In the first part of this study, we looked at Paul’s appeal to the Philippians to be united with the mind of Jesus Christ. Paul continues his appeals and gives his exhortations in view of believers’ salvation. In this passage, Paul also gives instructions to the Philippians to receive two of his fellow workers of the gospel, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Did You Know...?
1. “I am being poured out” (2:17): Paul compares the service of the Philippians to a sacrificial offering and himself to the drink offering that accompanies the sacrifice (cf. Ex 29:38-41).
- Appeal to Work out Salvation (2:12-18)
- Plans for Timothy and Epaphroditus (2:19-30)
What is the main theme of this paragraph?Hide Answer
Conduct ourselves as true children of God so we may be acceptable to God.
Based on the context of this passage, how are we to “work out” our own salvation? Why with “fear and trembling”?Hide Answer
Obedience to God’s command is the way to work out our salvation. In preparing ourselves to meet God, we must serve Him with reverent fear by leading holy lives (Heb 12:14, 28-20).
Is working out our own salvation contrary to the doctrine of salvation by grace? Explain your answer.Hide Answer
Working out our own salvation does not mean earning our salvation with our efforts. Verse 12 and 13 must be read as one single thought. We must work out our own salvation because it is God who works in us. Without the work of God in believers’ lives, salvation would simply not be possible. But believers must continuously respond by faith to God’s saving work. Such “working out” is an act of obedience that demonstrates our faith in the saving grace of God. It does not serve as the basis of our justification or salvation.
Compare “complaining and disputing” (14) with “crooked and perverse generation” (15). What does this comparison suggest?Hide Answer
Complaining and disputing is the way of this crooked and perverse generation. While the people of this dark world constantly complain and dispute with one another, believers, who are the light of this world, should not be conformed to such attitude and behavior. In fact, we must do all things without complaints or disputes.
Have you complained or disputed when carrying out God’s work? What causes complaints or disputes?
Why is such behavior detrimental to the unity of believers and to the gospel?
What does it mean to “hold fast the word of life” (16)?Hide Answer
To hold fast the word of life means adhering to the teachings of the gospel. This phrase can also be translated, “hold out the word of life” (NIV). In this sense, the verse reinforces the previous statement about shining as lights in the world. Not only should we persist in our obedience, we must also make the word of life known to the dark world by our godly lifestyles.
Explain the analogy of verse 17 and what it reveals about the heart of Paul.Hide Answer
The analogy is that of a drink offering being poured out on the sacrifice (cf. Ex 29:38-41; Num 15:1-10). Paul considered his ministry and life a service to the believers. The purpose of his “running” and “laboring” is that the believers may be accepted in the day of Christ. Paul’s genuine love for the believers enabled him to have such a selfless spirit.
What are Paul’s commendations of Timothy?Hide Answer
1. He sincerely cares for the state of the believers (20). 2. He seeks the things of Christ Jesus (21). 3. His character has been proven, since, like a son with his father, he has served with Paul in the gospel (22).
Why does Paul say that he would be encouraged to know the state of the Philippians (19)?Hide Answer
Just as the Philippians have always been a reason for Paul’s joy, he is confident that reports about their further progress will be a source of great encouragement.
What are “the things which are of Christ Jesus” (21)?Hide Answer
The work the Lord has entrusted to us preaching the gospel (22) and caring for the faith of believers (20).
What causes someone to seek their own instead of the things of Christ?
What is more important to you? The things of Christ Jesus or your own interests?
What are Paul’s commendations of Epaphroditus?Hide Answer
Brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier (25).
Why was Epaphroditus with Paul?Hide Answer
He was sent by the Philippians to bring their gift to Paul and to minister to his needs (25, 30; 4:18).
Why did Paul eagerly send Epaphroditus to Philippi?Hide Answer
See verses 26-28.
What can we learn here about our relationship with fellow believers?Hide Answer
In this example we can see that the Philippians, Paul, and Epaphroditus all look out for others interests instead of their own. We ought to also care for one another with such genuine concern.
What kind of people does the world hold in esteem? As Christians, what kind of people should we hold in esteem (29)? Why?Hide Answer
Whereas the world esteems people of talent, wealth, and power, we should esteem those who labor for the work of the gospel (30; cf. 1Tim 5:17). By holding God’s workers in esteem, we honor God and His work (Mt 10:40).