The City of Philippi In 356 BC Philippi was annexed by Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. In 168 BC it was conquered by the Romans, In 43 BC Mark Antony and Octavian defeated the Roman Republic Forces of Brutus and Cassius (these two had assassinated Julius Caesar in 44 BC in Rome) in the Battle of Philippi. Philippi was made a Roman Colony populated primarily by Army Veterans. Brutus and Cassius committed suicide. Octavian was the adoped son of Julius Caesar and is also known as Augustus Caesar, the first Emperor of Rome. The religion of Philippi was largely syncretistic, meaning there were many gods and goddesses worshipped there. This included the Imperial Cult (Emperor Worship), Jupiter (Zeus), Juno, Minerva, and Mars. Artemis of the Ephesians was worshipped under the name Bendis. There were sanctuaries to gods from Egypt including Isis (under whose protection Philippi was placed after the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC). Cybele, the great Mother-goddess was also worshipped. The Jewish community was insignificant as evidenced by Acts 16 where Paul finds no synagogue there. Philippi was an important city in the days of Paul. Coming through the city was the famous Roman Road, the Via Egnatia, the road between Rome and Byzantium, now Istanbul. It runs through Albania, Macedonia, Greek and Turkish. The best maintained arts of the road today are in Albania.
Paul and the Founding of the Church in Philippi
Paul arrived with the gospel in Philippi between AD 49 and 52 on the second missionary journey. See the Acts 16 Section Below
The Book of Philippians Written from Rome in 62 while Paul was in prison in Rome (house arrest). Some advocate the book may have been written from Caesarea (imprisoned 57-59) or even from Ephesus (if Paul was imprisoned there in 52-55). Philippians is a book of encouragement and is known by many as “The Epistle of Joy.”
Acts 16- Paul Comes to Philippi
1. Acts 16:6-12: Paul, Silas, and Timothy are directed to Philippi
Where did this team wish to go and why did they never get there? Verses 6-8 What does this tell us about our plans? How was the team directed to Macedonia? Verse 9 What did the team conclude from the vision Paul received? Verse 10 How is Philippi described? Verse 12
2. Acts 16:13-15
Where would Paul normally go on the Sabbath day in a new area? *Note that 10 men were required to start a synagogue. Who is involved in this group of prayer? Verse 13 A god-fearer (worshipper of God) is a Gentile who is attracted to Judaism. In verse 14 and 15 Lydia is saved and baptized with her household. How did this happen according to verse 14? How does this relate to our ministry and encourage us?
3. Acts 16:16-24
Notice they kept going to the place of prayer by the river (the Gangite River). What is in possession of the slave girl and what is her value to the community? Verse 16 Why are Paul and Silas arrested? Verses 18-19 What does verse 20-21 tell us about the attitude toward Jews at Philippi? *Note that Claudius had expelled all Jews out of Rome in 49. Paul and his team are in Philippi 49-52. According to verses 22-24 how are Paul and Silas treated?
4. Acts 16:25-34
What led up to the earthquake and the unfastening of everyone’s chains? Verses 25-26 Does this say anything to us regarding prayer and singing? Why do you think Paul and Silas (and the other prisoners) did not run for the prison doors and escape? Why did they say in the prison? The jailer was asleep. Why do you think the jailer asked how he might be saved? What led to such a question? In verses 30-34 we see a jailer saved? What changes happen in his life? What are the evidences of his salvation? Do we see such evidence in our own lives are in the lives of others who profess to be saved?
5. Acts 16:35-40
Where do they go after release from prison and why? *Note that Paul says they are Roman Citizens. This fact meant Paul had many rights that those who were not Roman citizens did not have. This will later lead to an appeal to Caesar which Paul had a right to do as a citizen of Rome.
Verse 1: Paul and Timothy Slaves of Messiah Jesus
Timothy is mentioned in verse 1 here and in 1 & 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Why do you think? Paul often uses the word “apostle” to describe himself in the openings of his letters but here is the only place he refers to himself as a “slave of Messiah Jesus.” Why do you think he does this? What do you think of when you think of being a slave of Jesus? A willing slave to Christ is one who joyfully puts him or herself at the disposal of Jesus.
Verse 1: To All The Saints, With Overseers and Deacons
“saints in Christ Jesus”: We are saints and called to be saints. What do you think this means? What is an overseer (episcopos)? What is a deacon (servant) The qualifications for these two offices are found primarily in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Verse 2: Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace sum up the Christian life and have to do with God and Jesus as the source of all temporal and spiritual blessings that we have. Peace means total wholeness. Verses 3-6: Paul’s Thanksgiving and Joyful Prayer
What is the cause of Paul’s joy, thanksgiving and prayer in verse 8?See 4:3; 4:14-20; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 The Philippian believers were not ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment, proclaimed the gospel themselves, and made great financial sacrifices for promotion of the gospel. How can we become better partners in the gospel? How would you grade your level of partnership?What is Paul sure of regarding this church in verse 8?How can verse 8 give us confidence and encouragement?What is the day of Christ Jesus referred to in verse 6? What will happen on that day?To think about: Paul is in prison, but full of joy. How can he be joyful? What drives his joy. The rest of the letter will unfold this more clearly. Verses 7-8: Paul’s Affection and Joy in Relationship with the Philippians Why are these believers dear to Paul’s heart according to verse 7?Being in prison was a great source of shame in the ancient world. “He had come to accept that the interests of the gospel required him to be where he was right then….divinely appointed duty for the defense of the gospel.” FF Bruce, Philippians. How does the above quote relate to verse 1? How does it relate to the circumstances of our lives that we go through? How might such an outlook help us in our difficult circumstances?
