Philippians Week #10 – Notes for Church

Philippians 3:17-4:1

 

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

4 Therefore, my brothers,[a] whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

 

HEAVEN. Philippians 3:20 says that “our citizenship is in heaven.” What is heaven? At the consummation of all things there will be a completely reconstructed creation, a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21–22). However, heaven is not just a future reality and place. Nor is it simply the dwelling of those who die before Christ’s return. Heaven is also a present, invisible reality for the saints living on earth. Every Christian is already “blessed … with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). Raised up with Christ in regeneration, we are mysteriously but really “seated … with him in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6). So when Paul writes “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20), he is not only encouraging us to think about where we will go, but also about where we are now. It is a concept as majestic as it is mysterious. We “see” this realm now only with the eyes of faith (2 Cor. 4:18). We must “set our minds” on it (Col. 3:2) and long for the day when “heaven” will not only become visible but will overtake and transform everything.

 

Detour Ahead: Much of the focus of this section is on a group Paul refers to as enemies of the cross. Paul draws more attention to them by delaying the disclosure of who the many are. He creates this delay by making two impassioned statements about the steps he has taken to warn the Philippians about such people. He’s mentioned them in the past, and now weeping, he raises the issue again. This not only heightens the emotion of his plea, it also delays the disclosure of who the many are: enemies of the cross.

 

Us vs. Them: Paul offers contrasting portraits of the enemies of the cross in comparison with what believers may expect. In rapid succession, Paul introduces a topic and makes a comment about the enemies. After four such comments, he moves on to contrast them with what believers do or expect. The close parallels in the topics sharpen the contrast between us and them.

 

Runge, S. E. (2011). High Definition Commentary: Philippians (Php 3:15–21). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

3:17 fellow imitators of me Paul regularly presents himself as a model for believers to follow (compare 1 Cor 4:16; 11:1; Gal 4:12). In Philippians, he also praises others who are worthy of imitation—Christ, Timothy, and Epaphroditus (Phil 2:5, 22, 25, 29).

 

3:18 enemies of the cross of Christ These enemies seem to be different from the group that was promoting circumcision for non-Jewish believers (vv. 2–3). Paul associates them with sensual pleasures and shameful behavior (v. 19), suggesting they are libertines rather than keepers of the law.

 

3:19 whose end is destruction Paul assures the Philippians that such people will face divine judgment.

 

3:20 our commonwealth exists in heaven Roman citizenship was highly prized, but Paul encourages believers to embrace a far better identity as citizens of God’s kingdom. Most residents of Philippi probably lacked Roman citizenship (see note on 1:1). For any believers who did hold Roman citizenship, Paul’s statement here presents a challenge to look beyond their earthly status and show the highest allegiance to Christ.

 

a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ In the Roman Empire, the emperor was known as the savior and lord. By applying these titles to Jesus, Paul is calling the Philippians to live under the authority and reign of the universe’s true Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. It was likely this kind of message that landed Paul and Silas in jail in Philippi (Acts 16:21).

 

3:21 transform our humble body Those who believe in Christ will be raised and their bodies will be transformed (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:20–22, 51–54).

 

Philippians Week 10 – GOING DEEPER STUDY


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Philippians Week #9 – Notes for Church

 

Philippians 3:12-16

 

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained

 

JESUS HAS MADE ME HIS OWN. Quite similar to Philippians 2:12–13 (“work out your own salvation … for it is God who works in you”) Paul writes in 3:12–13, “I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Both passages stress the complementary truths of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. What is unique about 3:12–13, however, is the personal, even intimate, tone: “Jesus has made me his own.” Whether in initial grace or in ongoing sanctification, the reality is not simply that God works (or draws, or changes, or grows, or purifies—all good and important!), but that Jesus is making us his own. He is powerfully at work in us because he has taken us as his own. This should daily energize us, as it did Paul, to “press on to make it my own,” even “straining forward” to Christ and Christlikeness (Phil. 3:12–14).

