Every Christian should exhibit joy in their life because we have so much to be thankful for. Jesus makes it clear to us that He is the One who brings joy into our lives and that we choose whether or not we will have joy to the fullest by our "abiding in Him". (Jn 15:11)
After Jesus had received the seventy disciples that He had sent out on a mission trip, He saw that their joy was in the power of the Holy Spirit that He had given them. He makes it clear to them in Lu. 10:20, that instead of rejoicing in their power over the spirits, they should, "Rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
Our salvation from our sins and the just penalty for those sins should be enough to make us joyful. After all eternal punishment is a terrible consequence for anyone. But for the Christian it is just as much the nature of one who has been born again.
Paul in 2 Cor. 5:17, tells us "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new." When we emerge out of the waters of baptism we are "born again" (Jn.3:3-5) The Greek phrase that Jesus used in Jn.3:3 literally means "born anew". We are not what we used to be . This includes an attitude of joyful living. (Gal. 5:22)
This change is an ongoing process in which the Holy Spirit teaches us through our study of the Bible. Especially those teachings of Jesus found in the four Gospel accounts of His life, and the teachings of His Apostles and other writers of the New Testament who were guided by His Holy Spirit. (Jn.16:13, 2 Tim. 3:16,17, 2 Pe. 1:20,21)
When we learn what the Holy Spirit teaches us through God's word and we allow these teachings to guide us and change us, something wonderful happens. We are changed. We will live our lives differently. Now we are living our lives according to Christ's teachings. When this occurs we are showing the world behaviors that Paul in Gal. 5:22-25 calls the fruit of the Spirit. One of these fruits is joy. (Gal. 5:22)
Now read Phil. 1:1-6, Here Paul is writing to a church than ten years earlier he had started in the city of Philippi. Paul's work there is found in Acts 16:9-40. When you read about how Lydia, upon her baptism gladly opened her heart and her home to Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke, four total strangers, you see the immediate joy of her salvation.
Later when you read of the miracle earthquake and how the jailer immediately afterwards ministered to the needs of Paul and Silas. Then you read that after he and his family were baptized, he immediately took Paul and Silas into his house and fed them you see this great joy! These were the charter members of a church that brought Paul joy.
Over a period of time Paul experienced two financial gifts from the Philippian church that again brought him joy and showed their joy. Read in 2 Cor. 8:1-5 about the great generosity they showed when an offering was taken up for the saints in Judea. Also read in Phil. 4:10-18 about the gift they had sent Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome. In these two passages we see how they brought joy to the Apostle Paul by giving joyfully.
1. In Phil. 1, what did Paul do every time he remembered the church at Philippi?
2. In Phil. 1, what emotion did Paul experience when he prayed for the Philippians?
3. In 2 Cor. 8, Paul speaks of the generosity of the Macedonian churches. What two qualities does he say "abounded in the riches of their liberality"?
4. In Phil. 4:10-18, What other churches in addition to the one in Philippi "shared with Paul concerning giving and receiving"?
5. In Acts 16, after the jailer had set food before Paul and Silas, what did he do?
Love is the dominant emotion in the life of any child of God. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 13:13, "And now abide faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love." Love is greater than our faith, because a loveless faith can never please God. Love is greater than our eternal hope, because before we can get to heaven we must know God. "He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love." 1 Jn. 4:8.
The Philippian church demonstrated to Paul a deep and genuine love. They loved the salvation they enjoyed in Christ; so they in turn, supported Paul as he preached the Gospel. (2 Cor. 8:1-5) They loved Paul so much that they sent a much needed gift to him while he was under arrest in Rome. (Phil. 4:14-18) When they heard that their minister Epaphroditus was sick near to death; they worried about him, and he worried about them. (Phil. 2:25-27)
You don't find this shared love for each other anywhere, but inside Christ's church. And the church at Philippi had this kind of love. So they lacked nothing, right? Not quite, in our lesson today, Paul prayed in Phil. 1:9, "And this I pray that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment."
You see, even with a great love for each other, a church must have a complete knowledge of the teachings and the will of Christ Jesus. Read Eph. 4:11-16. Here you find that Christ calls men to preach, teach and shepherd His church because all of us must be equipped for ministry. Each one of us in Christ must minister to the needs of others. Secondly, each of us is expected to "come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)
Christ wants us to become like Him! This will never happen unless we study His life and His teachings. Only then will we know how we should act and treat one another. Only then will the world see Christ in all that we do. (Gal. 2:20)
What is discernment? The definition of discernment is "the ability to judge or distinguish well." Discernment or judgment is necessary that we may know how to live our lives free from sin. Discernment is necessary within a church so we might worship God properly; as we see in the New Testament church. But as you might guess, you can't have discernment apart from a complete knowledge of God's word!
In Phil. 1:10,11, Paul tells us the necessity of having a love "that abounds in knowledge and all discernment." Then we will be "sincere and without offense". The word sincere means "without deceit." Many people try to deceive the Lord by acting religious, yet their lives are not truly changed.
Also, Paul notes that they and we will be "filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ". When we are baptized into Christ, we "put on Christ". (Gal. 3:27) When we put Him on we receive His righteousness which saves us. Yet there is still fruit that we must bear for the lord through our righteous lives. Why? Because our lives are a witness to the world for Christ Jesus. We are called to be "salt and light". (Mt. 5:13-16) This is the fruit of righteousness the world must see.
1. True or False, Eph. 4:12 tells us each of us must be "equipped for the work of ministry"?
2. True or False, Love is greater than faith and Hope?
3. True or False, You will never have the gift of discernment without a complete knowledge of God's word?
4. True or False, We can truly know God and still be without love for others?
5. True or False, Phil. 3:9 tells us we have Christ's righteousness if we are in Him?
6. True or False, if we have Christ's righteousness we will be a witness to the world for Christ?
It is a blessed life we have as believers in Christ Jesus. Paul in Eph. 1:3, writes, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." You and I have the forgiveness of sins, we are now heirs to eternal life, our prayers are heard by God, we have the presence of God's Holy Spirit within us and we have a family of loving brothers and sisters known as the church.
Yet each of us will find that in this world we will have trouble (Jn.16:33). If we truly live a godly life, following the teachings of Christ we will face persecution of some kind. (2 Tim.3:12)
Sometimes we hear of brethren and missionaries in faraway countries who become martyrs for their witness to the Lord. While we know this is the risk that believers face daily in this sinful world, it still troubles us. When we ourselves are ridiculed or ostracized because of our faith, it can cause us to be less joyful. It's normal for us to desire acceptance and blessing over opposition and enmity.
Read Phil. 1:12-18. Still God uses opposition to accomplish His purposes in this world. Paul was very familiar with opposition and persecution (1 Thess. 2:2, 2 Cor. 11:24-28). Now as he was writing this letter to the Philippians, he was under house arrest in Rome. Waiting to be tried by Caesar. He was chained to a Roman soldier both night and day. He could not leave the house. It seemed that Paul's ministry was very limited. His very imprisonment seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle to his calling to preach the gospel.
But here in these verses we are told there was noteworthy fruit born of his house arrest and this made Paul rejoice. First, his preaching had been heard by the whole palace guard (1:13). Plus he had made some believers from the "household of Caesar" (4:21,22). Paul was still preaching and people were still responding to the gospel.
His continued work, even while under arrest had made other brethren in Rome more bold. (1:14). They were no longer fearful to preach the gospel in the capital city of the Roman Empire. So Paul also rejoiced in this fruit as well.
Ironically, there was a second form of opposition to Paul that had arisen, yet it still furthered the gospel. Look again at verses 15-18. In addition to bold men who were preaching the gospel because of Paul's example and from "goodwill", there was a second group of preachers. This group was preaching the gospel from "envy" and "self ambition", hoping to "add affliction to Paul's chains".
It seems they were opponents of Paul. Brethren who evidently were jealous of Paul's apostleship, his ministry and his success. Still Paul rejoiced! Why? Because Christ was still being preached. While they were jealous of Paul, they were still correct in what they taught. This stands to reason in light of what Paul stated in Gal. 1:6-8 about false gospels. Though under arrest, Paul rejoiced because the will of God was still being accomplished!
What are the things that steal your joy, oh Christian? Is your joy subject to your earthly circumstances? Do you need to be accepted and recognized to be a joyous Christian? True Christian joy is a product of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25) and not a product of our circumstance. Even when we are opposed, we like Paul should still rejoice! Phil.4:4
1. True or False, Jesus promised us a life free from trouble?
2. True or False, Paul's "chains" had furthered the Gospel?
3. True or False, Those who preached Christ from envy were preaching an incorrect or different Gospel?
4. True or False, Paul criticized those who preached Christ from "selfish ambition?"
5. True or False, There were no saints among the household of Caesar?
6. True or False, God can still work out His purpose in your life even when others oppose you?
Paul was being held prisoner in Rome at the time of his writing Philippians. He was under house arrest; chained to a Roman soldier around the clock. He was waiting to appear before the judgment seat of Caesar. While he could be released, he also knew he could be found guilty of sedition against the Empire and be put to death.
Read Phil. 1:19-26. When you read this text, you can't help but feel that Paul was so much stronger in his faith than you and I. After all, the consequences we face here in America will seldom result in our being killed for the faith. Paul had no fear in the prospect of his death, and neither should we.
The true believer in Christ is changed. Jesus tells us in Jn. 3:3, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." When one is born again they become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). A new life in Christ has begun. In Rom. 6:4, "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." The verses that follow this one make it clear that we are dead to sin, which once held us captive."
But along with our salvation comes transformation. This transformation occurs because we now look at everything differently. Look at Rom. 12:2. Here Paul indicates that we must not continue to think and act like the worldly do. This is because our mind is being renewed. Now everything we do should serve God's purposes.
In Phil. 1:19,20, Paul expresses his confidence that one way or another, he will be delivered. The Greek word here in v.19 translated "deliverance" can mean either delivered up to death or delivered as in "saved from death." Paul realized that in his own death he could still magnify Christ! As Christians we "magnify Go" by our good works (Mt. 5:14-16). Christ is "magnified" when people's attention is shifted to God. Because of this, Paul would later challenge the Philippians to "shine like lights in the world." (Phil. 2:14-16)
In vv. 21-23, Paul arrives at the true lesson that you and I should learn from this text. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." As you can imagine this was a source of conflict for Paul. He truly wanted to die and "be with Christ." The faithful Christian only dies physically. At death his soul goes to be with the Lord in Paradise; a temporary dwelling place where they are with Christ until the day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:8, Lu.23:43). As good as our lives often are here in America, it can be hard for us to embrace death as Paul did. We should all see death in the same light as he did.
For Paul, if he was released and lived on it would mean the continuance of his ministry and more fruit that he could bear for Christ. We all need to bear fruit in our lives. Jesus shares God's expectation of the fruitfulness of our lives in Jn. 15: 1-8. Fruit comes when we engage ourselves in prayer, Bible study, fellowship and the Lord's Supper. It is also born when we bring others to Christ (Mt. 28:18,19).
Paul reaches a logical conclusion about his future in vv. 24-26. He now realizes that the great need that the churches, including Philippi had means he will be released and resume ministry. God had a purpose in Paul's life and ministry. Jesus, Himself defined it in Acts 9:15, "He is a chosen vessel of mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel." Paul realized he was still needed. Knowing this he was confident that he would one day return to the Philippians to bless them with his teaching.
All of us in Christ have a purpose. We all have different talents and gifts. Paul makes this pointy clear in 1 Cor. 12:14-31. Here he compares the church (the body of Christ) to the physical human body. Each part, though all members of the whole body have different functions. Have you asked God to show you His purpose for your life in the body of Christ?
1. True or False, Paul knew he would soon be executed by Caesar?
2. True or False, If Paul died he wouldn't see Christ until His Second coming?
3. True or False, The Christian is expected to bear fruit for God's glory?
4. True or False, Paul was confident that he still had a purpose in his living?
5. "rather to be absent from the body and to be _________________with the Lord." NKJV
6. "And do not be conformed to this world, but be_____________________by the renewing of your mind." NKJV
READ the Text. If you have ever taken the time to read about the planting of the church at Philippi in Acts 16:11-40, you realize that Paul spent very little time there before he was asked to leave town. So it seems only normal that Paul would wonder about these brethren and their walk with the Lord. Were they glorifying Christ in their lives? Would they remain united as one body? Would they stand fast in the face of opposition?
As we noted in our previous lesson, Paul has realized that he will be released from his imprisonment in Rome. But when, he did not know. Meanwhile he has a great concern for their faithfulness. So in 1:27-30, Paul tells them about the expected conduct of the believer.
