Paul called himself a servant, or slave, of Christ Jesus. What are some of the characteristics of a slave?
Who were "the saints" in Philippi? What are some of the characteristics of a saint? Are you a saint?
Why were the church leaders specially singled out as recipients of this letter?
Paul put a Christian twist on a standard greeting, offering his characteristic grace and peace. Why did Paul almost always begin his letters with a hope that his readers will experience grace and peace?
How much grace do you experience? What difference does grace make in your life?
How much peace do you experience? What difference does it make?
Paul was already encouraging the Philippian church by verse 2. How could he do that when he was in prison?
Whom do you know that needs encouragement right now? What can you do the give encouragement?
How did Paul identify himself and his coworker? How did he greet the Philippians?
When Paul thought about the Philippians, what did he do? When Paul prayed for the Philippians, how did he feel? How would the Philippians have felt as they started to read this letter from Paul?
What is the basis for mutual encouragement among Christians (v. 6)? How can we offer godly encouragement to other Christians today? Who is there in our church or in your circle of influence that you can encourage this week?
How strong were Paulís affections for the people of the Philippian church? Why did Paul feel so strongly about and have such a good relationship with the Philippians? Why does going through difficulties together bring about close relationships? Is there someone you are close to because you went through a difficult time together?
In v. 4 Paul told the Philippians that he was praying for them; in vv. 9-11 he reported on the content and intent of his prayers for them. What was the main thing he asked for? What were the two results he wanted to see as a result of God answering prayer? What final overall result was Paul looking for?
Does the content of Paulís prayer surprise you? He focuses on their growth in love rather than on their growth in general. What do "knowledge and depth of insight" have to do with love? What do they have to do with being "pure and blameless"? How is the heart involved in the head and the spirit?
What is your working definition of "love"? How is the concept of love, as taught in the Bible, different from the worldís notion of love? How can we practically go about following the command: ĎLove the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.í (Mt. 22:37)? When people love the Lordóreally love the Lordóhow do their lives change?
How is the ability to discern developed? Have you ever become spiritually confused because you lacked discernment? Has your ability to "discern what is best" improved with time? How can you differentiate what is best from what is good? Why is that necessary?
What is the content of your prayers for our church? How can Paulís prayer for the Philippian church serve as a model for us?
How has your love grown in knowledge and depth of insight in the last several months? What has contributed to that growth? When is it ok for a saint to stop growing?
Isnít it just like God to take something bad and turn it into something good? How did God use Paulís imprisonment to advance the gospel?
What has God done for you recently, wherein he used a problem to accomplish something?
What was the final result of the encouragement received by those who knew Paul was in prison? How did they advance the gospel?
Why is it important for Christians to encourage one another? What kind of stuff encourages you? How do you try to encourage others? What is the result of encouragement in your church?
List the motives that were causing people to proclaim Christ. How could Paul rejoice when some were preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry?
Have you ever done the right thing for the wrong reason? How did things turn out? Is it possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason? Which is better: the right thing for the wrong reason, or the wrong thing for the right reason? What do you do to check your motives?
Selfish ambition doesnít sound like a very good moral ground for proclaiming the gospel. Have you seen it in todayís church? How did things work out?
What did Paul expect as a result of the prayers of the Philippians? [deliverance, courage] Do you think Paul expected deliverance from prison in an earthly sense? What other forms of deliverance might he have expected? Did you ever get an answer to prayer that was a different answer than you were expecting?
Paul was counting on two sources of help in his situation. How do the two sources work together? What did Paul mean by use of the phrase "the Spirit of Jesus Christ"?
Is it more proper to say "Prayer changes things" or "God changes things when we pray"? Does the distinction mean anything to you? Does how we think about prayer make a difference?
What was Paulís expectant hope, as he sat in prison and thought about the help he was receiving from outside? How did he want this imprisonment to end?
What was Paulís ultimate goal, whether he was released from prison or not? How can Jesus Christ be exalted in the body of a human being?
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Did Paul really mean that? How would you paraphrase that little sentence? How did Paul arrive at the position of saying such a thing?
What was Paulís dilemma in vv. 22-24? What were the pluses and minuses for each possible outcome? How did Paul resolve the dilemma in his mind? Why?
Do you remember a spiritual dilemma you have faced in the past? How did it work out?
Paul was concerned that the Philippians make progress in the faith, and that they experience joy in their faith. He believed that his presence with them could help toward those goals. How might he have gone about delivering progress and joy to the Philippians?
What brings about in you progress in the faith? How do you encourage your own progress? How much progress have you made in recent months and years?
What gives you joy in the faith? How joyful are you? Does your joy in Christ overflow?
How do you encourage progress and joy in those around you? How can these characteristics be measured in a church or a small group?