Verses 9-11 : Paul’s Prayer for The Christians at Philippi (compare Col 1:9-11) What is Paul praying for them to have in verse 9? Note that love kills fear and disunity. How is it that knowledge of God leads to discernment? See Hebrews 5:14 What are the results of an increase in love, knowledge, and discernment according to verse 11? 1.
See Galatians 5:22-23 is the fruit of a righteous life in Christ (or in the Spirit). The ultimate goal of our lives is to bring God glory (making his character known) and bring him praise (not only praising him ourselves but being the cause of other people praising him. No matter what our current circumstances let us pray this prayer: “Lord, use my life to promote your gospel and make your name and true character known. Let others see your work in my life and give you praise.”
In this section Paul is reporting to the Philippians concerning how he is doing in Rome while in prison. They are worried about him. Paul will use the way he is handling his difficulties, trials and afflictions to help the Philippian Christians and us who are now reading the letter.
Philippians 1:12-14: “I am doing much better than you may have thought.” What are Paul’s circumstances? How might we think Paul would be doing? What are the two results of Paul’s difficult circumstances? a.
b. *Note: The Roman Imperial guard consisted of 900 people.
3. How does this encourage and challenge us in the midst of our own difficulties? *Note: In reading Romans we learn that Paul expressed a great desire to come to Rome and bear much fruit for the gospel as a free man. Now he is indeed there but under a lot different circumstances than he had planned on.
4. Do you believe God arranges things in your life and has placed you where you are for His specific purposes which relate to Jesus and the gospel? How might this help you? *Note that if our concerns in life are not dominated by the gospel or the glory of God question 4 above does not have as much application.
5. Define God’s Sovereignty: See 2 Timothy 2:8-10 and 2 Timothy 4:16-17
6. How does the way you handle trials, difficulties, and disappointments impact others>
Philippians 1:15-18a: Paul’s First Rejoicing
*Note: Paul had Christian rivals, people who might have been glad they Paul was “on the shelf” (as they saw it). Now they are free to promote their “brand” of Christianity.
1. What is the cause of Paul’s rejoicing in verse 18a? 2. Why is Paul so driven by the proclamation of the gospel? 3. What can and does the gospel do in people’s lives? Are we concerned to get the gospel to people?
*See Job 13:13-19: This is the background for Paul’s confidence in deliverance. He may be hoping for and even expecting a good outcome (deliverance from prison) but here he is talking about the ultimate deliverance and vindication before the Lord when he sees Him.
1. Verse 18b starts a new section with Paul again rejoicing. What is the cause of joy in his life in this section (through verse 20)?
2. How does Paul expect deliverance to come according to verse 19?
3. Do you call upon others to pray for you very specifically? Do you pray for others very specifically? Do we realize that prayer for others and the provision of God’s Spirit to them are connected?
*The more intimately we are connected to others the better we can pray for them. If we are disconnected from people our prayers for them will be more shallow.
4. What is Paul’s earnest expectation and hope according to verse 20?
*Note the only other use of the word for “expectation” here is in Romans 8:19, 22. See also 2 Timothy 4:18
What does life mean for Paul in verses 21, 22, 24, 25? a. b. c. What does death mean for Paul?
How is this liberating for us if we choose the same attitude as Paul did?
How do you view the purpose of your life? How might this passage help?
What does this entire passage tell us about Paul’s approach to life and the gospel? See Matthew 6:33
Notes and Quotes:
Paul is rejoicing in this passage, but not because of his circumstances. He is rejoicing because He sees the whole picture, the whole dance. He has a kingdom perspective which influ ences the way he views his life situation and circumstances. Paul’s single passion is Christ and the gospel. This allows him to approach life fearlessly and without selfishness. “Paul’s eager expectation and hope is not for his own safety but for the progress of the gospel, the perseverance of his converts, and the accomplishment of God’s redeeming purpose.” FF Bruce
“If to live means Christ, it must be exhilaratingly wonderful to be alive.” FF Bruce
This passage challenges me to submit my own personal interests to Jesus and the gospel.
Notice the reference to the Holy Spirit in this passage as “The Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Jesus provides the Spirit along with the Father. When we say that Jesus is living in our hearts we mean The Holy Spirit which has been given us.
Philippians 1:27-30: The Christian Life is Warfare and Suffering
The Situation at Philippi
Paul has just explained his circumstances (His affairs) which is that the gospel is advancing despite his suffering. Now he will address the Christian’s situation in Philippi (their affairs). According to 1:30 they are also suffering for the gospel. Paul is telling them and us to stay true to the gospel and to maintain a steadfast witness for Jesus no matter what. He gives us a true window into what it means to suffer for Christ. Verses 27-30 are one sentence in the Greek language.
The opening word is translated “only” and means “one thing only.” Paul is trying to convince us to focus on one thing—living for Jesus and the gospel above all else.
The phrase “conduct yourselves” (“conversation”in KJV) actually means: “live as citizens.” Philippi was a Roman colony and so Roman citizenship is a big deal to them. Paul is showing them that being citizens of the gospel is even more important than being Roman citizens. And as citizens of a kingdom ruled by Jesus (over which He is Lord), we should live a certain way and expect certain things. So… this passage has to do with citizen obligations--- see Philippians 3:17-20.
In the last half of verse 27 what is the one thing that we (and the Philippians) are told to do at all costs?
The picture of fighting side by side would remind the Philippians of the Roman Phalanx—a body of trained spearmen fighting side by side in closed ranks. The phrase “strive together” is related to engaging in an athletic contest.
Life together as a community of believers means knowing what you are fighting for and a determination to strive together in tight formation at all costs.
