is housed at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. Highlighted is the title, which reads: “Toward [or, “To”] Philippians.” This papyrus collection provides evidence that from an early date, scribes identified Bible books by titles.

Video Introduction to the Book of Philippians
Video Introduction to the Book of Philippians
Paul’s Prison Bonds While He Was Under House Arrest
Paul’s Prison Bonds While He Was Under House Arrest

During his first imprisonment in Rome, the apostle Paul was permitted to live under guard in a rented house. (Ac 28:16, 30) Roman guards typically restrained prisoners with chains. The prisoner’s right wrist was usually chained to the guard’s left wrist. This kept the guard’s right hand free. Paul referred to his chains, bonds, and imprisonment in most of the inspired letters that he wrote during his house arrest in Rome.​—Eph 3:1; 4:1; 6:20; Php 1:7, 13, 14, 17; Col 4:3, 18; Phm 1, 9, 10, 13.

The Praetorian Guard on Duty
The Praetorian Guard on Duty

Members of the Praetorian Guard normally wore a tunic (1) and sometimes a cloak (2). This type of clothing allowed for freedom of movement. Even though the tunic was commonly worn by Romans, non-Romans, and slaves, soldiers were easily identified by their military weapons, belts, and sandals. However, the soldiers wore a different garment, called a toga (3), whenever they were within the city limits of Rome and whenever they guarded the emperor. The toga was formal attire for male Roman citizens.