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Philippians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (Philippians 1:1-19)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.

1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Prayer for the Church

1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you.

1:4 I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you

1:5 because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

1:6 For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

1:7 For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God’s grace together with me.

1:8 For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

1:9 And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight

1:10 so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ,

1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Ministry as a Prisoner

1:12 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my situation has actually turned out to advance the gospel:

1:13 The whole imperial guard and everyone else knows that I am in prison for the sake of Christ,

1:14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having confidence in the Lord because of my imprisonment, now more than ever dare to speak the word fearlessly.

1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill.

1:16 The latter do so from love because they know that I am placed here for the defense of the gospel.

1:17 The former proclaim Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, because they think they can cause trouble for me in my imprisonment.

1:18 What is the result? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 1:19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You began a good work in me at salvation, and You continue to perfect Your work in me day by day. May I be devoted to You with a teachable spirit; a faithful disciple.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began with a greeting that included role-descriptions of “overseers” and “deacons”.

[Note: The NET translator’s looked at similar usages of “overseers” (church leaders) in Titus 1:6-7 and Acts 20:17, 28, and “the parallels between Titus 1:6-7 and 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and concluded that the term is equivalent to an “elder”.]

[Note: It is unclear why Paul used a different word. One may speculate that he may have been using a local word more familiar or concise than “elder”, among the ancient Philippians, or perhaps the word for “elder” had a secondary meaning to the Philippians which Paul desired to avoid.]

[The term that Paul used for “deacon” is unchanged from the usage elsewhere.]

Paul celebrated of the faithfulness of the Philippians, since early in his ministry for Christ, and for their support of him in prayer and giving.

Paul’s phrase “... the One Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” must have brought a powerful message of encouragement, perspective, and promise to the Philippian believers. It is the Lord God through the Holy Spirit, in partnership with the believer and with other believers whom He brings alongside, who are doing “the good work” of discipleship of the believer.

The “perfecting” of the believer is a process and not an event—it continues throughout the lifetime of every believer, more or less successfully due to the cooperation or resistance of the individual, and will only be fully-realized at the entrance to Heaven. The “... day of Christ Jesus is His return to take His Home to Heaven—thus we are reminded of that promise—and that it is a guarantee and not a moving target about which we must worry every day.

Paul used an interesting phrase “... that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight ...”—indicating a strong linkage between the quality of our knowledge of God and our capacity to love and to have insight. He continued “... so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ.”—again reinforcing the freedom of the believer, together with access to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to discern and choose according to the Lord God’s moral-will rather than the rebellious predisposition of the world.

Paul linked the quality of the God-infused insight of the Philip to their capacity to make well-informed choices, and he linked their practical-life choices to their moral standing “sincere and blameless” before Jesus when He eventually returned.

[Note: Paul was not teaching works-righteousness. He had previously written against legalism, and the limited capacity of a believer trapped in “this body of death”, he was, rather, teaching responsibility. Who wants to look into the eyes of a perfectly loving God and not hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

In verse 1:11 Paul reminded the Philippians, and us, that righteousness comes from Jesus Christ—again affirming that our salvation is not at-risk as He is the guarantor thereof.

Paul explained that the Lord God used his imprisonment to witness to the “imperial guard”, and others, for Christ and that the local believers were emboldened by his success in sharing Christ.

Paul remarked that some were actually “... preaching Christ” in order to irritate Paul’s accusers and captors in order to cause him trouble, while others were doing so from righteous motive, but that in either case God was sovereign and the cause of Christ was being advanced.

[Note: It is interesting to reflect upon which religious traditions and personalities—over history—may, despite distortions and wrong-hearts, still have been used by God to promote Christ.]

Paul concluded this section, in verse 1:19, by observing that his “deliverance” would come from their prayers and “... the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”. One may reasonably speculate that he referred to freedom from momentary-imprisonment, or that he referred to freedom due to their prayers, and to his salvation through “... the Spirit of Jesus Christ”.

[Note: It is uncertain if by “Spirit of Jesus Christ” Paul intended to refer to the love and teaching of Jesus or if that phrase is a synonym for the Holy Spirit.]

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God perfects us a little at a time, we are asked to partner with Him, not to go it alone.

Discuss

How might you explain to a new or confused believer the linkage between the quality of our knowledge of the Lord God and our capacity to love and to have insight?

