Setting

Up to this point, the epistle has focused mainly on Paul’s personal situation. Now, he makes a series of practical appeals to the Philippians. In the midst of persecution, believers must strive for the gospel with one spirit and one mind. They must imitate Christ so that their conduct can be a testimony to the gospel.

Key Verse

(2:5)

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Outline

  • Appeal to strive together for the gospel
    (1:27-30)
  • Appeal to be like-minded
    (2:1-4)
  • Appeal to have the mind of Christ
    (2:5-11)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    What are the requirements, according to this section, for striving together for the faith of the gospel?

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    Stand fast in one spirit (1:27); having one mind (1:27; 2:2); having the same love (2:2); being of one accord (2:2); not doing anything out of selfish ambition or conceit (2:3); in lowliness of mind esteeming others better than ourselves (2:3); looking out for each other’s interests (2:4); having the mind of Christ (2:5).

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Segment Analysis

  • 1:27-30

    1a.

    How does the first phrase of 1:27 introduce the teachings that follow?

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    The teachings on unity and obedience are all about conducts that are worthy of the gospel.

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  • 1b.

    Why is our conduct so important to the gospel?

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    Our conduct testifies to our message.

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  • 2.

    Based on this paragraph, what can enable us to be steadfast in preaching the gospel of Christ?

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    Standing fast in one spirit; striving together with one mind; not terrified by our adversaries; being ready to suffer.

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  • 3.

    According to Paul, what is a proof of perdition to the adversaries and of salvation to the believers?

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    The believers’ steadfastness and boldness for the faith of the gospel.

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  • 4a.

    What does Paul mean by “the conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me” (30)?

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    The believers had previously witnessed how Paul was persecuted and imprisoned (e.g. Acts 16:16-24). Now they hear about his afflictions and chains (Phil 1:13, 16).

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  • 4b.

    What should be our view of suffering?

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    1. Know that we are destined for suffering (1Thess 3:3; 1Pet 4:12). 2. Consider it a privilege and joy to suffer for Christ because we share in the sufferings of Christ and such sufferings are beneficial to our faith (Jas 1:2-4; 1Pet 1:6,7; 4:12,13).

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  • 2:1-4

    5.

    2:1 uses God’s grace as an introduction to the exhortation on unity. Why is God’s grace fundamental to unity?

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    The consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, and affection and mercy enable Christians to become one. What all believers have in common is that they have all received God’s grace and have been brought into God’s household (cf. 1Cor 12:12-13; Eph 2:11-18; 4:1-16). It is God who makes unity among believers possible, and it is His Spirit that binds us together. Thus, God’s grace and love serve as the basis and motivation of unity.

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  • 6a.

    What motives or attitudes disrupt unity? Give some practical examples.

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    1. Selfish ambition and conceit, resulting in power-struggle, division, slander, judging others, stubbornness, jealousy, etc.; 2. Being self-seeking, resulting in inconsiderate words and actions that hurt others.

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  • 6b.

    Conversely, what spiritual qualities help us achieve unity?

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    Love, affection, mercy, lowliness of mind, looking out for others’ interests.

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  • 2:5-11

    7.

    What is the mind of Christ Jesus that we should also have (5)?

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    The Lord Jesus willingly laid aside His glory and humbled Himself. He became a servant (Mk 10:45). He was obedient to the point of death (Mk 14:36). We should likewise forsake our selfish ambitions and serve one another with a heart of submission.

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  • 8.

    Observe and record the progression in the hymn in 6-11 about Jesus’ humility and exaltation.

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    In terms of Christ’s humility, the hymn describes the descent of Christ from the glorious God to a sinner on the cross: Being in the form of God > did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (NIV) > made Himself of no reputation > coming in the likeness of men > taking the form of a bondservant > humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death > even the death of the cross. In terms of His exaltation, the hymn finds its climax in the lordship of Christ: Therefore God also has highly exalted Him > and given Him the name which is above every name > that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth > and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord > to the glory of God the Father.

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  • 9.

    Why does unity necessarily involve sacrifice, as illustrated by the example of our Lord Jesus?

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    The phrase “made Himself of no reputation” in verse 7 is literally “Himself He emptied.” Unity is not possible without denying and emptying ourselves. To achieve unity, we must be ready to forsake our personal rights, interests, and pride. Only then can we serve one another in true humility.

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  • 10.

    What motivated the Lord Jesus to humble Himself? What lesson can we learn from this about what motivates unity?

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    It was His great love for us that brought Jesus to this world to die on the cross (Jn 3:16; 15:13; Rom 5:6-8; Gal 2:20; Eph 5:25; 1Jn 3:16). Likewise, our love for our brothers and sisters also compels us to put aside all selfish ambition and conceit, consider others better than ourselves, and look out for the interests of others.

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