Philippians Study: Part 2


OUTLINE:

Genre:

  • Letter: sometimes referred to as Epistles
    • Written in response to a specific need or circumstance.

Context:

  • Author: Written by Paul (with Timothy- his disciple)
    • Around 61 AD; about 30 years after Christ’s death; original generation still alive
    • One of 4 letters written while Paul is in prison in Rome
  • Original audience: 
    • The Christians in Philippi; 
      • not one church; lots of small churches within the city
  • What was going on?
    • They had sent their member, Epaphroditus, with a gift to deliver to Paul. Paul wrote the letter to thank them for their support/encouragement while he’s imprisoned.
    • Paul was also concerned about coming persecutions and the members not all getting along→ written to instruct them to work together
  • Bonus: Read Acts, chapter 16, for some of the historical accounts in the Epistles

Observe: What’s Happening?What is the text saying? 

  • Paul invites them to live in unity
    • Vs 2- “make my joy complete by being like-minded, one in spirit”
    • Vs 3- Do nothing out of selfish ambition; value others above yourself; look to the interests of others
      • Roman culture, it was all about reputation, position, honor
    • Vs 4- think of the larger good over yourself
  • Imitate Christ’s humility
    • Paul’s use of poetry highlights its significance; being the heart of the letter
  • Vs 9-10 THEREFORE
    • Because of Christ’s humbling himself, God exalted him; was able to accomplish his work
  • Vs 12/13- Again, this idea of growing, sanctification
    • “Continue to work out your salvation,” 
    • “God who works in you”
  • Vs 14/15- Idea of standing out in a dark world
    •  Deut 32:5- Jewish literature often compared the righteous with light
  • Sending Timothy and Epaphroditus
    • Vs 22- teachers often viewed close disciples as sons; wants to send Timothy to encourage them
    • Epaphroditus- messenger who almost died on the long journey. It wasn’t safe to send money with just anyone. It would have been a trusted person to carry the gift from Philippians all the way to Paul in Rome

Interpret: What does it mean? What is the central lesson the author wanted to communicate? What does it teach us about God? 

  • The Church as a Unified Community
    • If we really love Christ and are allowing him to change us from the inside out, we should be able to live in loving community with each other.
    • When we see each other as fellow “spirit-carriers”/ambassadors/family members, we should have a sense that we need to work in one direction
    • All of that should produce affection and empathy for one another
    • There are SO many clashes in the modern-day church
      • Music, buildings, theology, culture, politics, moral behavior, etc
      • SO HOW DO WE DO THIS?!
  • The Answer: Think of yourself the way Jesus did!
    • “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ”
      • In your relationships with one another, have the mindset of Christ
    • Not self-focused; not bringing our thinking in line with each other, but in line with Christ’s thinking!
  • What was the mindset of Christ?
    • Verse 6- Jesus didn’t use his position to his advantage
      • the NT culture was all about using your status to your advantage; completely counter-cultural
      • Rulers like Alexander the Great and Augustus were domineering, military conquerors.
      • Paul’s message would have seemed absurd!
    • Vs 7: God as servant: 
      • It was unusual for people of status to even eat with a servant, much less act like one
      • Vs 7: “made himself nothing” can also mean “emptied himself”
        • This does not mean he emptied himself of divinity; it was about being truly divine; emptied himself of his rights 
        • Word picture from Isaiah 53:12- the servant who poured out his life in death
    • Vs 8- humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross
      • the cross was the epitome of a shameful death
      • about his obedience to go all the way to the cross; 
        • NT Wright: he is the God of self-giving love
    • Vs 9-11: Paul showing the victory in it all
      • Paul references Isaiah 45:23 to show Christ is equal to God- “to me and me alone, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear”
      • Christ is the Messiah
    • Paul building a proof: point A→ point B → point C
    • Live in unity by living like Christ
  • THEN We’ll be a witness!
    • Remember how the church is to live in a way that exemplified the final restoration/kingdom living; we are God’s ambassadors
    • Vs 14- without grumbling and complaining; shine like stars
    • Point C→ Live in unity by living like Christ and you will be a shining example to the world around you

“As you look at the incarnate son of God dying on the cross, the most powerful thought you should think is this: this is the true meaning of who God is. He is the God of self-giving love.”

-NT Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters

Application: What does it mean for you? Personal application

  • Our God is known most clearly when he abandons his rights for the sake of the world. Can you think of ways you still think of yourself before “the sake of the world”? 
  • How can we bring a sense of unity to our lives– our families, churches, communities, world? 
  • Did anything else speak to you from the reading?