 

FROM LOWLINESS TO GLORY. Paul ends this chapter by rejoicing that when Jesus returns he “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (v. 21). The path from lowliness to glory is a well-trodden one by this point in Philippians. The supreme example is that of Christ in his incarnation and crucifixion, leading to his resurrection and exaltation (2:5–11). Similarly, Paul’s life being “poured out as a drink offering” (in execution) is something to “rejoice” in since it will demonstrate, at the “day of Christ,” that he “did not run in vain” (vv. 16–17). Epaphroditus, too, was “near to death” (v. 27) because of his service to Paul on the Philippians’ behalf. God rescued him from life-threatening sickness; thus, the church should “honor” him (v. 29). Paul, again in chapter 3, recounts his great “loss” for the sake of Christ (vv. 4–8)—a passage that ends with his expectation and longing to “attain the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11). So, too, 3:21 treks that path between present lowliness (“our lowly body”) and future glory (“transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body”). All put together, it is clear that Paul is making an important point!

 

Kelly, R. (2014). Philippians, A 12-Week Study. (J. I. Packer, D. C. Ortlund, & L. T. Dennis, Eds.) (pp. 71–72). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

 

Paul’s Big Idea: Paul draws attention to the positive thing he does (in contrast to the two negative counterpoints of 3:12). He uses the Greek equivalent of saying, “Hey, guess what!” or “Get this!” In both cases, there is a reference ahead to some concept that is yet to be introduced. Doing this does two things: it adds an extra reference to the idea, and it delays the introduction of it with the extra reference.

 

Thing One, Thing Two: Paul introduces his big idea in a specific context, set up at the end of 3:13. He does so in two parts. The first part involves letting go of the past. The way this is phrased in Greek, the original audience would have expected some related element was coming before they even finished reading or hearing the first one. It’s the same kind of strategy that shippers use when they label boxes: “Box 1 of 2.” If they didn’t do this, we would only expect one box. The Greek word is usually left untranslated since there is no good English counterpart. Paul uses the word so that the Philippians would expect that more was coming, even before they hear about letting go of the past.

 

On the Harshness Scale: In most of Paul’s letters he is very direct and to the point. If he wants you to do something, he commands you: “Do this!” This tone stands in contrast with the letters of John and Hebrews, where the writers use a gentler, less direct “Let’s do this.” The inclusion of the speaker in the exhortation softens the message—it’s not just the audience being confronted. This changes what could have been a harsh command into a gentler exhortation. Paul uses this approach only twice in Philippians (3:15 and 16). The change in tone coincides with the lead-up to addressing the conflict between Euodia and Syntyche in 4:2.

 

Runge, S. E. (2011). High Definition Commentary: Philippians (Php 3:15–21). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

Notes

 

3:12 been made perfect Paul has not yet arrived at his goal. The Greek verb used here, teleioō, can refer to being perfected, being completed, or reaching a goal.

 

3:14 the goal Paul’s athletic imagery in these verses likely captured the attention of the Philippians, whose proximity to Greece exposed them to the Greek athletic games. For Paul, the ultimate goal is knowing Christ’s resurrection power and dwelling with Him in the age to come (Phil 3:10–11, 21).

 

3:15 perfect The Greek adjective used here, teleios, is related to the verb in v. 12. In this case, Paul probably is calling on mature believers to adopt the mindset he has just described (vv. 7–14).

 

Crank the Blanks

 

The call by God is the ____________ of Spiritual Life

 

Be ____________ of God’s purpose for calling you

 

_________ Me!

 

My favorite Greek word is ____________ 

New home rules for my teens

 

  • __________________

 

 

  • __________________

 

 

  • __________________

 

Philippians Week #9 – Going Deeper Study Link

 


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Philippians Week #7 – Notes for Church

Philippians 2:12-18

Lights in the World
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
 
SALVATION, A FULL PACKAGE. The letter to the Philippians is replete with assurance that when God begins his saving work, he will bring it to completion (1:6). There is a genuine, personal responsibility to work out his salvation (i.e., work out the implications more deeply and more broadly in all of life). But even this call is grounded in the reality that God continues to work “in you” (2:12–13). Even more encouraging is the fact that he does this “for [or according to] his good pleasure” (v. 13)—not according to our work or good intentions. He is not limited by us; rather, he enables and empowers us. Paul is explicit: God works in our wills and in our works (v. 13) And, again, why? Because he wants to! It’s his plan and pleasure to do this!
 