In any and every circumstance they must "let their conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ." The Greek word for conduct is "polis", it means "as a citizen of". In 3:20 Paul also reminds them, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." The Christian is held to a higher standard of conduct than the citizens of the world. That standard is revealed to us in the Gospel accounts of Christ; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Here, the Lord's teachings are revealed to us as well as His conduct. Christ alone is our model. This conduct cannot be expected of the non-believer, but only those who are "born again" in Christ. (Jn. 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 8:5,6)
Paul also tells them in v.27, 'stand fast in one spirit, with one mind." This is a call for unity in the church. Jesus prayed to the Father in Jn. 17:20,21, for unity among all believers. However this unity must be based on God's word, the Bible. Prior to unity, Jesus had prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth." (Jn.17:17)
The teachings of the New Testament is what we must believe and practice. Jude in Jude 3 states, "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was, once for all delivered to the saints." The "faith" here is not what I choose to believe, but the whole body of teachings that God through His Holy Spirit gave us in the NT Scriptures. This must always be our basis for unity. A unity that is not grounded in the truth of God's word is compromise!
If the brethren in Philippi do these two things; conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and stand united for the faith, then they will not be "terrified of their adversaries." (v.28) The word for "terrified" actually means to "alarm" or "startle". When horses are startled they turn and run away. Paul is here reminding the brethren that they cannot run away from proclaiming the truth about Christ. There will always be opposition to the truth (Jn.15:18,19). But, those who seek to "suppress the truth" will one day face the wrath of God, (Rom.1:18).
For the believer who stands fast, opposition is a proof of the believer's salvation. To those who oppose the truth, their opposition is a proof of their "perdition" (destruction) (v.28). The believer must never compromise even in the face of persecution.
In vv.29,30, Paul reminds them and us that "God grants" that we not only have faith in Christ, but that we will suffer "for His sake". The Greek word rendered "grant" literally means "gift". Suffering for Christ is a "gift". I doubt if you have ever thought about suffering for Christ as such, but the Apostles did. Read Acts 5:40-42, though beaten, the Apostles "rejoiced." Later in 3:10, Paul states that he wants to know Christ completely, including to have knowledge of "the fellowship of His sufferings." It is in this sense that suffering is a "gift from God." Because we suffer as Christ suffered we have fellowship with Him.
Paul's final thought in v.30 is an assurance that it's okay to be conflicted about suffering. Paul did not embrace suffering anymore than you and I will. Pain and humiliation are against human nature. Paul reminds them of his own conflict which some of them had witnessed while he was in Philippi. Read Acts 16:35-38. Paul was outraged that he and Silas' rights as Romans had been violated! The tone he takes with the authorities is one of indignation. Paul's point is that it is alright for us to feel conflicted about suffering. In 2 Tim. 3:12, Paul reminds us, "Yes and all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." The blessings of Christ do not come without opposition and suffering!
1. Finish this statement: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the ______________________
2. Finish this statement: "that they may be all one, as you Father _____________________
__________________________________; that they also may be one in us."
3. True or False, Paul wanted the Philippians to run from their adversaries?
4. True or False, Opposition to the faith pof the Gospel is proof of your salvation?
5. True or False, Suffering for the sake of Christ is not a gift from God?
6. True or False, A Christian should have no conflict internally about suffering for the sake of Christ?
READ TEXT. Churches do many things to try to unify their members. Fellowship meals, group activities, small group Bible studies and visitation are all examples of how leaders of churches try to get their members to be like-minded.
The church at Philippi was a good church. They brought joy to Paul. (1:3,4) They were a loving church. (1:8,9) They were also a generous church; supporting Paul while he labored in Thessalonica (4:15), and while he was a prisoner in Rome. (4:18)
But Paul knew that they had weaknesses and he points to these weaknesses in 1:27-30. Paul worried about their conduct; whether it would glorify Christ. He worried if they would stand fast in spite of opposition. He also worried about there unity as well; would they be of "one spirit, with one mind."
Paul knew that true unity has only one source. It doesn't come externally from church activities like church activities. Instead the true force that promotes unity in the church is internal in nature. It comes from each member's experiences in Christ. so, here in our text, Paul points to four things that each believer should experience in our relationship with Christ. And if indeed we have experienced these four things in Christ; then these should provide the motivating force to maintain unity in the body of Christ.
The first of these motivating experiences is have we experienced any consolation or encouragement in Christ? Does the fact that He died for me give me any sense of encouragement? It should. After all "While we were still sinners Christ died for us." Rom. 5:8 But Christ doesn't leave us alone to falter in our daily life. Instead He "advocates for us before the Father". (1Jn. 2:1) Literally He pleads our case before the Father. So Paul reasons if we have received any consolation in these things Christ does for us, then it should motivate us to seek unity in the church.
Secondly, have we found any comfort or love in Christ? Does it comfort you when you read in Jn. 14:1-3, that Christ has left this world to "go and prepare a place for you"? That you might be with Him for all eternity? Do you find love and comfort knowing that absolutely nothing "can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus?" (Rom. 8:37-39) If it truly gives you comfort, then again you have every reason to strive for unity in the church.
Have you experienced fellowship of the Spirit in Christ? For the believer the Holy Spirit illuminates your study of God's word. (Eph. 1:16-21) The Holy Spirit also convicts us when our behavior is NOT what it should be. (Gal. 5:22-25) This work of the Spirit should cause us to bear fruit. If we have, then there is more motivation for us to be of "one accord" with our brethren.
Have you found any "affection or mercy" in Christ? Affection as used here is not a casual emotion. It is a deep felt love for one another. Again Christ loved you enough to die for you. The Father showed you affection and mercy in a most incomprehensible way. In Rom. 8:32, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for all of us, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" That's mercy! If you have experienced this in Christ then you will strive for unity in His church.
So this is the internal force of our experience in Christ that will cause us to preserve unity in the church. Paul then goes on to show us in vv.3, 4 the "marks" or evident behaviors that can be observed in a church that has unity from Christ and through Christ. They are attitudes that are displayed to other members of the church.
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit." Life in the kingdom of Christ is about serving and not about our ambitions. Jesus made this lesson clear to the disciples in Jn. 13, when He washed their feet. Read what the Lord told them afterward in Jn. 13:12-17. A church filled with servants will be a strong and united church.
"Esteem others better than yourselves." This is humility. Paul says of Jesus in Phil. 2:7, "He made Himself of no reputation." It is human sinful nature that wants to be recognized as the best. Jesus had every reason and right to be served, but instead He served us by dying on the Cross for our sins!
Finally a church with unity will "look out for the interests of others." Paul in Gal. 6:2 reminds us, "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Bearing one another's burdens is not simply praying for another person, but helping them. Have you ever served someone else's needs?
Maybe helped an elderly member clean their home? Have you ever shared your Thanksgiving meal with a brother who had no family? Have you mowed the lawn for someone who is handicapped or elderly? Have you ever invited a new family over to your home to have dinner? These are all great ways to "bear one another's burdens." When you do this you also "fulfill the law of Christ." It's an attitude that leads to unity in the body of Christ. Actions speak louder than words.
1. What three concerns did Paul have about the church in Philippi?
2. Who does John say is "our Advocate with the Father?
3. What are the three "marks" of unity in the church?
4. What are three ways that you can "look out for the interests of others": in your church?
5. What did Paul tell the Philippians that they could do that would fulfill his joy?
READ TEXT. In our last lesson Paul told us that unity within the church occurs when the members recognize the life changing experiences they have experienced in Christ. It's our experiences in Christ that supply our motivation to strive for unity. When the proper motivation is present, the members will give evidence of the effects of a changed life; the "marks" of unity. This evidence was summarized by Paul in three humble attitudes: 1.) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, 2.) Esteem others better than yourselves, and 3.) Look to the interests of others.
Today Paul gives us the "model" that leads to true unity in the church. That model is the "humble" Christ. Though Christ Jesus was on the same level as God the Father, He was willing to let go of His rights as a God and come to earth as a man. A humble man.
Think for a moment of what Jesus gave up to go from God to man. Three things quickly come to mind. First He gave up His glory. In Jn. 17:5, Jesus prayed to the Father, "And now O' Father glorify Me together with yourself, with the glory which I had with you, before the world began." You and I cannot fully understand the glory that Jesus enjoyed with the Father in heaven. When Moses asked God in Ex. 33, to see "the glory of God." God told him, that wasn't possible. In Ex. 33:20, God tells him, "No man shall see Me and live." God's glory is too much for any mortal man to process. Too dazzling, too brilliant, we would be overwhelmed. The sheer beauty and majesty of God in heaven is beyond our imagination. Jesus knew that glory, but He gave it up for us.
Secondly, Jesus gave up all His riches to become a humble man. Paul speaks to this in 2 Cor. 8:9, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
On earth as a man, Jesus was poor. He had no home. (MT. 20:8) He was supported during His ministry by the generosity of others, including women. (Lu. 8:1-3) When He died, the only possessions He owned were the clothes on His back. In death Jesus was placed in a tomb given to Him by the generous Joseph of Arimathea. (Mt. 27:57-60) By our worldly standards, Jesus was a beggar.
Jesus also gave up His authority of His own will. He now did all that the Father told Him. In Jn. 5:30, "I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father, Who sent Me." The writer of Hebrews in 5:8, tells us, "He learned obedience by the things He suffered." By giving up His rights as God, Jesus suffered poverty, scorn, and punishment. That's what God gave up!
Paul goes on to tell us in v.7, that Jesus became a "bondservant", a slave, He came in the "likeness of man". It was necessary that He become a human being, that He might become the "second Adam." The first Adam brought the curse of death into the world because of his one act of disobedience. But Jesus, "through His one act of righteousness gave us justification of life." (Rom.5:18) He had to live a righteous life without sin that He might be our perfect sacrifice as our High priest. (Heb. 4:15)
Also in v. 7, we are told, "He made Himself of no reputation". The actual Greek word rendered "no reputation" means "emptied". Jesus "emptied" Himself. He became in a word "nothing." Read Isa. 53: 1-6. In just the first three verses of this prophecy about Jesus, we are told; He was fragile, like a "tender root", He was not particularly attractive or beautiful, and He was despised and rejected. The Son of God, Who reflected the glory and majesty of God, was while on earth an "unremarkable man."
In v. 8 of our text, Paul tells us that the already humbled Christ, humbled Himself even further. To death, "even the death of the cross." The cross was a criminal's death. Yet as you already know from Isa. 53: 5,6, Jesus had to suffer for our sins. On the cross He took all the world's sins upon Himself and bore our punishment for them. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:21, "For He made Him, who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God through Him."
Because of our sins, Jesus experienced what every sinner, who dies apart from Christ will experience; separation from God. It was because of this terrible loss of fellowship with the Father that Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?"
For us to become like Christ means that we must see others as being better than ourselves. We must see our brothers and sisters in Christ as being those whom we are obligated to serve. We must also, like Christ be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. That's our model, the humble Christ.
1. Our model as Christians for humility and service is ________________________.
2. Why did Jesus have to come to earth as a man according to Heb. 4:15?
3. Through what in Heb. 5:8 did Jesus learn "obedience" in this world?
4. Whose will did Jesus do while He was on earth?
5. What three things did we see in our lesson that Jesus gave up when He became a man?
6. According to Isa. 53:1-3, what was Jesus' appearance as a man like?
In our last two lessons Paul has addressed the question, "What causes proper unity to occur in the Church?" The answer is that unity occurs when we are humble. Our experiences in Christ should motivate us to be humble. If this is the case, a church will display the right behaviors: "Doing nothing from selfish ambition, in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself, and look out for the interests of others."
Then Paul pointed to Christ as our example for humility. He set aside His Divine privilege and humbled Himself to die for us. So in these past two lessons we have seen the motivation for unity, the marks of unity and the model for unity.
Today Paul shares with us the reward that Christ has received for His humility. He has been exalted by God the Father with "a name which is above every name." (Phil. 2:9) While you and I will never be exalted in the same manner as Jesus, we will still be exalted if we humbly submit ourselves to God's will.
The use of "therefore" to start verse 9 indicates that "because Jesus humbled Himself to the death of the cross", He has now been exalted by God. Jesus has now been given a :name" that is above all names.
True exaltation can only come through God. Human exaltation is often just flattery and only lasts through one's life. The Bible tells us of men who tried to exalt themselves and were punished by God. Read about Nebuchadnezzar in Dan. 4:28-33. He refused to acknowledge God's role in his success and was humbled to acting like a beast in the field.
Read about Herod in Acts 12:18-24. After God prevented Herod from murdering Peter; delivering him by an angel from Herod's jail, Herod went down to meet with men from the countries of Tyre and Sidon. These small nations were experiencing famine and they hoped that Herod would help them with food, as he had in the past.
So that day as Herod gave them an eloquent speech, the people began to pay homage to Herod as if he were a god. Herod knew better, but He did nothing to discourage them. So God punished Herod with death. Man must never exalt himself to the status of God!
