10. Joy—Firm Yet Gentle
Day One Study
1. Read Philippians 4:1-5. Notice ALL the affectionate terms Paul uses to describe the Philippians! Re-read verse one. Therefore this means that because of what was just said, now we need to do something, in this case “stand firm in the Lord.” Review Paul’s initial exhortation in 1:27-28 (first part). In what were they to “stand firm”?
2. Paul instructed the Philippians on how and why to “stand firm in the Lord” in Philippians 1:27-3:21. Review the following verses and summarize Paul’s instructions to the Philippians (and to us) on how and why to stand firm: Being in one spirit (especially 2:1-8, 14-15)
3. Not being alarmed by opponents (especially Philippians 3:12-14; 17; 20-21; 2:9-11)
4. What were the chief obstacles to standing firm? Review Philippians 2:3-4; 14-15; 3:2-3; 15-19.
5. Earlier in this letter to the Philippians Paul had mentioned the examples of two men besides Jesus and himself who had already modeled this “standing firm.” Name them.
Focus on the Meaning: Standing firm means steadfastly resisting the negative influences of temptation, false teaching, or persecution. To stand firm requires perseverance when we are challenged or opposed—With the Holy Spirit’s help and with the help of fellow believers, we can stand firm in the Lord. (Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 108)
Paul’s usual style whenever he addressed a problem or “sticky” issue was to first teach through the truth that applied, then address the specific concern in the church. Re-read Philippians 4:2-3. Women were significant in the founding of the Philippian church as well as other churches. Paul greatly esteemed his female co-laborers in the Lord as seen in Romans 16:1-3; 6; 12-15. Review Acts 16:11-15; 40 to see how the Philippian church was started. The letter to the Philippians was written 10-11 years later.
6. Paul speaks directly to two women here in Philippians 4:2-3. Paul asks them to do what he taught in 2:2. What was it?
7. Apply what you learned concerning “standing firm” in the previous questions to the apparent breach of relationship between these two women. How would standing firm in the Lord help the existing conflict and benefit the church as a whole?
8. As long as there are fallible humans on this earth, there will be relationship challenges. No church is immune to this. Read James 4:1-3. What are we told about potential sources of conflict for believers?
9. Read Philippians 4:3 again. Notice the request Paul makes of a “loyal yokefellow (NIV)/true comrade (NAS).” What responsibility does the local church body have (individually or as a whole) to encourage reconciliation of any of its members? Read also John 15:12-17, Galatians 6:1-2 and Ephesians 4:14-16.
Scriptural Insight: The Book of Life, first mentioned in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; 139:16), referred to a register of all citizens in God’s kingdom. The “book” symbolizes God’s knowledge of who belong to Him. Ancient cities had roll books that contained the names of all who had a right to citizenship. Under the New Covenant, Christians are on God’s register, and He will admit all on the roll into heaven (Philippians 3:20). ALL believers are guaranteed a listing in the Book of Life and will be introduced to the hosts of heaven as belonging to Christ (Luke 10:17-20; Hebrews 12:22-23; Revelation 3:5; 20:11-15.) No believer will be forgotten, for the names are listed for eternity. (Adapted from NIV Study Bible, p. 1948; Life Application Bible Commentary, p. 112)
Think About It: Oh, beloved, pray! Pray that you may not be the cause of any disruptions in your church, that you may not be a part of hindering the work of the church for the cause of Christ! And pray to follow in Paul’s wise footsteps if you must ever be a part of helping to solve a dispute between others. (Elizabeth George, Experiencing God’s Peace, p. 111)
10. Your Joy Journey: How can Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:2-3 help you in your own relationships within the church?
11. Your Joy Journey: Should you experience a problem relationship, how best can you respond when others attempt to counsel you? (See also Proverbs 12:1; 13:10; 19:20.)
Day Two Study
12. Read Philippians 4:4-5. Once again (see also 3:1), in verse 4, we are reminded of the attitude that is to be the response of all believers.
· What is it?
· Why can we do this? Support your answer with other verses from Philippians.
Focus on the Meaning: Joy, an inner quality in relation to circumstances, may not always be seen; but the way one reacts to others, whether in gentleness or harshness, will be noticed. In Philippians 4:5, Paul exhorts the Philippians, and us, to let our gentleness be evident to all.
Gentleness is joy outwardly expressed. The Greek word for gentleness is a difficult word to fully translate in English. It refers to a spirit that is reasonable, fair-minded, and charitable; willing to yield one’s own rights to show consideration to others but without sacrificing truth; non-retaliatory. One synonym is graciousness. Jesus never sacrificed truth in order to be gentle, but He always had a gentle spirit that often disarmed those set against Him. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p.663)
13. Paul sums up the principles he has been teaching in his letter thus far in this one word: gentleness. Review what you have learned in this lesson, then describe what Paul means when he says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.”
14. In light of the expected return of Christ (“the Lord is near”), why let your gentleness be evident to all? For help, review Philippians 1:10, 27; 2:15-16; 3:20-21; 4:5.
To gain additional perspective on this passage, read the following essay.