Dear Ladies of the Philippians study,
Greetings to Week Two of our study! (week one is found here)
This study and the following lessons, for the next seven weeks, will be a condensed version of Mining God’s Word – How To Study the Bible; Foundation Series by Bethlehem College and Seminary Press. I highly recommend that you purchase your own workbook at www(dot)bethlehemcollegeandseminary(dot)org – it would be a great tool for you to have!
Please pray for our study habits, for God’s wisdom to be upon us, and that we would be known as women who love our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
To begin our time today, we will start with going over our ‘homework’. I realize that some of you will have different answers from me and from each other. What I want you to notice, or to observe, are clearly in the text. At this point, record what has been written and use that. Don’t go too deep, and assume things that aren’t written.
Here are a few examples of mine taken from each chapter:
Observations of author
Paul and Timothy are servants of Christ Jesus (1:1)
Paul thanks God for them (the Philippians) (1:3)
Remembers them in his prayers (1:4)
Paul holds the Philippians in his heart (1:7)
He is imprisoned for Christ (1:13)
He rejoices that Christ is proclaimed regardless of motive (1:18)
He has joy (2:2)
He hopes in the Lord (2:19,23)
He trusts in the Lord (2:24)
He thinks it is necessary to send Epaphroditus back to the Philippians (2:25,28)
He has already written to them about similar things (3:1)
They (Paul and the Philippians) are of the real circumcision (3:3)
Paul says he of all people should have confidence in his Jewishness, if that is all that is needed to belong to God (3:4-6)
He considers his Jewish lineage “a loss” in light of who Christ is. (3:7-11)
He loves, and longs for the Philippians (4:1)
He entreats the women Euodia and Syntyche to stop arguing with each other (4:2)
He rejoices in the Lord greatly now that the Philippians are able to help him again (4:10)
Through the hardship and persecutions he has endured, he has learned to be content in all his circumstances (4:11-14)
He is well supplied from all of the things they sent to him with Epaphroditus (4:18)
He sends greetings from the other saints to the Philippians (4:22)
Observations of those receiving the letter
They are considered saints (believers in Christ Jesus) (1:1)
They are partners with Paul in the gospel from the first day they were converted (1:5)
They are partakers with Paul of grace, whether or not he is in prison (1:7)
They pray for Paul (1:19)
They have always obeyed Paul whether he is with them or away from them (2:12)
They know of Timothy’s devotion to Paul and the gospel (2:22)
They are part of the real circumcision with Paul and put no confidence in the flesh (3:3)
They, like Paul have a citizenship in heaven (3:20)
Euodia and Syntyche, women who previously had worked with Paul, now bicker and quarrel (4:2)
They have observed/witnessed first hand the life of Paul (4:9)
They share in Paul’s troubles (4:14)
The Philippians were the only ones who sent supplies/aid to Paul (4:15)
They repeated sent help to Paul when he was in Thessalonica (4:16)
Relationship between Paul and the Philippians
This letter sounds like the saints in Philippi are very dear to Paul’s heart (1:7,8), and uses terms of endearment often: brothers (1:12, 3:10, 4:1), beloved (2:12), whom Paul loves and longs for (4:1), his joy and crown (4:1).
Paul is torn between wanting to die and be with Christ and wanting to live so that he may continue to encourage, teach and pray for them (1:21 – 25).
They both encourage one another by sending news through the saints to reach Paul. (Timothy and Epaphroditus)
What is the Occasion(s) for writing this letter to the Philippians?
He is in prison which they have heard of; they sent Epaproditus to Paul and then heard Epaphroditus was very sick, they sent gifts to help supply Paul’s needs.
Summary of the Purpose of Paul’s letter
One of the first issues Paul discusses is their concern for him since he is in prison. He tells them that being in prison is a good thing because it has further enhanced the gospel (1:12, 1:18), and that his imprisonment has made the other saints more bold (1:15). There are even believers within Caesar’s household! (4:22) (Emphasis is mine J)
He exhorts them that their manner of life should be worthy of the gospel, standing firm in one spirit, and to not be frightened by those who oppose them. They should expect to suffer since Christ suffered (1:27-30).
He also conveys the idea of joy because of Christ, to be humble, to have unity with one another, to model their lives after his, to care for one another.
He does warn them about ‘those dogs, the evildoers, the mutilators of the flesh’ who want to lead the saints at Philippi back into the works of circumcision. He reminds them that the Sprit has circumcised their hearts, and that they worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus.
