The book of Philippians in the New Testament has the theme of joy.
Our family has greatly benefited from studying Philippians recently, especially digging into it to see what God wants to say to us.
So I wanted to share some of what we’re learning here. This inductive Bible Study of Philippians is formatted in such a way that you can study by both reading and answering questions.
Background of the Epistle to the Philippians
Paul wrote the epistle (letter) to the Philippians. Since we know that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17), we know that the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul, giving him the words to write to the Philippians.
Paul also mentions Timothy as being with him (vs. 1). So both Paul and Timothy are greeting the Philippians.
The city of Philippi is in Macedonia. It was the first place in Macedonia where Paul planted a church.
Acts 15:39-41 __________________
Acts 16:1-5 __________________
Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3; Acts 16:11 (“we”) ________________
Who did Paul and his fellow workers meet by the riverside near Philippi (Acts 16:13-14)? _________________
Describe this person. __________________________________________________________
What happened after Paul spoke to her (Acts 16:15)?
So, these believers were likely among the saints in Philippi to whom Paul wrote the book of Philippians!
Acts 16:15 says that Lydia invited Paul and his companions to stay at her house. Some have suggested that eventually the church in Philippi may have met in Lydia’s home.
Where was Paul when he wrote the Epistle to the Philippians? Find some clues about his surroundings in these verses:
What is Paul hoping for (1:19)? ________________________________
Does it seem like he is suffering or in a comfortable situation (1:29-30; 2:17)? ________________________
Who were some of the people around him at the time he was writing this epistle?
The “palace guard” or “praetorian guard” was comprised of thousands of Roman soldiers (likely between 4,000 and 10,000). They were a special group there in Rome, and quite influential.
The name “Caesar” referred to the Roman emperor — the head of the Roman Empire. There were 12 Caesars in the history of the Roman Empire. The particular Caesar who was in power at the time that the book of Philippians would have been written, was Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, commonly called “Nero.” He ruled from 37 AD to 68 AD.
Paul was actually imprisoned in Rome two different times. The first time was from 60 AD to 62 AD. His imprisonment was in the form of being under house arrest (in his own home), yet he was still in chains (1:13,14,16).
This is most likely the time when he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. These four books are called The Prison Epistles.
Paul’s second Roman imprisonment was in 66 AD, and that’s when he was martyred.
Key Verse for Chapter 1
The two phrases are very different, because the first says “to live,” and the second says “to die.”
However, they are very similar, because the first says “is Christ,” and the second says “is gain.”
Basically, he’s saying that either way, it’s good, because of Christ.
It is this attitude of being in Christ, and Christ in him, that shapes Paul’s attitude and outlook on everything else.
How does Paul describe himself and Timothy in verse 1? ___________________________
Who else does Paul describe in this way, in chapter 2, verses 5-7? ______________________
Who is Paul writing to (1:1)? How does he refer to them? _____________________________________________________________________
Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7 about the qualifications of a bishop/elder/overseer.
Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13 about the qualifications of a deacon.
To “deacon” means to “serve.” This is what Martha did when Jesus came to their house (Luke 10:38-41). She served. That is, she deaconed, right in her own home.
Although Jesus wanted Martha to know that sitting at His feet and listening to Him is more important than serving, serving is very important, too. (Otherwise, how would people eat?)
That’s why a church needs both bishops (elders) and deacons.
How does the Greeting Relate to the Key Verse of Chapter 1?
To live is Christ, and we are ________________________ of Jesus Christ.
To live is Christ, and we are ___________________ because of the righteousness of Christ.
To live is Christ, and He blesses our lives with His ________________ and _______________.