What is it exactly and precisely that we are fighting for (end of verse 27)?
Verse 28: What opponents will we face if we decide to fight for the faith of the gospel?
Remember: Nero is proclaimed and worshipped as Lord in Philippi.
How can we be sure that if we fight for the gospel our opponents will eventually be destroyed? See Acts 5:40-41
Notice at the end of verse 28 our salvation is from God. No matter what happens we win and our opponents lose. Verse 29 says that two things have been “graciously granted to us as a gift.” What are they?
See Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:10-13 and Philippians 3:10
What are false teachings and expectations today regarding the Christian life and suffering? Why can’t the Christian life be lived without suffering/persecution?
Suffering for the gospel is actually evidence of God looking with favor on His people and we must remember that we are living for Christ in a world that is openly hostile to God/Jesus and resistant to His love.
Because we are “in Christ” there are four things that are evident certainties within our church. What are they?
Paul has already expressed his joy in the advance of the gospel due to his circumstances in chapter 1. Now he wants them to make his joy complete (filled to the brim) by doing four things. What are these?
What do you think it looks like being of the same mind with each other (vs 2}?
What is the one purpose Paul has in mind for us? See Jude 3 and Philippians 1:27. *Unity is necessary to face suffering together and heal divisions that we see cropping up in our midst. This takes humility. See Philippians 2:14 and Philippians 4:1-3
What is selfishness? Why is conceit “empty? See 1 Peter 5:5-7.
If we are only concerned with our own glory and advancement how will this lead us to treat other people?
Humility is “lowliness of mind.” How do we intentionally humble ourselves?
What is the danger of pre-occupation with our own interests? See Phil 2:19-20
*Note that this passage does not teach that we cannot have our own interests.
How is joy in our lives increased by serving others? Is it diminished by being selfish and pre-occupied for ourselves? See Acts 20:35
“The true obstacle to unity is not the presence of legitimate differences of opinion but self-centeredness. Shifting attention away from ourselves becomes the challenge.” See 1 Corinthians 10:24 and 1 Corinthians 13:5…
“It is better to be concerned about other people’s rights and our own duties than about our own rights and other people’s duties.” FF Bruce
Philippians 2:5-11 (Having the Attitude of Jesus)
Verse 5: Choosing the mind of Jesus: See 1 Corinthians 2:16 and John 15:15
*This is not a call to follow the example of Jesus in our own strength. It is also a call to be Christians who can live in humility because we have the mind of Christ… because we are “in Christ Jesus.” ESV translation: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” New English Bible: “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ.”
Verses 6-8: God becomes Man: The Humiliation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:10-12)
*Note the parallel phrases: form of God… form of man Jesus is God (John 1:1-3; John 17:5; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus was pre-existent--meaning He was eternally alive before He took on the form of a man. He was clothed with majesty and glory. Jesus is God with us (Emmanuel).. incarnation… God becoming man. Jesus left the glories and privileges of life in communion with the Father and deliberately and intentionally became a man. Jesus emptied Himself: Jesus did not exploit his divine nature and position for his own advantage. (He could have called on angels to rescue Him from the cross but did not.) Instead of insisting on his rights (as God)… Jesus voluntarily left the highest place to choose the lowest place—a slave on earth. He renounced every advantage and right He had as God. A slave in the Roman world had no rights whatsoever. *Note: Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Jesus did not give up His divine nature. Jesus did not exchange the form of God for the form of a slave. Rather, He manifested the form of a God in the form of a slave. See 2 Corinthians 8:9
Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient all the way to the point of death. This was joyful obedience to the plan of God. And not just any death but death on a cross. See Deuteronomy 21:23 and Galatians 3:13 *Note: “In polite Roman society the word ‘cross’ was an obscenity, not to be uttered in conversation. Even when a man was being sentenced to death by crucifixion, an archaic formula was used that avoided the pronouncing of this four-letter word—as it was in Latin (crux).” FF Bruce. See Galatians 6:14: a radical turning upside down of all the accepted values of the day. Mark 10:4….. Isaiah 52:13-53:12
G. Walter Hansen quote: page 157 and page 158: “The first three stanzas …. take us down, down, down to the deepest, darkest hellhole in human history to see the horrific torture, unspeakable abuse, and bloody execution of a slave on a cross.”
How is God telling us we should live as those who are Christians—“in Christ?” How do we put in practice verses 6-8?
Philippians 2:12-18 (Community Christian Living)
Verses 12-16: With the words “So then” or “therefore” Paul is now addressing how we are to live together as a church community in view of the obedience of Jesus unto death and His exaltation by the Father. This takes us back to Philippians 1:27: living in a manner worthy of the gospel. Here is what we are to do as a community: Work out our Salvation with fear and trembling (verse 12): This does NOT mean each one of us trying harder to be saved nor does it mean legal obedience to rules or laws.
It does mean relational obedience. It means seeing what Jesus has done in his obedience and in reverence and awe (fear and trembling) putting our lives in the hands of Jesus and living as He lived. It means realizing that Jesus is in our midst when we are together and living in awe of this fact.
Working out here means to produce or create a life of following Jesus for the long-haul. It means to live in harmony with other believers and to give up selfishness and pride. Since we have already been saved and our salvation will be complete at the return of Jesus let us now live in radical obedience to Christ in the here and now. We are to present to the world an earthly demonstration of heavenly citizenship.
Realize That God is at work within our Community (verse 13): God is at work in our church! He is here and working. What is He doing?
