THE SERVANTS AND SAINTS OF PHILIPPI
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth and insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
(Identify verses with your comments.)
Who are identified as servants? As saints?
What made Paul so exuberant in his prayer for them?
Why do you think Paul was so confident about the Christians at Philippi?
How did the Christians at Philippi “share in God’s grace”?
What results of love do you see?
If this were the only Scripture you had, how would you describe Christ’s servants?
How did Paul’s imprisonment advance the Gospel?
How did Paul deal with his chains?
Do you have any chains that can be turned to joy?
Key words to look for:
Paul’s stay in Philippi was around three weeks. As far as we know, that is the shortest time he stayed in any city where he established a church. Even so, we understand from Acts and later chapters, there was a special relationship between Paul and the Philippians. They, more than any other group on record, shared financially and in other ways with Paul’s ministry. There is a sense in which they took his chains as their own and did everything possible to ease his pain and provide for his needs while in prison.