Jesus, being "equal to God humbled Himself." (Phil.2:6-8) So God exalted Him. Jesus gives all men both a model and a standard rule as to how they can one day be exalted by God. The model is His life described by the four Gospels. The standard rule is in Mt. 23:11,12, "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." You see, God rewards those who serve others.
The reward for Jesus was a name. That name according to Phil. 2:11 is "Lord". The truly glory that goes with this name is that Jesus will be worshiped and acknowledged by every person that "He, Jesus is Lord." The significance of this title is even clearer in Rev. 19:11-16, Here John sees Jesus as the victorious Christ riding on a white horse. He has conquered all the earth. John goes on to tell us in v.16, ""and He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: King of kings and Lord of lords." When Jesus returns to earth with the saints the dead will rise from the graves and along with all the inhabitants of the earth, everyone will confess "that Jesus Christ is Lord."
Many will do so in fear and sheer terror because they realize they are about to be condemned. (Rev.6:15-17) But the saints will do so with unbelievable joy! Because they confessed Jesus as Lord while still living and humbled themselves to live obediently to Him. (Acts 4:12, Rom.10:9,10) This is the exaltation of Christ!
But the faithful saints will also be exalted with Christ. Not as Christ, but as joint heirs with Christ. They will "reign with Him." (2Tim.2:12) But this will only happen if we have taken on "the mind of Christ". (Phil.2:5) This is the mind of humility and service to others.
Humility brings reward to the Christian. Read 1 Pe. 5:5,6, here Peter restates the Lord's rule in Mt. 23:11,12 in this way, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." The only way any man will ever be exalted by God is by humbling himself to the Lordship and authority of Jesus Christ."
1. According to Jesus in Mt. 23:11,12, how will one become the greatest?
2. What is the name that God has given Jesus, by which He will be confessed by every tongue?
3. Why has God exalted Jesus according Paul in Phil. 2:6-9?
4. Will everyone confess that Jesus Christ is Lord or will it only be Christians?
5. Why will the Christian be one day exalted with Christ according to Peter?
6. When John saw the victorious Christ riding a white horse in Rev. 19, what name was written on His robe and thigh?
7. How can you as a Christian become more like the humble Christ?
Read Text, Phil. 2:12,13. To many people salvation seems a one time event in which they have little or no role. Non Scriptural doctrines such as Calvinism and "Once saved always saved" only add to the confusion about what is required of the believer concerning spiritual growth. Worst case scenario is that such doctrines can create an excuse for sin and an abuse of God's grace.
The church at Philippi was a good church. They had love for each other and God. They were generous in meeting the needs of Paul. They cared deeply for one another. However, it is obvious that Paul felt that they might be taking their spiritual growth lightly.
So after presenting Christ as their model for humility and service to God (Phil. 2:5-11), Paul encourages them to "work out their own salvation in fear and trembling." (v.12) When we see this statement there are two questions that we realize need answered. 1.) What is meant by this admonition, and 2.) How do we do this? This will be the focus of this lesson.
First, we need to understand that salvation is spoken of in the New Testament in three tenses: past, present and future. Literally each tense is indicative of a phase of our salvation.
Past tense speaks of the salvation event. This phase is often referred to as the point of our justification. This is the point at which God forgives us of our sins and we stand justified in the eyes of God. Mk. 16:16, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved." is an example of referencing salvation in it's past tense.
Salvation as Paul speaks of here in Phil. 2:12 and in 1 Cor. 1:18, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." In both instances salvation is presented in present tense or still occurring in the life of the believer. This phase of salvation is commonly referred to as sanctification. The word means "to be set apart". At this phase we are becoming "set apart" for God's purposes and we are learning how to live a life pleasing to God. It is in this process that the Holy Spirit leads you and speaks to you through the Scriptures. It is the maturity process that God expects us to participate in.
It is in this process that new and better qualities are showing up in our lives. Peter in 2 Pe. 1: 5-11, speaks of these qualities that we must add to our lives. It is a serious business, this becomes more apparent when you read v.10, "Therefore brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will not stumble."
Then there is the future tense of our salvation; often referred to as our glorification. This is as Peter says in 1 Pe. 1:9, "receiving the end of your faith- the salvation of your souls." It's the day that our faith becomes sight. We have persevered and remained faithful until death. (Rev. 2:10) Another verse that speaks to this final reality of our salvation is found in Rom. 13:11.
So logically Paul cannot be speaking to the salvation event of the brethren in Phil. 2:12. They have already been saved through obedience to the Gospel. Obviously they are still in the flesh here on earth, so they cannot be in the future tense of their salvation either. So the current phase of salvation in which they are "working out their own salvation" or their sanctification is what Paul is speaking of. Knowing this, we now address our second question: "What must I do to assist in my sanctification?"
The good news is that God partners with us in this process. He has done His part to assist you. He has given you His Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38) You received Him when you were baptized. He has also given you the Scriptures; this is what Peter speaks of in 2 Pe. 1:3,4, "as His Divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him, Who called us by glory and virtue, by which we have been given these exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may become partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." The Holy Spirit will lead you, He will speak to you through the Scriptures and He will also "enlighten the eyes of your understanding." (Eph. 1:18)
But you still have to do your part. You should pray that God might "incline your heart to Him." (1 Kgs. 8:58) You must study the Scriptures that you know how Christ wants you to live. You must make living for Christ your first priority. (Mt. 6:33) You must commit yourself to helping other members of the Church. (Gal. 6:2) You must strive to be an example; a light to the world, showing God's love to all those whom you come in contact with. (Mt. 5:14-16)
This is how you do it. There are no short cuts. This is how one becomes spiritually mature in Christ. In this process you will go from "believer" to "disciple" and then to "servant". It's what God desires for each of us. He has done His part. Will you do your part?
1. What are the three phases of salvation that one goes through?
2. Paul's statement "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling" is an example of salvation in ______________________ tense.
3. Solomon in 1 Kgs. 8:58, asked God to _______________ our _____________ to Him.
4. When does the believer receive the Holy Spirit according to Acts 2:38?
5. In 2 Pe. 1:3, "God has given us all things that ______________ to godliness and __________
6. What is the child of God's obligation to the world in 1Kgs. 8:60 and Mt. 5:14-16? (In your own words)
READ Phil. 2:14-16. As human beings we are prone to complain. We complain about slow service, cold food, self-service checkouts, bad drivers, preachers who preach too long and internet that runs too slow.
Now sometimes we have a right to complain. It is only fair that we get what we pay for. We should also stand up for our rights as citizens of this country. Paul certainly did not hesitate to insist and argue for his rights in Acts 16, when he and Silas were unfairly beaten without due process. This was a violation of their rights as Roman citizens.
But, we as Christians should never complain about what God asks us to do or to bear. This is in fact what Paul means in v.14 when he says, "Do all things without complaining or disputing." This is clear when we look back at verses 12 & 13 where Paul had previously asked them to, "Work out their own salvation with fear and trembling". He then states why they should do this in v. 13, "Because this is God's will for you to do for His pleasure". That is why Paul begins v.14 by stating "Do all things". Among "all things" is to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."
Complaining goes against the model that God has given us through Jesus Christ in Phil. 2:5-8. After all, Jesus let go of His rights as God that we might be saved by His sacrifice. In addition to not complaining to God, or about God, we must not complain or grumble to our brethren. In 1 Pe. 4:9, "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." Grumbling to your brothers and sisters can spread a quality to them that God disapproves of.
Also, we should never complain in the presence of non-believers. Paul gives us a positive model of how we should speak to those outside the body of Christ in Col. 4:5,6, "Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." We are obligated to always present Jesus and His church in a positive light.
There are four points we need to make about grumbling or complaining. Each is Scripturally based. After all, the Scriptures represent God's truth and not our opinions.
First God does not care for our grumbling against His will for us. The Old Testament gives us the example of how God dealt with Israel when they grumbled against Him. They continually grumbled against God and Moses, His spokesman. So in 1 Cor. 10:10, Paul tells us the outcome of their complaining, "nor complain as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer." If you go back to 10:5, Paul states, "But with most of them God was not well pleased; for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness." In 10:11 we are told that Israel's history is recorded "as an admonition for us." So don't complain for God's sake.
We also should stop complaining for our sakes. Because we need to become children of God. Eph. 5:1, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." Children imitate their parents. It's only natural. In v.15 Paul tells us that we should, "become blameless and harmless children of God." The two Greek words rendered "blameless" and :harmless" in the NKJV actually mean "holy" and "innocent or pure". God desires us to be holy as in 2 Pe. 3:11. He also desires us to be pure or chaste as in 2 Cor. 11:2. This is God's will for us and we should not complain or resist God's will in this matter.
Thirdly, we should stop complaining for the world's sake. Look again at verse 15., we are "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." It is among this "crooked and perverse generation" that we are called to "shine as lights" to the world. Jesus has commissioned every believer to be an evangelist, so that we might make "disciples of all nations." (Mt. 28:19) The world needs the Gospel that we have to offer. (Rom. 1:16) Because it alone is the "power" of salvation. We have this "power". But we also have the "proof" of God's salvation that shines through us. This is our changed lives. In 2 Cor. 4:6, "For it is the God that commanded light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus." We are the face of Christ Jesus to a dying and lost world. Stop complaining for their sake.
Finally in v.16 Paul reminds them to stop complaining for his sake. Paul was their teacher. He brought the Gospel to them and is writing to instruct them. Paul wants to be able "to rejoice in the day of Christ" because they will be found faithful and pleasing to God. He does not want to think that he has "labored in vain".
In Eph. 4:11-13 Paul tells us that Jesus Himself has given us earthly teachers for two purposes; 1.) to equip you for ministry, and 2.) bring you to the fullness of the stature of Christ. One day your earthly teacher will have to stand before Christ and his work will be tested by Christ. (1 Cor. 3:10-15) They take every loss personally, just as Paul did. Every soul that has wandered from the truth is a loss. So for the sake of your teacher stop complaining and start shining!
1. According to 1 Cor. 10:10, What happened to the Israelites who complained against God?
2. In the Greek text of Phil. 2:15 what are the meanings of the words "blameless" and "harmless"?
3. What two words did Paul use to describe the generation (world) in which the Philippians lived in Phil. 2:15?
4. If the Gospel is the "power" of our salvation (Rom. 1:16), then our example to the non-
believer must be the ___________________ of our salvation.
5. What was Paul's fear in Phil. 2:16?
6. According to 1 Cor. 3:13, the Christian builder or minister's work will be "revealed by fire and
the ________________ will ____________________ each one's _________________.
READ Phil. 2:16-18. The world defines great men on the basis of their achievements. What were their successes in life? What contributions did they make to our society? Were they great and effective leaders?
The Apostle Paul was a man of greatness even by worldly standards. He wrote 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. Over half of the words are his. He also established Christ's Church on two continents.
But Paul would never allow himself to be elevated to any level of human greatness. In many of the books he authored he referred to himself as "Paul a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ." He considered himself a "dulos"; a household slave (Grk.). He was a slave laboring for the Lord Jesus.
The instructions that Paul gives the church in Philippi in our text reflect three key truths about Paul. Truths about his true self. These truth's are 1.) his heart, 2.) his humility, and 3.) his joy. These three verses tell us what was his heart, his humility and what brought him joy. It would do us well to compare ourselves to him in these three areas of self.
In v. 16, Paul's heart is summed up in these words, "holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain, or labored in vain." Paul had been commissioned by Christ to preach the saving message of the gospel. For him "laboring in vain" meant that some whom he had brought to Christ, might wander from the truth and ultimately be lost. (Jas. 5:19,20, Heb.6:4-6) Paul's heart was in line with God's heart on this matter. In 2 Pe. 3:9, "For the Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Now read 2 Cor. 5:14,15, Paul states his motivation for his ministry. What it was that compelled him. "For the love of Christ compels us." This does not mean that Paul preached because he loved Christ, but rather he preached because Christ loved all people and died for all people. The "love of Christ" is used here the same as it is in Rom. 5:8 where Paul describes "God's own love". Christ's universal love and his death for all men was Paul's motivation for preaching to the lost and ministering to the saved.
But Paul also ministered out of fear. Specifically he feared that some in Philippi might not continue faithfully in Christ. In Rev. 2:10, Jesus tells us it is only those "who are faithful till death" who "will receive a crown of life."
Paul was also very conscious that his own fleshly nature might cause him to stray as well. In 1 Cor. 9:27, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
Paul was aware of his own past history. He had persecuted the church, thinking that he was doing God's will. This sobering truth humbled Paul. In 1 Cor. 15:9, "For I am the least of the Apostles....because I persecuted the church of God."
This humility is further revealed to us in Phil. 2:17, "Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith." A drink offering was a secondary offering to God that was merely a complement to the main burnt offering. It was usually a goblet of wine poured onto the main sacrifice as it was fully ablaze.
