Where Paul is Coming From
I. A PLACE of CONFIDENCE. (v.1-8)
A. Writing to HOLY PEOPLE. (v.1)
B. CONFIDENT about COMPLETION. (v.6)
Philippians is a letter, written by Paul, that introduces and develops the themes found in a poem in chapter 2:5-11. It’s written to people who are suffering persecution as the seek to follow Jesus in a city that is a Roman stronghold. Paul writes from prison, a place where his listeners might be headed, to encourage them to remain faithful.
1. What does it mean to be “holy” or a “saint”? Does that enter your thinking on an average day?
2. Kid’s question: If God could “finish” anything about you, what would that be?
II. A very SPECIFIC PRAYER. (v.9-11)
A. Love is FOUNDATIONAL to DISCERNMENT. (v.9-10)
B. Love TRANSFORMS us through JESUS. (v.10-11)
Paul’s prayers are often very profound. Because they are well known we far too often read over them without really thinking about what they are saying. We feel as if we are intruding on Paul’s intimate prayers for these people. There is much to see in what Paul is praying for on behalf of the church in Philippi.
3. Can we ever be too loving? What does love that is growing “in knowledge and depth of insight” actually look like?
4. Of love, guilt, shame, or fear, what have you found to have the most transformative impact in your own life? Explain that.
III. A process of EXPERIENCE and REALIZATION. (v.12-26)
A. SEEING his situation CLEARLY. (v.12-14)
B. The BIGGER PICTURE. (v.15-19)
C. REDEFINING SACRIFICE. (v.20-26)
After speaking confidently about the Philippians, and praying for their love to increase, Paul addresses the question that they must be asking. “How are you handling being in prison for the gospel?” Closely related is, “How will we make it if the same thing happens to us?”
5. What do you fear might happen as you follow Jesus fully? What is happening right now that makes you anxious? How does Paul’s perspective on prison impact that?
6. What do you currently see as “sacrifices” that you make for God? Do those need to be redefined in any way?
IV. Powerful WORDS from PRISON.
A. God will SUCCEED with YOU. (v.6; Rom. 8:29; Rev. 21:5)
B. The GREATEST of these is LOVE. (I Jn. 4:19; v.9; I Cor. 13:13; Col. 3:12-14)
C. SEEING through a KINGDOM lens. (v.12,21; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 2:5-11)
We may not be under persecution and fearing prison like the Philippians, but Paul’s advice to them applies to all of our lives in very real and tangible ways. When we see things from the perspective that Paul is sharing, we can begin to trust that God knows what He is doing.
7. How does the fact that God will not fail in making you like Jesus impact your situation at the present moment?
8. In what areas of life do you struggle to love as you have been loved? To see things through a Kingdom lens?