05 PURSUIT Philippians 3Philippians 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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05 PURSUIT Philippians 3
Describe the strangest or funniest encounter you have ever had with a dog. What did you learn from it? What did the dog learn? What warnings have you given your children about certain dogs? If you saw a dog attacking your child, how quickly and in what specific ways would you react?
What if you were an apostle and you knew that false teachers were attacking a church full of your “children,” those you had won to Christ?
(3:1) Why would Paul intentionally repeat himself? Why should we? See 2 Pet 1:12-15.
(3:2) In the original text Paul says, “Watch out!” three times. Read these words with the tone of voice you think Paul would have intended. What emotions do you think filled his heart?
Dogs were unclean animals, which Jews and Judaizers despised. In eastern countries, dogs were homeless creatures, running wild in the streets and scrounging food. How might false teachers be considered as “dogs?” Read Acts 20:29-31.
“The mutilation” (Greek, katatome) is a sarcastic term to describe the false teachers’ attitude toward circumcision (Greek, peritome). Whether they were zealous Jews or Christian Judaizers, they insisted that a person must be physically circumcised in order to be saved. They boasted in that rather than in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In addition, they gave full rein to the flesh.
Read Rom 2:17-29. Why should the Jews not have boasted about having God’s Law?
Read Gal 5:1-12. Again note both the content and tone of Paul’s words.
Was Paul being intolerant, judgmental, or unloving to speak so strongly about false teachers? Note similar language from Jesus in Matt 23, especially 23:33.
What kinds of vicious false teaching do we face today that can damage God’s people?
(3:3) List three characteristics of those who are “the true circumcision.”
(3:4-6) How did Jews like Paul (before he met Christ) measure themselves in comparison with others? What criteria did they use? What was their attitude toward uncircumcised Gentiles?
What made the Benjamites and the Pharisees somewhat elite, standing above their fellow Jews? What famous Benjamite king was Paul likely named after?
Read Luke 18:9-14; 2 Cor 11:21-22.
Did God bless the Jews so that they would feel superior to others? If not, then why?
What might modern Christians use to boast about themselves rather than Christ?
- “I have baptized large numbers of people.”
- “I have been a Christian a long time. I’m a charter member of this church!”
- “I am an outstanding Bible student / teacher / preacher / church leader.”
- “I personally know Brother Goldentone. He baptized me!”
In what secular factors do people tend to put their confidence today – in their net worth, their accomplishments, their appearance, their possessions, their popularity, their position, or something else? What will people do or buy in order to gain confidence? Why is it that many people, no matter what they do, still feel inferior, insecure, and unworthy?
(3:7) What reversed Paul’s definition of “profit” and “loss?”
(3:8) What had Paul lost? What had he gained? Was the “exchange” worth it to him?
Word study: Dung (NIV, “rubbish”) (skubala). Late word of uncertain etymology, either connected with skôr (dung) or from es kunas ballô, to fling to the dogs, and so refuse of any kind.
(3:9) What is righteousness, and what (or who) is its only source? Do we earn it or receive it?
Which is a greater motivator, Law-righteousness or Christ-righteousness? Why?
(3:10-11) Discuss the meaning of these words: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” See Rom 8:17; 2 Cor 4:8-12.
Can you say these same words with full conviction?
Why did Paul have such a ravenous, unquenchable thirst to know and imitate Christ? How can Christians have that same degree of zeal today?
How can a Christian today “become like Jesus in His death?” Be specific.
If you could enter the Olympics, what event(s) would you choose? What sets outstanding athletes apart from spectators and mediocre athletes? When (if ever) does a great athlete say, “I have arrived?” Describe an exemplary athlete whom you admire and explain why.
FOUR STATEMENTS THAT DESCRIBE US (3:12-16):
We have not yet arrived.
We pursue one goal.
We forget the past.
We strain toward the future.
Discuss the difference between, “Look how far I’ve come!” and “I’m not yet where I want to be!”
What has Paul not yet obtained that he is eager to reach?
- Perfect likeness to Christ in His death and resurrection.
- Total accomplishment of his mission for Christ on earth.
- The beginning of eternity in heaven.
Wesleyan perfectionism is the belief that, after receiving a “second work of grace” from the Holy Spirit, a Christian will become perfectly sinless in this life. This is not true!
What is the difference between “perfect” (3:12) and “mature” (3:15)? Both words render the same Greek term – teleios – that has to do with reaching the end or the finish line. Include Matt 5:48 (“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”) in your answer. Also consider 1 Cor 2:6; 14:20; Eph 4:13; Col 1:28; 4:12.
(3:12) “To press on” (dioko) is to pursue or chase after, as a runner toward the goal. Compare:
1 Cor 14:1 (pursue love); Rom 9:30 (righteousness); 1 Tim 6:11 (righteousness, godliness, etc.)
(3:13) What are the “things which are behind” Paul and us, which we must forget?
Why must we forget these things? How can we? What if we do not?
(3:15) How does God make it clear to us when we need to change our thinking?
(3:17) If Paul is not perfect, why should we follow his example? Apply this to shepherds (elders).
FOUR QUESTIONS THAT DEFINE US (3:17-19):
What is our destiny?
Who/what is our god?
In what is our glory?
What is our mindset?
The Christian faith has been threatened both by self-righteous legalism on the one hand (3:2-6) and permissive liberalism on the other (3:18-19). Discuss the dangers of each.
(3:18) Do you think of Paul as tough and strong, or tender and tearful?
Why would this mighty, confident, joyful, passionate apostle weep? See 2 Cor 2:4.
(3:19) Discuss each characteristic of these libertarian “enemies of the cross of Christ:”
- Their destiny (or end) is destruction.
Contrast this with the destiny that Paul anticipates (3:20-21).
- Their god is their stomach.
(hou to theos hê koilia). The comic poet Eupolis uses the rare word koiliodaimôn for one who makes a god of his belly, and Seneca speaks of one who serves his belly (abdomini servit). Sensuality in food, drink, and sex, then as now, mastered some men.
- Their glory is in their shame. See 1 Pet 4:1-5.
They take pride in behavior that ought to disgust and repulse them. They boast of their filth.
- Their mind is on earthly things.
What are these “earthly things?” How can we live in the world but not think like the world?
FOUR BENEFITS THAT DRIVE US (3:20-21):
Our Savior and Lord.
(3:20) Paul’s readers live in Philippi but are citizens of Rome. Because of that:
Their attitude, speech, and behavior must fit their true identity.
They must have longed for their emperor to visit their city, reveal his glory, and reward them as his loyal people who have served him well in a foreign land.
How does this apply to our daily lives as Jesus’ followers?
(3:21) What will happen to our “lowly bodies” when Christ visits His citizens from heaven?
Compare 1 Cor 15:49; 1 John 3:1-3.
Close your eyes. Can you see Him in the sky? What do you hear? What emotions fill your heart?
Now open your eyes. With that image still in your mind, press on! Strain forward! Win the prize!
(4:1) Note again Paul’s affectionate, tender way of addressing those he exhorts.
Therefore (because of your present citizenship and your future transformation), in this way stand firm in the Lord!
How can you tell when you are standing firm and when you are likely to fall?