Philippi was the first European city to be evangelized by Paul. He arrived there in AD 48, having crossed western Turkey from Galatia. It was a Greek city with old tradition that goes back to Philip [II of Macedon in 356 BC] who fortified it and named it after himself. During Roman times it enjoyed a lot of privileges: its residents enjoyed the Ius Italicum status; they were not subjected to provincial taxes, and to some extend it was independent of the governor of the province of Macedonia. Paul spent there at least few months where he made converts among pagans (Acts 16). It seems that they were local God-fearers, a people attracted to Judaism, but without becoming a formal convert.
The letters reveal a well-organized, generous community, with the energy to support Paul’s ministry (Phil 4:15–16). In no other letter does Paul single out women ‘who labored side by side with me in the gospel’ (Phil 4:3). Nowhere else does he thank a church, whose very existence is a ‘holding forth the word of life’ (Phil 2:16), for its ‘partnership in the gospel’ (Phil 1:5). If the relationship between the apostle and the community was so close, and their Christian life so exemplary, then his among them stay had to be quite long.
The New Testament contains only one canonical letter to Philippi, but there are some who divided it into three letters: Letter A – 4:10–20; Letter B 1:1–3:1 and 4:2–9; Letter C 3:2–4–1.
(1) The letters to Philemon and the Philippians come from the same imprisonment at Ephesus, rather than from later ones at either Caesarea or Rome.
(2) Paul was held in military custody, chained to a soldier. That gave possibility for his friends to attend to his needs, if the custodian could be win over.
(3) Phil 1:13 (“imperial guard”) suggests that Paul was imprisoned by the official provincial representative of Rome at Ephesus in Asia.
Throughout Philippians Paul vacillates between life and death, deliverance and execution, but hope always triumphs over despair.
Phil 1:19–26 - I guess, I will be free; 2:17–19 - I might be executed as well; 2:23–24 - Perhaps, not yet.
There was also a split among the Ephesian Christians (Phil 1:15–18). What could be the reason?
Finally, there is the presence of Epaphras (Philemon 23) = Epaphroditus (longer form of the same name). He is the deliverer of the financial help (Phil 4:16–19); He is helping Paul personally, then in danger of death (Phil 2:25–30).
NOTE. It is worth notice the close relation between Paul and the Philippians (Phil 4:15), and ask why the Churches in Galatia did not support Paul. Was it because of distance or indifference?