He makes us willing to work He gives us the power and ability to work Jeremiah 31:33-34 + Ezekiel 36:26-27 +Hebrews 10:14-25
*We will and work for His good pleasure (end of verse 13): we live to make Jesus famous. 1 Peter 2:9
Do all things without grumbling or disputing (complaining): verse 14 Paul is recounting the grumbling and complaining of Israel in the OT after they had come out of Egypt.
See Philippians 4:2-3: Let us eliminate from the church community whispering complaints, talking in secret against others (slander), gossip (discussing unconfirmed rumors about others in idle useless talk).
The results of not grumbling or complaining (verse 15):
We prove ourselves blameless and innocent We prove ourselves as children of God above reproach We live as lights or stars in the world in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (verse 15). Lights of the world: the word for “lights” is “luminaries” and reminds us of the sun, moon and stars of Genesis 2 which God created to give light to the world. Jesus is the light of the world. Isaiah 9:1-2 + Matthew 4:12-17 We are also shining luminaries for the world: Daniel 12:3 + Matthew 5:14-16 + 2 Corinthians 4:6 + Ephesians 5:8-9 +1 John 1:7:
*grumbling and complaining darkens the church community.
A crooked and perverse generation: Deuternomy 32:5, 20. Galatians 1:4; 1 John 2:15-17. Remember John 3:16: we do not hate the world nor do we escape from the world. On the contrary, we love the world and we must live “in the midst” of the world. We do according to the next verse (16) As lights of the world we are to hold forth the word of life (verse 16) in the midst of a crooked and perverse world (verse 16). This word which is life and gives life is the message of the gospel (Romans 1:16, Acts 5:17-21, 28-32)
Our holding forth the gospel is like grabbing a lit torch and going into a dark room. This is the mission and calling of our church in this community. We proclaim and live out the gospel as we dive into the muck of God’s broken world.
Verse 16b: Paul will boast and glory with beaming pride if the church lives this way and will realize his labor among them was not in vain.
Verses 17-18: Paul is willing to pour out his life as a drink offering, adding it to the sacrifice of the Philippian’s faith. He rejoiced to suffer for Jesus, who was also poured out as a sacrifice to save us. (Notice the mention of joy again in this book).
Paul saw all the churches and his work among the Gentiles as an offering to God. Romans 15:16 This imagery is from the OT where a drink offering (wine or oil) was poured over or beside the main offering to complete it. The main offering here is the sacrifice and service of the Philippians faith. The added offering is the life of Paul, perhaps even his being killed in prison.
Philippians 2:19-30 (Timothy and Epaphroditus)
*In this chapter Paul sets forth 3 examples of 2:2-4: Jesus, Timothy, Epaphroditus
What do you think Paul means by “I hope in the Lord Jesus?” What does this phrase mean for our plans and our life? We learn six things about Timothy in verses 20-22 He is of “one soul” with Paul He is genuinely concerned for the welfare of the church at Philippi He seeks the interests of Jesus He has proven worth that the Philippians know about He, like Paul, is sold out for the gospel He served Paul as a child serving his father. How does Paul identify the majority in verse 21? Compare 2:4 When does Paul intend to send Timothy to Philippi?
How is Epaphroditus described in verse 25?
Paul’s brother Paul’s co-worker Paul’s fellow soldier A messenger of the Philippians (see 4:18) A minister or servant to Paul’s needs
Note the word “distressed” in verse 26. The only other use of this word in Greek is with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Epaphroditus models Christ: 2:27, 30 and 2:8
How do the examples of Timothy and Epaphroditus challenge us?
Philippians 3: Warnings, Old Math and New Math
Verse 1: Rejoice IN THE LORD (2:18 and 4:4) is followed by a warning against trusting in anything outside of Christ as a source of joy or boasting.
Verse 2: This begins with “look out” or “beware.” Danger is lurking. Dogs, evil workers, false circumcision (mutilators of the flesh): these 3 terms all serve to indicate the same types of people which Paul is warning the church against. These are the Judaizers: Jewish Christians who are insisting that all Gentile believers be circumcised and follow the legal requirements of the law. Paul will have none of that. He calls these Judaizers (not Jews but Christians who are insisting on Jesus + something else) of being dogs (a term used by Jews for unclean Gentiles), evil workers (working to put Christians in bondage), and mutilators of the flesh (a play on words related to circumcision indicating that the physical rite of circumcision is nothing but a physical cutting of the flesh if it is made a requirement of Christianity.
Verse 3: We Christians are the true circumcision who worship in the Spirit of God and glory (boast) in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh:
Now that Paul is a disciple of Jesus all his old theology has been re-worked in light of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and how these shed light on all that happened in the OT. Circumcision in the OT and for Jews was the badge of membership in the community of God and showed that they were His chosen people. Deuteronomy 10:16 Jeremiah 4:4 Colossians 2:10-12 Romans 2:25-29 Galatians 5:1-15 The new badge of membership is life in the Spirit, boasting in Jesus alone, faith in Jesus alone. Baptism represents this commitment Confidence in the flesh: The flesh is anything outside of ourselves which we use as merit, thinking it will earn us favor with God. It can be things we have inherited by nature or it can be things we are doing or not doing. Flesh for Paul represents all that belongs to our unregenerate life (anything outside of Jesus) in which we might trust. Flesh can include religious and moral practices as we will see in verses 4-6.
Verses 4-6: Paul’s Old Math, His Trusting in the Flesh, His Old Merits Apart From Jesus
Circumcised the 8th Day: A pure Jew. This was the requirement of the law for every male: be circumcised on the 8th day.
Of the Nation (People) of Israel: the privileged and chosen people of God Of the Tribe of Benjamin: the only son of Jacob born in the holy land (near Bethlehem), descendant of King Saul, descended from those of the tribe of Benjamin who returned from the Babylonian Captivity and lived near Jerusalem.
