1. Notice the “so” that connects the beginning of Philippians 2 with the last thought of Philippians 1. Paul wants the Philippians to know that since they have been granted the ability to believe and suffer like him and to be engaged in the same conflict against those who are not true disciples (see Philippians 1:15-18), they are to behave in a certain way. Don’t let the word “if” throw you off track since, in English, it usually raises a question as to whether or not what follows is true. This is not the case in this context as is apparent when one looks at the original language of the New Testament (the Greek). The sentence construction used here is called a first-class conditional sentence in the original language. This means that Paul is really saying, “Since these things are true….” In other words, Paul is affirming the following to be true: (1) there is _____________________ in _______________, (2) there is _____________ from _________, (3) there is __________________ (i.e. fellowship) in the ___________, and (4) there is _________________ and _________________. Having said this, Paul is ready to tell the Philippians how they should respond (Philippians 2:2-4). As one reads the passage, it is striking how the emphasis is on a unified body. This is obtained by being of the “same _________” and having the “same __________” while being of “full accord” and of “one mind” (Philippians 2:2). Rather than operating out of rivalry and conceit (see Philippians 1:15-18) they are to count others more significant than themselves by practicing humility (Philippians 2:3). Instead of only “looking out for #1,” they should look out for the interests of others, a far cry from what Paul’s enemies were doing to him.
2. The attitude controlling their actions was to be one best illustrated by the attitude of Christ (Philippians 2:5). In Philippians 2:6-8 several descriptors of Christ’s attitude are enumerated:
a. Though in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be ________________ – Philippians 2:6
b. He made himself “nothing” by taking the form of a _____________, being born in the _________________ of men and taking on human form – Philippians 2:7
c. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of ___________ on a cross – Philippians 2:8
God rewarded this attitude in the following ways:
a. God highly _______________ him and bestowed on him a ____________ that is above every name – Philippians 2:9
b. At the name of Jesus every __________ should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth – Philippians 2:10
c. Every ______________ will confess that Jesus is Lord – Philippians 2:11
3. After illustrating Jesus’ attitude and the results of that attitude, Paul turns to the application of how such an attitude will manifest itself in the Philippian Christians. The first result is an obedient life similar to Jesus. He left heaven and came to earth and was obedient in the absence of equality with God. They too are to be obedient in the absence of Paul’s example and nurturing (Philippians 2:12). Obedience is something one does, not because someone is looking over her/his shoulder but rather the result of an attitude. For Paul, the attitude was present because of the things listed in Philippians 2:1. By obeying, they would be working out their own salvation “with ________ and __________________” (Philippians 2:12). The term “fear and trembling” is often connected with recognizing that one is in the presence of God (see Isaiah 6:1-8; Exodus 3:1-6; Joshua 5:13-15 and Ecclesiastes 5:1-2). In their case, they needed to recognize that God was working in them (Philippians 2:13) not off “in the sweet by and by.” They were “to ______ and to _________ for his good pleasure.” Paul concludes his comments about their behavior by constructing one of those long sentences for which his writings are famous. It contains three major directives regarding their behavior:
a. Do all things without ________________ or ___________________ – Philippians 2:14
b. Be _________________ and _____________ children of God even when the world is “crooked and twisted” – Philippians 2:15
c. Hold fast to the ____________ of life – Philippians 2:16
d. Be glad and _____________ with Paul – Philippians 2:18
Here and in II Timothy 4:6 Paul refers to himself as a “drink offering.” For more information on drink offerings see Numbers 15:1-10 and Numbers 28:4-8. The drink offering was poured over the major offering such as the lamb, bull or goat. Perhaps Paul is seeing his life as a drink offering poured out over the major sacrifice, that is Jesus Christ (see also Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 5:2).
4. At the present time Timothy is with Paul. In Philippians 2:19-24 Paul affirms his plans to send Timothy to them soon (Philippians 2:23). He will do this as soon as Paul finds out his own fate. Paul considers Timothy to be his greatest asset as a support for himself and his work (Philippians 2:20). Paul plans for Timothy to go to Philippi and then return with a report for him in prison (Philippians 2:19). It is Paul’s belief that he might be released from prison and be able to visit them soon himself (Philippians 2:24).
5. In the final section of Philippians 2 Paul discusses his friend and theirs, Epaphroditus. His relationship to Paul is described as “my _____________ and fellow ____________ and fellow ___________.” His relationship with the Philippians is described as “your _______________ and _________________” (Philippians 2:25). A concern had arisen because Epaphroditus had become so ill that he had nearly died (Philippians 2:27 and 30). The Philippians were aware of this illness and concerned for his welfare (Philippians 2:26-27). Because of this, Paul was eager for Epaphroditus to return to Philippi so that they would be relieved (Philippians 2:28). His advice to them was to receive Epaphroditus “with all ___________” and “___________ such men” (Philippians 2:29 cf. I Thessalonians 5:12).
In the midst of this discourse is a statement that should not be overlooked: “But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have _______________ upon sorrow” (Philippians 2:27). The lesson to be learned from this sentence is that sorrow is a natural, normal part of life when one loses a friend or relative. There are Christians who teach that one should celebrate the death of loved ones who are Christians because they are “going to a better place.” However, the reality of the situation is that when a loved one dies, those left behind are going to miss them and be sorrowful. Sorrow is a natural response to death.
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