Chapters 1 – 2

Become a Humble Servant

Chapter 3 – 4

Stand Firm in the Lord


Author: Paul the Apostle

Original Readers: the church in Philippi

Date Written: c. AD 60-62

Written From: Prison in Rome

Key Verse: 2:5-8

Major Themes: Humility, Joy, Suffering, Unity




What does the text say?

There’s no better way to understand the literary context than carefully observing what is said.


 What does the text mean?

In light of both the literary and historical context, what was the original intended meaning of this passage?


How do I apply what the text means?

In order for us to grow and mature more into Christ’s likeness, we must apply the truths we discover in our lives.

Chapter 1:1-26 Paul's Example of Humility


  • 1:3-11 — Observe the things that Paul mentions that the Philippian church is doing well.
  • 1:3-11 — Observe the things that Paul hopes for the future of the Philippian church
  • 1:12-14 — What things have come out of Paul’s imprisonment?
  • 1:15-18 — In what ways are people proclaiming Christ?
  • 1:19-26 — How does Paul see the purpose of his life?


  • 1:1 — In his letters to the churches, Paul usually references his position as an apostle. However in Philippians he refers to himself as servants/slaves. Why do you think he didn’t refer to himself as an apostle in Philippians?
  • 1:12-14 — How do you think these people have learned of the purpose of Paul’s imprisonment? What do you think they have heard?


  • In the midst of my difficult circumstances, do I point others to Jesus and strengthen up the Christians around me? What can I do to continue to improve in this area?


1:6 — The Old Testament often refers to a future ‘Day of the Lord’. Here, Paul substitutes this phrase for the ‘Day of Jesus Christ’ showing that Jesus is divine.

Philippians 1:15-18 Proclaim Christ from Selfish Ambition?

Philippians 1:15-18 is a difficult passage, where Paul says that he rejoices, even when people proclaim Christ from selfish ambition. What is he talking about?

We will look a little closer at this passage and try to understand what Paul is talking about here. Fortunately, as we examine what Paul says elsewhere, we can come to a better understanding of this passage.

Chapter 1:27-2:18 Model Your Life After Jesus


  • 1:27 — What is Paul’s command to the Philippians?
  • 1:29 — How does Paul view suffering?
  • 2:1-5 — Observe each command that Paul gives in this passage.
  • 2:1-4 — In your own words, what do you think Paul’s main emphasis is in these verses?
  • 2:6-11 — Observe all of the aspects of Jesus that are listed in this passage.
  • 2:6-11 — Observe all of the things that Jesus did in this passage.
  • 2:9-11 — What is the result of Jesus’ humility?
  • Compare Paul’s instructions in 1:27-28 with his instructions in 2:12-13.
  • 2:14-15 — How does Paul want his readers to distinguish themselves from those around them?


  • 1:27 — What does it mean to conduct yourselves ‘in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ’?
  • 2:6-8 — Compare Jesus’ nature in verse 6, with what He did in verses 7-8. Keeping in mind the historical background, in what area(s) do you think Paul wants his readers to copy Jesus’ example?
  • 2:8 — Why might Paul have included the line ‘even death on a cross’ when writing to an audience full of Roman citizens? What effect would this have when talking about Jesus?
  • 2:6-11 — What are all of the truths about Jesus that are taught in this passage?


  • How does my view of suffering compare with Paul’s view and Jesus’ example?
  • 2:6-8 — What areas in my life do I focus more on my rights than on serving others? What can I do to become more effective in imitating Christ’s example?


Because of the rhythmic nature of this passage (when spoken in Greek), most scholars think that Paul is quoting an early Christian hymn about Jesus here. It is possible that to this hymn, Paul added the last line in verse 8, “even death on a cross”.

2:10 seems to be a reference to something God said about Himself in Isaiah 45:23.

Philippians 2:6-11 The Hymn of Christ

These verses are commonly known as ‘the Hymn of Christ’, and are one of the most profound passages about Jesus in the entire Bible.

Who is Jesus Christ?
There is more to this passage than we may realize.

Chapter 2:19-30 Timothy & Epaphroditus’ Example of Humility


  • 2:19-24 — What qualities of Timothy does Paul highlight here? How does that compare to Jesus in 2:6-11?
  • 2:25-30 — How does Paul validate Epaphroditus?


  • 2:19-24 — What qualities of Paul can we see here, with him sending Timothy to serve the Philippians?
  • 2:25-30 — What effect would Paul’s validation of Epaphroditus have for his ministry to his home church?


  • Is there anyone in my life that I can elevate and validate before others to improve their effectiveness in life and/or ministry?

Chapter 3:1-4:9 Keep Doing What You Have Learned


  • 3:3 — For Paul, what is the markings of someone truly being one of the ‘circumcision’? In other words, what makes someone a true Jew according to Paul?
  • 3:4-6 — What does Paul list are the reasons why he could be confident in his flesh/credentials?
  • 3:7-9 — How does Paul now view the things that he formerly had confidence in? Where does Paul now find confidence?
  • 3:10-14 — What now motivates Paul?
  • 3:18-21 — How are the enemies of the cross contrasted with His followers?
  • 3:20-21 — What is the focus for followers of Jesus?
  • 4:2-3 — How does Paul want disunity addressed in this circumstance?
  • 4:4-9 — Observe each command of Paul.
  • Compare 4:18-19 with 4:8. How do these two groups look different from each other?


  • 3:4-6 — Why would Paul list the reasons why he could be confident in his flesh/credentials?
  • 3:4-9 — In light of the historical background of the book, how can the Philippians learn from Paul’s example in this passage?
  • 3:15 — Paying attention to the context, what does Paul mean when he says that the mature are to think in this way?
  • 3:20 — Why would Paul talk about our citizenship being in heaven to the Philippian church? What impact might this have had with them?
  • 4:2-3 — Why would Paul remind those struggling with unity that their names are all written in the Book of Life?


  • Are there any areas in my life where I look at my pedigree or accomplishments as something that makes me extra deserving of God’s blessing?
  • 4:4-9 — Read and meditate through these commands of Paul. Ask God which of these He is challenging you to apply in a new way at this time.


3:2 — Paul warns of the ‘dogs’, ‘evildoers’, and ‘those who mutilate the flesh’. Many scholars believe that Paul has one group in mind when he is writing this warning, known as Judaizers. These Judaizers were also a big part of the background to the book of Galatians. They taught that for Gentile Christians to become followers of Jesus, they must first convert to Judaism. To them a big part of the conversion experience included the rite of circumcision. 

Chapter4:10-23 Thankfulness for Philippians' Generosity


  • 4:11-13 — What are the ‘all things’ that Paul can do through Christ?
  • 4:14 — How does Paul describe their generosity?
  • 4:15-18 — What strikes you about the Philippian church? See also 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.


  • 4:15-18 — What role do you think the Philippian church played in Paul’s ministry?


  • What role does generosity play in the Kingdom of God? What impact does God want me to make in this area?

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