A Hebrew of Hebrews: Hebrew parents. They spoke Hebrew and Aramaic in the home and went to a synagogue where Hebrew was spoken. By contrast there were Hellenistic Jews who were Greek speaking Jews and attended a synagogue where Greek was spoken. See Acts 6:1-4
A Pharisee: Paul kept the law in minute detail. Pharisees were called “separate ones.” They were dedicated to keeping the law, so much so that they developed oral traditions to help them keep the law and not violate God’s commands. Josephus (37-100 AD) says in his day there were about 6000 Pharisees. See Acts 22:3, Acts 23:6, Acts 26:5
Zealous, a persecutor of the church: fervent in spirit, ultra-dedicated, nothing was going to be allowed to get in the way of God or His laws, especially not the new sect of the Nazarenes—followers of Jesus.
Blameless in keeping the law which makes righteous: Luke 1:6
What is Our Old Math? What are the things we might have trusted in or be now trusting in outside of Jesus that makes us think we might be in a favored position with God (or better than others)?
I am American 2. I am white 3. I am a republican 4. I am a democrat 5. I don’t smoke 6. I don’t drink 7. I am baptized 8. I am at church often 9. I read Bible, pray, fast… 10. I am morally pure 11. I am not divorced 12. I am a “good” person 13. I have a good education 14. I am a good citizen 15. I preach or teach 16. I have a high paying job 17. I have may possessions 18. I work out, exercise 19. I fight for good causes 20. I have a superior diet
Verse 7: Introducing the New Math!
In verses 7 -8 he uses the word “loss” three times and the word “gain” twice. He is contrasting all his previously considered gains prior to his knowing Jesus the Messiah with the new gain he now has--based exclusively on the faithfulness of Jesus and brought into his life by (through grace). All the supposed prior gains he has thrown in the trash can. Jesus has radically altered his view of the past, present, and future.
Philippians 3:7-11 (Old Trash, New Treasure)
Verse 7: All prior gains counted as loss for the sake of Christ
Paul’s encounter with the living Jesus has introduced a new math and an adjustment in his life ledger sheet. Everything that was in the asset column of Paul’s life (from verses 5-6) is moved to the loss column. It is no longer a basis for boasting. This is a shocking reversal based on a new method of calculating, a new way of evaluating life Christ is placed alone in the asset column
Verse 8: The Surpassing value of Knowing Messiah Jesus as Lord vs all else
Everything is put in the loss column (verses 5-6 above + anything else he might think of). The surpassing value of knowing Messiah Jesus my Lord. This is everything to Paul. I All knowledge of God is now mediated through a living Jesus who Paul encountered. Knowing Jesus is not cerebral. It is not book knowledge. It is not academics. Rather, it is intimate and personal. John 1:18 and Galatians 2:20 Knowing Jesus is loving Jesus because of what He has done on the cross. Paul was willing to suffer loss for Jesus. See 1:21 and 27-30 All rivals to Christ lose their value as a means of boasting. Therefore they are considered as trash to be thrown to the dogs, as dung, excrement, trash. This is the meaning of the word “rubbish.” Verse 9: Two ways to righteousness, one empty, one full May be found in Him refers to not only now, but the last day when Jesus returns Paul is throwing out like trash what he once thought was his ground for boasting—his prior righteousness of 3:6. See Isaiah 64:6 Paul now understands that a right relation with God comes solely on the basis of faith which is a gift of God. See Ephesians 2:8-10. Faith is a human response empowered by God’s grace. Grace plus anything else cancels out grace. We are given a righteousness based on faith by grace which puts any other grounds for righteousness (including observance of the Law) in the trash bin.
Verse 10: The link between resurrection power and suffering for Jesus
Notice Paul’s goals in this passage: to gain Christ, to be found in Christ as right with God, to know Him, to attain to the resurrection at the last day. Knowing Jesus involves two things that go together: The power of His resurrection. Resurection power comes our way by the Holy Spirit. The fellowship or participation in Christ’s sufferings The model of 2:6-11 The suffering here is specific suffering that Paul and the Philippians were suffering. It is suffering for the gospel. See 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Carrying the cross of Jesus ourselves means to carry the message of the gospel and be willing to suffer for it. It does not mean the trials of life that come our way by simply being human. See Romans 8:18: suffering for Christ followed by glory of restored creation. The Christian life is much more than “salvation,” “going to heaven” or “ethics.” It is knowing Christ personally. It is relational. It is experiential.
Verse 11: The ultimate goal of the Christian life
The ultimate goal and ultimate hope of the Christian is future resurrection of the body. The phrase here literally reads “resurrection from among the dead.” Paul is speaking of the resurrection of his physical body. See 3:20-21
We are not perfect until resurrection day but Paul says the thing to do is to press on to lay hold of that for which he was laid hold of by Christ. What do you think Paul means by pressing on? Paul mentions that Jesus apprehended him for a purpose and that He is pressing on toward that which he has been apprehended for. What is the goal Paul is pushing towards? Ever since Paul was apprehended by Jesus, he has desired to grasp Him, know Him, become like Him. This demands a lifetime of pursuit. It is a dynamic intimate personal relationship with Jesus---learning, doing, being transformed
1 Corinthians 13:12 What are some things you can do to draw nearer to Jesus and improve your relationship with Him and your life “in Christ?”
Rather than give up or quit because we fail or are imperfect, let us press on toward the purpose that God has for us. The motivation for our pursuit of Jesus is because He has apprehended us by his love. We love Him and pursue Him because He first loved us
Paul repeats that he is not yet perfect. What is the problem we run into if we think we are perfect or have already arrived?