Paul's language in this verse indicates "present tense", as "his being poured out as a drink offering" was already occurring instead of yet to come. So it is obvious that he is speaking of "his chains", his imprisonment. The total time in which Paul spent imprisoned beginning with his arrest in Jerusalem until his release by Caesar in Rome was five years! Yet humbly, Paul says, "mu sacrifice is secondary to yours."
How could this be? Well, when you look at Phil. 1:28, we are told the Philippians had "adversaries", which they were terrified of. In 1:29, Paul states, "Christ has granted it to you to suffer for His sake." The persecution was already underway in Philippi, and it would worsen. Some of them would be martyrs. Their sacrifice was the "main offering", his was only "the drink offering". Humility, front and center. Paul never thought his suffering to be a big deal. In Rom. 8:18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Finally, we see Paul's joy, his rejoicing at the end of v.17 and in v.18. Paul rejoiced that they were suffering. Not because he enjoyed seeing them persecuted, but because he realized they along with him, were sharing in the "fellowship of the sufferings of Christ."
Paul's attitude towards suffering and persecution was always, "Christ suffered, so I want to suffer like Him." Jesus promised His disciples in Jn. 15:20, that they would be persecuted like He had been persecuted. Paul felt like persecution was a fellowship with Christ. Read Phil. 3:7-11. Paul had counted "all things loss for Christ." Still he, just like us desired to one day "know His resurrection"; this is our glorification with Christ. But Paul also wanted something else. In v.10, Paul wanted to "know the fellowship of His sufferings". Paul's joy was always in the context of living, serving, suffering and dying for Christ. Where is your rejoicing?
1. What does the word "bondservant" mean in the Greek language?
2. What two things "compelled" Paul's preaching and ministry?
3. In Paul's heart, what caused him the greatest fear regarding the Philippian brethren?
4. If Paul's sacrifice was only a "drink offering", the Philippians' sacrifice was greater in what sense?
5. What two things mentioned in Phil. 1:28,29, point to a persecution there in Philippi?
Read Phil. 2:19-24. I'm sure that most of us have tried to pattern our lives after someone else's example. As children we naturally mimic our parents and often unconsciously behave like they do. As we get older, we expand our circle of acquaintances and often find other people, whom we adopt as examples. Possibly allowing them to mentor us.
The minister Timothy had such a man in his life who served as his mentor. That man was the Apostle Paul. In acts 16:1-5 we are told of Paul's meeting Timothy. Timothy had already reached a degree of spiritual maturity. First, he was "well spoken of by the brethren." His behavior and character were of a godly nature. Secondly, his mother is mentioned. Why is she noteworthy? Because we are told in 2 Tim. 1:3-7, that his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois had educated him in the faith. He was a believer.
So, Paul saw potential in this young man and took Timothy with him on his second missionary trip. What an education that must have been for a young minister. He heard Paul's sound teachings and learned them. (2 Tim. 1:13) But he also learned from Paul's example. He witnessed how Paul coped with persecution, dealt with opposition, how he loved people and how Christ-centered Paul's life was.
As we have previously learned about the church in Philippi it was a good church. Yet, Paul had his concerns. No doubt when Epaphroditus the Philippian minister had come to Rome, he gave Paul a full report on they were progressing. Paul had noted they were in a time of persecution. He heard that there were unity issues. He had also found out that not all of them had the humble mind-set of Christ. So, Paul chose to send Timothy to them.
This was not a slight to Epaphroditus. But Paul realized that perhaps he needed a "fresh set of eyes". Epaphroditus was one of them, a homegrown minister. Perhaps he had understated the problems out of love for his church. Paul needed to feel "encouraged". (v.19)
By this time, Timothy had labored indepently from Paul at both Corinth and Ephesus. He was exactly who Paul needed there in Philippi to correct the problems that existed there."
Paul trusts Timothy because they are "like-minded". (v.20) This quality means he could by his example encourage them to be correctly "like-minded". Paul hoped that Timothy could show them what a like-minded church looks like. The cure was for them all to adopt the "mind of Christ".(Phil. 2:5-8) Paul knew that Timothy had that "like-mindedness." He knew a letter to them would never be as effective an example. When Paul had sent Timothy to Corinth, he urged the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 4:15-17, to "imitate me." Then he points out that Timothy will "remind you of my ways in Christ." So Timothy was there example.
Paul sends Timothy because he "sincerely cares for your state." (v.20) This word "cares" is a very strong verb in the Greek language. It is translated in Phil. 4:6 as "anxious", as in "Be anxious for nothing." It notes great concern that causes one to worry. This is how deep Timothy's concern for the church was. He worried over each member.
Jesus gave the template for all who serve as ministers in Jn. 10:11-14, where He proclaims Himself as "the good shepherd". Paul had these qualities and we can be reasonably sure that Timothy had them as well. The good shepherd is willing to die for the sheep. The good shepherd will not run or shrink when wolves (false teachers) surface. The good shepherd is not just a "hired hand" who is there for money or fame, but instead he cares for the sheep. The good shepherd cares for the sheep because he knows them. Every minister will embrace these qualities if they aim to please Christ!
In v.21, Paul sends Timothy because "he seeks the things which are of Christ". Paul had already sent Luke and Aristarchus away to minister to other churches. There were others he could have possibly sent to Philippi, but all the others had one major flaw, "for all seek their own". Sure they knew God's word. However, seeking the things of Christ was not their top priority. Paul had full confidence that Timothy's top priority was serving the interests of Christ.
It should be our top priority too. Look at Col. 3:1-3. What makes a believer seek things that are Christ's? Things that are above and not things of eart? The answer is that your life, "must be hidden with Christ in God." When John the baptist was told that Jesus was making more disciples than he, John responded, "He must increase, and I must decrease."(Jn. 3:30) This is major truth, our wants should be second to what Christ wants from us. That's how Paul was, and that's how Timothy was.
In 1 Pe. 4:10, "As each one has received a gift, minister it one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Using our gifts, and all of us have them, is a proof that one is a good steward. Timothy had gifts to offer and he used them. We should too.
1. In Acts 16, How did the brethren in Lystra and Iconium speak of Timothy?
2. What were two issues in the Philippian church that Paul was concerned about in chapters one and two?
3. What two churches had Timothy already been sent by Paul to minister to before going to Philippi?
4. Who had told Paul of the things he was concerned about in the church at Philippi?
5. What three personal qualities did Timothy have according to Phil. 2:20,21?
6. According to Col. 3:1-3, "setting your mind on things above means your ________ is ___________ with _______________ in God."
READ Phil. 2:25-30. Here at the end of Chapter two Paul presents three examples for the church at Philippi to observe and emulate. The first was Paul, himself. He is the humble servant of the Lord Jesus, who in many of his letters referred to himself as a "bond-servant", a household slave serving Christ. To the Philippians Paul thought of himself as a "drink offering, poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith." (Phil. 2:17) He always considered himself, "The least of the Apostles, not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." (1 Cor. 15:9)
In our last lesson he presented Timothy, who had the model of Christian character. He is "like-minded with Paul and with Christ." (Phil. 2:20) He is the "one who sincerely cares for your state". (Phil. 2:20) This word "cares" in the Greek is defined as a "strong concern leading to worry". Literally Timothy worried over his flock. Paul also tells us that at a time when "all seek their own", Timothy was "always seeking the things Christ Jesus." (Phil. 2:21)
So now Paul presents his third example to the church at Philippi. It is their own minister Epaphroditus. He had been the messenger who had brought their gift to Paul in Rome. He apparently was expected to stay and minister to Paul. Perhaps until his expected release by Caesar. (Phil. 2:23)
Everything we know about this man is found here in Philippians. His name Epaphroditus references the Grecian goddess Aphroditi. His name means "lovely" or "favored of Aphroditi". He had traveled over 4,600 miles from Philippi to Rome. A trip which by sea would take at least two months with the best sailing conditions.
Shortly after his arrival in Rome he fell deathly ill. And after his recovery Paul sent him back to his church. Partly because of their concern over him and partly because Paul felt it "necessary"
It is here in verse 25 that Paul honors Epaphroditus with five titles. Each one is noble and complimentary. Each one speaks volumes about this man who was worth being imitated by all who are in Christ. Each one is a quality of an effective minister for Christ Jesus.
First is he is "a brother." It is by God's design that all who are in Christ's Church are called "brothers" and "sisters". We are God's children. In 1 Jn. 3:1, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." This affection for others in the body of Christ is later in 1 Jn. 3:10 said to be a quality that distinguishes the Christian from one who is a child of the devil. "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are made manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother."
He has risked his own life to come and minister to Paul. He nearly died. He knew it was a very long trip filled with danger and uncertainty, but still he came. Read Jn. 15:11-13. Here Jesus is teaching His disciples how they should love one another. The greatest sign of love is this, "than to lay down one's life for his friends." True love beloved. It was alive and well in Epaphroditus.
Next Paul says of Epaphroditus that he is "my fellow worker". This word rendered worker appears thirteen times in the NT. Each time it is used to identify one who is in ministry or service to Christ. By saying he is a "fellow worker", Paul affirms Epaphroditus as an equal.
This tells us as much about Paul's humility as it does about Epaphroditus' status. Remember how Paul felt about himself as an Apostle? "For I am the least of the Apostles, who am not worthy to be called an Apostle." (1 Cor. 15:9) Paul could have flaunted his position and authority over Epaphroditus, but he didn't. He valued him as a minister. For this reason he felt it necessary to send him back to his church. His church needed him more than Paul needed him.
Then Paul calls him a "fellow soldier." But the Greek word here for soldier (systratioten) implies one who is a "strategist". One who has a plan to defeat an enemy. This word is also used to describe "Archippus our fellow soldier" in (Philemon 2). Epaphroditus is not an enlisted man in the Lord's army, but a commander. A General.
It's really an honor. Here is a skilled minister who makes plans to defeat Satan. Everyone of us should have a plan, a strategy for doing spiritual warfare against Satan. Too many of us have no plan, so we are fighting like a boxer who is "shadow boxing". We do a lot of punching but we are not hurting Satan. Read what Paul said about fighting and running with a purpose in 1 Cor. 9:24-26. He is a man who was worthy of their esteem. (Phil. 2:30)
The last two titles which Paul gives Epaphroditus reflects his relationship to his church, rather than to Paul. He is "their messenger" or apostolon. He is their apostle. This word means "one who is sent". He was the one whom they sent to Rome to minister to Paul. He brought a gift to Paul. Part of that gift was likely a large amount of money. Luke tells us in Acts 28:30 that Paul lived for two years in Rome in his own "rented" house. No doubt, this money helped pay the rent and supply Paul with food and other necessities.
As one who carried this large sum of money, Epaphroditus was worthy of their trust. He was honest, therefore they "sent him." Paul tells us there are two kinds of Apostles in Gal. 1:1, "Paul an Apostle, not for men, nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead." Paul like the other twelve men we refer to as "the Apostles" was chosen and sent by Christ and God the Father. Epaphroditus had been sent by the church. By men. The same was true of Barnabas in Acts 14:4 and "Andronicus and Junia" in Rom. 16:7. Today we call such men "ministers" to avoid confusion concerning authority and ministry.
Finally he refers to him in v.25 as being "the one who ministered to my need." The Greek word here refers to a priest. All who are in Christ are said to be "a royal priesthood" (1 Pe. 2:9). This is regardless of whether we are called to a formal ministry or not.
As priests we are making sacrifices to God, just as the Old Testament Levitical priests did. It was Epaphroditus who brought the Philippians' gift to Paul. Paul describes this gift in Phil. 4:18 as "an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God." Epaphroditus like an OT priest presented an offering to Paul which was pleasing to God.
In the same way Paul reminds each of us in Rom. 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies, a living sacrifice holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." A priest makes sacrifices to God. Our sacrifice that we ought to devote to God is our lives! This means our lives should glorify Christ. Paul had raised a concern back in Phil. 1:27, when he told the Philippians, "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ." My sacrifice as a priest before God is my life and my conduct.
So Paul presents to us this wonderful man Epaphroditus. He is an example like Paul and Timothy. He is what a brother should be. He is what a fellow worker should be. He is a fellow soldier, a messenger and a minister to others. May we all be like Epaphroditus.
1. What were two possible reasons why Paul felt it "necessary" to send Epaphroditus back to Philippi?
2. "In this the ___________ of God and the ____________ of the devil are made _________
whoever does not practice ______________ is not of God, nor is he who does not ________
3. How did Epaphroditus show the "greatest love" to Paul?
4. Based on the Greek word for soldier what made Epaphroditus, Paul's fellow soldier?
5. True or False, an "apostolon" is "one who is sent".
6. True or False, Paul never called Epaphroditus an "apostolon".
7. "I beseech you therefore, brethren by the _______ of ________, that you present _______
bodies, a living _____________, holy, acceptable to _________, which is your ___________
Rejoice in the Lord, not in the flesh
Phil. 3: 1-6
READ Phil. 3: 1-6. "Finally my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." At this point it seems likely the Apostle was ready to conclude his letter to the Church at Philippi. However, as we will see, this phrase merely serves as a springboard for Paul to teach on several related subjects.
