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Studies in Philippians

Check out these studies in Philippians.

1. DESCRIBING PAUL in Philippians 1:12-26

Philippians chapter one is a wonderful chapter to use in describing Paul as a model believer and Christian worker. Though he was in prison at the time, he was NOT alone, angry, ashamed, bitter, and various other things. The selected cards from the Describe-It-Yourself set shown below can all be used to describe what Paul was NOT in Phil. 1:12-26. He was not sad, selfish, silent, etc.

A few of the terms below, such as hindered and negative, are debatable, since Paul's ministry was limited in some ways and because he said negative things about those who were envious of him. Yet, for the most part Paul's ministry continued and his attitude was positive rather than negative.

SMALL GROUP USE
Rather than trying to teach the various points above, which could quickly become rather boring, the small group leader or Sunday school teacher should have individuals or teams take turns discussing various descriptive terms / cards.

For instance, one of several teams of two or three might randomly receive the "territorial" card. They should then be given a few minutes to look through the passage—while other teams are doing the same with different terms and cards—to prepare to share about how Paul was NOT territorial in his ministry. He rejoiced that the gospel was preached in various places where he was then unable to go. Unlike others, he was not envious (1:15) or selfishly defensive (1:18).

After several rounds, the leader should ask, "Which of the various points that have been made with the cards do you think are most important?" Various good answers would be given, but one or them would likely be that it was important for Paul to not be discouraged. The closing discussion would then turn to how Paul overcame in this regard and how we can do so as well.

FOR EXTRA FUN
Individuals or teams can compete against each other in each round by having a judge decide which descriptive term and explanation is the best one in the round. This is much like what is done in the Apples to Apples ® game. If this is done, players should take turns being the judge.

click here for
The Describe-it cards
(printer-ready pdf)

2. DESCRIBING HONORABLE SERVICE in Chapter Two

Since Philippi was a Roman colony where many retired Roman soldiers lived, honorable service was an important and fitting topic. So in chapter two Paul described such in five somewhat overlapping sections. The greatest example of faithful service unto death is, of course, that of the Lord Jesus (2:5-11). Timothy and Epaphroditus were lesser examples, but they well-known by those at Philippi.

Use the summary chart below as a guide as you read through the chapter verse by verse and section by section. As you do so, you will notice that various details—such as willingness to suffer—appear again and again. This is as we might expect, since honorable service is stressed throughout.

Unity and harmony within the ranks was also important in the Roman army. So it is natural for that to be mentioned prominently in the first part of the chapter. In addition, Timothy and Epaphroditus were available to be sent on special missions much like some Roman soldiers who were more trustworthy than others. (Notice the similarities between these two men, even though there were differences as well.)

The various descriptive terms and phrases in his summary chart are based on those in the Describe-It-Yourself set of about 800 cards.

click here for
The Describe-it cards
(printer-ready pdf)

3. Epaphroditus: Paul's Fellow Soldier

This study on Epaphrodutus in Phil. 2:23-30 and 4:16-19 is one of 20 in the Lesser-Known but Significant Servants series which as a whole shows that everyone who serves the Lord is important, not just those who are well known. The ministry of Epaphroditus to Paul in prison was not at all glamorous. Rather it was dangerous, because of the travel involved (4:18) and the unhealthy conditions in the prison. Epaphroditus, in fact, nearly died (2:30). Paul said he was to be highly regarded (2:29) for his service and referred to him as his fellow soldier (2:25). Perhaps he had not been highly regarded by some in the church previously for some reason.

4. Right Rejoicing: The Way to Safety

The four steps in the W.A.L.K. Bible study method are easy to understand and help bring out the meaning of the passage being studied (in this case Phil. 4:4-7) in a way that naturally leads to fitting applications. The third (L) step which compares the text to other texts and to other things in daily life is especially helpful. In this study, the rejoicing in the Lord in Phil. 4:4-7 is compared to Paul and Sinus rejoicing while in jail (Acts 16:25) and to the safety that a strong defensive fort brings. This analogy fits the situation in Philippi well, since it was a Roman colony with many retired military living there. In order to be safe in their thinking as Christians, they needed to rejoice in the Lord rather than in earthly connections (to Caesar or Rome, Phi. 3:20) or circumstances (Phil. 4:11). The same is true of us.

5. All Things Through Christ

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

In this study, we will use Describe-It-Yourself cards / terms that begin with the letter "P" to describe and think about this practical, powerful, peaceful, and proper verse. These four appropriate terms are used in the summary chart below, but there are several other P-terms that can be used to aptly describe this verse as well.

Click the button below to view all 70 of the P-terms in the Describe-It-Yourself set. For a lively group study, make as set of cards and take turns turning them over and discussing them. This can be done as an Apples-To-Apples ® like competitive game if desired. On average, about every fourth or fifth card will have an appropriate term or phrase.

click here for
All The p-terms
(printer-ready pdf)

Think about what this verse meant to Paul himself. Obviously, he did not view it as "a popular verse" like we do today. However, it certainly was a powerful and proper statement.. What else was it for Paul? Go through the full set of P-cards for help with this.

Caution: it is important to think about what this great verse becomes if Christ is left out or if the will of God is not carefully considered. Sadly, many have tried to apply Phil. 4:13 selfishly to things that are not God's will. When this is done, the verse becomes a proud and perverse statement. So special attention needs to be paid to how the verse is applied. Though prayer is not mentioned in the verse, we must be prayful about God's will.

Blank Cards: there are a few blank "wild cards" at the end of P-term list. These can be used to write in additional descriptive terms. For instance, it is good to remember that Phil. 4:13 was a prison verse, since Paul was confined in a prison in Rome when he wrote Philippians. This makes the positive nature of the verse all the more amazing.