What encouragement do you have from being united with Christ? What comfort do you receive from Godís love? Do you enjoy fellowship with Godís Spirit and with other people who are of Godís Spirit? What form does that fellowship take? Are you tender and compassionate? Do you ever receive tenderness and compassion from others? Then does this passage we are about to study apply to you?
Isnít Paul really saying, "With privilege comes responsibility"? What are the privileges? What are the responsibilities?
What is Paulís aim in vv. 2-4? What does he really want to see happen in the Philippian church?
What kind of attitude was Paul trying to foster in vv. 3-4? What happens when selfish ambition comes to the front? What happens when humility comes to the front? How does one stay humble?
Verse 4 is a clear instruction. How well does it work in todayís individualistic culture? How far do we need to go in this direction?
If a modern church decided to live by vv. 1-4, in what ways would it change? How attractive would that church be from the outside? What kind of results might that church expect to see? How practical would it be to live like this? What difficulties would present themselves as this church lifestyle was implemented? Would you enjoy fellowship with such a church? What would it take to make it happen?
Verse 5 is one of the most awesome challenges in the Bible, on par with "Be holy, because I am holy" and "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." The literary context of the challenge is primarily verse 3, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceitÖ" Why would Paul use Christ Jesusówho is perfectóas an example for Christians? How do you respond when you are challenged to be perfect? What was Paul trying to accomplish with this challenge?
Is Paul talking about how the Philippian Christians think, or about how they behave? Why does Paul spend so much of his time focusing on the mind and the attitude?
Do you wear a WWJD bracelet? How does it affect your attitude? How does wearing it affect your behavior?
What are some of the ways we might recognize a Christ-like attitude in Christians around us? How would a Christ-like attitude manifest itself in the real world?
How do people control their attitudes? Is it easier to control your thought life or your behavior?
How does the poetic description of Christís humiliation help you understand humility? Make a list of Christís humble characteristics and behaviors. Which of these characteristics are characteristics a person today could possess? Which are not?
Does being humble mean that a person has a poor self-image? How do people with humility see themselves?
As you read the hymn in verses 6-11, what emotions do you have? How does this hymn affect your view of Jesus?
Make a list of changes you want to make because you have come in contact with Godís word in this passage of scripture.
The Philippians were obedient. Whom did they obey? Why was it important that they be obedient? Why did they need to obey Paul even when he was absent?
Is obedience always a good thing? When is obedience a problem? To whom to we owe obedience? Why?
How does a leader earn the right to ask for obedience from the people?
Paul exhorts the Philippians to work out their salvation. Why was it to be done with fear and trembling? What was Paul asking them to do?
If you were one of the original recipients of this letter, why would you be happy about verse 13? How does verse 13 modify verse 12? Does it take pressure off or does it increase the pressure? Why?
How would you describe the division of responsibility between God and man for our salvation? Who carries most of the load? For the one being saved, does the load seem heavy or light?
When Paul asked the Philippians to work out their own salvation, he used the plural possessive pronoun "your own", implying that this is some kind of group effort rather than an individual one. What role does the church play in working out our own salvation? How can the church work out its own salvation? What is the individualís responsibility when the church fails to perform its job correctly?
Why did Paul want the Philippian church to do everything without complaining or arguing? Was it for their sake or his? Did it have earthly implications, or eternal? Was it a practical request, or a theoretical one?
How would our church change if complaining were outlawed? If something is going on in the church that is worth complaining about, what is the preferred course of action? How would it affect your own church experience if you decided to stop complaining?
The Churchóthat is, the group of Christ-followers upon this earthóhave been given a black eye in recent years by prominent leaders who failed to live up to the ideals of our faith. How important is reputation for the church as a whole? For the individual? How can you guard your reputation? How can we guard the churchís reputation?
Paul gives the Philippians a beautiful picture of a sacrifice upon the altar in verse 17. He sees the main sacrifice as that provided by the service of the Philippian church. They are being laid on the altar as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1). Then Paul is potentially an additional drink offering, a libation poured on top of their sacrifice. He is pointing away from himself and toward his readers. He doesnít want them to obsess about his imprisonment and possible death, but to concern themselves with the task at hand for them. How might this principle apply to the church today? What are some of the things that can distract us from our mission?
Paul talks about rejoicing even when it would seem there is nothing to rejoice about. Why is that important? How do you do it? When have you done it?
Why does Paul want to send Timothy to Philippi? What is it about Timothy that makes him fit for the job? What does Paul hope to receive from Timothyís potential visit to Philippi? What do the Philippians stand to receive?
Verses 20-21 are a sad commentary on Paulís immediate circle of fellow-workers. How serious was the problem to Paul?
Does the Philippians 2:21 problem still exist in the church today? How bad is it? What forms does it take? Is it a problem even for people who are busy in the church? What is the cure for this disease?
What did Timothy do to prove himself?