An honest admission of our weaknesses and failings and desire to move forward beyond them is what God is looking for.
Paul’s “one thing” he does is what?
Earlier in this chapter Paul uses the imagery of accounting in talking of gains and losses. Now he switches to the imagery of a runner in a race.
Do you know the advice given to a competitive runner in a race? What is it? Paul’s forgetting the past includes the things of 3:7-8. Forgetting the past can be good things (including past achievements) or bad things.
What is the danger of living in the past?
Forgetting the past does not mean deleting them from our memory. It has to mean something else. What could it possibly mean?
What is the advantage of disregarding the past?
How is forgiveness of yourself or others related to forgetting the past?
Picture a runner at the finish line straining ahead. This is what Paul means by reaching forward. There is no winning of the race if you are looking behind you. Nor can you win if you are always looking at how others are running or where they are in the race.
Romans 15:19-24: Paul always pressing on
Paul talks again about pressing on. He has his eyes fixed on a goal. In the Olympic games this would mean being called up by the President of the games (perhaps the Emperor himself to the imperial box!) and receiving a winning wreath.
See 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 and 2 Timothy 4:8 (we can all get a prize, there is no one winner in the Christian walk). Paul received his initial upward call at the moment he encountered Jesus on the Road to Damascus. Can you remember when Jesus called you into discipleship? Look at Acts 9 to review Paul’s encounter with Jesus and the immediate effect it had on him. What impact has the call of Jesus had on the way you do life?
What are your current goals in life? Have you ever written down what it is Jesus wants you to do or goals you can pursue with His help? Are we willing to sit with Jesus and see what He wants for us right now and next year? Consider Proverbs 29:18: where there is no prophetic vision… where there is no word from the Lord, the people perish—they are unrestrained. Zechariah 10:2: people are afflicted in life because they have no shepherd. Without Jesus and without the body of Christ we will go astray like sheep and wander off into all kinds of confusion. Matthew 9:36-38
Verse 15: The Mature Christian Attitude
Realizes the surpassing value of knowing Jesus compared to everything else Realizes that knowing Jesus means suffering for Him and the Gospel. Realizes that Christian living is best summed up in living a crucified life: see 2:5-8 (Our model for Christian living). Realizes that a perfect knowledge of Christ has not yet been attained. Realizes that the past or present need not derail us from pressing on and pursuing Christ. Realizes that much of the stuff I may value or used to value (or other people value) is rubbish or dung when compared to knowing Jesus and pursuing a relationship with Him. Paul is confident in God’s ability to reveal truth to those who have a different attitude. This is an encouragement to us to trust God’s work in others. God can reach them and convince them--- even if, and especially if, we think we cannot reach them. Verse 16: Following What We Have Already Attained The idea here is to literally “follow in line” or “march in line.” Keep true to what you already know and have attained as you pursue Jesus. We are on a journey together. Let’s stay in it together with others who are also pursuing Jesus and walking the crucified life. Don’t go off course (as those in verses 18-19 have done).
Verse 17: Imitating Christ, Paul and Others
Join with Paul in being an imitator of Christ: 2:6-8 Look to the examples of others walking with Christ: Timothy, Epaphroditus, Bible characters, people in your own life who are pursuing Jesus. The Christian life is not just about having true and right beliefs or theology. That is important. But how do others view the way we walk (live)? Do they see a pursuit of Jesus? Do they see a crucified life? Or something else? Galatians 2:20
Paul is encouraging us to take note of those walking with Jesus because there are many examples of those walking away from Jesus—enemies of the cross whose lifestyles show them to be enemies. These are not only those who refuse the cross in their beliefs. Paul is weeping for these persons which may indicate they once were walking with Jesus but are doing so no longer. They may even believe Jesus died on the cross but the way they walk (live) is a contradiction to what they say they believe. “I believe in the cross of Jesus, but I live according to the ways of the world, rather than living a cruciform life.” i.e. professing Christians who refuse the cross as a way of life…. As Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”
Verses 18-19: Characteristics of Enemies of the Cross of Christ
Their walk (lifestyle, priorities) gives them away as enemies of the cross of Jesus. They have refused to join with Paul and others in suffering for Jesus and the gospel (3:10). They have refused to walk in the way of 2:5-8. They have refused to count the world and all other accomplishments as dung in comparison to knowing Jesus. Their end is destruction (rather than the upward call of God in Christ). Their god is their stomachs (appetite). See Romans 16:17-18. These are the people who love pleasures and self-gratification. Sexual sin is probably foremost in mind. They glory in their shame: they boast about sins in the flesh and an attachment to worldly pleasures. Their minds are set on earthly things: anything pertaining to this world as primary pursuit: possessions, status, reputation, fame, pleasures, money, etc. Paul is setting a fork in the road for us to choose. Either follow Jesus and suffer with Him and for the gospel or pursue the things of the world and be destroyed. What are you pursuing in life? What do you want most? See Colossians 3:1-10
Verses 20-21: The Basis For Paul’s Appeal: We are of the Colony of Heaven
The Philippians are of the colony of Rome. As such they are to promote the city of Rome and their lives are to reflect Roman ways. As citizens of heaven we are to promote Christ and lead lives worthy of our citizenship. All should be done for the glory of God and of Christ- The captain and Lord of heaven and earth. We are already citizens. Live like it by taking on the crucified life. How can we pursue things of this world which lead only to destruction? Those things are characteristic of citizens of the world. We pledge our allegiance to the home country (heaven) and live as “strangers and aliens” on earth. One day our King will come back to earth and bring His kingdom in its fullness with Him. We live our lives with an eager expectation for a Savior (remember that Caesar Augustus was called “savior of the world:). The Lord Jesus (not any earthly ruler) is going to return to earth from heaven and we are going to rule with Him (Daniel, Revelation): 1 Thessalonians 1:10 Eager waiting: see Romans 8:19-23; 1 Corinthians 1:7 Our hope, in the midst of suffering for Jesus and the gospel, contrasts with those whose hope is only on earthly things. “The only hope for a mind preoccupied with an earthly agenda is the intervention of an earthly savior. If Caesar would come from Rome, the mother city, and visit Philippi, a treasured Roman colony, he would bring order and peace…. The Lord anticipated by the Christian community is coming from heaven, not from Rome.” (G. Walter Hansen, the Letter to the Philippians, page 271).
