02 PURPOSE – Philippians 1:12-30Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ
All written materials for this series will be posted on this website, http://servingandsharing.com/, under the category, “Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ.” Here is my video presentation introducing this series – https://youtu.be/VBg_Wdyu104. The video of this specific class presentation, as well as all the others in this series, will be posted to this YouTube playlist as they are recorded – Faith Builders Class: Philippians, Colossians: Joyful Living in Christ – YouTube. Please use the “Contact” button to request corresponding handouts and outlines.
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02 PURPOSE Philippians 1.12-30
What difference does a sense of purpose make in our lives?
There’s an old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Purpose means that the “why” precedes the “what,” the “where,” the “when,” and the “how.” Discuss.
In this text, Phil 1:12-30, note multiple terms and phrases that relate to Paul’s sense of purpose. Begin the draw applications for our own lives as Christians today.
Php 1:12 ESV I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
What is the goal of 99.99% of people who are in prison? On what does their joy depend? How is Paul different, besides the fact that he is innocent?
See also Acts 16:25.
Can bad circumstances ever have good outcomes? Can good circumstances ever have bad outcomes? Isn’t it often a matter of perspective?
“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we view it and respond to it.”
How would you respond if the greatest evangelists in the Lord’s church were arrested?
- What a calamity! Run and hide! We’re all in danger now! Keep your faith quiet!
- What an opportunity! There’s no one to spread the gospel now but us! Let’s go!
- What a blessing! Prison wardens, judges, courts, and the media are about to hear the gospel! It will be all over the Internet and social media!
Do you think that intense persecution today would make us more bold or less bold? Why?
Paul is a slave (1:1), unjustly bound in prison (1:7), knowing that some are working hard to make his imprisonment worse (1:17). What negative emotions might a person in Paul’s situation allow to consume him and destroy him?
Do you know someone (perhaps yourself) who is a slave to others’ unjust mistreatment, to a demanding spouse, to poverty, or to illness? Someone whose enemies are trying to make his or her life worse? With what negative emotions does that person struggle?
How would you advise that person to find joy?
Which is a greater key to joy: our circumstances or our perspective? Why?
On which do we concentrate more: our circumstances or our perspective? Why?
Over which do we have the most control: our circumstances or our perspective?
If you were to trade places with someone, would you rather be Paul in prison, or a wealthy, healthy, attractive, powerful celebrity? Why?
Does Paul emphasize what he has lost or what he has gained?
… the doors that have closed or the doors that have opened?
… his enemies or his opportunities?
… his reasons to complain or his reasons to rejoice?
… the root or the fruit of his problems?
What specific benefits does Paul see coming through his imprisonment?
Word study: “imperial guard (ESV),” “praetorian guard (NAS),” “palace guard (NKJV).” Loan word from Latin. Originally, it referred to the tent occupied by the praetor (Latin for “commander”). Then, it came to refer to the army headquarters. Then, as used here, it was the emperor’s palace or the residence of a provincial governor (Mt. 27:27; Mk. 15:16; Jn. 18:28, 33; 19:9; Acts 23:35).
Are there now any Christians in Caesar’s household? Note Phil 4:22.
What do you hear other people (not you, of course!) complain about in their lives?
Now name something good that God can accomplish through, in spite of, or beyond each one of these circumstances.
Could it be that our poor perspective (little faith) limits the good and the joy that God can bring?
When we complain, what are we saying about God and about our faith in Him?
Php 1:15 ESV Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, …
Why do we let other people get under our skin and limit or ruin our joy?
Do hypocrites bother you, especially when their motives seem very transparent?
What is a hypocrite? A person who never intends to be what he pretends to be.
Does Paul know any hypocrites?
Describe why Paul’s enemies are preaching the gospel.
What is Paul’s attitude toward all this?
Note in Phil 3:18 that he also weeps over those who are enemies of the cross. He rejoices over the good that can come from these hypocritical preachers, but he weeps over the damage that the Lord’s enemies can cause.