As seen here in these verses Paul tells us we are to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord Jesus as opposed to any righteousness that we might have in our own fleshly achievements. Our relationship with Christ is ultimately what saves us. On Pentecost, Peter told the three thousand who responded to the preaching of the Gospel, "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38. In baptism the believer receives the "remission" or forgiveness of sins, but also he or she receives the indwelling of God and Christ's Spirit just as Christ promised in Jn. 14:23, "If anyone loves me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him."
This indwelling is important to the believer for two major reasons. First, those who have the Holy Spirit are "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." Eph. 1:13,14. Literally it is with God's Holy Spirit that we are sealed for salvation. His presence identifies us before God as being saved and belonging to Christ.
But secondly, we MUST put on Christ because we need His righteousness imputed to us. This is why Paul reminded the Galatian church that "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." This clothing ourselves in Christ includes obtaining His righteousness. Our righteousness cannot save us. In fact God tells us in Isa. 64:6 that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags." The righteousness we MUST have comes from Christ. (Phil. 3:8-11)
Paul wants the Philippians to know that we cannot put our trust in our own works. He proceeds to warn them of "evil workers" in vv. 2-6. These "evil workers" we known as the "circumcisers". A group of false teachers who taught that in order for a non-Jew to be saved he must also be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. It was this very doctrine that prompted the Apostles and other leaders of the church to meet in Jerusalem to discern what should be required of the gentile converts. The conclusions they reached are clearly stated in Acts 15:24-29. The summary of what they decided was that they did not need circumcision, nor to keep the Law.
Paul's letter to the Galatian church was written primarily to combat this false teaching. Read Gal. 5:1-4. Here Paul reminds the Galatians that Christ had set them free from the Law. Should they become circumcised, "Christ will profit you nothing." (Gal. 5:2) To become circumcised carried an obligation to "keep the whole Law". (Gal. 5:3) Worst of all if they did submit to this bondage Paul tells them, "you have become estranged from Christ." (Gal. 5:4) In a nutshell this is why Paul warns them of these "evil workers". He warns them to "beware of the mutilation" in Phil. 3:2 because circumcision involved a mark of the flesh. This is why Paul flatly states, "have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3)
Also in v. 3 Paul states, "For we are the circumcision". However our "circumcision" is not a mark in the flesh, but rather the "seal of the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13,14)" Read Col. 2:11-15. Our circumcision is one not made with hands. Instead it comes from Christ and through baptism. It is at that point when we have our sins forgiven. This is why Jesus plainly told Nicodemus in Jn. 3:5, "Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." You MUST be circumcised by Christ!
In vv. 4-6 Paul points to the futility of having "confidence in the flesh." Paul was everything that a righteous and God fearing Jew should have been. He was an Israelite, circumcised on the eigth day according to the Law. His bloodline was pure, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was devout calling himself "a Hebrew of the Hebrews". He was of the strictest discipline of the Jewish faith, a Pharisee. He was so zealous that he ignorantly persecuted the Church. (see Acts 26:9-11) He was also as humanly righteous as one under the Law of Moses could be. Yet still he knew he was not nearly righteous enough to be saved. We will explore this further in our lesson next week.
The lesson for us today is simple; our salvation is not earned, but rather a gift from God. (Rom. 6:23) (Eph. 2:8,9) Our confidence and our hope MUST be in Christ. Just as the Philippians were told, "Rejoice in the Lord", we also ought to rejoice in the Lord. For Christ has done what we could never do. He fulfilled the Law by living a sinless life according to the Law and then paid our sin debt to God by bearing our punishment on the Cross. (1 Pe. 2:24)
1. Who were the "evil workers" that Paul warned the Philippians about?
2. Who does Paul say "are the circumcision"?
3. In Col. 2 Paul tells us our circumcision is __________ without ______________?
4. In Gal. 5 Paul warns us that "every man who becomes _________________ is a debtor to keep the whole __________?
5. According to Acts 2:38 when does a believer receive the "remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit"?
6. In Eph. 1:13 we are told that the believer is ______________ with the ________________ of promise"?
Lesson 15: The Value of knowing Christ
Read Phil. 3: 8-11. Paul had shared in the previous lesson his own accomplishments in serving God. He had a pretty good resume'. He was a "Hebrew of Hebrews", he was Pharisaical in his approach to the Law. He was zealous about serving God. He was righteous in how he kept the Law. When this new sect known as Christianity emerged; he saw it as a threat against God's way and persecuted those who belonged to Christ. Yet, his conclusion concerning his works and righteousness in verse 7? "But what things were gain to me I have counted loss for Christ."
Paul realized all his good works did not merit God's salvation revealed to him through Christ. Now as he springboards from this statement, Paul reveals his true testimony, his desire to grow even greater in Christ.
He has gained the "knowledge of Christ Jesus." This does not mean that he knew about Christ. Instead of this word "knowledge" being a verb, it is a "substantive" statement of his relationship with Christ. He knows Christ in a deeper, more relational way. It's not so much knowing Jesus' history, as it is knowing Jesus intimately as having shared common experiences with Jesus.
An "exchange" had taken place in Paul's life. Paul had given up his life, his desires, his dreams and his identity in exchange for being like Christ. It's really the whole basis of being a "christian"; to become like Christ!
This "exchange" is necessary if one is to be saved. Paul in Col. 3:3, states, "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." In short Paul tells them, "You are now like Christ, He is your new identity." In Mt. 16:25,26, Jesus tells us, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man, if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" You can't keep your old life. You must "put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27).
Read the story of "The Rich young Ruler" in Mt. 19:16-22. This young man wanted to follow Jesus just like a lot of people. Jesus tells him, "If you want treasure in heaven, you need to give all your wealth away." The young man couldn't do it. He couldn't give up "who he was" and become "who Christ insisted he must be." Paul could and Paul did, he "counted all things loss" for knowing Christ. Paul wanted to gain Christ and be found in Him. We must too.
There are four realities that occur in the life of a believer when he "knows" Christ. The first is best described in (Jn. 10:2-5) in the Good Shepherd's relationship with His sheep. They follow Him. The reason why they follow Him is because they know His voice and trust Him. So they accept His will for their lives.
Jesus told those who heard His teachings in Lu. 6:46, "Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord and not do the things which I say?" Surely if you call Him Lord you will do what Jesus says, right? That's what His sheep do. They follow. But yet when Jesus spoke of Judgment day in Mt. 7:21-23, he said, "Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." He then speaks of "many" who thought He was their Lord, who had done good works in His name. But they were told by the Lord, "I NEVER KNEW YOU." Why? Because they did not do the "will of the Father".
What part of the Father's will did they NOT do? Jesus does not give a specific reason, but maybe it had to do with their entry through the wrong gate. Read Mt. 7:13,14. There is a specific way that we become a Christian. Jesus says, "Most assuredly unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (Jn. 3:5) Have you put on Christ? (Gal. 3:27) (Acts 2:38) If not, then Christ likely does not know you.
The second reality for those who know Christ is that they have Christ's righteousness. (Phil. 3:9) As we learned in Lesson 14 our righteousness is insufficient to save us. But here Paul tells us that we need the "righteousness which is through faith in Christ."
Read Rom. 3:21-26. Here Paul reveals to us that those in Christ are "justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Jesus kept the Law perfectly. He never sinned. (Heb. 4:15) In essence Jesus Christ lived the righteous life required of us. Then He died the death which was the penalty for our sins. Now His righteousness is "imputed" to us upon our faith and obedience to the Gospel. (Rom. 4:23-25)
The third reality is that those who know Christ will "know the power of His resurrection." (Phil. 3:10) Everyone who ever lived will one day be resurrected from the grave. But not everyone will "know Christ's resurrection. The difference is revealed by Christ Himself in Jn. 5:28,29, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth- those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation."
Those who know Christ not only are in heaven for eternity, they are also given a body that will be "like Christ's glorious body." (Phil. 3:20,21) Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:50-55 that this body will be incorruptible; it does not age, it feels no pain, it never breaks down. He also tells us that it is immortal; it will not die because we will not die there. (Rev. 20:14)
Finally, those who know Christ will not mind having fellowship in the "sufferings of Christ." (Phil. 3:10) No human being desires suffering or persecution. Yet it is a guarantee for "those who desire to live godly in Christ." (2 Tim. 3:12) Paul knew suffering and persecution well. At the time of this writing the Apostle had already been imprisoned for about five years total. He was stoned at Lystra. (Acts 14:19,20) He was beaten with rods at Philippi. (Acts 16:22,23) He had this in "common" (fellowship) with Christ.
Those who know Christ should expect persecution. The Philippians were already being persecuted. They had "adversaries who terrified them". (Phil. 1:28) What's more, Paul tells them, "it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." (Phil. 1:29) Jesus promised us in Jn. 15:18, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." It's the price of "knowing Christ". It's one of four realities that those who know Christ will experience.
1. "For you ________ and your life is hidden with ___________ in __________."
2. True or False, The "exchange" we must make to follow Christ involves us taking on Christ's identity.
3. What did Paul now consider all the things he lost for Christ's sake to be?
4. Whose righteousness is "imputed" to the one who believes in Christ Jesus?
5. Can we refuse to do what Christ asks of us and still have Him as our Lord?
6. "That I may ________ Him and the power of His ________________."
7. Why did Jesus say that the world would hate His disciples?
Lesson 16: "Pressing On", Phil. 3:12-16
READ Phil. 3:12-16. As we have stated before, chapter three of Philippians is Paul's testimony. Verses 4-6 is Paul's case for self-justification in the eyes of God. His credentials were his identity and his accomplishments in Judaism. His works of the Law.
But one day while traveling to Damascus to capture Jews who had turned to Christ, Paul met Jesus personally. You can read about his conversion to Christ in Acts 9: 1-18 and Acts 22: 3-16. In brevity, Paul suddenly realized he was wrong about Christ, about Christians, Christianity and about what God requires of man to be saved. He was baptized and began a new life in Christ.
What Paul learned in Christ was that nothing he could do could save him. It was the finished atoning work of Christ and Christ's righteousness imputed to him that would save him. So, in v. 7, Paul concludes, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ." This led him to desire fellowship in Christ, that he "might know Him and the power of His resurrection." (Phil. 3:10,11)
At this point some might think Paul has attained the resurrection of life (Jn. 5:29) and that he is certainly assured of his salvation. Paul certainly had confidence in Christ. If he didn't then he wouldn't have given up all things for Christ. Still, Paul knew he must "press on".
Paul viewed his life in Christ as a race. Not a short sprint event, but a marathon. A test of endurance. Read 1 Cor. 9: 24-27. Paul knew it was a life that required a plan. It required endurance and perseverance. If he failed in his personal walk with Christ, he recognized that he might somehow be disqualified from the prize. What is the prize for the Christian? Eternal life.
He recognized that his preaching must teach the believer that their walk must display "perfection"; completeness in Christ. (Col. 1:28) The Greek word used here can mean either, but here as it applies to the nature of sinful men redeemed by Christ it should denote completeness in conduct "worthy of the gospel of Christ". (Phil. 1:27) Not perfection as in incapable of sin.
To do this Paul realizes in our text in v. 13, that he had to "forget the past and be reaching forward to what was ahead of him." (Phil. 3:13) Everyone of us in Christ have a past, whether good or bad, we cannot live in the past, but "reach for what is ahead". That which is ahead is the "goal", "the prize", eternal life with Christ.
Christ Jesus, Himself had to do this. Look at Heb. 12:1,2. Here we are told that Christ did not focus on the suffering and shame of His death on the Cross. Instead He focused on "the joy that was set before Him". That joy was the knowledge that many would believe in Him and be saved because of what He suffered.
We need to do the same. Instead of focusing on what we once desired and lost for Christ, we should focus on eternity and our reward in Heaven. Each of us is called to deny ourselves and "take up our cross daily." (Lu. 9:23) That denial is that which Christ has taught us to forfeit for Him. Those things we have counted as loss. (Phil. 3:7)
When we were baptized into Christ a new life began. (Rom. 6:4), (2 Cor. 5:17) This life should mirror Christ! Literally when people see me; they should see Christ living in me. (Gal. 2:20) Those who are in Christ have their lives hidden with "Him in God". (Col. 3:1-3) So we should set our "hearts on things above". These are spiritual priorities for our lives; those behaviors and values taught by Jesus in the four Gospels. Learning these teachings will bring us to spiritual maturity.