The end for those whose hope is in the things of this world is destruction as he just said. The end for those who are consumed with Jesus and His kingdom is glory. Jesus will transform the body of our humiliation (our natural body: See 1 Corinthians 15:42-58) Paul does not anticipate or contemplate a future life without a body. “Paul’s hope is not for redemption from creation but for the redemption of creation, including the redemption of our bodies. Our bodies will be changed, but not discarded.” (G. Walter Hansen, the Letter to the Philippians, page 273).
Our bodies in the future will be transformed and conformed to Christ’s glorious body—Christ’s body resurrected is the prototype of what our bodies will become in the future. The power that Christ has to subject all things to Himself (bring everything under His control): again, this is a political statement. It is Jesus, not Caesar, who has the real power to ultimately bring everything under his control. For now, as Paul knows, he is subject to the ways of the Roman Empire. He is in prison. He may be killed. But one day Jesus will return and He alone will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. G. Walter Hansen, The Letter to the Philippians page 276
Verse 1: Paul has a great affection for his brothers and sisters in Philippi and considers them his joy and crown (wreath given to victors in Olympic games). Paul saw those under his care as those he would present to the Lord on the final day.
Why would someone ever tell you to “stand firm?” The way to stand firm in the Lord is described in verses 2-9.
Paul is pleading with each of these two women individually to live in harmony in the Lord and he is doing so in front of the whole congregation. The relationship problem between these two women leaders in the church (perhaps selfish ambition, pride, rivalry: see 2:2) is negatively impacting the church and the work of the gospel. This is always the case. Paul is urging reconciliation between them and acknowledges that both have fought for and contended for the gospel. Romans 16:3-5; Philippians 2:30; Acts 15:24-27; Jude 3: Philippians 1:27 Paul enlists the help of a 3rd party to help heal the relationship between these two women: some think it is Timothy or Luke or someone else. The word “help” in verse 3 means to seize, grasp, catch, take hold of. Names in the book of life: enrolled as citizens of heaven, those who are “in Christ” and fighting for the gospel: Philippians 3:20
Verses 4-9: these verses contain commands and guidelines on how to stand firm in the Lord. “These guidelines lead the church to be an alterative political body, ruled by a different Lord, to that body constituted by citizens of Philippi under the dominion of Caesar.” Verses 4-9 describe how citizens of heaven should live in the world.
Verse 4: Rejoice in the Lord--- 1:18; 2:18; 2:29; 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Paul’s joy is relational, not situational: all the joy in this book is in the midst of persecution, suffering, and difficulties. i.e. situations that do not normally lead to joy. Joy is not dependent on circumstances. It is “in the Lord.” The Christian who is focused on the gospel and Jesus has joy no matter what. If we are focused on worldly success or worldly pursuits lack of joy, fear, and anxiety will be more prevalent. Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 97:1 Why does Paul say to rejoice twice? Perhaps because some may object that it is impossible to have joy in the midst of current suffering and circumstances.
Verse 5: Have a Gentle spirit
Gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit The gentle do not insist on their way and are merciful to others. The gentle give up their rights and do not react to others defensively or with anger when under attack. If we will not extend grace, mercy, and gentleness to others, we are admitting that we see no need for grace, mercy, and gentleness for ourselves. In denying these to others we may indeed be forfeiting them for ourselves. The Lord is close at hand, near. This is why we should be gentle or do anything good we do. His nearness and all that we have to look forward to when He returns from heaven gives us confidence.
Verse 6: The command not to be anxious but to be prayerful and thankful
The command is to stop the habit of being anxious The Philippians were anxious about Paul, about their own circumstances, etc. The Lord is telling us through Paul: give up anxiety, trust the Lord, rejoice. Psalm 46:10 Prayer with thanksgiving breaks the habit of worry We should pray with all kinds of prayers, including specific requests to God. Thanksgiving is important—instead of grumbling and complaining: see 2:14 God invites our requests. Let us give them to Him.
Verse 7: the peace of God that goes beyond human understanding or comprehension
The peace of God is shalom: total well-being, not just absence of strife. Paul says this amazing peace will “guard” our hearts and minds. He has in mind the analogy of a Roman garrison in Philippi, whose duty was to promote the Roman Pax Romana (Peace) for the citizens of the Roman Empire. Peace is related to all our relationships—with God and with others. The peace we are offered (like joy) is a supernatural happening in our lives in situations and at times when peace should not be experienced. Like joy, peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is not dependent on circumstances. The peace of God is not dependent on His answering our prayers or on effective prayer. It is given to those who give all their cares to God (ask and relinquish).
Verse 8: The Christian Mind of Virtue
As we use good food for the health and nourishment of our spiritual bodies so good virtuous thoughts are related to good mental and spiritual health…. and will help us stand firm in the Lord. Reject these type thoughts and we go away from the Lord and into more anxiety, fear, etc.