Reflect

The purpose of the Lord God’s provision for us to have insight is to enhance our capacity to make informed choices. Our responsibility to make choices that impact our moral standing as “sincere and blameless” before Christ when He returns.

Share

When have you observed that your increased-knowledge of the Word of God impacted your capacity to discern and to choose more righteously where you previously did not comprehend what was His moral will?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific area of your life where you lack clarity as to God’s moral will for you.

Action:

Today I will intentionally seek-out the Biblical texts, and as necessary commentaries and the counsel of “elders” (whom I have reason to trust), and to fill that gap in my knowledge-discernment foundation so as to be equipped to choose more wisely.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Philippians 1:20-30)

1:20 My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die.

1:21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

1:22 Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer:

1:23 I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far,

1:24 but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body.

1:25 And since I am sure of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for the sake of your progress and joy in the faith,

1:26 so that what you can be proud of may increase because of me in Christ Jesus, when I come back to you.

1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel,

1:28 and by not being intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of their destruction, but of your salvation—a sign which is from God.

1:29 For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him,

1:30 since you are encountering the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing.

Prayer

Lord, You give to Your children a longing for their true home with You in heaven, yet you ask us to remain here for a time in Your faithful service. May I never lose sight of Whose I am and for what place I am being “perfected” so that I may better resist selling-out to this temporary world.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the nature of his imprisonment, both from the perspective that he will not be coerced into “being ashamed” (renouncing his faith), or become embarrassed because he is in jail. He even declares that his life is willingly on the line.

Paul engaged in a rhetorical debate with himself as to his preferred state, dead in the body and present with Christ, or postponing his death so that Christ may continue to use him on earth. He concluded that although present with Christ is to be preferred—the obvious value to the Philippians from his remaining, as a servant of Christ to them, caused him to desire to stay.

Paul then challenged the Philippians to be likewise sacrificial in their submission to Christ, to be “... standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

[Note: The one spirit may be viewed as a common attitude, inclined toward God, and as a reminder that they all share the same indwelling Holy Spirit. His phrase “... with one mind” suggests a common attitude and a common volitional and intentional desire to “contend ... for the faith of the gospel”. Also, “... contending side by side for the faith of the gospel.” is clearly an action-statement where they would “contend” with those who would preach “another gospel”, they would do so as a unified force for truth, and they would promote the saving and discipleship “faith” that is taught in the Gospels.

Paul noted that the perseverance of the believers in Philippi was testimony to the eternal destruction of the unbelievers who opposed them and to the certainty of the salvation of the believers.

He told them that they would be allowed to share a similar suffering for Christ as Paul, a privilege that was important in establishing the foundations of the Christian faith and the visible ‘church’ (fellowships of believers). Their privilege was that the Lord God would trust to them to remain faithful through the suffering and to thereby be living-testimonies to His power and truth.

Interaction

Consider

The struggle that was Paul’s is ours as well. Once we are saved it is painfully obvious that we were not made for this fallen world and that we are strangers and temporary travelers here, on our way “home” to be with our Lord and with our eternal brothers and sisters in Christ.

Discuss

How might you respond to the three-part challenge Paul placed before the Philippians; to challenge those who would alter the Gospel of Christ, to stand together through the struggle, and to teach both the salvation and discipleship message of the Gospel?

Reflect

The Lord God uses the steadfastness of believers to draw a clear line between the saved and unsaved, convicting some of their need for Christ, further hardening those whose hearts are hardened against Him.

Share

When have you observed a body of believers resisting false teaching, doing so in unity, and sharing the truth of Christ?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a circumstance where He wants you to respectfully “contend”, to seek-out others with whom you may stand in unity, and with whom you will share the genuine truth of “the faith of the gospels”.

Action:

Today I am choosing to stand with fellow believers where it is difficult to do so, be it a case of improper discrimination against a Bible-believing person, a wrong policy which promotes something that the Lord God clearly opposes (e.g. abortion, promiscuity, special rights for homosexuals, sin-promoting government-mandates), the invasion of the neighborhood by a quasi-Christian or non-Christian cult or other religion, and/or a practice or tradition within my fellowship which the Lord has shown me is non-Biblical and is harmful to “the faith of the gospels.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Philippians 2:1-18)

Christian Unity and Christ’s Humility

2:1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy,

2:2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.

2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.

2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.