WORKING BECAUSE OF GOD’S WORK. The sovereignty of God’s sanctifying work in the Christian is far from a disincentive to our own personal work. God’s work is the very basis and primary motivation for ours. It is certainly a mystery precisely how the human responsibility of verse 12 and the divine sovereignty of verse 13 work together, but both are indeed true; both truths are clearly stated. But the word connecting them, “for” (v. 13), is telling, since it speaks to the motivation of our work, or the implication of God’s work. God’s ongoing, gracious work must not lead to laziness, indifference, or passivity, but to an awe-filled longing and striving to see salvation worked out more broadly and deeply.
 
THE SIN OF GRUMBLING. Paul calls on the church to resist “grumbling” and “disputing” (v. 14). This is one way in which salvation is worked out into the corners of everyday life. But this seemingly simple command also has a missional aim: “that you may be … without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world” (v. 15). The absence of complaining and arguing is a testifying mark of those who have put their full trust in the Lord and his plans. Therefore, God takes the sin of grumbling quite seriously. This was a major theme in Israel’s years in the wilderness. Not coincidentally, Paul quotes from one of those stories of Israel’s grumbling when he exhorts the Philippians to be “without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (see Deut. 32:5). But Paul borrows this language with a twist. Deuteronomy 32:5 spoke of the grumbling Israelites as “no longer his children” but rather “blemished” and part of a “crooked and twisted generation.” But Paul now calls on the Philippians, as true “children of God” (v. 15), to do what Israel did not do: to trust God and not complain or argue. They must be different from Israel of old and the world around them now.
 
LIGHTS IN THE WORLD. When Paul writes that the Philippians “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15), he is tapping into rich biblical language. God promised in Isaiah 42:6–7 that he would one day “give a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind.” The New Testament writers clearly saw this promise fulfilled in the coming of Jesus (Matt. 4:16; Luke 2:32). In fact, Jesus himself insisted that he is “the light of the world” (John 8:12); he came into the world “as light, so that whoever believes” in him will “not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). But Jesus also told his disciples that, by extension, they are “the light of the world.” He said, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14–16). Elsewhere in Isaiah, God said he will raise up a people who will be “a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). Paul and Barnabas quote these very words as the basis for their mission to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47). So too the Philippians are to “shine as lights in the world.” In short, the Philippians are part of this same great thematic development in God’s global saving purposes.
 
SACRIFICIAL OFFERING. Paul sees his possible martyrdom as a “drink offering” (Phil. 2:17). This is language from the Old Testament Levitical system in which wine was poured onto the ground or an altar as a sacrifice and as a symbol of a life poured out for God. Paul sees his death as worship, as sacrifice, and as a sign of a life fully consecrated to the Lord (see 1:20). Further, he sees the sacrifice of his life as a drink offering which is “upon the sacrificial offering of [the Philippians’] faith” (2:17). Their faith and ministry is its own sacrificial offering. Paul’s “offering” in death, should he soon be martyred, would be a kind of completion of their sacrifice (again, see 3 John 6–8).
 
SANCTIFICATION. The Westminster Shorter Catechism from the 1640s explains sanctification as “the work of God’s free grace whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” That’s what Paul writes about in Philippians 2:12ff., beginning with a general appeal (vv. 12–13) and moving to specifics like not grumbling (v. 14) but instead rejoicing (v. 18). This is a lifelong process, not something immediate or fully achieved in the short term. Sanctification is comprehensive in that it involves the will, actions, and affections. It is not merely moral improvement, not merely “biting the tongue” to hold back grumbling. It is spiritual, even personal. We resist grumbling as “children of God” (v. 15). Sanctification is also gospel-rooted, and yet being worked out (v. 12). Thus, there is no real spiritual fight against grumbling or arguing without continually “holding fast to the word of life” (v. 16). It is only this kind of true spiritual transformation that can bring “joy” even in the prospect of a dear friend’s impending death (vv. 17–18).
 
