Philippians 1:1-2 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does Paul identify himself in writing to the Philippians? See Philippians 1:1 (printed below)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, together with the elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1)

The term the apostle Paul uses in identifying himself, translated “servant,” may more accurately be rendered “bond servant” or “slave.” It is important to note that this is the title by which Paul chooses to identify himself. Philippians is a highly personal epistle; Paul does not need to defend his apostleship, he does not need to employ his apostolic authority to defend the faith or the life of the church. In Philippians Paul is free to be himself, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to speak from his heart. Thus the title he uses to identify himself, a “servant of Christ Jesus,” is most revealing: it shows that first and foremost Paul regarded himself as a devoted bond servant of Christ the Lord (cp. Romans 1:1).

2. Does the term Paul uses to identify himself apply only to himself? See Philippians 1:1 (printed above under question #1)

Note carefully that this title, “servant of Christ Jesus,” does not apply to Paul alone; it occurs in the plural, it is equally applied to Timothy. Timothy, by his lifestyle and ministry, demonstrated that it was a true description of his identity; consider Paul’s testimony concerning Timothy as it is recorded in Philippians 2:20-22.

3. Does the term Paul uses to identify himself also apply to us as Christians?

This identity, “servant of Christ Jesus,” belongs not only to Paul and Timothy, but also to you as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the titles by which Scripture identifies Christ’s people. This becomes evidence when, for instance, we compare Revelation 1:1 (“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants”) with Revelation 22:16 (“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.”)

4. What term does Paul use in addressing the Philippian Christians to whom he is writing? See Philippians 1:1 (printed above under question #1)

The apostle Paul addresses the Christians in Philippi as “saints in Christ Jesus.” The Greek term translated “saints” can also be rendered “holy ones” or “consecrated ones.”

5. When the Bible identifies the Christian as “a saint,” what do you think it means?

When the Bible identifies the Christian as being “a saint,” how are we to understand this? It has a two-fold meaning. As a Christian, you have been set apart to belong to God, to be His own unique, exclusive, cherished possession (note Titus 2:14). As a Christian, you have also been set apart to be like God, to possess and reflect His holy character (note 1 Peter 2:9).