1. How would you describe Paul’s relationship with the church at Philippi?
It is a very close and affectionate relationship. Even though Paul was not in Philippi very long it is clear that he has a special place in his heart for these people.
2. What is Paul confident of? Why does he have this level of confidence?
Paul is confident that God started something in Philippi and that what God started God will finish. Paul has this level of confidence because he is confident in God. His confidence is not based on the people in Philippi or dependent on any particular set of circumstances.
3. What is Paul’s desire expressed in his prayer?
Paul’s desire is that the Philippians would grow in their understanding of what love is and what love does. He wants this because he desires for the Philippians to grow to be more like Jesus. He also wants to be doing things that Jesus would do so that God will be made visible and receive praise.
4. How many times is Christ mentioned in these verses?
I find Christ mentioned 7 times in 11 verses.
5. What does that tell you about Christ’s importance to Paul?
Christ is everything to Paul. Without Christ Paul has no purpose. Without Christ Paul has no relationship with the Philippians.
6. When you think about love, is it based on knowledge or emotion?
Most people think of love as being based on emotion. The word for love used here, agape, is a love that comes from the will. I make a decision to love based on my understanding of Jesus and my understanding of what another person needs.
7. What does Paul associate with love?
Paul clearly associates love with knowledge and insight or discernment.
8. What difference should that make in who we love and how we love?
The simplest way I can think to express this is that I can love someone without liking them. Also, my actions will be determined by what is best for them and not on what will make them like me.
1. What is the gospel?
The gospel is good news and is best described in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. We have sinned and are separated from God. Jesus, God in a body, came to earth and died for our sins. He was raised from the dead and then appeared to many people before He returned to God in heaven. John 3:16 is another expression of the gospel.
2. How does the gospel advance?
The gospel advances when a follower of Jesus is willing to proclaim the good news in any and every situation.
3. What is Paul’s situation and how does it illustrate how the gospel advances?
Paul is under house arrest. He is not in a prison, but his freedom of movement is limited by being chained to a Roman soldier. It isn’t just Paul’s freedom of movement that is limited. The Romans soldier cannot go anywhere. When Paul speaks the good news, it will be heard. The result is that many of the Romans soldiers heard the good news and believed. They in turn told others about the good news they had received.
4. What is most important to Paul?
The simple answer is Jesus. Whatever Jesus wants for Paul is what Paul wants.
5. Paul is facing three possibilities: release from prison, remaining in prison, and being executed. Which one is Paul hoping for? Which one does he expect?
Paul is hoping for death so that he can go to be with Jesus in heaven. He expects to be released and continue living.
6. What kind of attitude makes visible to others our confidence in Jesus?
When we are filled with joy in spite of our circumstances people notice.
7. How would you describe joy?
Joy to me is a deep sense of contentment and gratitude. Both are things I choose. They are not emotions that come and go. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and the result of my choosing to be Spirit led rather than self or flesh led.
8. How would you describe Paul’s attitude?
Paul is Spirit led and full of joy. He is very self-aware, but not self-absorbed. He understands his situation and is not naïve about what the future may hold. He is not resigned or fatalistic but looking forward to whatever God has in store for him.
9. Does Paul’s attitude make sense given his circumstances?
Absolutely not, from a worldly perspective. Most people would say that Paul is crazy. For those who know God and love Him like Paul does his attitude is the only one that makes sense. How we view Paul’s attitude depends on our relationship with God.
1. What is conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ?
Conduct that is consistent with the fruit of the Spirit and that reflects Jesus to the people around us.
2. What is conduct that is unworthy of the gospel of Christ?
Any form of selfishness would qualify. Paul specifically identifies lack of unity as unworthy.
3. How does Paul expect the Philippians to respond to opposition?
He expects them to stand together. When faced with external opposition we can either scatter and run or pull together and stand. Attacking the opposition never seems to be an option for followers of Jesus.
4. What special privilege has been granted to the Philippians?
They are going to suffer. This probably means that they are going to face persecution because of what they believe. This could mean loss of property, time in prison, or even death.
5. What is belief without suffering?
Belief is basically trust. It does not require much trust in God when my circumstances are mostly positive, and this is true for most of us in the United States. When I am faced with circumstances that are not positive and I can avoid them by changing what I believe my level of trust will be made obvious. When I choose to go through something unpleasant because of Jesus my trust will be demonstrated and will grow.
6. Why is this a privilege?
When God allows us to go through difficult situations, He is demonstrating a confidence in our trust that should be very reassuring. Also, we will never be closer to Jesus than when we are suffering.
Material for this and the other lessons from Philippians are drawn from two primary sources and my own observations:
The BE Series Bundle by Warren W. Wiersbe
The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians by William J. Barclay