In v. 15 Paul reminds us that if we are spiritually mature we will "have this mind". What mind is this? It is the attitude or mindset that was just stated in v. 14, "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:14) This word for "press" in the Greek is a strong word. It means "to pursue" or "to chase". You and I must chase salvation. Not because it's hard to find, but because it is TOO VALUABLE to lose!
So maturity or "attaining to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13) is a MUST! In Eph. 4:12-15 Paul presents the whole reason that Christ has given the Church teachers, evangelists and pastors (elders). It is to "equip the saints for the work of ministry". Each of us is in some way a minister. If your not, then you need to start equipping yourself. But it is also because we need to identify true doctrine from false teaching. (Eph. 4:14,15)
The last time I saw a statistic on the number of denominations of Christianity in America it was just under 500. Think about this fact. Can there really be 500 different systems of truth? Is truth variable or is it constant? Jesus prayed to the Father in Jn. 17:17, "Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth." Only an accurate knowledge of God's truth, the Bible can keep you sanctified and safe from false teachings. If you want to see the most spiritually mature believers in any church don't come on Sunday. Come to mid-week Bible Study. The few that come regularly to study God's word are the one's who are hungry for God's word. They are also the one's who are heeding Paul's message to "press on." This is the "rule" that Paul says "Let us all walk by. (Phil. 3:16)
1. Did Paul think he had already "attained" to the "power of the resurrection of Christ?
2. What things did Paul tell us we "should forget"?
3. "Therefore we were buried with ______ through _____________ into death, that just as __________ was raised from the dead by the ___________ of the Father, even so we also should ____________ in newness of ____________.
4. What kind of sporting event did Paul compare his "walk with Christ" to?
5. What does the writer of Hebrews say that Christ focused on to help Him endure the cross?
6. What two reasons did Paul tell the church at Ephesus that Christ gave them teachers, pastors and evangelists for?
7. "Forgetting those things which are __________ and reaching _____________ to those things which are ____________."
READ vv. 17-21. In v. 17 Paul desires that the Philippians have good examples among them. Because they need a model or a "pattern". Paul himself was an excellent model. Later in Phil. 4:9, he would remind them, "the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
Previously in chapter two he had presented Timothy and Epaphroditus as worthy examples to them. Read Phil. 2:21,22 and note that Paul affirms that Timothy sought those things that "were Christ's" when all the others were seeking things that benefited them. He also mentions his "proven character." Later, Paul gives a wonderful endorsement for Epaphroditus. (Phil. 2:29,30) Here was a man whose ministry could be said to have endangered his own life.
In v.19 Paul reminds them that there are "many" bad examples". A glaring failure in their lives that Paul mentions is "whose god is their belly." Literally they chase after their fleshly, sinful desires just as one might have an appetite for steak, pizza or seafood. They are still unrepentant sinners. Their lives do not reflect the change that Christ should bring to a sinner's lifestyle.
In Rom. 6:11,12 Paul makes the point that if we are alive in Christ, we are also dead to sin. In 2 Cor. 5:17, Paul confirms "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." Continued chasing after sinful desires is proof that genuine repentance is still needed in a person's life.
A sinful lifestyle is not the only problem these men have. For Paul says, "they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." Why the cross of Christ as opposed to just enemies of Christ? Obviously, their problem is less with Christ and more about the death that Christ died on the cross.
The answer and the identity of these "enemies" becomes more clear when you ask yourself, "Why did Christ die on the Cross?" The general answer is that Christ died to save us. (Jn. 3:16) But why was death on a cross necessary?
Anytime someone violates the moral law of God by sinning, he must pay for his sins. He owes a debt in the eyes of God. This is why Paul in Rom. 6:23, states, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." So if we owed a "sin debt" to God, how can we pay it? Well, we could all be punished in Hell for our sins. But no one in their right mind wants that. Fortunately Jesus paid our debt by taking our punishment, the criminal's death, death on the cross. Peter makes this very plain in 1 Pe. 2:24. Paul does as well in Rom. 4:25. The prophet Isaiah foretold this solution to our sin debt in Isa. 53:5,6. We were healed of our sins by His stripes!
So these "enemies of the Cross of Christ are those who object to the purpose of the cross. Why? Because they feel that men must justify themselves by their lives and by their adherence to the Law of Moses. Paul has already alluded to such men in a veiled manner in Phil. 3:2,3. These "dogs", "evil workers" are the "mutilators". They are those of "the circumcision." They were Jewish teachers who had infiltrated the churches of the Gentiles in Asia Minor and were teaching the newly converted Gentiles that in order to be Christians, they must first become Jews. This meant the men had to be circumcised (the removal of the foreskin) and they must keep the Law of Moses and observe the customs of the Law. These men attacked the purpose of the cross by making Christ's death of no value! They felt salvation came through the works of the Law, not grace as Paul states in Eph. 2:8,9.
This is why they are enemies. This is why Paul warns the church at Philippi NOT to follow their example. This is why he calls them dogs, evil workers, mutilators and in v. 19 "whose end is destruction." Definitely not men you want to listen to or follow! Paul warned the Galatians that if they chose the way of circumcision over the way of Christ, they would be in bondage and would no longer belong to Christ. (Gal. 5:1-4) In effect they will have lost the desired covering of Christ's righteousness that Paul revealed to us in Phil. 3:8,9.
In vv. 20,21 Paul reminds them that they are NOT citizens of Israel or Judaism, but of heaven. Paul only tells us of one defining characteristic of a citizen of heaven. But it is a big one; from which many characteristics spring forth. This characteristic is "they eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil. 3:20) This characteristic tells us that they wanted to see Jesus. They hoped He was coming soon.
They were those Paul had in mind at the end of his life on this earth in 2 Tim. 4:8, "Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the Righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day. And not to me only, but to all who have loved His appearing." Do you see that defining characteristic. Citizens of heaven want to be there and want to be with the Lord Jesus!
This love causes one to be faithful in being obedient to Jesus' teachings. In Jn. 14:15, Jesus identifies those who truly love Him in this manner, "If you love Me, keep My commandments."
What is it that makes one love Jesus in such a way as to forsake sin and keep His commandments? What would cause one to look forward to seeing Jesus' return? One thing alone would cause this self-denial. It is the fervent belief that Jesus is true to His promise of a resurrection that will result in an immortal resurrection body and a glorious eternity in heaven!
In v. 21, Paul affirms that Christ will "transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body." Just like Christ the true citizens of heaven will be clothed with a glorious and immortal body. Paul in discussing the resurrection and our glorious resurrection body declares that day to be one of "victory in Jesus". Read 1 Cor. 15:54-57. It is only fitting that I point out one final truth that Paul mentions here; "the strength of sin is the Law". (1 Cor. 15:56) Clearly the purpose of Christ's death on the cross must never be diminished. It was not merely a winsome gesture, but a purposeful deed that we must put in it's proper perspective lest we become "enemies of the cross of Christ."
1. What two qualities made Timothy a good example for the Philippians?
2. In Phil. 3:17, What does Paul say that an example would give the Philippians?
3. "Who, Himself bore our _______ in His own __________ on the tree, that we having
_________ to sins, might live for ________________, by whose stripes you are _______
4. Who were these "enemies of the cross of Christ" described in Phil. 3: 2,3 & 18?
5.What did Paul warn the Galatians that would happen if they attempted to be justified by the Law in Gal. 5:4?
6. Where is the Christian's citizenship?
7. Whose glorious body will our lowly bodies be conformed to?
Lesson 18: Stand Fast, Phil. 4: 1-3
READ TEXT, Phil. 4: 1-3. As Paul begins his final instructions to the church at Philippi, he begins with a loving appeal for doctrinal unity and an appeal to two sisters in Christ to "be of one mind."
In v. 1 Paul refers to the Philippians with four expressions of endearment. He refers to them as "my beloved". Paul loved the church at Philippi, just as all ministers should love their churches. All believers are called upon by Jesus to love each other. In Jn. 13:34, Jesus tells us, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you love one another." Love for the brethren is not optional, but mandatory.
He refers to them as "my longed for brethren." All who are in Christ are members of God's family. We have been adopted and are now "sons of God." (Eph. 3:20), (Gal. 4:5), (1 Jn. 3:1,2) Not only did Paul view them as family, but he has previously told them, "how greatly I long for you with the affection of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:8)
He says to them, "you are my joy." Paul delights in them. Some of them were truly his spiritual children that he had brought to faith. Some of them such as Lydia and the Philippian jailer were among those who showed their love for Christ and Paul in his short stay in Philippi.
He also refers to them as "my crown". There were two different words that meant "crown" in the common Greek language. One referred to the crown which a king or ruler wore. But the word Paul uses here refers to the green garland wreath, the "victor's crown" which was given to the winners of the Greek Olympic games. The significance of this crown is that at the end of the Games there was a feast that only the winners could attend. In order to be admitted you must be wearing the "victor's crown." The Philippians were Paul's crown, that which proved he had triumphed in his labors for Christ.
In addition to these wonderful and endearing terms that Paul uses to describe his relationship with the Philippians, there is also a call to doctrinal unity here in v.1. Here Paul tells them to "stand fast in the Lord." So what is meant by this appeal?
Verse one begins with the word "therefore" which clearly connects that appeal to what Paul has previously discussed at the end of chapter three. In Phil. 3:20, 21 he has reminded them that their "citizenship is in heaven." This proclamation is in stark contrast to the "enemies of the cross of Christ" that Paul has just warned them of in Phil. 3:18, 19. These enemies opposed the concept that a believer could be justified before God apart from keeping the Law of Moses. They rejected the idea that one was saved by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. They were the same group that Paul had warned them about in Phil. 3:2, 3. They taught that a Greek must become a Jew and keep the Law of Moses.
With this in mind the reason why Paul is telling them to "stand fast in the Lord" is because they unlike the enemies of the cross of Christ are "citizens of heaven". What they have believed and obeyed and are continuing in, they must remain faithful to. The Greek word rendered "stand fast" literally means "to remain stationary". It implies an uncompromising position regarding the faith which is saving them eternally.
This was the exhortation that Paul gave the church in Corinth in 1 Cor. 15:58, "Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
This is a call to remain faithful to that body of teaching that they had previously received. This body of teaching is commonly referred to as "the faith." The word faith can be used in two ways. It can be used objectively, as in my faith, that which I believe personally. It is also used subjectively as in the actual body of teachings and practices given by Christ to His Church. This is what Paul had in mind when he tells us in Eph. 4:5, "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." It is NOT "my faith" or "your faith", but the faith; that which I must believe and "stand fast" in.
In standing fast for this faith, they must also be prepared to "contend for the faith, which was once for all delivered to saints." (Jude 3) This faith also can rightly be said to be that "which was spoken to us" by Jesus, God's Son "in these last days." (Heb. 1:1, 2) These two Scriptures affirm to us that this faith is literally God's final communication and direction for us in this life. They also affirm that this "faith" MUST be obeyed by all people!
This faith is so important that Paul instructed the church at Corinth to "examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith." (2 Cor. 13:5) So it is undoubtedly what we will be measured by one day. So we all must "stand fast in the Lord."
In vv. 2, 3, Paul addresses a contention between two women in the church at Philippi. They are Euodia and Syntyche. Apparently they are not of one mind on some matter.
I think it obvious that this is not an issue where one had sinned against the other. First, the fact that Paul refuses to pass judgment on either of them, but rather lovingly implores both of them equally, "to be of the same mind in the Lord." Paul always passed righteous judgment on those who had sinned. That was the case with the sexually immoral brother in Corinth. (1 Cor. 5: 4, 5) It was true when Peter showed partiality between Jewish and Greek brothers in Antioch. (Gal. 2:11) It was true when he called out two false teachers whose doctrine was like "cancer". (2 Tim. 2:17)
What is needed here is for both of them to have the "mind of Christ." This is the mind-set that Paul had previously urged the entire church to have in Phil. 2: 5-8. It is a mind-set that is humble to the point of emptying one's self. It is a mind-set that is obedient to God's will. It is a mind-set that is willing to sacrifice for the benefit of others.
Paul finishes by asking a "true companion" to "help these women." Who is this "true companion?" Several commentators suggest Luke, Timothy, Silas and even Lydia. I believe logic dictates that it is Epaphroditus. Their minister, the one who is carrying this letter back to the Church. After all, he is loved dearly by the brethren. (Phil. 2:25,26) If anyone can bring these two women to adopt the mind of Christ it is he; one that both love and will hear.
1. When Paul tells the Philippians they are his crown, what type of crown were they?
2. In the context of what we learned in chapter three, why did the Philippians need to "stand fast?"
3. What does the Greek word for "stand fast" actually mean?
4. True or False, in the case of the Philippians, Paul was asking them to stand fast concerning their salvation by grace as opposed to works of the Law.
