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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Paul's Situation.

1.

The common view till this century was that Paul wrote from Rome in the early 60s CE. Even if he was only under house-arrest (Acts 28:30 ), this could mean painful frustration. On this view ‘the (praetorium) imperial guard’ ( 1:13 ) and ‘the emperor's [Caesar's] household’ ( 4:22 ) would be in their regular bases in Rome itself.

2.

Many today favour an earlier imprisonment, most preferring Ephesus in the mid-50s, about the probable time when Paul wrote 1–2 Corinthians and Romans, to which Philippians is said to be close in doctrine. Though there is no direct evidence for such an imprisonment, 1 Cor 15:32 and 2 Cor 1:8–10 might refer to it. Some epigraphic evidence is cited to argue that ‘praetorium’ and ‘Caesar's household’ could refer to a provincial governor's establishment. Communication between Philippi and Ephesus would be easier and quicker than with Rome.

3.

Evaluation: in 2 Cor 11:23 Paul looks back on ‘many’ imprisonments, so that in theory any of them could be possible. However, the case for Ephesus is linked to the doubtful theory that Philippians is an amalgam (see PHIL D.2); the fewer letters are posited, the less need there is to suppose a shorter distance to be travelled. Similarities with Romans and 1–2 Corinthians need not tell against Philippians being dated a few years later. The epigraphic evidence is judged not relevant by Bruce (1980–1 ). In fine, the arguments for Ephesus have not overcome those for Rome (Fee 1995: 34–7).

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