Philippians – Spread the Joy
The book of Philippians is a very practical letter from Paul to the saints in Philippi. According to the Accent Bible Curriculum, there are 13 lessons, so we will study the book of Philippians for the next 13 weeks. There are many themes that we can discover in this book, but the theme for our study is “Spread the Joy”.
The table below shows the 13 lessons mapping to the key lessons:
Key Learning Points
|Down by the Riverside||
|Founding of Philippian Church & Evangelism|
|I Love This Family||
|Special Bond and Loving Fellowship|
|A Winning Attitude||
|Evangelism & Attitudes|
|Paul’s motto – To live is Christ|
|Be Like Jesus!||
|Study of Christ – Christology|
|Dynamics of Salvation|
|Two Outstanding Men of God||
|Serve Selflessly & Sacrificially|
|Profit & Loss||
|Trusting in Christ’s Righteousness|
|Paul’s Goals – Press on to the Heavenly Goal|
|The Way to Go||
|Walk in Truth as a Citizen of Heaven|
|What Every Church Needs Most||
|Stamp Out the Blues||
|Commitment to Prayer & Action|
|Template for Contentment|
The Key Learning Points Listed Can Be Summarized Under the Following Headings:
- The Special Bond between Paul & the Philippian Church
- Paul’s Testimony & His Exemplary Conduct
- Christian Evangelism
- Dynamics of our Salvation
1. The Special Bond between Paul and the Philippian Church:
The three circles diagram on the right screen illustrates the special bond between Paul and the Philippian church. At the heart of this bond is our Lord Jesus Christ which caused them to share in loving Christian fellowship and consequently, cultivating an enduring partnership in the Gospel.
We can learn from Paul and the Philippian Church on how they love and serve each other unselfishly & sacrificially:
- Paul had the Philippian church always in his mind, in his heart and in his prayer. (Phil 1:3-11)
- Paul had deeply longed for their love for Christ to grow more and more (Phil 1:8-9) and to remain steadfast in the Lord as in Phil 4:1, He told the Philippian church: “Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends”. (Phil 4:1)
- He warned them of false teachers amongst their community and would not hesitate to repeat them, if necessary, for their good. (Phil 3:2)
- Paul had the genuine interest in their welfare. He longed to visit them again personally but since he couldn’t, he sent his beloved & trusted co-worker, Timothy, to them. (Phil 2:19-20)
- The Philippian church also had Paul in their mind, hearts and prayers. Paul referred to them as his loyal yokefellow or co-labourers in the cause of the Gospel (Phil 4:3).
- Though the Philippian church was not rich but they gave generously to Paul in support of his work. We read in Phil 4:15-16, – “in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need”.
- Also, when Paul was under house arrest in Rome, they sent gifts and one of their beloved brethren, Epaphroditus, to take care of Paul during the imprisonment. (Phil 2:25; 4:18)
- This partnership with Paul had encouraged and emboldened them to preach and defend the same gospel fearlessly. (Phil 1:5,14)
For all these reasons, it is therefore not difficult to understand that their common love for Christ and their mutual love for one another led them to serve the Lord together joyfully.
We have much to be encouraged by the examples of Paul and the Philippian church and as in the words of 1 John 3:18, let us be exhorted “not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”.
2. Paul’s Testimony & His Exemplary Conduct:
Paul’s motto is “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” found in Phil 1:21. In Galatians 2:20, Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. These two verses, one from his early days’ ministry and the other towards the end, summarized the living essence of Paul’s faith.
From all the epistles of Paul, it is evident that Paul served God selflessly and sacrificially. Paul said in Phil 2:17, “but even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you”. Indeed, Paul was prepared to serve God even to the extent of being martyred for His sake.
Paul devoted his entire life to preach and defend the Gospel. Yet he was able to rejoice in the Lord always; living an ever thankful and prayerful life. He showed extreme gratitude for the gospel partnership with fellow believers.
In Phil 3:1-9, we learned that Paul’s value system is based on the surpassing knowledge of Christ, for everything else is considered “rubbish”. In verse 7, he said “but whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ”, simply because true righteousness is found only in Christ In verse 9, Paul said, “not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith”.