5. True or False, the word faith can only be used in one sense and that is objective.
6. "Therefore my beloved _____________, be steadfast, _____________, always abounding in
the work of the __________, knowing that your _________ is not in vain in the ________.
7. Whose mind-set did Paul "implore" both Euodia and Syntyche to have?
READ Phil. 4: 4-7. As Paul begins this final chapter of his letter to the church at Philippi he desires to help them and to give specific and practical teachings which will help all believers. This is true in regard to the believers search for peace in God through Jesus Christ.
Worldly people never find God's peace. That is because they look for peace in worldly things: relationships, careers, health, appearance, success, possessions and money. Jesus promised a peace to His followers that is "out of this world". In Jn. 14:27, Jesus told His disciples, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The believer's peace comes through Christ, not through worldly things.
In verse 7 Paul says of this peace, that it "surpasses all understanding." Why is this? Because it defies human logic! Human logic says, "I am at peace because of my circumstances." Because all my requirements are met, all my needs are met this is why I have peace.
But this is not the case with Jesus' disciples. Our peace is present when circumstances say, "It shouldn't." Stephen, the first Christian to die for the faith had this peace and it was obvious even to the members of the Sanhedrin who were about to stone him. In Acts 6:15, Luke tells us, "And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel." Even the prospect of death did not shake the peace of God through Christ that Stephen had.
After Paul and Silas were wrongfully beaten with rods in Philippi and were cast into jail with their legs uncomfortably "fastened in the stocks", they still felt God's peace in spite of their circumstance. In Acts 16:25, "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." No crying, no complaining, no cursing their situation. Only a peace that led them to worship God, even in a jail!
Paul told the Colossian church to "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." (Col. 3:15) Sadly, many believers do not know this peace of God. In vv. 4-6, Paul tells them three behaviors that we all should incorporate in our lives, that we too, might have this peace of God.
The first is that we should rejoice in the Lord. Paul emphasizes this behavior stating, "Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4) Obviously the believer should rejoice in all blessings received from God, but this rejoicing in the Lord was previously noted by Paul in Phil. 3:1-3 as being the result of the nature of their salvation. Their salvation was not of the flesh and justification by works of the Law, but rather it is a GIFT! When you and I realize God has literally "given" us this great gift of salvation it should be the primary reason we rejoice.
This great joy literally re-shaped the lives of the first Christians. Read Acts 2:44-47 and pay special attention to their commitment to the kingdom of Christ. They shared their lives with one another. They helped brethren who were in need. They met daily and engaged in worship and fellowship. And they rejoiced! They were praising God. Why? Because they were saved.
Jesus reminded the seventy disciples that He had sent out in Luke 10:17-20 that the reason they should rejoice was NOT because they had power over demons, but because, "your names are written in heaven." Is that why you rejoice? Or do you require ideal circumstances?
Secondly, Paul tells them in Phil. 4:5, "Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand." Paul had no clue as to when the Lord might return and neither do we. We must make sure that we are striving to live in peace with all men. In Acts 2:47 we are told by Luke that the first church "had favor with all the people".
Though we are told in Scripture that "All who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12) We should remember that we are still obligated to treat all men well. Peter reminds us that while suffering for Christ is good, suffering because you are sinful or simply being a busybody is NOT good. (1 Pe. 4: 14,15) So we must seek peace with all and avoid provoking the anger of others, if we desire to know the peace of God.
Finally, in v.6 Paul tells us that instead of being anxious we should be in prayer. While earthly men are all sinners, there are still some wonderful parallels that we can see between a good earthly father and our Heavenly Father.
Fathers like to hear from their children. So does God. Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 5:17 "Pray without ceasing." If God was bothered by your continual prayers, HE would never have allowed Paul to say this! God loves to hear from you.
He does not want you to feel as if you have no hope. In Luke 18: 1-8, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow and the dishonest judge. Luke tells us in v.1, "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." He goes on to tell how this widow was seeking justice from this judge. At first he quickly dismissed her, but she kept coming! Everyday she was showing up. So what does the dishonest judge do? He gives her justice. Jesus' point is that God is more likely to reward your persistence in prayer. So don't lose heart, pray!
In times of uncertainty it is easy to become anxious, but God is still your primary resource. So why do we treat Him as if He is only our last resort? Concerning the anxiousness about our daily provision (food, drink, clothes) Jesus tells us in Mt. 6:31-33, two things: 1.) God knows you need these things, and 2.) Our primary responsibility is NOT to worry, but to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness."
In summary, if you want to know this "peace of God through Christ Jesus that surpasses all understanding you really need to add these three behaviors to your life. Rejoice in your salvation! Strive for peace with all men. Replace your anxiety with prayer. Then you will find the peace of God.
1. True or False, the believer's peace is dependent upon worldly circumstance?
2. What is the chief reason why the believer should rejoice in the Lord?
3. True or False, Stephen was trembling and fearful as he stood before the Sanhedrin?
4. "Let your ____________ be known to all _________. The Lord is at __________."
5. Jesus told the seventy disciples, "rejoice because your _________ are written in _______"
6. Instead of being anxious, we should do what?
7. "and the _________ of God, which __________ all _____________ will guard your
____________ and ___________ through Christ Jesus."
READ Phil. 4: 8,9. Paul began a theme in Phil. 3:1, which he has continued to build upon. Line by line, precept upon precept, teaching upon teaching. Each one has to do with being "safe" in Christ. It is safe to trust in Christ for salvation. It is safe to choose the imputed righteousness of Christ over the works of the Law. To be safe, we must "press on" to spiritual maturity. The citizens of heaven are safe compared to the enemies of the Cross. To be safe one MUST "stand fast". If one is safe in Christ, he will find the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding."
So in our text today in Phil. 4:8,9 Paul addresses what a believer ought to "think and do" to remain safe in Christ. It is accurate to say that the life of a christian involves change. It begins with our being "born again, born of water and the Spirit." Without this second birth you remain in the flesh and you will not be saved. (Jn. 3: 5,6) Paul affirms this in 1 Cor. 15:50, "Now this I say brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit in corruption."
This change involves crucifying the sinful desires of the human flesh. In Gal. 5: 24,25, Paul tells us about the evidence of those who belong to Christ, "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with it's passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit." Your life must change!
Paul told the church at Rome not to conform to the life style of those in this world in Rom. 12:2. Instead, he tells them to be "transformed by the renewing of their minds." How do you transform a sinful lifestyle? By renewing your minds! If you want to change the outward man, you begin with changing the inward man. (2 Cor. 4:16)
To reach this change, Paul tells the Philippians six things they should think or meditate on in v. 8. What we think has a direct impact on how we act. Proverbs 23:7, "For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he." Jesus knew that evil begins in the mind or "the heart". In Mt. 15:11, He told the Pharisees "It is not what goes in the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Even the Lord connected the mind of a man with the manner of his life.
The disciple of Christ must guard and condition his mind with the right things. This is not "positive thinking", but "godly thinking".
The first of these godly guidelines for meditation is to "think on things that are true." The only source for absolute truth is God's word. This is why Jesus prayed for all believers saying, "Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth." When you read God's word, do you meditate or think on it? David in Ps. 119:11, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You." Jesus in Mt. 4:4, "For it is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Meditate on the truth revealed in God's word.
Then Paul asks us to think on things that are "noble". The word is also translated as "reverent" in some verses. This is likely Paul's meaning. A reverent mind-set is necessary for one to worship God. The believer should have a worshipful mind-set at all times. In Eph. 5:19, "speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord." You and I should have worship in our minds daily.
Things that are "just" or righteous are also encouraged. A righteous man has a mind-set that God approves of. He forgives and holds no grudges. He loves without motives. He never seeks to victimize or exploit someone else. Jesus might have given the greatest compliment to one of the more obscure disciples, Nathaniel. When Jesus met Nathaniel, He said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit." (Jn. 1: 47)
Paul next says to meditate on those things that are "pure". The Grk. word means "morally clean and undefiled." Immoral thoughts are sinful. Jesus went as far as equating the lust for sexual immorality with the actual sinful act. Read Mt. 5: 27,28. One cannot expect to live free of sexual immorality if one thinks about it.
"Lovely" things are to be thought of as well. This is not thinking about the outward appearance of men or women. But instead it is about the character traits that make one beautiful to God and most people. Such qualities include generosity, graciousness, compassion, kindness and thoughtfulness. When one shows you these gifts it is wise to commit them to memory that you might add them to your outward self.
The last of these six are thing "that are of good report". This includes memories of wonderful and kind things that others have done for you. In the final verses of chapter four Paul will remember on two occasions when the church at Philippi gave him generous gifts. When one remembers what others in Christ have done for them love is quickly spread to others.
These are the things to feed the inward man that you might reshape the outward man. Paul concludes briefly noting what the believers should do in verse 9. They must remember the teachings that he has given them. Also they should once again, as in Phil. 3:17 remember his own example.
A changed believer is one who has learned God's will for his or her's life. "Pressing on" to maturity was addressed in Phil. 3:14,15. Change does not occur without learning God's word thoroughly. The Hebrew writer expressed much concern with his audience about their failure to mature. Read Heb. 5:12-14. The natural progression of the believer is to go from student to teacher.
Concerning our examples; our best model is always Jesus because He lived a "perfect life". However, it is more practical to observe the model demonstrated by a fully mature believer within your church. The men who are called to be elders are a worthy example. This is because they are called to be your examples. Peter in 1 Pe. 5: 2,3, writes, "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." The good thing about having an example in your life is you can ask for help and direction in your daily walk with Christ. So you can be "safe in Christ."
1. "Sanctify them in the _______, Your __________ is ___________."
2. Why did Jesus say in Jn. 3:6 that one must be born again, "born of water and the Spirit"?
3. What did Jesus say "defiled a man" in Mt. 15:11?
4. In Rom. 12:2, what did Paul say make a believer "transformed"?
5. A "just" or "righteous' mind-set is one which has no _________. Jn. 1:47
6. True or False, did Jesus say that lusting for someone is not the same as committing adultery?
7. True or False, Paul presents himself as an "example" to the Philippians?
READ Phil. 4:10-13. True contentment is a rare occurrence in our American culture. We seem to always be needing something in order to be content. Perhaps that dream job, the bigger house, the newer car or the more expensive clothing. In some cases our need is more personal. We need to lose weight or have plastic surgery, or to build more muscle to be truly happy.
Humanism; a philosophy that believes their is no higher power than man, perpetuates much of today's striving for material or achievement driven contentment. The Bible calls it the, "eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die" principal. (1 Cor. 15:32) (Eccl. 8:15) This principle arrives at the conclusion that there is nothing greater than this life, so live it for yourself.
Then there is the non-stop barrage of advertising we are exposed to. The main strategy of all advertising is to meet an unmet need in your life. It doesn't matter what that need is, or if it is real or only imagined, in the eyes of the advertising agencies America is full of "needy" people.
Paul had needs just like all of us have. Yet unlike most Americans today Paul was not "needy". By the time he finished his two-year house arrest in Rome, Paul had spent nearly five years of his life incarcerated. No way to make a living. Totally dependent on God to meet his most basic needs.
One day, Paul had a visitor in Rome. It was Epaphroditus the minister of the church of Christ in Philippi. He came bearing a gift(s) for Paul. (Phil. 4:18) Now Paul was "full" and "abounding". He obviously needed this gift, but yet when you read the text you find that even being without he was still content. He has found true contentment. Why? Because he has learned the "secret" to contentment. He shares that "secret" with us here in this text.
Here there are three principles that Paul gives the Philippians and us that will lead us to that secret. The first of these is found in v.10 where Paul says, "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly." Why? Because of the gift he had received from them. Though it came from the Philippians Paul still knew it was from God.
So this first principle is that Paul had confidence in God's provision. James tells us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from God." (Jas. 1:17) The Lord Jesus tells us in Mt. 6:11, "give us this day our daily bread." The word "bread" here is used to represent our every basic need, not just bread. Later in Mt. 6:25-33 the Lord counsels us not to worry about the basics of life, but instead to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Mt. 6:33)
While God promises daily provision, He only gives what you and I need and it comes according to His timing, not ours. God made this point daily to the Israelites during the exodus when He sent them manna each day. Moses reveals a great truth about this provision in (Ex. 16:17, 18) where we find that no matter how much they gathered, it was always enough!
It had been a long time since the Philippians had sent Paul any gift. In fact it was not long after Paul and Silas had left Philippi for Thessalonica that they apparently sent multiple gifts to them. (Phil. 4:16) But their stay in Thessalonica was a brief one according to Luke, so it had likely been eight or nine years since that last gift. Yet, Paul knew their gift was by God's choosing, not theirs. They had "lacked opportunity". The Greek word here for "opportunity" also means "a season"; again God had made their gift available just when it was needed by Paul.
