In all of Paul’s travels—some 10,000 miles (16,000 km), over a stretch of nearly two decades—there’s only one church that donated to his ministry. Philippi.
Plenty of churches gave him donations to take back to needy people in Jerusalem. But Paul didn’t seem to take donations for himself, except from the church at Philippi.
In fact, in a letter to the church at Corinth, he reminded the people that he and Barnabas were bi-vocational ministers who supported themselves (1 Corinthians 9:6). Paul earned an income “by making tents” (Acts 18:3).
Why Paul accepted gifts from the church in Philippi is anyone’s guess. But one guess might have to do with his first contact there: Lydia, apparently a wealthy businesswoman who “worshiped God and made her living by selling purple fabric” (Acts 16:14), which was the most expensive fabric available.
Paul now finds himself under arrest and awaiting a trial that will determine whether he lives or dies. Many Bible experts say he dies. Others say he is released but is arrested a couple of years later, tried, and executed.
Wherever Paul is while he writes this letter, the people of Philippi find him. They send a messenger with supplies—possibly clothes, food, and money. Perhaps some reading material, too.
The messenger apparently gets sick and almost dies during the trip. He recovers, and Paul sends him back with a thank you letter we now know as the short Bible book of Philippians.
“Hello. Paul and Timothy here” (Philippians 1:1).
It’s not clear when Paul wrote this letter. Many scholars speculate that it was one of the last letters he ever wrote, perhaps around AD 60-62.
“I’m imprisoned” (Philippians 1:13). Many speculate he was awaiting trial in the Emperor’s Supreme Court at Rome because he talks about the “palace guard” (1:13). And he sends greetings from fellow Christians “who serve in Caesar’s home” (4:22). Caesarea and Ephesus are other possible locations, since there were Roman palaces there with people who served Caesar. But the top guess is Rome, where Paul is waiting to see “whether I live or die” (1:20).
Destination of letter
Paul is writing to a community of Christians in the city of Philippi, in what is now northern Greece.