Setting

In the opening of this letter, Paul gives thanks for the Philippians and prays for them. He expresses his great joy at the thought of these believers and his deep affection for them.

Key Verse

(1:18)

Did You Know...?

1. Philippi (1:1): “The city of Philippi was named after King Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. It was a prosperous Roman colony, which meant that the citizens of Philippi were also citizens of the city of Rome itself. They prided themselves on being Romans (see Ac 16:21), dressed like Romans and often spoke Latin.” [ref]
2. Bishops (1:1): “In the Greek culture the word was used of a presiding official in a civic or religious organization. Here it refers to a man who oversees a local congregation. The equivalent word from the Jewish background of Christianity is ‘elder.’” [ref]
3. Deacons (1:1): “In its nontechnical usage, the Greek for this word means simply “one who serves.” The men chosen in Ac 6:1- 6 were probably not only the first deacons mentioned in the NT but also the first to be appointed in the church… Generally, their service was meant to free the elders to give full attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Ac 6:2,4). The only two local church offices mentioned in the NT are those of overseer (also called elder) and deacon.” [ref]
4. Fellowship (1:5): “The Greek word so translated comes from a root meaning common. Two of the ideas it expresses in the New Testament are: a communion, or association, of like-minded people (Ac 2:42); and a contribution to a cause (e.g., 2Co 8:4).” [ref]
5. Affection (1:8): The Greek word also means “intestines.” “The metaphor represents tender affection and love. Ancient writers used this metaphor to recognize that such tender affection comes from the inward parts.” [ref]

Outline

  • Salutation
    (1:1-2)
  • Thanksgiving
    (1:3-8)
  • Prayer
    (1:9-11)

Segment Analysis

  • 1:1-2

    1a.

    Paul often greets with “grace and peace.” What do these terms mean?

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    In particular, God’s grace is the free gift of redemption and forgiveness He gives to mankind through Christ (Rom 3:24); In general, it refers to all the spiritual blessings He bestows on those who are in Christ, including hope, joy, reconciliation, love, and peace.
    Peace refers to the inner tranquility and assurance that result from God’s grace (Jn 16:33).

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  • 1b.

    Do you experience grace and peace in your life? If not, why not?

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  • 2.

    How does Paul identify the Philippians? What does this identification mean?

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    He addresses them as saints. Believers are saints not because they have attained to a certain moral standard but because they have been justified by faith and put on the righteousness of Christ (3:9).

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  • 1:3-8

    3a.

    What are Paul’s feelings for this church?

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    Paul is filled with joy and thanksgiving whenever he remembers and prays for the Philippians (3-5).

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  • 3b.

    Why does he feel this way about them?

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    1. Their fellowship in the gospel (5).
    2. Confidence that God will complete the good work in them (6).

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  • 4a.

    In what ways have the Philippian believers shared with Paul fellowship in the gospel? (see also other chapters of this epistle)

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    They have supported Paul’s ministry by 1) standing with him in his imprisonment and defense of the gospel (1:7, 17); 2) praying for him (1:19); 3) sending Epaphroditus to assist him in his work (2:25); 4) and sending him monetary gifts (4:14-16).

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  • 4b.

    In what ways can you also partake in the work of the gospel?

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  • 5a.

    What does verse 6 teach us about the work of God in believers?

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    He begins the good work in us, and He completes this work. He has chosen us to receive salvation and inspired us to our ministry. He will strengthen us continually until He accomplishes His purpose in us. Such persistent work of God demonstrates His faithfulness (cf. 1Thess 5:23-24). While we strive to carry out God’s work, we should always remind ourselves of the faithful work of God in us.

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  • 5b.

    How does this verse encourage you in your life and your ministry?

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  • 6.

    What does “the day of Jesus Christ” refer to? (cf. 1Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2Cor 1:14; Phil 1:10; 2:16)

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    The day of Jesus Christ will be the day when Christ receives the believers and when we will give accounts of our work and receive our rewards from the Lord.

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  • 7.

    Based on this paragraph, what can we as servants of God learn from Paul’s relationship with the believers?

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    Paul always has the believers in his heart and he longs for them with the affection of Jesus Christ. Unlike a hireling, who works only for his wage, Paul is like the Good Shepherd, who cares for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:11-14). As servants of Christ, we must have the believers in our hearts always and love them with the affection of Jesus Christ.

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  • 1:9-11

    8.

    In what aspects does Paul pray that the Philippians may grow?

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    1. “that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (9).
    2. “that you may approve the things that are excellent” (10).
    3. “that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (10).
    4. “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (11).

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  • 9.

    Why must love abound in knowledge and all discernment (9)?

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    Love must be in truth (1Jn 3:18; 2Jn 1:1; 3Jn 1:1). In other words, our actions of love need to conform to the principles of God’s word. Misguided or blind love may ruin others rather than build them up. Therefore, we need to grow in our spiritual knowledge and discernment as our love grows.

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  • 10.

    Explain the phrase “approve the things that are excellent” (10).

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    Being able to approve the things that are excellent means having the wisdom to weigh our choices. We often face situations where we have to choose among things that seem equally right and valid. Therefore, we need to have the discernment from God to always choose what is best.

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  • 11.

    What are “fruits of righteousness” (11)?

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    “Fruits” in Scripture represents a person’s conduct and speech (Mt 3:8-10; 7:15-20; 12:33-35; Gal 5:22-23). “Righteousness” literally means “that which is right.” “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness,” therefore, means always doing the things that are right in the eyes of God, leading a lifestyle that exhibits the righteousness of Christ.

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  • 12.

    What have you learned from this paragraph about Christian growth?

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    1) We need to depend on God in order to grow spiritually. That is why Paul prays to God for the growth of the believers.
    2) A sign of life is continual growth, and there is no end to spiritual growth. Since our faith is a living faith, we must not remain stagnant but always seek for higher goals in our spiritual development.
    3) Our lives should be characterized by the abundance of spiritual qualities, as indicated by the words, “abound still more and more,” and “filled with.”

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