The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 51 – Philippians
Copyright, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
* KEY VERSE–Php 4:4.
* KEY PHRASE–“THE JOY OF CHRISTIAN UNITY SHOULD BE PRESERVED.”
This is Paul’s love letter, the most beautiful of them all.
For family altar read:–
* Sunday–Rejoicing over suffering,–Php 1:8-21.
* Monday–Rejoicing in lowly service,–Php 2:1-11.
* Tuesday–Rejoicing in Christ’s righteousness,–Php 3:1-9.
* Thursday–Rejoicing in the hope of the prize,–Php 3:10-14.
* Friday–Rejoicing in the hope of His coming,–Php 3:15-21.
* Saturday–Rejoicing in His strength,–Php 4:1-13.
DATE and PLACE–62 A. D., during his first imprisonment at Rome.
PHILLIPI was named after Phillip II. king of Macedonia, and father of Alexander the Great. It is famous in Roman history as the place of the defeat of the republic and the rise of the empire, 42 B. C. A spirit is supposed to have appeared to Brutus, the leader of the republican army, and said to him, “I am thy evil genius, we will meet again at Phillip’!”
It will be always famous also for Paul’s imprisonment, the earthquake and the conversion of the Philippian jailer. It was here that the first church in Europe was set up by Paul in 62 A. D. Ac 16:12-32.
THE CHURCH was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey and seems to have been free from Jewish troubles, and the errors in doctrine, that so endangered most of the other churches. Indeed, it was Paul’s favorite church, ever showing their loyalty to him and their affection for him by messages of love and mission offerings.
OCCASION–The church had sent Paul a contribution for his support while in prison and unable to provide for himself. The bearer of the gift, Epaphroditus, was taken dangerously sick at Rome, but having recovered and being about to return home, Paul takes the opportunity of writing this letter to the noble church.
1. To express Paul’s Christian love to the church for their devotion to him.
2. To exhort them to press toward the mark of high Christian character, and to sound the depths of real Christian joy.
Rejoicing in Christ:–
Great Facts I. Rejoicing in Christ’s Life
Paul first assures the church that every recollection he has of them is a cause of gratitude and that the good work done in them would go on until it was perfected. He prays that of excellent things they may choose the best, and that they may bear a rich harvest of righteousness. He tells them that although he is in prison and chained to a soldier, yet the people gather to hear him preach, and even the guards were so interested in the gospel that they spread the message around. This encouraged other Christians to preach the gospel fearlessly. Some, however, with envy in their hearts, preached deceitfully, hoping to add to Paul’s sorrows, but he rejoices that Christ is preached, whether by his enemies or by his friends. He is determined to magnify Christ, either with his restored liberty or by his death. To live is to work FOR Christ, to die is to be WITH Christ. He would rather die than live, but he would rather live than die before his work was done.
LESSON–To some, both life and death have seemed like evils, but to the apostle, they are both supreme blessings, and he knew not which to choose. In spite of his hardships, he was willing still to be a living sacrifice, for the sacrifice of the life is more noble, more heroic, and more divine than the sacrifice of the death. This was the secret of Paul’s life, which made him the greatest apostle and missionary of all time. As some men lose themselves in a great ambition or a great art, so he lost himself in Christ. He saw God’s purposes as Christ did. He magnified God’s grace as Christ did. He had Christ’s virtues, Christ’s vision, Christ’s strength, and Christ’s spirit. Oh, that the virtues and spirit of Christ may breathe out from our lives, then we, too, shall be more noble, more heroic, more divine.
Great Facts II. Rejoicing in Christ’s Example
Paul here exhorts the church to make his happiness complete by living together in unity, love, humility, and unselfishness, bearing in mind the example of Christ, who although He was equal with the Father, yet emptied Himself of His heavenly’ glory and in a seven-fold way humbled Himself, Php 2:5-8. Therefore God highly exalted Him in His resurrection and ascension and appointed that every tongue should confess Him to the glory of the Father. Man must work out his own salvation, for it is absolutely a personal matter, and one cannot repent, believe and love for another. Further, man must seem to enjoy the experience, and yield the fruits of a FULL salvation for God is working in us to that end. Following the example of Christ still, we should not complain or dispute, but rather be blameless and pure in the midst of an evil-disposed world. If the church will make such scriptural progress, then Paul will count it a great joy to have poured out his life-blood for them.
