Setting

After Paul expresses his thanksgiving and offered a prayer for the Philippians, he now reports to them about his circumstance. He relates to them how the gospel of Christ is preached through his chains.

Key Verse

(1:21)

Did You Know...?

1. Palace guard (1:13): “A contingent of soldiers, numbering several thousand, many of whom would have had personal contact with Paul or would have been assigned individually to guard him during the course of his imprisonment (see Ac 28:16,30).” [ref]

Outline

  • The Gospel Advanced through Imprisonment
    (1:12-14)
  • The Gospel Advanced through Preaching
    (1:15-18)
  • The Gospel Advanced through Prayer
    (1:19-20)
  • The Gospel Advanced through Labor
    (1:21-26)

Segment Analysis

  • 1:12-14

    1.

    Assuming that Paul was imprisoned in Rome, how did he end up in prison? (see Acts 21:5-25:12).

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    While he was visiting Jerusalem, some Jews had him arrested for preaching the gospel, but he appealed to Caesar to hear his case.

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  • 2.

    What does Paul want the Philippians to know about his imprisonment?

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    That the things which happened to him have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (1:12).

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  • 3a.

    How has Paul’s imprisonment become opportunities to advance the gospel?

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    1. It has become evident to those around Paul that he is in chains for Christ (13).
    2. His imprisonment has encouraged the brethren to become much more bold to speak the word without fear (14).

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  • 3b.

    What do you think Paul did in prison that made the palace guards and the rest realize that he was in chains for Christ?

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  • 4.

    Why is Paul able to have a positive attitude toward such a difficult circumstance as imprisonment?

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    Since Paul has determined to magnify Christ in his body (1:20), his heart is Christ centered rather than self-centered. Instead of pitying himself for his sufferings, he rejoices that his chains have served to make Christ known.

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  • 5.

    What can you learn from Paul’s experience about dealing with sufferings in your life?

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  • 1:15-18

    6a.

    What kinds of motives in preaching are mentioned here?

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  • 6b.

    What does it mean that some preach Christ from envy, strife, and selfish ambition (15,16)?

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    These people preach out of jealousy, hoping that they may win more converts than Paul or that they may enjoy greater popularity and respect. They think that their preaching would add affliction to Paul’s chains, supposing, perhaps, that their success in evangelical work would stir up Paul’s resentment.

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  • 7a.

    Why does Paul rejoice even though some preach the gospel with the intention to hurt him? What does this reveal about Paul’s heart and attitude?

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    Once again, he places the cause of the gospel above his personal interests. Even though these people preach the gospel at the expense of his personal well-being, he rejoices as long as Christ is preached (18).

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  • 7b.

    What can we learn from Paul in our ministry?

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    We should rejoice when God uses others to advance His work, even if they carry out God’s work with wrong motives or with the intention to compete with us. This is not to say that we should condone impure motives in serving God. But we ought to have a selfless attitude and place God’s glory over our own interests. If we seek not our own glory but God’s, we can truly rejoice in serving God whether in prosperity or adversity (Jn 5:30-31; 12:23-29).

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  • 1:19-26

    8.

    According to Paul, what two things will help bring about his deliverance?

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    The believers’ prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (19).

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  • 9.

    What does Paul mean when he says, “in nothing I shall be ashamed” (20)? Why will he not be ashamed?

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    Paul is confident that he would not be ashamed of the message of Christ he preaches. He knows that whether he lives or dies, Christ’s name will surely be exalted.

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  • 10a.

    What is Paul’s aim in life?

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    Christ is magnified in his body, whether by life or by death (20).

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  • 10b.

    How is this aim in life a key to Paul’s victory over his sufferings and even over the prospect of death?

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    Because Paul considers his body an instrument for magnifying Christ, he gladly accepts imprisonment, others’ envy, and even death as long as he is able to exalt Christ’s name.

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  • 10c.

    What does it mean to you to magnify Christ in your body?

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  • 11.

    What does Paul mean by the words “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (21)?

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    Paul’s life is a manifestation of Christ. He has surrendered himself completely so that it is no longer he who lives, but Christ lives in him (Gal 2:20). It is Christ who directs his every motive and action. For Paul, he has everything to gain by death. Not only would the name of Christ be exalted through his martyrdom, he will receive the reward from the Lord and be with Christ forever.

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  • 12a.

    Why is it hard for Paul to choose between life and death? What does he prefer? What does he choose instead, and why?

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    See 22-26.

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  • 12b.

    Given a choice between life and death, what would you choose? What would be your reasons?

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  • 13.

    Paul is clear about his purpose in life. What is your purpose in life?

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  • Final Thoughts

    14.

    Put yourself in Paul’s situation. God has used your ministry to spread the gospel and establish many churches from city to city. But now you are confined to prison and have become a “preacher behind bars.” You’ve waited for two years to stand trial, and the outcome of your trial may mean your execution. How would you feel about your situation? How can you rejoice, witness for Christ, and be a source of encouragement to other believers under such a circumstance?

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