We are to think upon or ponder things that are: True: moral quality of uprightness, instead of false things, lies. Honorable (noble): instead of dishonorable Right: righteous in the eyes of God Pure: morally pure, instead of impure Lovely: lovable and gracious Admirable: of good reputation Excellent and praiseworthy things: includes all the above
Romans 12:2: a renewed mind is essential to not being conformed to the world, and essential to peace and joy. We have to be careful what we listen to…. What we watch…. what we read…what we hear. The light of the body is the eye said Jesus. What comes in through the eyes is important. What we let in our ears is also important.
Verse 9: Our practice is what matters
We learn and hear and see many things. The key is to “receive” all the good God is giving us and put His word into practice. As Jesus said, a life whose foundation is in doing God’s will can never be torn down by the storms of life. Hearing and learning and seeing alone will get us nowhere. Receiving and putting into practice is the key. It doesn’t matter how much of the Bible we know or can quote. If we will put into practice Philippians 4:1-9 we will experience closeness with the God of peace. He not only gives peace but peace is part of His character.
Philippians 4:10-22 (Paul’s Joy Over Their Partnership)
Verse 10: The Re-blossoming of the Philippians partnership
Read Philippians 1:3-5 What is the reason for Paul’s joy toward the Philippian congregation? What form did this latest partnership with Paul take? Notes: The text literally means their concern has again “blossomed.” The partnership is blooming again after a period of dormancy. Christian ministry is a partnership. We are always looking for partners, those who will join in our efforts to proclaim the good news regarding Jesus.
Verse 11: Contentment in any and every circumstance?
Why do you think Paul brings up the idea of contentment when talking about their financial gift? How does this verse say that Paul became content?
Notes: Paul here borrows the language of the Stoic philisophers and transforms it all the way down to verse 13. The Stoics taught inner contentment through self-sufficiency. Here we learn contentment through Christ-sufficiency. Paul says he has learned contentment. How do you think He learned it? See 1 Timothy 6:6-7 and Hebrews 13:5
Verse 12: Contentment comes from a learned secret.
Notes: We must connect everything here with Philippians 4:6-7 For the second time Paul mentions that this contentment is learned. Here he adds that is a “secret.” This is the only use of this Greek word in the NT. The secret is something that Paul is going to reveal in verse 13. Paul’s Suffering and Weakness: 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 11:21-30; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Verse 13: The secret to contentment in any and all circumstances
How is this verse typically understood? What is the context in which this verse must be understood?
Verse 13 Notes:
This verse is often interpreted out of context to mean that nothing is beyond our capabilities. It does not mean this. It does not mean we can do all things without exception. It does not mean power to do anything. This verse means that “I can experience contentment and peace (Phil 4:6) in any and every circumstance because of my vital union with Christ. Neither wealth nor poverty, neither good circumstances nor bad circumstances can rob me of my joy because I am “in Christ” and He gives me strength to deal with everything. “I can do all this (content in poverty or wealth) through him who strengthens me” is the sense of the verse. Note that the word “Christ” is not in the text. It is “him” which of course refers to Christ. This strength provided by Jesus to be content in all circumstances enables us to maintain our work in promoting the gospel of Jesus in the world. If we are unwilling to humble ourselves before the word of God and learn it in context we will hang onto erroneous or unclear interpretations of God’s word and make Him say things He isn’t saying.
The partnership in the gospel involves giving and receiving (verse 15). When we give to the work of the gospel we often share in the affliction of others on front lines. Read 2 Corinthians 11:7-9
Verse 17: Giving to God results in profit
What is Paul seeking for the Philippians? See Philippians 1:25 Notes: Giving to God’s work is an investment. Paul is using an accounting term here related to compound interest. Their giving and our giving results in God’s dividends. Paul does not spell out the profit for us but we know that it is related to some things in this life (peace, contentment, joy, provision) and things in the future.
Verse 18: Paul’s receipt and Giving as Sacrificial Worship
What is Paul’s current financial condition? How is the Philippians financial offering illustrated? How do we view our financial offerings to God’s work? See 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 Verse 18 Notes: Giving to the Lord is not only an investment with compound interest. It is an act of worship. Their giving out of their tough circumstances is an act of worship which is a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord because it is in partnership with the gospel and for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.
Verse 19: God’s provision promised to those who sacrificially give
What is the context of this promise? How do we take this verse out of context? Notes: By promising to take care of our needs God is showing us that he accepts our financial gifts for the work of the gospel and kingdom of Jesus. This verse is not a blanket promise that God will take care of our needs. It is often said to mean this but this is not the meaning of this verse. When we sacrificially give to the Lord’s work He promises to take care of our needs. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 teaches the same thing. Matthew 6:31-33 teaches the same thing. If Christians would trust God’s economic policies it would transform the way they give. The lack of giving by Christians to the work of the gospel is a testimony to their unwillingness to trust the Lord. Harsh words, but true.
Conclusion: For Paul everything is related to his life passion of publishing Jesus to the world. To live is Christ, to die is gain: (Phil 1:21) Being found “in Christ” and knowing Jesus (the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings) surpasses and trumps everything else (Phil 3:.8-11) Verses 20-22: All that Paul has written in this letter leads him to praise God Paul sends a greeting to every individual saint (any who are “in Christ”) Paul sends greetings from those in Rome, especially those in Caesar’s household (his slaves and freedmen most likely). So, Paul is in prison and he rejoices. He is reaching the Imperial guard and other’s connected to the Emperor with the gospel! He wishes us grace and peace which are two of the things we need most and can have because of Jesus.