How should we respond when people attack us out of envy or selfish ambition?
If your imprisonment would cause more people to hear about Christ, would it be worth it to you?
Php 1:19 ESV for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
“I shall rejoice, because I know …” What do Christians know that causes us to rejoice?
What are Paul’s (and our) two sources of strength? How are they related?
Word Study: “help” (1:19). Greek term used in medicine of a ligament which acts as a support; used in drama of a chorus which acts to support the whole play.
Does Paul’s anticipated deliverance necessarily mean that he knows he will not die?
Does a Christian’s death mean that God failed to deliver him or her?
Or does it mean that God provided an even greater deliverance?
Paul (and we) will be delivered, either from death or through death. If he is released from prison or executed in prison, he is still delivered. Deliverance may not come today or on our terms, but it will come in the way and at the time that God chooses.
Discuss: Paul knows his ultimate outcome, but not his immediate outcome. So do we.
Note that “hope” is equated, not with a wish or fantasy, but with “eager expectation.”
Word Study: “eagerly expect” (1:20). Greek term meaning to anticipate keenly the future, craning the neck to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead. Used only here and Rom 8:19 (“anxious longing,” NAS).
Of what can Paul be absolutely sure, whether he lives or dies?
Paul’s goal is not primarily to escape from prison, or to remain in prison, but to magnify Christ in his body, whether through life or death. Why is this aim so empowering and so liberating?
- It gives focus to every decision, every relationship, every opportunity, every temptation, every situation, and every adversity.
- It sets us free from competition, pride, and discontent. It fosters invincible joy.
- It is the one thing that the devil and the world cannot destroy. No matter where we are, or what we have lost, we retain the choice to honor Christ.
- It is not what happens to my body, but who is honored in my body, that matters.
When we lose our health – when we lose a friendship – when we lose our jobs –
We do not lose our purpose – we do not lose our direction – we do not lose our joy.
How can a Christian with terminal cancer still magnify Christ in his or her body?
How can a Christian in an unhappy marriage still magnify Christ in his or her body?
Describe other undesirable conditions in which one may still choose to exalt Christ.
Why is death perhaps the most avoided subject for people to discuss?
Does the prospect of death diminish Paul’s joy or strengthen it?
Sometimes you hear people say, regarding their tough life situation, “Well, it sure beats the alternative (referring to death)!” Would Paul agree with that?
According to those outside of Christ: To live (the purpose of life) is ________ and to die is (the meaning of death) is ________.
Php 1:22 ESV If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Why is Paul hard pressed or torn between the two?
He is eager to live so that ________. He is eager to die so that ________.
What would bring Paul greater joy, to live or to die?
What would bring the Philippians greater joy, for Paul to live or to die?
Does Paul expect to be with Christ immediately after death or not until after Judgment Day? Note also Acts 7:59-60; 2 Cor 5:6-8; 1 Thess 4:14.
Php 1:27 ESV Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, 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, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 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, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
“Only” (Greek, monon) (NIV, “Whatever happens …”) indicates a single purpose or rule for our lives. Whatever your circumstances, no matter what you suffer … “Let this be your sole aim, without compromise …” Another purpose statement.
Honestly – what is your life’s “only” direction and desire?
Word study: “Let your manner of life (ESV)” or “conduct yourselves (NAS)” (Greek, politeuo) (see Phil 3:20; Heb 11:9-10.). Meaning, “to live as a citizen.”
From politês, citizen, and that from polis, city, to be a citizen, to manage a state’s affairs, to live as a citizen. Only twice in NT, here and Acts 23:1. Cf. “politics!”
Though Philippi was a Greek city, its people were Roman citizens. How does this idea illustrate the Christian’s conduct in the world?
How can “citizens of heaven” live in a foreign land on earth? What do others see in our lives that indicates to them that “We’re not from around here?”