What do we look for in church leaders today? How does our view differ from Paulís?
What is Paulís opinion of Epaphroditus?
Why was Paul sending back Epaphroditus to Philippi before he would send Timothy? Why had Epaphroditus been sent to Paul in the first place? What did Epaphroditus carry with him when he returned to Philippi?
Why was Epaphroditus worthy of honor? How does Epaphroditus remind you of the words of Jesus in John 12:26? How do you imagine Epaphroditus would have felt about receiving such honor?
Whom do you know that is worthy of honor? What would be an appropriate way to show honor to a brother or sister?
What does this passage teach you about Christian fellowship? How important is Christian fellowship?
Paul again instructs the Philippians to rejoice, though there is no human reason for joy. What is the message Paul is trying to get across to them? What does it mean to "rejoice in the Lord", as opposed to merely rejoicing? What else might a person rejoice in besides the Lord?
Paul says his admonition to rejoice is a safeguard for the Philippians. What was he guarding against? Why do they need to be guarded and kept safe?
Who are the "dogs" of verse 2? Why does Paul use such strong language about them? How is their view in opposition to the gospel?
What forms of legalism exist in the church today? What harm do they cause? Why does legalism still exist 2000 years after Paul wrote this letter?
Before meeting Christ, in what did Paul place his confidence? How had his thoughts changed since that time? At the time of writing, in what did he place his confidence? Why?
How good was Paulís Jewish pedigree? How committed was Paulís Jewish faith and practice? How thorough was his change of focus?
Paulís confidence in the flesh had to do with his Jewish credentials. What forms might confidence in the flesh take today? What forms have you observed?
By the time of writing, how much value did Paul place on his fleshly accomplishments and status? In what did Paul find value now? How can this change be accounted for?
Using this profit and loss language from the world of accounting, how has your life changed since you met Jesus? What have you lost? What have you gained? Where are you headed?
Paul uses the following terminology in this passage to describe his relationship to Christ: "glory in Christ" (v. 3), "knowing Christ" (v. 8), "gain Christ" (v. 8), "found in him" (v. 9), "faith in Christ" (v. 9), "I want to know Christ" (v. 10). Where do you find meaning and significance in these terms? What is your favorite term for your relationship with Jesus?
The great apostle Paul, whose experience with Jesus was so wide and so deep when he wrote these words, says "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferingsÖ" What was he longing for?
What does it mean to really know Christ? Where does the power come in? What about the suffering? Does the average Christian have this kind of experience with Christ? How does one get it?
When have you experienced the power of the risen Christ in your life? When have you enjoyed the fellowship of sharing in his suffering? Can you have one without the other? Which would you prefer?
Do you have rubbish in your life that would surprise the world around you? What have you set aside in order to gain Christ? What are you willing to set aside?
In verses 12-14, what is Paulís view of his own walk with God? How does it contrast with the attitude he formerly held, as described in verses 4-6?
Paul is very clear that he isnít perfect yet. How helpful would that admission be to his readers? How does it hit you when someone in leadership comes off as perfect? How far are we to go to point out our own imperfections? What keeps us from doing it?
What is Paul trying to take hold of; what is the prize? Why is Paul so intent on it? Paul uses the metaphoric language of a long race. What language would you use to describe this race?
What prize are you straining for? Is it worth it? How much pressing and straining is necessary?
Paul gives a picture of single-minded concentration on the goal. Have you experienced the ability to concentrate like that? How long did the ability last?
What are some of the distractions that could come in and take our eyes off the prize? How do you battle against the distractions? Which are more damaging, big distractions or little ones?
What is the prize? Where is the goal? How did Paul keep it in sight? How do you keep it in sight?
What keeps you going? What do you do when you are tempted to give up?
Twice Paul uses the term "press on". What does that mean to you? Do you have occasion to press on?
How do you recognize maturity? What is the main difference between a mature person and an immature one? Does Paulís view in verse 15 support your ideas?
Does Paul want all Christians to be alike and think alike? How does a Christian move from immaturity to maturity?
How does God make it clear to you that you need to change your way of thinking? How easy is it for you to change? When have you experienced this kind of clarity and this kind of change?
What is Paulís point in verse 16? How does it relate to verse 15? Is this an excuse for immaturity?
Even though Paul has not yet arrived, he offers himself as an example in 17. How does he dare to do that? What kind of self-confidence does it take for Paul to use himself as an example?
How do you usually respond when people put themselves forward as an example to follow? How do you respond when a well-known athlete or celebrity claims to not be a role model? Do you think you are a good example to others?
How are the enemies of the cross of Christ described? Expand on each of the four descriptions Paul uses in verse 19. Do these descriptions still apply today? How? What is it that makes people who fit this description enemies of the cross of Christ?
What is the main contrast between the enemies of Jesus and the followers of Jesus?