2:5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,

2:6 who though he existed in the form of God

did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,

2:7 but emptied himself

by taking on the form of a slave,

by looking like other men,

and by sharing in human nature.

2:8 He humbled himself,

by becoming obedient to the point of death

– even death on a cross!

2:9 As a result God exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus

every knee will bow

– in heaven and on earth and under the earth –

2:11 and every tongue confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord

to the glory of God the Father.

Lights in the World

2:12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence,

2:13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.

2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

2:15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world

2:16 by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.

2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.

2:18 And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

Prayer

Lord, You are the Lord God Who left Your glory and throne behind and came to provide a way home for us and to teach us how to live in unity and humility, making us a positive witness for You. May I be humbled by Your loving-sacrifice and guided in all things by Your perfect wisdom.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began Chapter 2 with a rhetorical question, teasing the Philippians about encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, fellowship in the Spirit, and affection in mercy.

He then challenged them to live united in Christ, acting from love, emphasizing commonality of the Holy Spirit and of a Godly attitude, and to be of common purpose as Jesus instructed in His “great commandment and great commission”.

Paul illustrated his point using the “attitude” of Christ Jesus, described in vss. 2.6-10, including a reference to the deity of Christ “... though he existed in the form of God

He then reviewed the context of their right-living and the value of so-doing to a watching world.

Paul recognized the faithfulness of the Philippians, while he was with them, and even more-so when he was away.

He used the expression “... continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence” then qualified it with “for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of His good pleasure—is God.” His goal was to remind them that the value of their salvation had already begun and that it looked like something very powerful and practical. [Note: There is nothing in the text which justifies any claim to works-righteousness nor of anything other than a secure salvation.]

He continued in order to further guide them “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”, then the righteousness-emphasis “so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God, without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society”, and finally the outreach value “in which you shine as lights in the world.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul again called us “children of God”, affirming the security of our salvation, and confirming the Holy Spirit as a critical unifying factor among all believers.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence”, “... without grumbling or arguing”? How can that make of us witnesses of God’s love in us (and in our fellowships) to a watching world? Does it help to be reminded that some people observing us may also be deciding to choose Christ, or not?

Reflect

“... the One bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of His good pleasure—is God”; therefore, it is neither us who initiate the positive movement toward righteous living nor is it of our own strength that we succeed. We agree to partner with the Lord God, not as disengaged tools but as active and energetic and willing co-laborers with Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

Share

When have you observed an individual or a Christian fellowship—living intentionally (albeit imperfectly) united in Christ, acting from love, emphasizing commonality of the Holy Spirit and of a Godly attitude, and of a common purpose—as Jesus instructed in His “great commandment and great commission”. What were the fruits of that?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an area of your life where you are either not being intentional about moving toward righteous living (to pleasing the Lord God), or you have been trying to do so of your own strength.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to join me with prayers in agreement to address this area of need in my life, partnering with the Lord God, and allowing others in the fellowship to assist me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Philippians 2:19-30)

Models for Ministry

2:19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be encouraged by hearing news about you.

2:20 For there is no one here like him who will readily demonstrate his deep concern for you.

2:21 Others are busy with their own concerns, not those of Jesus Christ.

2:22 But you know his qualifications, that like a son working with his father, he served with me in advancing the gospel.

2:23 So I hope to send him as soon as I know more about my situation,

2:24 though I am confident in the Lord that I too will be coming to see you soon.

2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to me in my need.

2:26 Indeed, he greatly missed all of you and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill.

2:27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died. But God showed mercy to him—and not to him only, but also to me—so that I would not have grief on top of grief.

2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you can rejoice and I can be free from anxiety.

2:29 So welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,

2:30 since it was because of the work of Christ that he almost died. He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.

Prayer

Lord, You have done so much for us and ask that we be attentive to that which You have assigned to us to accomplish; lives that show evidence of The Greatest Commandment—love, and outreach that implements The Great Commission. May I so construct my life that both of Your priorities are realized in my life.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the need for, and value of, Biblically-faithful models for ministry.

He reminded the Philippians that they had cause for confidence and trust in Timothy based on his history of faithfulness to the cause of Christ above self-promotion, and because they knew him to be as Paul, very concerned with their spiritual well-being.

Paul sent Epaphroditus to them, to bring the Letter, and to encourage them, noting that he had been very ill—to the point of near death—and that he was troubled that knowledge of that had saddened the Philippian believers. His visit was to be an opportunity for shared rejoicing for “... God showed mercy to him”.