I heard this song this past week and the lyrics seemed fitting for today’s conversation.

Philippians Study: Part 1

Here’s a closer look at the maps!

Taken from: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Copyright 2016
Taken from: NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Copyright 2016

OUTLINE:

Genre:

  • Letter: sometimes referred to as Epistles
    • Written in response to a specific need or circumstance.

Context:

  • Author: Written by Paul (with Timothy- his disciple)
    • Around 61 AD; about 30 years after Christ’s death; original generation still alive
    • One of 4 letters written while Paul is in prison in Rome
  • What Philippi was like: real people; real time
    • Philippi was a prosperous Roman city; not a small rural area
    • Along the Egnatian Way, which was a major highway that connected the eastern provinces to Rome (major highway)- big factor in its prosperity and political influence
  • Original audience: 
    • The Christians in Philippi; 
      • not one church; lots of small churches within the city
      • Paul and his team started the church of Philippi during his 2nd missionary journey. First church established in Europe. Luke (as in the gospel of Luke) was its pastor for the first 6 years. One of the healthiest churches in the New Testament. 
  • What was going on?
    • They had sent their member, Epaphroditus, with a gift to deliver to Paul. Paul wrote the letter to thank them for their support/encouragement while he’s imprisoned.
    • Paul was also concerned about coming persecutions and the members not all getting along→ written to instruct them to work together
    • The Christians in Philippi all loved Paul, but were not getting along with each other
  • Bonus: Read Acts, chapter 16, for some of the historical accounts in the Epistles

Observe: What’s Happening?What is the text saying? 

  • Paul is so thankful for their faith in Jesus; begins his letter with encouragement and affection
  • Vs 6- “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”- God keeps working on us
  • Vs 9- “this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight…may be able to discern”- continues this idea of God working on us
  • Vs 12- “what has happened” (see Acts)- he’s in prison
    • All through the palace guard (entire palace); it has helped to advance the gospel (perspect changes interpretation of circumstances)
  • Vs 13- likely refers to the Praetorian Guard around Rome (Acts 28:16)
  • 15- Common in the Meditarranean culture to desire honor
  • Vs 18- what matters is that Christ is preached
  • Vs 19- Job 13:16 
  • If he lives, he gets to continue sharing the gospel; if Paul dies, he gets to be with Jesus
  • No matter what happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of Christ
    • Stand firm in one spirit, one man for the faith

Interpret: What does it mean? What is the central lesson the author wanted to communicate? What does it teach us about God? 

  • Idea of continued sanctification: 
    • Definition: the action or process of making something holy; the action or process of being freed from sin
    • Becoming more like Christ
    • Verse 6- “will carry it to completion until the day of Christ.” 
    • vs 9/10- “more in knowledge…to discern….until the day of Christ”
    • Vs 11- “Filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ”
  • Perspective: 
    • Don’t be discouraged with my being in chains
    • Paul could be grumbling about being in prison; instead he’s praising God about his ability to share the gospel bc of his unique position there
    • He doesn’t get upset that some are preaching from selfish motives; either way Christ is being preached!
    • Vs 18- “Yes and I will continue to rejoice!”
    • Death vs life- serve here and preach Christ or be with Christ in heaven
  • Paul affirms their relationship and his care for them
    • begins with sincere thanks, encouragement, and affection; 
    • almost as if to make it clear that any rebuke is coming from someone who genuinely loves them
    • Whatever happens…conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of Christ
      • He’s talking about whether he lives or dies and the coming persecution
      • Stand firm in one spirit

Application: What does it mean for you? Personal application

  • What emotions does the word sanctification bring up in you? Positive/negative/confused? Does that idea that Jesus continues to work in us after being saved intimidate your or give you hope? Are there any areas God is working on in your life now? 
  • What do you think about Paul’s perspective in the midst of really difficult circumstances? Are there any areas in your life where you could use some new perspective? 
  • At the end of Chapter 1, Paul is just getting started with some of his rebuke to the Philippians. Knowing Paul gave these warnings from a place of love, how does it make you feel? Regardless of circumstances or persecution, do you feel the body of Christ is standing firm in one spirit? The body of Christ begins with us. Are you conducting yourself in a manner worthy of Christ in our volatile cultural climate? 
  • Did anything else speak to you from the reading?