Kelly, R. (2014). Philippians, A 12-Week Study. (J. I. Packer, D. C. Ortlund, & L. T. Dennis, Eds.) (pp. 47–49). Wheaton, IL: Crossway
 
 
First Big Idea: This verse summarizes the various calls to action that Paul has given the Philippians: to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (1:27), to be like-minded (2:2), and to consider others more important (2:3). Verse 12 focuses on the manner in which these actions should be implemented: with fear and trembling. Working out salvation here is referring to the practical matters of following the Lord and allowing Him to work through you. This is stressed in the very next verse, which answers why we should do this with fear and trembling: because God is the one working in us, not we ourselves (see Eph 2:10).
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Progression of Thought: There is a series of supporting statements in 2:12–13 that develops in ways similar to how we might use rhetorical questions in English. The command to work out our salvation emphasizes the manner in which it should be done: with fear and trembling. The next sentence explains why we should do it in this way. It is not us that are the ones working it out, but God working in us. Paul tells us that God works in us not because of our righteousness or anything we have done. Instead, God works in us for His own pleasure. Thus there is no room for pride or arrogance; fear and trembling is the proper response.
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Second Big Idea: Paul takes what could have been a bland statement and makes it comprehensive. Commanding us not to grumble or complain would have been sufficient. If it involved grumbling or complaining, we should not be doing it, right? Paul adds emphasis to everything, which is already implied by the command not to grumble. The command to do everything without grumbling or complaining raises the standard—the comprehensive nature of the command is explicit instead of implicit.
 
Runge, S. E. (2011). High Definition Commentary: Philippians (Php 2:12–18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 
2:12 you have always obeyed Obedience is evidence of faith in God. Paul appeals to the entire community to continue to obey, which means adopting the attitude of Christ in their relationships with one another.
work out Emphasizes that obedience is intentional and purposeful. Paul’s point is that salvation, once received, must be put into practice through obedience.
 
fear and trembling Refers to reverence and awe before God (compare 1 Cor 2:3; 2 Cor 7:15; Eph 6:5). Paul’s imagery is derived from similar language used in the OT (e.g., Exod 15:16; Isa 19:16).
 
2:13 the one at work in you God’s transforming presence empowers believers to live in faithful obedience to His will. Compare Phil 1:6.
 
2:14 without grumbling and disputing Expressions of discontentment and arguing lead to a spirit of division within a community of believers. Paul commands the Philippians to abandon such things so as to promote unity.
 
2:15 blameless and innocent Paul creates contrast in this verse between the humility, kindness, and purity of God’s children and the sinful ways of the world.
 
you shine as stars Alludes to Dan 12:2–3, in which the wise shine like stars. By reflecting God’s character through their conduct, believers stand out against the darkness of the world and reveal the transformative power of the gospel (compare Phil 1:27).
 
2:16 word of life Refers to the message that brings life—the gospel.
a source of pride to me The Philippian believers—mostly non-Jews—represent the fulfillment of Paul’s calling as apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Gal 2:9; Rom 11:13). Their faithful response to the gospel proves that his ministry has not been futile.
 
2:17 drink offering In the ancient world, a drink could be poured out as an offering to a god (e.g., Gen 35:14; Hos 9:4). In the present verse (and in 2 Tim 4:6) Paul uses this imagery to describe his sufferings for the Philippians—including his present imprisonment—as an offering to God. He might be referring figuratively to the possibility of his death (compare Phil 1:20–24).
 
I rejoice Following the example of Jesus, Paul is not only willing but glad to suffer for the gospel.
 

Cranks some blanks

God is _____________________
 
God is working in _____________
 
God is giving you ______________
 
God is giving you ______________
 
Big Idea: God’s activity in your life can be comprehensive
 
Results are: Light to a dark world
 
Challenge for the day: How we live _________________ !!
 

Try memorizing a verse:

Philippians 2:14

Do all things without grumbling or disputing

I’m enjoying this worship song this week.
 

 

Going Deeper Study for Week #7


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