Philippians 2 Bible study

Chapter 2

 

 Paul's Appeal for Unity v1-5.

 

v1,2. Paul basically says to the Philippians: Can I appeal to you on the basis of the fellowship we have in Christ, the mutual encouragement, consolation and strength we have received from each other because of our mutual love? Can I appeal to you by the close relationship we share in the Spirit and deep affection and sympathy we have for each other? If so, then make my joy full by all of you being in complete agreement, being of one mind.

 

Paul always stressed the importance of Christian unity. v3. He tells them - do nothing out of strife - out of a desire to forward your own interest, at the expense of others. Do not do anything in a conceited attitude, thinking yourself to be better than others or superior to them. Instead, in true humility, think of others as better and more honourable than yourself.

 

v4. To make this possible, we must make it our habit, in every way, to look out not only for our own welbeing, but also for others, especially their spiritual well-being.

 

Following Christ's Humility v6-11.

 

v5. In doing this we will be following the example of Christ. He did what He did for the benefit of others, not his own. We are to let this mind be in us, the same mind that He had. His mind is already in us since it is being formed in us by God the Holy Spirit, but we must allow it to have complete control in our lives.

 

v6. Although Christ was God, being one with God and possessing in fullness all the attributes that make God God (Warfield), He did not consider His equality with God as being something that He should jealously hold onto. (In other words, God did not consider it beneath him to humble Himself - so why should we).

 

v7. Instead, Christ put off "all privileges and rightful dignity to take assume the guise of a servant." (AMP) and became one of us, a man. Heb 10.5

 

v8. He was found in fashion as a man. In other words He was fully a man - in every way like you and me. But it didn't end there. As a man He humbled Himself even further by giving up His own will in obedience to the Father's will. As a man, Christ had His own will, but chose to give in to the will of another. Luke 22.42. He carried his obedience so far as to be willing to die, and not just any death either, but the most shameful death ever devised- the death of the cross.

 

v9-11 It is because of this that God has highly exalted Jesus Christ, placing Him at His own right hand in heaven, giving Him all authority in heaven and on earth. God has made the name of Jesus to be the Highest authority in the universe, so that every created thing whether in heaven or on earth or under the earth, whether it be men or angels or anything else MUST (by compulsion) BOW THE KNEE - that is, render full and complete (if albeit unwilling) submission to His authority. And every tongue MUST (without option) confess that He is Lord - the supreme ruler - to the glory of God the Father.

 

Lights in the World

 

v12 & 13. Not only had the Philippians obeyed the gospel when they first heard it from Paul,  they had continued to obey it in his absence. Paul urges them to "work out" their own salvation. Paul does not mean that we are saved by works, for Paul makes clear that it is God who works in you. However, we are to cultivate our own salvation (as individuals before God) cooperatign with God as he works towards its completion. We are to do this with a reverent awe of God and with a sense of self-distrust, lest we should wander from His will. We must always seek to know and do God's will, for God is ever working and moving in our lives to produce firstly a willingness to obey and then the act of obedience itself will follow.

 

v14 We are not to grumble or complain about the way God is taking us, but be in submission to His will.

 

v15 As we are, we will be what God wants us to be, obedient children, blameless and innocent, since there is nothing in our behaviour that God cannot approve of. As we live like this, we will be shining lights, bringing the light of Christ-likeness to the people all around us who live in spiritual darkness, being wicked and godless. This is as Christ intended Mt. 5.16.

 

v16 By our life and testimony we are to give a clear witness to all men of the fact that the gospel is both life changing and life giving.

 

We must not to let go of the truths of the gospel, but stand firm in the faith, holding on to the truths passed on to us. Paul was always concerned that those who accepted Jesus Christ through his ministry would continue to go on with the Lord, for then he would be able to rejoice  that his work had not been for no purpose, but had produced lasting fruit, which was the reward Paul looked for from his labours.

 

 v17,18. Since Paul knew that his labour was not in vain, he would gladly give his life to further the faith of the church and would have the church to rejoice with him if he might serve, whether that meant life or death.

 

Fellow Workers Commended:

 

a) Timothy v19-24.

 

v19. Paul intended to send Timothy to the church in Philippi so that he would know how they were getting on. v20. Of all Paul's companions there was no other like Timothy - a kindred spirit to Paul. He was the only one that Paul could trust with the care of the church, knowing that he would genuinely care for their spiritual condition. v21. Everyone else was concerned about promoting their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. v22. But Timothy had proven himself in this respect, for he had served alongside Paul, following his example just like a son learns his father's ways. v23. He would not send him, however, until he knew what was going to happen to him. Timothy was as a son to Paul, and Paul was as a father to him. He did not want Timothy absent when there was still a possibility of his being executed whilst he was away.

 

v24. In spite of the hardships of imprisonment, Paul retained a positive outlook, and trusted that the Lord would make a way for him to see the Philippians again soon.

 

b) Epaphroditus v25-30.

 

v25. The Philippian church had sent Epaphroditus to Rome with a gift so that he might minister to Paul whilst he was in prison Phil 4.18. Paul commends this man as being a brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier. Although it seems to have been the intention that Epaphroditus should stay and minister to Paul for some time, Paul thought it necessary to send him back home to the Philippians again. v26 This was due to the fact that whilst in Rome, Epaphroditus had become sick and had almost died. Not only was he longing to be back with the Philippians, but he was concerned for the church, who had heard that he had been sick. No doubt they would be anxious to see him again. v27. The sickness would almost certainly have resulted in his death, if God had not had mercy and raised him up. God had not only had mercy on Epaphroditus, but on Paul too, since it would have meant to him not only the sorrow of Epaphroditus' death, who had come to Rome to minister to him, but also because of the effect upon the Philippian church and the sorrow they would be caused. v28. Paul took great care in making arrangements for Epaphroditus to return home, so that the church would rejoice to have him back safe and sound. This would relive Paul of much anxiety. v29,30. Epaphroditus was to be welcomed home with rejoicing, and men like him should be held in high regard, since it was for the work of Christ that he had nearly died. He had gone to Rome, not giving a thought to his own life, to bring help from the Philippian church to Paul, the help they had been unable to give previously because of the distance involved..

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