Philippians, Lesson 6: Final Exhortations

Paul2 (610x350)Paul just finished saying that he wasn’t perfect (that is reached the fullness of salvation that takes place on the Last Day).  But Paul also recognized that from an eternal perspective Christians are perfect, bringing out the “now” and “not yet” of our life in Christ. 

Paul now exhorts the Philippian Christians to imitate him.


Still Pursuing the Eternal Prize

Read Philippians 3:17

–          What does Paul tell the Philippian Christians to do?


–          Discuss to role of imitating the saints.


Imitating Others

When Paul offered himself as an example and role model for the Philippians, he wasn’t boasting.  In 1 Corinthians 11:1 he said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”  The Philippians recognized the Apostle Paul and Pastor Timothy as spiritually mature believers, whom the Lord himself had qualified to serve as examples to the Philippians.

Paul, through Timothy, literally wrote, “be co-imitators of me.”  “Co-imitators” is a word that appears nowhere else in the New Testament.  Paul may have coined that term to emphasize imitation as a communal activity–they were to collaborate as a church in emulating Paul’s way of life.

Paul even develops that idea a bit more.  He then wrote, “Observe those who live according to the model you have in us.”  They were to imitate one another as they followed Paul’s way of imitating Christ.  The plural “us” emphasizes that Paul was not the only model.  Thus, as Christians, we learn from and imitate others when they are faithful.

Read Philippians 3:18-19

–          What had happened to some people whom Paul loved and admired?


–          What had become their god?


–          Because of that, unless they are brought to repentance, what will be their end?


Read Philippians 3:20-21

Paul now completes a line of thinking he had been developing since Philippians 1: 27-30.  That was when Paul told the Philippian Christians that they were citizens of the Gospel, not simply people who were choosing to live a certain way.  In that passage, he encouraged them to exercise their citizenship.

In Philippians 1:27, Paul earlier used the word, “citizenship” (politeuomai), as a verb; here he uses it as a noun (politeuma).  To those whose end was destruction, Paul now contrasts the true Christian mindset, which looks toward heaven.  Paul now harvests the seed planted earlier in 1:27: The source of their security and identity is the risen Messiah, whom they worship as Lord and Savior, not Caesar or the world.

–          What will our lowly bodies changed to be like?


–          When?


–          What does that mean for eternity after the Last Day for Christians?


Final Exhortations

Read Philippians 4:1

–          What does Paul exhort here?


Read Philippians 4:2-3

Apparently, two women, Euodia and Synteche, were active members of the Philippian congregation.  However, they had some disagreement, which was threatening the unity of the congregation.  Otherwise, it is difficult to understand why Paul mentioned their names in a letter, which was to be read publicly in church.

–          Besides calling these two women to reconcile, what does Paul also do to help resolve the conflict? (vs. 3)


Note on Clement: This is the only mention of him in the New Testament.  Early Christian tradition identifies him as Clement of Rome, the fourth bishop of Rome (after Peter, Linus, and Anacletus) and the author of an ancient epistle known as 1 Clement (Eusebius, Church History 3, 15-16).

Read Philippians 4:4-5

–          What does the repetition of “rejoice” emphasize?


–          What does Paul’s statement, “The Lord is at hand,” reveal about his worldview?


–          If we are to “imitate” Paul, what then should be our worldview and how would that influence our behavior?


Read Philippians 4:6-7

–          Paul says not to have anxiety about “anything” by saying what about the “everything” in our lives?


Prayer: This world regularly occurs in both Old and New Testaments to mean a “petition” made to God.  Paul often used it to mean a “petition” for others, that is, intercession (Romans 1:10, 15:30; Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 4:2, 12; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 1:4, 22).

Supplication: Refers to the specific things that are asked, instead of the act or the form of the prayer.

Thanksgiving: Thanking God based on the attitude of one’s heart.  Thus, by offering their petitions with a thankful heart, they show that they are prepared to surrender themselves to God’s will whatever the circumstances.

–          Because God is the One who hears and answers their prayers, what does that give to the one praying?


–          Why?


Read Philippians 4:8-9

–          Based on Paul’s list that he tells the Philippians Christians to “think on,” what is he saying about whose mind we should have?


Excellence: When Paul used the term “excellence,” he challenged others to ponder all that is virtuous, so it may fill our minds and push out that which is impure and unworthy.  This was not looking at something to see if it was “not bad,” but instead seeking out that which was good.  This shows the close relationship between that which is good within you (the content of the faith) and conduct (the living out of the faith).  The Old Testament Apocrypha book of Wisdom 8:7, links together loving righteousness (that which is good) and virtuous deeds that flow forth from that.


Joyful thanks for the gift of love

Read Philippians 4:10-13

–          What has Paul learned to do?  What does this say about “growing” in the faith?


–          Discuss the context and Paul’s statement, “I can do all things.”  How is that statement sometimes misunderstood and misapplied?


Read Philippians 4:14-16

–          How special is Paul to the Philippian congregation and vice versa?


Read Philippians 4:17-19

–          When Paul thanks the Philippians, he does not say, “Thanks for the gift.  I’m glad because I can surely use it.”  Why was he saying “thank you”? (vs. 17)


–          By calling their gift a “fragrant offering,” what was Paul saying?


Final Goodbye

Read Philippians 4:20-23