Just like a Greek athlete being awarded a wreath for winning a race, Paul aspired for heavenly glory which is found not in this life, but with our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (Phil 3:14). In so doing, we are instructed to stay focused on the heavenly course ahead and always remembering that our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil 3:20)
Paul was always confident that God would answer his prayers in an amazing way. He exhorted the Philippians in Phil 4:6-7, which said “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Here, we learn from Paul that in whatever circumstances, do not be anxious but to commit our worries and requests to God in prayers so that we will experience the peace of God in our hearts and minds.
Paul trusted in God’s provision and he encouraged the Philippians likewise in Phil 4:19 said,
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”.
Paul was contented regardless of any circumstances. Whether he had plenty or almost nothing, he enjoyed the peaceful assurance that God was in control of the situation. He could, therefore, say in Phil 4:11b that’ “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Our Lord also teaches us in Matthew 6, do not store up treasures on earth, do not worry what you will eat, drink and what you will wear, but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. (Matt 6:33)
Paul’s testimony and his exemplary conduct are truly astounding and worthy for our adoption and practice as he also said in 1 Cor 11: 1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”.
3. Christian Evangelism:
Evangelism is the great commission from our Lord Jesus Christ as He commanded us in Matthew 28:19-20 said:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Our objective of Evangelism is to advance the Gospel and to win lost souls for our Lord. This commission is not limited by national boundaries nor is it seasonal in nature. The mandate given to all believers is both wide-ranging and fulfilling.
In Phil 1:12-14 we are told that despite of Paul’s imprisonment, the gospel had advanced even to the whole palace guard and Caesar’s servants. Many have known that Paul was in chains for Christ not because he was guilty of any crime but purely, on account of his stand for the Gospel. Because of his stand, many brethren in the Lord were encouraged and became more courageous in speaking forth God’s Word.
The next point is rather interesting. Paul recognized there are those who preached Christ out of wrong motives or even capitalizing on his present predicament (Phil 1:15-18). These are detractors. Paul chose not to take personal offence but instead rejoiced because Christ is proclaimed in their preaching. This attitude is probably borne out of Paul’s robust spiritual experience in his service for God – truly, a remarkable attitude one should learn from Paul.
As Christians, we are to be good witnesses for Christ just like Paul told the Philippian Christians in Phil 1:27a, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Lastly, be ready to suffer for God, even during adversity when we proclaim the Gospel as Paul said in Phil 1:29 “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him”. It suggests that suffering for Christ is a God-given privilege.
4. Dynamics of our Salvation (Phil 2:12-18):
Christians are special because we have Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is the gift of God and, therefore, we are saved by Grace alone through faith in Him. (Eph 2:8-9) With salvation, our sins are forgiven, we become God’s children, the Holy Spirit lives within us and we have eternal life.
Salvation does not only produce immediate results but there is also an ongoing process of spiritual growth and development that will lead us to spiritual fulfillment or completion. We are closely involved in this process with the attitude of a healthy fear of offending God. God’s ultimate goal for us is to conform to the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29)
“For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son”
Paul also said in Phil 1:12b “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”.
Therefore, we Christians should:
- actively acquire greater knowledge and depth of insight in Christ; (Phil 1:9-11)
- grow to be in oneness with Christ and be like Christ (Phil 2:1-4)
- not to put our confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3)
- set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Col 3:2), looking heavenward (Phil 3:14) and seek first the kingdom of God.
- do all things without complaining and disputing, so that we may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world. (Phil 2:14-15)
With our own strength it is impossible to do all that just said. However, God gives us the Holy Spirit to work in us to make it possible.
In Philippians 1:6 said “…. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Also in Philippians 2:13 said “For it is God who works in you to will and to act accordingly to His good purpose.”
Therefore, let us trust in the Lord to learn to bring our wills into submission and obedience to the will of God in our living.
- Accent Bible Curriculum – Spread the Joy, Philippians
- John MacArthur Study Bible – Philippians
- Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary
- Partnership, William Taylor