Epaphroditus fell ill serving the cause of Christ by assisting Paul, covering for the Philippians who were distant, so Paul encouraged them to “... welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him ...”

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God provides a role model for trusted leaders. His role models are men who demonstrate evidence of righteousness and sacrifice rather than mere worldly wealth and influence.

Discuss

What are some ways that Biblically-faithful fellowships may “... honor people like him ...” (e.g. Epaphroditus) without making of them celebrities or idols?

Reflect

The Lord God showed mercy on Epaphroditus, for his sake—that he might be blessed in service to Christ, and so that Paul would not be burdened with his death—especially as it would have been largely due to his service to Paul.

Share

What is a practical example of a Christian leader with a history of faithfulness to the cause of Christ above self-promotion. How were others blessed as God poured-out His blessings through that leader?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a leader who meets the standard of Timothy or Epaphroditus.

Action:

Today I will honor the leader whom the Holy Spirit has identified through encouragement, prayer, and a practical act which supports their ministry.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Philippians 3:1-11)

True and False Righteousness

3:1 Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! To write this again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!

3:3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials

3:4 —though mine too are significant. If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more:

3:5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee.

3:6 In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless.

3:7 But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ.

3:8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ,

3:9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.

3:10 My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death,

3:11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Prayer

Lord, You have given to us Your righteousness because nothing we might try to earn through law-keeping would be adequate to save us. May I rejoice in the Lord again and again.

Summary & Commentary

Paul warned the Philippians again of the false teachers, whom he labeled as filthy dogs and evil workers, because there was nothing so bad as to lead people astray from Christ.

He noted that one of the key problems was the Judaisers, though he did not name them as such, but instead referred to the chronic bad doctrine of some who insisted upon the legalistic Old Testament requirement for circumcision as a condition of salvation when the “circumcision” God desired was a spiritual one—separating believers from the world.

Paul declared that those who asserted legitimacy for their false teaching through their worldly credentials fell well-short of his credentials—so even by that standard his teaching should be respected. He further declared that all of his credentials should mean nothing to believers because, in comparison to “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”, he considered the rest as “dung”.

Paul concluded that his “aim” was to know Christ, to be empowered for eternity by His resurrection, to join His ministry by suffering to serve His cause, to die with certainty of purpose and promise then to be raised from the dead for eternity.

[Note: Paul used the phrase “... somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”, not intending to suggest that he did not know how or why he would be resurrected but to observe that there was a certain God-only-comprehends-perfectly “mystery” at the heart of resurrection.]

Interaction

Consider

The problem of false teachers is and was not new, it began in the Garden, persisted throughout the OT, and continued into the New Testament. The Bible teaches that the enemy will come disguised as an “angel of light”—Paul warns us that some of those “angels” will falsely claim to be ministers of the Word.

Discuss

How might you explain Paul definition of all things that interfere with knowledge of Christ, or which compete with our relationship with Him in any way, are “dung”?

Reflect

Paul’s stated life-goal was to know Christ, to be empowered for eternity by His resurrection, to join His ministry by suffering to serve His cause, to die with certainty of purpose and promise, and then to be raised from the dead for eternity.

Share

When in your life have you “died” to the world in order to acquire a closer walk with Christ Jesus?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a place in your life where an attitude, belief, habit, or tradition interferes with your knowledge of Christ, or competes with you relationship with Him in some way.

Action:

Today I will Today I am choosing to assign comparative value of “dung” to anything that distracts me from the Lord God. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me to alter my priorities to make Christ Jesus first in all things and all ways.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Philippians 3:12-21)

Keep Going Forward

3:12 Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.

3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,

3:14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

3:15 Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways.

3:16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.

3:17 Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.

3:18 For many live, about whom I have often told you, and now, with tears, I tell you that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.

3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about earthly things.

3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

3:21 who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.

Prayer

Lord, You already see us made-perfect by Your grace and power, so You call upon us to strive toward that goal rather than be diminished by the things of this imperfect world. May I keep my eyes on You!

Summary & Commentary

Paul continued his description of Biblical priorities “... I am single-minded. Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead ... strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

[Note: This is not about works-righteousness but growth in spiritual maturity.]

Paul used the term “perfect” to describe those who are more mature and who continue to intentionally pursue greater spiritual maturity—as such is the “perfect” will of God for the lives of His children, not an expectation of completed perfection but adherence to God’s priority to grow and to go.