The second principle to true contentment is found in v.11, here we find that Paul had "learned in whatever state I am, to be content." Even with less Paul was content. In v. 12 Paul "knew how it was to be abased". To be "laid low." He was adaptable. Yet content.
This type of contentment does not go well with worldly people. This is why the average American household has nearly $6,000 in credit card debt. The key to making a household budget work is to live off of less than you make. Yet many Americans have credit card debt, student loan debt, auto loan debt and mortgage debt all at the same time! The Christian who desires contentment MUST understand that life has seasons of abundance and seasons of drought. In any circumstance be content with what you can afford!
Even though Paul had a right to make a living by preaching the Gospel (1 Cor. 9:14). He had ministries where the brethren either could not or would not support him. In Corinth Paul relied on other churches for his living. (2 Cor. 11:8) In Thessalonica, though the Philippians helped out, Paul still had to work daily to get by. (1 Thess.2:9) So the Apostle learned how to live with less.
Thirdly, Paul had declared himself to be independent from circumstance. How did he do this? In v. 12 he states, "I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." The Greek word here rendered "learned" is not the usual word for "learned" as to "understand". Instead it refers to "initiate by instruction". It was commonly used to speak of learning the rites of initiation into the secret societies that ancient Greece had.
Even today in America we have a few "secret" societies. There are certain rites of passage one must learn in order to gain admittance. Two that were common are the Masons and the Odd Fellows. What Paul literally means is that I have "learned the secret that MUST be learned in order to be content!"
So what is that secret? What must I know in order to find true contentment? It is found in v.13 where Paul states, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." The Greek text here suggests that Christ is the strength that strengthens Paul. In meditating on this I was reminded of what the Lord had told Paul after He refused to remove Paul's thorn in 2 Cor. 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul knew this. He understood a principle that is utter nonsense to those outside Christ. Literally in a time of need Christ may do one of three things to help you. First, He may give you provision to meet the need. Second, He might give you strength to do without the need being met. Or thirdly, He might by His grace supply that need through others. In any event or circumstance Christ is the secret to being content.
1. What are two influences at work in our culture that cause us to be "needy?"
2. The gift that Paul had received from Epaphroditus came from what church?
3. "Not that I speak in regard to _________, for I have _____________ in whatever state I am
to be ________________."
4. True or False, no matter how much manna the Israelites gathered it was always enough?
5. Phil. 4:10 suggests that the timing of the Philippian's gift was by whose timing?
6. True or False, there is a secret that we MUST learn to be truly content?
7. Whose "strength is made perfect in weakness?"
Read Phil. 4:14-19. The Philippian church was a generous church. They had "shared in Paul's distress" (Phil 4:14, 18). They had supported his missionary efforts in Thessalonica (Phil. 4:16). Their generous gifts to Paul was proof that they had the same love for God's people that was demonstrated by the very first church in Acts 2:44,45, "Now all who believed were together and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need." They were willing to provide for Paul in his time of need.
This same love for giving generously was noted by Paul and attributed to all of the churches of Macedonia; in which Philippi was located. Read 2 Cor. 8: 1-4. An offering had been taken up for the saints in Judea (the region of Jerusalem). This was likely in response to the famine that the prophet Agabus had prophesied about in Acts 11:28,29.
Now a second offering was being taken for the same purpose. Paul here points to the generosity of the Macedonian brethren. He notes they gave in spite of being "in a great trial of affliction". We know that previously Paul had indicated in Phil. 1:28, that the Philippians "had adversaries, who terrified them." A persecution against the church was in progress, yet they gave!
Paul notes that it was their joy of serving the needs of their brethren that motivated their generosity in v.4. He notes in v.3 that they gave "beyond their ability." So it's very evident this church was generous in spite of their poverty.
Now this shouldn't surprise us. The charter members of the church of Philippi were generous from the very start. Lydia and her household had allowed Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke to stay in her house and it likely became the place where the believers met. (Acts 16:15) The jailer, who was baptized by Paul and Silas, showed his generosity on the night he was saved. He did this by tending to the wounds of Paul and Silas and then feeding them after midnight. (Acts 16:33,34) So there was a great beauty to be found in this generous church. You only find this type of grace in those who have truly been born again. You just don't find this in unregenerate people.
Paul goes on to tell us of three blessings that the Philippian church would enjoy because of their generosity in vv. 17-19 of our text. These blessings are available to every church that demonstrates this beautiful generosity.
In v.17 we find the first of these blessings is that the generous church has "fruit credited to their account." There is nothing hidden from God's sight. He knows our virtues, our weaknesses and our works. When a church engages in a good work they are bearing fruit for God, which He will remember.
This truth is easily found in the seven letters that the Lord Jesus wrote to the seven churches in Asia Minor that are found in Revelation chapters two and three. At the beginning of each letter the Lord makes the same statement to each church, "I know your works." He knows the works of every church. The Lord measures our faithfulness to Him through our works, to some degree. And the Philippians had some "fruit" credited to their account. The Grk. word used for fruit indicates "plucked" fruit. In other words a harvest had occurred; they had reaped a harvest in their generosity to Paul.
Likewise, they had a harvest when they supported Paul in Thessalonica. And another harvest when they gave aid to the Judean brethren in 2 Cor. 8: 1-4. The principle of sowing and reaping is revealed to us by Paul in 2 Cor. 9:6,7. You have to "sow bountifully" to "reap bountifully." But there is a second requirement; "you have to give as you purpose in your heart and cheerfully." The Philippians passed this test! They harvested fruit to their account. In 2 Cor. 9:10 Paul reveals an additional blessing to the generous church stating that God would, "multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness." They gave a little, but God multiplied their seed, so that it might go further and do more for the kingdom.
Secondly, in v.18 we see this gift was viewed by God as "an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God." Beloved a sacrifice is worship in God's eyes! It was one way that the Israelites worshiped God under the Old Covenant. The Hebrew writer knew this was true of good works and "sharing" with others. In Heb. 13:16, he reminds us "But do not forget to do good and to share; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
The whole life of the disciple is an opportunity to worship God! In Rom. 12:1, we are told, "I beseech you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God which is your reasonable service." Our generosity outside of our weekly gift to God is just another "acceptable sacrifice " to God.
In v.19 Paul tells them that because God has accepted their sacrifice, "He will supply all your needs." A generous gift is just as much a blessing to the giver as the receiver. In Acts 20:35, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Paul may have had in mind the Lord's teaching in Lu. 6:38 when he said this. "Give and it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." This promise should not be viewed as a "give to get" scheme, but an age old principle that God indeed loves a generous and cheerful giver. Not all blessings are monetary.
It is natural that God should love a generous church. Because a generous church demonstrates through their generous gifts to the work of the kingdom and to the needy that they are "seeking first the kingdom of God." When you put God's kingdom first. When serving Him is your first priority, you have the promise of His daily provision for your life. Jesus taught us this in Mt. 6:31-33. A generous church or a generous disciple always seeks God's kingdom first!
1. The Philippians had supported Paul not only in his chains in Rome, but in his ministry where?
2. True or False, The Macedonian churches gave less than what they were able?
3. Which of the first members of the Philippian church took in Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke?
4. What two generous acts did the Philippian jailer do for Paul and Silas?
5. Because of the Philippians gift to Paul they had "fruit that abounded to their __________."
6. God viewed their gift to Paul as what type of worship act practiced in the Old Covenant?
7. Paul tells us that Jesus said, "It is more __________ to give than to ______________.
Read Phil. 4:20-23. Paul closes this great letter to the church in Philippi with a short doxology in v.23, and by asking them to "greet the saints in Christ." A doxology is a short hymn or proclamation of praise to God. Perhaps the best remembered doxology is found in Jude 24, 25. The closing doxology here in Philippians is short, "To our God and Father be glory, forever and ever Amen."
The presence of this doxology should remind us that it is the responsibility of every disciple of Christ to give God glory. Why should we give God the glory? The simple answer is because He is God and there is no one like Him. As the Psalmist says in Ps. 113:4,5, "The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high?"
Anselm who lived in the 11th century formed a simple statement defining Who God is. This statement is commonly known as the Ontological argument for the existence of God. "Ontological" is from the Latin and means "from logic". Anselm's statement was, "God is a being which none greater can be imagined." That is a serious acknowledgement of God's greatness!
So what is glory and how do we give God "glory"? Well glory is the recognition of God's splendor, greatness and majesty. One way we give God this praiseworthy acknowledgement is through worship. Here are four obvious acts of worship where we have the opportunity to give God His glory.
First when we sing "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord." (Eph. 5:19) This is why the songs we choose MUST give glory to God the Father or the Son. Our choice of songs MUST be characterized by this one quality in order to give God His praise!
We also give God His glory in our prayers. When you pray to God you are acknowledging His existence and His ability to give us that which we ask for, if He chooses. In Heb. 11:6 we are told about the necessity of these two beliefs; "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." When we pray with these two sound affirmations we are giving God glory.
When we gather at the Lord's table to take communion we give God the glory. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:26, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." Not only in this act are we proclaiming Christ's death, but we are also expressing our confidence in God's promise that Jesus will one day return. (1 Thess. 4:14)
When we give in back to God in the weekly collection we also give God the glory. The most important worldly asset we have is our money. When I give properly back to God, I am saying, "God I value the needs of your kingdom more than what I might acquire with this money." This attitude towards our value of God's kingdom is one that Jesus spoke to in Mt. 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
We also should glorify God in our daily lives. in Mt. 5:16, Jesus reminds us, "Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Paul tells us that even in the most basic actions in life we should consider if God is glorified, 1 Cor. 10:31, "Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Do I thank God and praise Him for my food? What about my choice of beverages? Does my indulgence in or abstinence from alcohol glorify God before men?
In all areas of our lives we are to be different than worldly unregenerate sinners. You and I are called to "present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God." Rom. 12:1,2. Does your life bring glory to the God you claim to serve?
In verses 21-23, Paul concludes this letter by referring to the members of the church as "saints." It is unfortunate that the Catholic church has continued the process of confirming dead believers as "saints" on the basis of their works. That is not the new Testament usage of this word. The Greek word actually means "sacred, blameless and consecrated". This is the word that is used to describe living disciples of Christ. They are "the saints of Christ". All who are in Christ are saints.
So how can we in Christ who are still to some extent imperfect sinful people be "sacred", "blameless" and "consecrated"? Sounds like we are perfect, right?
The answer is that we can only be called "saints" if we are truly in Christ. Because it is only by His life, atoning sacrificial death and resurrection that we acquire this state in the eyes of God.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom.3:23) All men are sinners! "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23) This verse makes it clear that the penalty for any sin and all sin is the same, death. This death is both physical death and eternal punishment.
Read Rom. 5:8-10. Here Paul tells us that God loved us so much that He sent Christ to die for us. Also, Jesus' shed blood saves us from punishment and "justifies" us in God's eyes. Because of Jesus' death on the cross we have gone from being "enemies of God" to being "reconciled" to God.
Furthermore, because of our faith in Jesus Christ we are given "the righteousness of God". (Rom.3:21,22) Our own righteousness is not sufficient for our justification in God's eyes, (Isa. 64:6), (Rom. 3:20) But Christ's righteousness which is the righteousness of God is given to us upon belief. (Rom.4:24)
This is why we all must put on Christ? Paul in Gal. 3:27, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." So that we might through our faith put on His righteousness. Paul in Eph. 5:25-27 tells husbands to "love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." You see Christ "sanctifies" and "cleanses" the believer "with the washing of water by the word."
This is why Peter told those who believed in Jesus as Lord and Christ in Acts 2:38, "Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This is why Ananias told Saul of Tarsus (Paul) in Acts 22;16, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Well this explains the "washing with water", but isn't it by the word?
Certainly and that word is the great confession that the believer must make upon baptism. This confession was the answer that Peter gave Jesus in Mt. 16:15-18, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." These two truths is what Jesus said "He would build His church on." He calls them "this rock". (a boulder, Grk.) This is what the believer MUST believe in order to be saved.
So while baptism is a necessary part of the process in which we are saved and become "saints", yet it is the faith expressed in the confession that must accompany this event to make the act of baptism accomplish it's stated purpose. We just like Noah and his family are saved "through water", not "by the water". (1 Pe. 3:20,21) This is how sinful men and women become "sacred", "blameless", and "consecrated". This is how we become "the saints in Christ."
1. In Paul's doxology to whom should the "glory be, forever and ever."?
2. What four acts of worship are opportunities for us to give God glory?
3. "Let your ________ so shine before ______that they might see your good _____ and give
___________ to your Father in heaven."
4. What did Jesus give that has "justified us" in Rom. 5:9?
5. To become a saint whose righteousness MUST we have?
6. According to Gal. 3:27, How do we "put on Christ"?
7. What MUST we do to "wash away our sins"?
8. What MUST we confess to be saved?