Word study: “Worthy” (Greek, axios) means “of equal weight” or “appropriate.” We are not “worthy” in the sense of deserving or earning the gospel’s blessings by the way we live. Yet God’s grace compels us to live in a way that fits or suits the gospel. The word is used in a similar way in Rom 16:2; Eph 4:1-3; Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12; 3 John 6; 1 Cor 11:27.
“Whether coming and seeing or absent and hearing …” The real test of a person’s character is what he does when the boss is away.
Describe someone you know (person “A”) who acts differently depending on who is present at the time. Whose presence affects this person’s behavior (a police officer, a parent, a peer group, etc.)? In what ways? Why?
Describe someone else you know (person “B”) who is always the same, no matter who is present at the time. Why is this person consistent in character and behavior, in spite of peer pressure, opposition, or danger? What does this person have that others lack?
Who has invincible joy – person “A” or person “B?” Why?
What does Paul most want to see (if present) or hear (if absent) about the Philippians?
Discuss these four ways that Christians “behave as citizens” in a way “worthy” of Christ:
- Stand firm in one spirit.
How can we become stable, unshakeable, and spiritually united?
- Contend together (as fellow athletes) with one soul for the gospel faith.
Word study: “contend” or “strive” together (Greek sunathlountes). From this word – athlete, athletics. Sun adds the idea “together.” Striving together as athletes on the same team, in an athletic contest.
What principles can we draw from strong sports teams and apply to this church?
What would Paul say to Christians who just sit in the stands and criticize?
- Be courageous (not frightened) in the face of opposition.
How does our confidence in conflict reveal our salvation and others’ destruction? See 1 Pet 3:14-15. What opposition do you fear most? How would you respond to a person who says, “I have never been criticized for boldly sharing the gospel of Christ with others?”
- Accept suffering for Christ as a generous gift, a gracious privilege.
Why is it a blessing to be “granted” spiritual struggle and conflict? See 1 Pet 4:12-16.
Should we see opposition as an obstacle or as an opportunity?
Word study: “conflict” or “struggle” (Greek agôna). Athletic or gladiatorial contest, race, or battle, as in 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7. From this word – agony, agonize, antagonize.
Oh, what an outstanding, direct, pertinent and reinforcing
On-going evidence of teaching skills!
Steve, I am always grateful for your kind words, brother.
In studying verses 12-14, our purpose when we face difficult/challenging circumstances is not to throw a pity party & proclaim “Why me?”. Our purpose is to say “What can I learn from this ___?” & “How can I encourage/support others who have faced the same?”. This attitude leads to action which gives God all the glory & praise. It also helps us to fulfill Gal 6.2,5 – we are to bear our own load (like a backpack) & bear one another’s burdens (like a boulder), which builds up the body of Christ.
Lyn, such true words. God can use each of us, wherever we are, when we ask these questions. Thank you!
What was Paul’s Purpose? Paul’s purpose was all about souls. Even in prison, he could have a joyful purpose filled life in Christ, because he “counted all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:8) and he wanted everyone to know. In other words, it wasn’t about him; it was always about Christ (3:12) and others.
Paul truly embody godliness in every situation (Philippians 4:11-13) and He had great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6, 2 Timothy 4:7-8
As we go through our lives, we should develop this mindset and remember our true purpose in life, because we serve a faithful and just God.(1 John 1:9) and we too can have great gain if we remain faithful. (Rev 2:10)
Christian’s True Purpose
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
Greg, your responses add so much to our readers’ faith and understanding. Thank you, friend.
Through all my struggles, I have tried to maintain the attitude that I can get through this. I can look around me and see others that are worse off than me. It is not all about me. Keep your eyes on the ultimate goal and know that God is going to take care of you. God never gives us more than we can bear. We have to have faith and know that God is watching over us. He certainly takes care of me in times of trouble!
Cory, I love and appreciate you more and more every day!!
Nannie Gene, you definitely live with a sense of purpose! Your faith and love shine through. I love you too, dear sister.