THE account of the labors and sufferings of the apostle Paul and his companions, in Philippi, is given in the 16th chapter of the Acts. They went to Macedonia in response to the vision of the man of that country calling for help, which Paul had seen at Troas. But when they reached the capital, there was apparently no such man feeling his need and awaiting them. Instead, they came first in touch with a few women who were accustomed to gather for prayer n a quiet place, by the riverside, outside the city. There the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to attend to the things spoken by Paul. Others too were evidently reached; among them some brethren, as verse 40 makes clear. But it was when cast into prison that the greatest work was done. The jailer and his household were won for Christ ere the messengers of God’s grace took their departure for Thessalonica.
The infant church was very dear to the heart of the apostle, and he was very dear to them. Their love and care were shown after he left them, at various times, and, one would judge, for a number of years. But at last they lost touch with him, apparently during his imprisonment at Cæsarea. It was when he was in Rome that they again got into communication with him and fearing he might be in need, sent him an expression of their love and care by the hand of a trusted and beloved brother who was one of themselves, Epaphroditus. Having fulfilled his ministry, this faithful man fell sick, and his illness was of sufficient duration for word regarding it to reach Philippi, and the news of the anxiety of the saints there concerning him had come back to Rome about the time that he became convalescent. Deciding at once to return, he was entrusted with the letter we have before us, which was, one would judge, dictated to him by the apostle.