What does the concept of "citizenship in heaven" mean to you? What are the privileges of a citizen? What are the responsibilities of a citizen? What are the characteristics of a citizen?
Is your citizenship in heaven more important to you than your national citizenship? How does that affect your patriotism? Do patriotic songs, displays, and programs have a place in he church? How would a Christian of another nationality feel when attending your church during a patriotic program?
Where will our savior come from? What will he do when he comes?
We are eagerlyóon tiptoeówaiting for our savior. What form does your eager waiting take? Do you live expectantly?
Paul sums up in 4:1. What seven terms of endearment does he use to address the Philippian Christians in this one short verse?
Make a list of the reasons Christians should stand firm, based on Paulís comments to these Christians he cared so much about. What are they standing firm against?
What threats do Christians today need to stand firm against? How can we do it? How can we remember that we have a savior?
Apparently Euodia and Syntyche were having a disagreement or some kind of relationship problem. How did Paul try to help them through it? Why did Paul involve other church leaders in this effort? Why did Paul even care about a problem between these two women? How much did he care?
When there are relationship problems in the church today, how do we usually manage them? How should we handle them? Should the church be involved in the private lives of its people?
Is it sinful to have disagreements in the church? Why or why not? Where do most of the disagreements and problems come from? How can they be avoided or minimized?
Once again, church unity comes to the front of Paulís thought. How important is unity? How important is it to us?
Paul rings the note of joy yet again: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" How can a person rejoice in the Lord always?
"Gentleness" in verse 5 is epiekes (Greek), meaning gentle, gracious, forbearing. Why is that character trait so important to the Christian? Why should it be evident to all? Does gentleness come naturally to us, or do we have to work at it?
Does verse 6 liberate you, or does it make you feel guilty? What is the point of Paulís instruction? What is his alternative to anxiety? What is the result of following Paulís instruction? Have you tried the way of prayer to combat anxiety? How has it worked? What is the importance of the phrase "with thanksgiving"?
Paul talks about Godís peace, which is beyond understanding. Have you experienced that peace? How does it feel? How can peace guard your heart and mind? What is the significance of the last phrase in verse 7, "in Christ Jesus"?
Where does our world go for peace? How can we show them that peace is in Christ? How are we doing at the job?
Verse 7 talks about "the peace of God"; verse 9 talks about "the God of peace". How does God deliver to his people the peace beyond understanding? Could we be guilty of seeking the peace of God without seeking the God of peace?
When you have time to think about anything you want, what do you think about? Are your daydreams helpful or harmful to you?
What kind of things would Paul have you spend your time thinking about? What kind of things would he have you avoid? Why?
Verse 9 puts the emphasis on putting what is learned into practice. Why would it be necessary for a teacher to remind his students of the importance of putting the lessons into practice? What area of your life is needing to move into the practical phase?
The Philippians have sent Paul a giftóa financial giftówhile he is in prison. How might Paul feel to have received such a gift?
According to verse 10, it must have seemed like a long time since Paul had heard from the Philippians, but he realizes that it was because of lack of opportunity, not lack of concern. Is there someone or some organization that may be waiting for you to send a gift? Do you lack concern or opportunity? What difference might your gift make?
Paul claims to not be in need. Why would he make such a big deal out of a gift if he were not in need? Is he minimizing his need for the sake of the Philippians? Or, is he truly content? What is the secret of his contentment?
Verse 13 is often quoted as though it were some kind of general assurance that God will help the Christian accomplish any goal or dream. Given the context, what do you think Paul was really saying here? How far can you take this verse? Where does it certainly apply and where might it not necessarily apply? Does it make the verse seem less special to think of it in more limited terms?
When have you experienced Godís help in a difficult situation? What did you learn through the experience? Have you learned Paulís secret of contentment?
When a gift is given, what does the receiver receive? What does the giver receive? Which is better, giving or receiving?
The reputation of this churchówith Paul, at leastówas that of a church faithful in giving. What kind of reputation does you church have when it comes to giving? What kind of personal reputation do you have when it comes to giving?
The picture Paul paints in verse 18 is that of a sacrifice upon an altar being offered as a burnt sacrifice, smelling good to God. How could that thought revolutionize our giving? Why does our giving please God?
Is verse 19 tied to verse 18 causally? That is, does God meet the needs of his people only in response to their giving? Or do verses 19 and 20 go together as an exclamation of praise for Godís provision for his people, and thus serve as an impetus to giving? Do we give in order to receive from God, or do we give in response to what God has given to us? What is wrong with the concept of seed-faith giving?
Paul ends the letter with greetings from himself and from those with him. Then he closes with a mention of grace, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. How does Paulís final blessing bless you? How does the phrase "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" serve to sum up this letter?
What major life lessons have you received from your study of Philippians? What decisions for change have you made? How has the process of change been going? What are your next steps?