>Time to Study Philippians -Week Five-

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Greetings to the ladies of our Philippians study!
Welcome to Week Five~
This study and the following three weeks of lessons 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!
Let us begin by looking at Proverbs 16:7 –

When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be a peace with him.

Let us start today by looking over last week’s homework. Did you find any interesting cross-references? According to my Bible, there were quite a few I could list. I will list some New Testament references, but I do want to also discuss one specific Old Testament reference. First re-read Phil. 1:27 – 2:11 to get us thinking about our text. This portion of Philippians is considered a teaching part (1:27-2:18). The verses following 1:27 show how verse 27 is to be lived out.
Phil. 1:27 “Only let your manner of life (conduct) be worthy of the gospel of Christ…”
1 Tim. 4:12 “…but set the believers an example on speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, impurity.” See also Eph. 4:1.
Phil. 1:27 (continued) “…so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, …”
1 Cor. 1:10 “I appeal to you, brother, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” See also Eph. 4:3-6.
Phil. 1:29 “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, …”
Matt. 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Moving ahead in our passage…
Phil. 2:3 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
Rom. 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” See also James 4:10.
There are many, many more and it would take me quite a while to write them all down and you quite a while to read and check them. Did any of you find references to your Old Testament? How about to Isaiah 45? Please read all of Isaiah 45 and then we’ll look at it together.
Is. 45:1 – Do you remember who Cyrus is? Turn to 2 Chronicles 36:17-21 and read those verses. This passage is speaking about God fulfilling what Isaiah the prophet had been telling the Israelites for the entirety of the book of Isaiah – that if the Israelites don’t repent of their sin, and turn back to worship the Lord (see also 2 Chron. 36:15-16), He would destroy their nation and send them into exile, to a foreign land, and under the rule of a foreign king. Second Chronicles says, “He [the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar] took into exile those [Israelites] who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the King of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah*, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”  *Read Jeremiah 25:11-12.
Now back in 2 Chronicles 36:22 – 23, (please turn there), we see that God ‘stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia,’ to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem that King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed. Turn one page in your Bibles to the book of Ezra, and here Cyrus is mentioned again. Please read Ezra 1:1- 2:2. This is the same Cyrus we also find spoken of in Isaiah 45. So, let’s go back to Isaiah now that we know who Cyrus is and how God used him.
Please read chapter 45 in Isaiah, then Philippians 2:9-11, and then come back to Isaiah. Did you notice Paul quoting Isaiah 45:23 in Phil. 2:10-11? The Philippians passage comes right after Paul is taking about their manner of life being worthy of the gospel. Paul goes on to describe Jesus and his life, proving who he was and that he was Jesus Christ their Lord. The Isaiah passage Paul quotes is stating there is one and only one God, (Is. 45:5) the creator of all. God will use Cyrus, the Persian King, to restore and ‘save’ his people by returning them to the land God had promised them. (Does that sound familiar? This passage is a type or a foreshadowing of God’s true Anointed.) But, there are those who want to contend with the Lord and his decisions (Is. 45: 9-10). God then reminds them of who He is (Is. 45:11-13). Isaiah tells how God “will make all of his [Cyrus] ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for a price or reward,’ say the Lord of hosts.” (Is. 45:13) Farther in this section of Isaiah, verses 21-23 are focusing on the one and only God and Savior. These are strong statements to prove Jesus’ deity. Plus, Jesus’ humiliation and then subsequent exaltation is a mysterious work of God – to hide himself in human form; gods of stone and clay can’t do that!
Therefore, when Paul is quoting Isaiah to the Philippians, he is reminding them of who Jesus is. This is kind of a long explanation, but it is an important one.

The main idea of Phil. 1:27-2:11


Paul is exhorting and encouraging them to ‘let your manner be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” pointing out unity, boldness and humility, using Christ as the ultimate example.


This week’s lesson

As you are reading your Bible, when you see a ‘therefore’ do you ask yourself, “What is the ‘therefore’ there for? If you are not already doing so, ask yourself this question and then read a few passages above (or below depending on the author) to know the context and to see what it is we should be paying attention to. Is it important teaching you should look at again? Is it an ‘if-then’ statement, that tells you to do something? Is it a word or words that make you ask, “Why?” There are certain words or phrases that naturally connect two sentences, or two parts of a sentence together – to make them fit logically. I call them pointers and I will list a few for you:
And, moreover, furthermore, likewise, neither, nor, then, or, but, while, on the one hand, even as, like, not…but, because, for, since, therefore, consequently, in order that, so, although, so that, nevertheless, whenever, and many more. You probably read them every day without really paying attention to them. But, (and I just used one there!) careful Bible study demands you pay attention to them. Here’s an example from Philemon 1:13-14:

 “I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be compulsion but of your own free will.”

Do you see the “pointers”? When you get to the first in order that, ask yourself the question, “Why?” right before you read it. The statement following the in order that, answers the question of why Paul would have been glad to keep him [Onesimus]. So, why didn’t Paul keep him then? Since (but) Paul didn’t want to do anything without Philemon’s consent. Why? (in order that) Philemon’s response would not be forced, or imposed, but his kindness would be out of brotherly love. Paying attention to how logical Paul is in his writings, gives us a better understanding of the meaning and intent of his letters. Looking at the “pointers” allows us to be able to paraphrase the text if need be.
Paraphrasing is when you say what someone else has already said, but using different words and in many times, condensing it into a shorter form. To begin a paraphrase, look for the key words, or the main words and then chose words to accompany them without loosing the meaning of the text. Be careful not to alter what is being said by your word choice.
If I paraphrased Philemon 1:13-17, it might look something like this:
I, Paul, would have liked, and did want Onesimus to stay with me during my time in jail, because he would have been a tremendous comfort and help to me, since I am jailed for the gospel, and you, yourself, were not able to be of aid. But, since I wasn’t able to ask you about it first, and he is still your slave, even though now he is a brother, I didn’t think it was right for me to keep him. So, I am sending him back to you. Philemon, I don’t want to force your hand in this decision, but, if you should choose to send him to me, I know it would be a sincere gift and one from your heart. And that is a better reason to do something rather than being forced into it.
(My paraphrase didn’t shorten the text – it appears to have lengthened it.) J
Sometimes, as we try to paraphrase writings, the meaning of the original text is made clearer, a sharper image of the passage it now visible to us. Sometimes paraphrasing can ‘water a text down’ – it can remove meaning by substituting words that create a different idea or response. Choose your words carefully.
This week’s homework…
Day 1) read Philippians 2:12-18 a few times. On the third time, circle any of the words that are “pointers” and then read to find out what the “pointer” is pointing and locate any logical relationships.
Day 2) Write a paraphrase of Phil. 2:12-13  – be careful not to change the meaning of the text.
Day 3) Write a paraphrase of Phil. 2:14-16
Day 4) Write a paraphrase of Phil. 2:17-18. Are you portraying the meaning of the text as Paul intended?
Day 5) Do you understand what Paul is saying more clearly than before? Write what you think the main point of Philippians 2:12-18 is.
We’re finished!
Thank you for coming to class, and for studying through Philippians with me. Becky, thank you for your kindness to me and your love to all the saints – wherever we may live!
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
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