LESSON–If our lives would at all approach the blessed example of Christ we must:
1. Empty ourselves of honours and gains that may be fairly ours. “Our richest gains we must count but loss and pour contempt on all our pride!”
2. We must imitate Him who. although Lord of all, became the servant to all!
3. We must become obedient even unto death. Christ to be obedient laid aside omnipotence and took upon Himself our human frailties, He exchanged His glory throne for an awful cross, surely “Love so amazing. So divine, demands my life, my soul, my all!” Then, as with Christ, humiliation shall soon be followed by exaltation, if we share His cross we shall also share His throne.
Great Facts III. Rejoicing in Christ’s Righteousness, Fellowship and Coming
Paul here warns the church of the Judaizers who make so much of the circumcision. He affirms that the real circumcision are those who live a spiritual religion and look only to Christ for deliverance from sin. When it comes to boasting of lineage and pedigree, He outranks them all, yet He counts all natural honours and privileges as trash compared with the exceeding value of a personal and saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. He would lose everything to gain Christ, he would turn his back upon the Law and its righteousness. if only he might he clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Then indeed he would know Christ fully and the power of His resurrection. Not that he had attained to the resurrection from the dead, neither was he perfect with the perfection of heaven, but he was stretching every power of his soul to reach the goal of spiritual excellence. Let all mature Christians have this spiritual ambition and not follow those who are enemies of the Cross, and live only to satisfy their earthly appetites. For our citizenship is in heaven, therefore we should live as heavenly citizens, ever looking for Christ’s coming, when He will change these bodies of humiliation into bodies of glory like unto His own.
LESSON–Just as a sailor will throw his precious cargo overboard in order to save the ship and his life, so must we throw overboard all trust in our own righteousness in order to gain Christ. We may have come of a good family and of a religious stood. May have always attended Sunday school and church, and always had good moral principles. Yet Paul here agrees with Isaiah in declaring that “All our own righteousness is as filthy rags.” The supreme thing is to place entire dependence in the righteousness of Christ, and to seek to gain it, not by tears, or work, or gift, but by repentant faith.
Great Facts IV. Rejoicing in Christ’s Strength
Paul prays that the Christian may have joy at all times in union with his Lord, and not to be weakened by worry but to carry everything to God in prayer. Then the peace of God, surpassing all thought will stand guard over our hearts and minds. Be careful of your thoughts, where-ever you find anything true or honourable, pure or virtuous, then meditate on these things. He rejoiced in their gift to him, not because he was in want, for he had learned the secret of contentment in all circumstances. In all human experiences he could do all things in the strength of Him who makes strong. Their gifts, however, were a fragrant and acceptable sacrifice unto God, and as they had supplied his need God would supply all their needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
LESSON–Here is a beautiful picture of the omnipotence of the Christian. In Christ’s strength he is:–
1. Able to undergo every trial.
2. Brave every suffering.
3. Overcome every temptation.
4. Perform every duty.
If therefore strength is available, then there is no excuse for weakness. He who protects the young birds in their warm nests and braces the oak tree to wrestle with the storm, will either hide His own in the cleft or the rock until the storm passes, or give them strength to bravely conquer the storm out in the open. The infant, fostered by his mother, will soon become strong and useful; the saplings, fostered by the gardener, will soon become fruitful. How much more then shall the believer, blessed and strengthened by Christ, abound, be fruitful, and triumph over every obstacle!
Questions on the Lesson
1. Give the keyword and key verse.
2. Give writer, date, and place of writing.
3. Tell what you know about Phillipi.
4. Tell what you know about the church.
5. What the occasion of the letter.
6. What the purpose?
7. Name the great facts.
8. Tell about Paul’s preaching in the prison.
9. What was both life and death to Paul?
10. Show the meaning and value of being a living sacrifice.
11. Read the seven-told humbling of Christ, Php 2:5-8.
12. Give three ways we may follow His example.
13. Why must man work out his own salvation?
14. Tell how Paul turned his back upon all his natural advantages to gain Christ.
15. Explain how we should throw overboard our own righteousness.
16. How may we avoid worry?
17. How may we be careful of our thoughts?
18. What secret had Paul learned?
19. Mention four things we can do in Christ’s strength.
20. Is there any excuse for spiritual weakness?
21. How much of the book have you read?
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. — Mark 16:15 KJV