The Philippians weren’t like the people around them. They were Romans in Macedonia, the rugged area that produced Alexander the Great, in a town named for his father. Located on a Roman military highway connecting Rome to its eastern territories, Philippi was the site of significant fighting in several Roman wars and was strategically important. Home to a large population of Roman veterans, Philippi had special legal status as a Roman colony.
Like any outpost, the Philippians faced constant danger. They might get cut off or surrounded by enemy forces. Their outpost might fall to trickery and subterfuge. Or most insidiously, they might “go native” and become too much like the locals to be of any use to those that sent them.
On his second missionary journey, the apostle Paul preached the gospel in Philippi and baptized those who believed (Acts 16). Paul taught them how believers are to act. “As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, in one accord, contending together for the faith of the gospel” (CSB, Phil. 1:27). So live honorably, stand firm, and fight as a unit, whether or not I’m there.
The Christians there needed this kind of discipline because these believers still manned an outpost — but now it was one of heaven’s. They were to hold it in a faithful, worthy and expectant manner, knowing“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:16,17).