Paul implored the Philippians to “be imitators” of those who live “perfectly” before Christ Jesus, then warns again of the deceivers whose “... end is destruction”.

In contrast to the mature believer the false leader had their “belly” as a god, “exult in their shame”, and “think about earthly things”.

Paul concluded with the reminder that “... our citizenship is in heaven—and we await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of His glorious body by means of that power by which He is able to subject all things to Himself.”

Interaction

Consider

The first step in the pursuit of spiritual maturity is “Forgetting the things that are behind ...” and then “... reaching out for the things that are ahead”.

Discuss

What are some practical disciplines which can help one to more effectively pursue spiritual maturity, e.g. the identification of “elders” who may serve as worthy role models?

Reflect

How does the meaning of the phrase “... our citizenship is in heaven” impact you?

Share

When have you observed specific examples of leaders to be avoided, and leaders to be emulated, and what was it that caused each to be assigned to one category or the other?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a mentor, someone whose walk shows solid evidence of spiritual maturity more advanced than your own.

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray for the mentor the Lord God has revealed to me and I will find opportunities to serve alongside that mentor, as the Lord provides, in order that the Holy Spirit may teach me the same disciplines He has taught them.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Philippians 4:1-23)

Christian Practices

4:1 So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends!

4:2 I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 4:3 Yes, I say also to you, true companion, help them. They have struggled together in the gospel ministry along with me and Clement and my other coworkers, whose names are in the book of life.

4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!

4:5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.

4:7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

4:9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Appreciation for Support

4:10 I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.)

4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance.

4:12 I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.

4:13 I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.

4:14 Nevertheless, you did well to share with me in my trouble.

4:15 And as you Philippians know, at the beginning of my gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in this matter of giving and receiving except you alone. 4:16 For even in Thessalonica on more than one occasion you sent something for my need. 4:17 I do not say this because I am seeking a gift. Rather, I seek the credit that abounds to your account. 4:18 For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God.

4:19 And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

4:20 May glory be given to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

4:21 Give greetings to all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers with me here send greetings. 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Prayer

Lord, You meet our needs both physical and spiritual and, You strengthen us. May I give thanks, be bold, and be content.

Summary & Commentary

Paul concluded his letter to the Philippians with additional specific guidance, which we may extrapolate to our fellowships, in order to enhance the quality of our practices.

He asked that the pursuit of righteousness continue, that the brothers and sisters help those who are struggling, and that they be aware that believers have their names “... in the Book of Life.”

[Note: Once ones name has been recorded in the Book of Life ones salvation is guaranteed.]

Paul recommended a Biblical attitude toward life “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!

Paul recommended this Biblical methodology for managing stress “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” He then explained the result “And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul recommended this Biblical methodology to remain pure in what he previously described as “... a crooked and perverse society”—”... whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”

Paul recommended again that they emulate the more mature, including his example “I have learned to be content in any circumstance ... I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the One who strengthens me.”

Paul did pause to remind them that obedience to God in offering, and providing, assistance to brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need was (and is) an admirable action.

Paul concluded with a prayer “And my God will supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus ... The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

Explanation of the different Biblical meanings when the term “spirit” is used, from the NET Greek/Hebrew Translator’s Notes: “1) the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son 1a) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his personality and character (the \\Holy\\ Spirit) 1b) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his work and power (the Spirit of \\Truth\\) 1c) never referred to as a depersonalised force 2) the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated 2a) the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides 2b) the soul 3) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting 3a) a life giving spirit 3b) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul’s counsel to not be anxious, to remain pure, to emulate the more mature in trust in God’s loving provision, and as a result to be “... content in any circumstance” is the key to growing in maturity.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to implement Paul’s methodologies in your life and within your fellowship?

Reflect

“I am able to do all things through the One who strengthens me.”

Share

When have you experienced the blessing of increased-maturity, and therefore an exceptional (ultrafidian) trust in the Lord God, equipped you to handle a difficult circumstance with a greater sense of contentment and confidence?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your live where you are anxious, struggle with purity, sometimes emulate the less-mature than the more-mature, and as a result you are often discontent.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me as I partner with the Holy Spirit to apply Paul’s counsel and move toward a greater degree of contentment—trusting in the Lord God’s loving provision.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Philippians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.