What does Philippians chapter 2 mean?Chapter 2 emphasizes the theme of rejoicing during times of suffering. First, Paul gives Christ's own example of humility (Philippians 2:1–11). Believers were to look out for the interests of others, as well as their own (Philippians 2:4). This involves taking on the humble attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5), expressed poetically in verses 6 through 11. The honor given Christ as a result of His modesty is that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11).
Second, Paul emphasizes believers as lights in a world of darkness (Philippians 2:12–18). The contrast between light and darkness is a common scriptural theme. Light uncovers truth, and provides comfort and safety. Darkness is dangerous, insecure, and hides the truth.
The believers reading Paul's letter were to continue in obedience, working out their salvation in "fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). In context, this is a command to show, in action, the reality of one's salvation. It is not a comment about "working for" salvation, but working out salvation, through one's life.
Paul notes God was the one working in them for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). They were to do all things without complaining (Philippians 2:14) to shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15). This included holding fast to the word of life so Paul's work would not be in vain (Philippians 2:16).
Paul also speaks of being poured out as a drink offering, referring to the Old Testament ritual. Despite being "poured out" on their behalf, he is glad and rejoices (Philippians 2:17). He likewise encourages the Philippian believers to rejoice with him (Philippians 2:18). Their struggles are not in vain; all things are happening for the glory of God. Third, he gives instructions regarding Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:19–30). Paul hoped to send Timothy to them soon to bring them good news (Philippians 2:19). Timothy sought the welfare of the Philippian Christians (Philippians 2:20). Paul spoke of Timothy as a son (Philippians 2:22), hoping to also visit personally (Philippians 2:24). Paul clearly believed he would soon be released. Scripture does record Paul's ministry after his first Roman imprisonment in the books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. However, it is uncertain whether he visited these Philippian believers again.
At the time of his writing, Paul was sending Epaphroditus, a person he referred to as his brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier, messenger, and minister to his need (Philippians 2:25). Epaphroditus had been sick to the point of death, but had been healed (Philippians 2:27). The Philippians were to receive him with joy and honor him since he risked his life for the work of Christ (Philippians 2:30). Epaphroditus became an early example of a church leader sacrificing everything for the work of Christ and service to believers, offering an example to many who would follow his pattern in future days.