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Philippians Bible Study

Study from home; based on the Philippians Sermon Series

Lesson One: Phil. 1:1-6 A Church that brought Joy

Feb. 25, 2020

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.

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson Two: A Love that Abounds in Knowledge and Discernment

Phil. 1:7-11, Mar. 2, 2020

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.

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson Three: Joy in spite of Opposition, Phil. 1:12-18

March 2, 2020

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

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson Four, To live is Christ, to die is gain, Phil.1:19-26

Mar. 4, 2020

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?

Study Questions

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

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Lesson Five: Concerns about our Conduct, Phil. 1:27-30

March 10, 2020

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!

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson six: Unity through Humility, Phil. 2:1-4

March 11, 2020

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.

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson seven: Unity through Christ's example, Phil. 2:5-8

March 11, 2020

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.

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson Eight: The Highly Exalted Christ, Phil. 2:9-11

March 17, 2020

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."

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson Nine: Work out your own Salvation, Phil. 2:12,13

March 19, 2020

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?

Study Questions

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)

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Lesson Ten: Stop complaining, start shining, Phil. 2: 14-16

March 23, 2020

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!

Study Questions

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 _________________.

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Lesson Eleven: Paul, the Humble Servant, Phil.2:16-18

March 25, 2020

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?

Study Questions

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?

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Lesson Twelve: The Character of Timothy, Phil. 2:19-24

March 26, 2020

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.

Study Questions

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."

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Lesson Thirteen: Epaphroditus the Minister, Phil. 2:25-30

March 31, 2020

Read Phil. 2:25-30. Here in Phil. 2, Paul presents three models to the church at Philippi. Three servants of the Lord. Each is an example to every church and every Christian in every age. First, there is Paul, the humble servant who considered his sacrifice only a "drink offering" compared to the Philippians' sacrifice of faith. (Phil. 2:17) Then there is Timothy, a servant whose character is marked with a "care" so great that he was given to worry. (Phil. 2:20). A servant who "seeks the things of Christ." (Phil. 2:21) Then the third example is Epaphroditus, the minister of the church in Philippi.

He had traveled 4,608 miles to minister to Paul. He had brought a gift to Paul to support him during his imprisonment. (Phil. 4:18) It was a long and tedious journey. Even under ideal sailing conditions it would have taken two months at sea.

After his arrival, Epaphroditus fell sick. He was sick almost to the point of death. But God had mercy on him and on Paul, who likely felt responsible for his sickness. (Phil. 2:27) The church in Philippi had been made aware of their minister's illness and they were also "distressed." Epaphroditus, himself was distressed. But not because of his grave illness, but because the church was "distressed." (Phil. 2:26) The only place you ever find this kind of genuine heartfelt concern is in the church. What a testimony!

But after his recovery, Paul had sent him back to Philippi. Paul sensed from Epaphroditus' report from the Philippian church that Epaphroditus was needed more by the church than by Paul. So in this letter to the brethren at Philippi, Paul takes the opportunity to praise their minister. Here in v. 25 Paul bestows five meaningful titles on Epaphroditus; each one extols his godly virtues as a minister.

First Paul calls him "my brother." By God's design we who are in Christ are family. In Gal. 4:5, "to redeem those who were under the Law that we might receive the adoption as sons." John tells us in 1 Jn. 3:1, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him." This kind of affection is proof that one truly knows God and is truly born again.

Epaphroditis had risked his own life traveling an amazing distance to meet Paul's needs. He was truly a "brother." Read what the Lord says about His commandment to His Church in Jn. 15:11-13. It's obvious that Epaphroditus was willing to die to help his brother Paul.

Next Paul refers to him as his "fellow worker". Epaphroditus is a minister. The Greek word rendered "worker" here in the NKJV. occurs thirteen times in the NT. In every case it refers to one who labors for the Lord. Paul refers to other "workers" later in (Phil. 4:3) Paul never viewed himself as being superior to his "fellow workers" in the Gospel. His humility came in knowing that he was NOT worthy of being an Apostle because he had ignorantly persecuted Christ's church. (1 Cor. 15:9)

Epaphroditus is also Paul's fellow soldier. There is an old children's song we used to sing in church years ago caqlled, "I'm in the Lord's Army". We are all soldiers in God's army. But the Greek word for soldier has a very honorable meaning and inference than our English word. It denotes "one who plans and lays out strategies against an enemy". It implies that Epaphroditus is NOT just a soldier, but a strategist, a commander, a General. He is due honor and esteem. Read in 1 Tim. 5:17,18) about the honor we should show elders who labor in the ministry of teaching.

The last two titles define Epaphroditus' relationship to his church. The first of these is he "is your messenger." The word "apostolon" (apostle) "one who is sent" is used here. He was the Philippians' messenger (apostle) to the Apostle. He came bearing their gift of love and support. Which in Phil. 4:18, "was an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God."

A distinction concerning the usage of the word "apostle" is in order here. The word apostle is used in two different senses in the NT. It is primarily used to refer to the hand chosen men, whom the Lord called out to be His Apostles. In this sense it was an office. There were thirteen men whom the Lord personally called; the original twelve and Paul, who was called "as one born out of due time". (1 Cor. 15:8) Matthias was added, and apparently approved of by God, but NOT personally called by the Lord. But in the other sense as those "sent' to preach the Gospel, the word apostle is also used. In this use it means "sent by men". (Gal. 1:1) Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Andronicus and Junias in Rom.16:7 are all called apostles. It simply means they had been appointed or sent to preach the Gospel.

Paul also calls Epaphroditus a "minister". He is the "one who ministered to my need." The Greek word used for minister is "litourgon". We get our word "liturgy" from this word and it refers to a "priest". While most of us would never describe ourselves as priests, Peter did. In 1 Pe. 2:9, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him,Who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light."

Not only are we priests, but we also offer a daily sacrifice to God if we are faithful. Paul tells us in Rom. 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

Paul wrote this to commend Epaphroditus back to the church as being worthy of their glad acceptance and of their esteem. This is likely a needful commendation because they apparently expected him to stay until Paul's fate had been determined by Caesar. However, because Paul felt the church had a greater need for him, Paul wanted him to not be thought of as having not finished his task of ministry.

Epaphroditis is a great model for any minister, or any of us who are ministering to others. He was a brother, a fellow worker, a fellow soldier, a messenger and one who unselfishly ministered to others.

Study Questions

1. What was the main reason that Epaphroditus was sent to Rome to minister to Paul?

2. Why did Paul send Epaphroditus back to his own church so soon?

3. What happened to Epaphroditus after he arrived in Rome?

4. The word translated "messenger" in Phil. 2:25 is commonly translated as?

5. In Gal. 1:1 Paul notes that there are some apostles called by men and others called by?

6. Peter tells us that we are a chosen____________, a royal _________________, a holy _____________, His own special ________________.

7. Why was Epaphroditus distressed?

8. "Greater __________ has no one than this, than to _______ down his _________ for his _________________.

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