Philippians 1 – Themes and Intro

Last week, Clay started us off on a brand new study series on Philippians! This will be a relatively short series but I pray that you will be blessed by what we learn together! At the start of our class, Clay helped give us an overview of the book. We noted three important themes in the letter:

  • REJOICING – Let’s keep in mind that Paul wrote this letter while He was imprisoned in Rome. Would you find it difficult to rejoice when you have been wrongly accused, beaten without cause, thrown into jail with the possibility of being executed at any time? But Paul can’t seem to stop rejoicing in the Lord! Throughout the letter, he expresses key aspects of his faith which include: tolerance (1:18), a bond of fellowship in difficult times (2:17-18), firm commitment to faith (3:1), friendship & thanksgiving (2:28; 4:10), and the joy of belonging to Christ (4:4).
  • HUMILITY – In chapter 2 (tomorrow’s study!) Paul will focus on the example that Christ sets for us in humility, obedience, and service.
  • FAITH – This is a faith that takes root when we lay hold of the righteousness of Christ (3:9). It’s a faith that forgets those things of the past and “reaches forward” to what is ahead (3:13). With this faith, we learn that we can do all things through Christ (4:13). And, it’s a faith that takes action and bears “the fruit of righteousness by Jesus Christ” (1:11).

With that background in mind, I hope you will take some time to read Philippians 1 with us. Clay walked us through this outline of the chapter:

  1. Introduction and thanksgiving section (vv. 1-11) – Paul begins by praising God for his faithfulness to the growing church of Philippi. He then affirms his readers, encouraging their confidence in Christ – “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (We can be confident in the same thing!) Paul also prays for his readers, pleading that their love would “abound still more and more in knowledge and discernment” and that their lives would be “filled with the fruits of righteousness” (1:10).
  2. Paul’s trial & prospect of martyrdom (vv. 12-26) – With every reason in the world to complain and accuse, Paul instead rejoices that the gospel is being spread through his chains! He uses his imprisonment as an opportunity to witness to the entire palace! And when he is faced with the prospect of death, Paul again rejoices about one day finally being reunited with His savior!
  3. Call to unity and suffering (vv. 27-30) – Paul stresses the absolute necessity of unity among the believers. Although none of us ever get very excited at the idea of hard times, trials can actually help draw us closer together – and more importantly, they bring us into a greater unity with Jesus. As a personal application, maybe that’s a new way that we can look at our trials – maybe we can ask, “How does what I’m going through help me see what others around me might be going through? How can it help me grow closer to my fellow believers? How can this trial draw me closer to God?”

We see Paul was able to overcome, and, over the next few weeks, we will find out how he did it and how we can do it too.


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