He also warns them against false teachers who ‘walk as the enemies of the cross of Christ’ and then exhorts them to stand firm in the Lord.
He asks his ‘true companion’ to work with Euodia and Syntyche and restore their fellowship.
He does let them know that he is hoping to send Timothy to them, so Timothy can return to Paul with the news of the Philippians (2:19-24). Paul does want to thank the Philippians for the gifts they sent along with Epaphroditus (4:17-18) and let them know how much their partnership with him is a joy (1:3-9).
It is a letter filled with hope, love, the joy of Christ, and encouragement.
Again, you may have some, or parts of all of these. These are just to guide your answers.
This Week’s Lesson:
When we study any book within our Bibles, we must always remember that the author was writing in a certain period of time in history, and that that history flavors their words and actions. Just as you would write a letter now, what is happening in your town, your city, your nation would influence what you wrote about. Therefore, it is always helpful to remember the historical context while we read our Bibles.
To help us with this, here is a quick historical timeline to think about the world in which Paul was living, and to remember what had happened in the recent past, and what would occur in the near future of this letter to the Philippians.
63 BC – Roman general Pompey invades Jerusalem
44 BC – Julius Caesar is assassinated
40 BC – Herod is crowned King of the Jews
27 BC – Augustus becomes Emperor of Rome
20 BC – Herod begins to rebuild the Temple
6-4 BC – the Birth of Jesus
4 BC – King Herod dies
14 AD – Emperor Augustus dies and Tiberius assumes power
26 AD – Pontius Pilate is appointed procurator of Judea
30/33 AD – Jesus dies and is resurrected (Amen!)
37 AD – Emperor Tiberius dies
47 AD – the start of Paul’s first missionary journey
50 AD – approximate time the New Testament books are written
64 AD – approximate time of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul
70 AD – the destruction of the Temple and the Fall of Jerusalem
Some of these dates may not agree with all historians – see H. Wayne House, Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981)
To give us an idea of what I would like you to do this week in Philippians, let us go back to our copy of Philemon. As you read through Philemon, I want you to notice areas within the letter that Paul switches from one subject to another. The easiest way to find these divisions is to repeatedly ask your self, “What is Paul saying now?” If he has changed course or changed the direction of what he is speaking about, then mark that area of division with a diagonal line (/). I’ll help you with one of them.
The first three verses in Philemon are one division. When you arrive at the 4th verse, Paul changes what he was previously saying and now begins with, “I thank my God….”
So put a forward slash between the end of verse 3 and the beginning of verse 4. Out in the left-hand margin of verses 1-3, write down a brief summary of those verses. We call that part of his letter The Greeting, so in my margin I would make a note that says ‘Greeting’. You should be able to find 3-5 divisions within Philemon depending on where you think Paul has changed what he is saying. Do that now, and include your notes in the margin and then come back to class.
Great! I’ll tell you what I have, and you tell me what you have (just kidding J).
I found a division between vs. 7/8, a division between vs. 17/18 and a division between vs. 22/23. My margins say ‘Greeting’, the next one indicates ‘Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving’, the next says ‘appealing to Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother’. The following margin note says ‘further instructions’ and lastly ‘closing’. This is a quick summary of the parts of the letter.
Day 1 – To gain an historical perspective on Paul’s letter to the Philippians please read Acts 16:6- 17:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2. Keep Philippi in mind while you read. Next read Acts 28:16-31. What is this describing? Also, it might be interesting to you to find these geographic regions/cities on your maps in the back of your Bibles.
Day 2 – Use the “What is the author saying now?” as you read through the book of Philippians and find the divisions within this book. Put your forward slash where you think a division ends and begins.
Day 3 – Review your divisions and see if you still agree with what you first thought. Change them if you need to. Then make your notes in the margins for each division.
Day 4 – Write on a separate piece of paper each division by labeling them with your margin notes. Under each division, write a few items addressed within that division.
ie: Phil.1:1-11 is The Opening
1) Senders, blessing, encouragement
2) Paul speaks of his affections
3) Prays that their love would abound.
That is all for your homework.
This was a bit of a long post, but I thank you, ladies, for keeping up and working through it! May your hearts be encouraged as you continually read of Paul’s love of the brethren, and remember that you will get to meet these people when you see Jesus face to face!
Becky, my dear sister, as always THANK YOU!
Blessings upon your homes,
Becky’s note: I found this website with neat on line maps, in case you would like to study more about the geography on Day 1