I found a great article on the background of Philippians here at this website. It is really helpful if you want some of the backstory to the letter that Paul wrote to his first church that he founded, the church in Philippi in Greece.
Philippians is considered the Epistle, or the letter, of joy. The reason why it is called that is almost immediately clear. Look at vs.4 where Paul states that he is constantly praying with joy for the community. Once again, like the church in Ephesus that we just read about, Paul loves this congregation. I would argue that it is probably his favorite. His tone is consistently one of celebration and an attitude of YOU ARE AWESOME!
Vs.6 is a great verse as Paul states that he is confident that the Lord will complete in each person in that church, and really the church as a whole as well, the good work that He has started in them. Think of that addressed to you. I am confident that the good work that God has started in you, he will bring to completion before you leave the face of this earth. It is another way of saying that God is not done with you yet. This was important for the Philippian to hear, because they were right in the midst of some serious persecution. They needed to hear that this life is worth it, that even in the mess in which we find ourselves, God is still going to finish the plan that he started with you. Did you hear that?
When you start at vs.21 you also see some really, really encouraging Scripture. Paul gives us a reason to live. He says, to die would be absolutely amazing. As I used to say in high school, I’ve somewhat matured since then, somewhat, “Life is awesome and then you go to heaven”. That is Paul’s motto. The advantage of living now on this earth is that, and these are Paul’s words, I get to work with amazing people like you. The advantage of being no longer alive, is that I will be with Christ. It is a toss up. But for now, again Paul’s words, I’m glad that I am here with you.
He talks about joy again in vs.25. At the end of this chapter he speaks about persecutions and they can be assured that he understands what they are going through since he already went through it. It sounds real similar to James 1:2 when the author states: “consider it joy whenever you face trials of any kind.” That’s hard to do, but I think as we make our way through this chapter it might become easier.