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© Stephanie Shott, 2011
Good morning, sweet ones! I hope you had a GREAT weekend and are ready to do some digging in Philippians this week! Last week, I encouraged you to read through Philippians as many times as you could to familiarize yourself with this power-packed Pauline epistle. We also took a look at the conception of the Philippian church as we studied Acts 16. I hope you had a chance to make it through Philippians and Acts 16 at least once, but many of you have written and told me you’ve been reading the entire text every day! All I can say is, You go girls! You inspire me!
Last Friday, I provided you with a link to help you trace the steps these missionaries trod. Remember, their journey began in Jerusalem. As you learned in Acts 16, Paul and Silas formed the dynamic duo who set their face like a flint to turn the world upside down. It was Paul’s second mission trip – Silas’ first.
In the midst of their 2,800 mile trip, they entered a town called Lystra. There, Timothy joined the missionary team. Ministry is like that. We may start out on our own with just a dream and a prayer, but God often gives others a similar passion to pursue together what we could not do as well on our own. That’s why I love teaming up with other women whose hearts beat with the same passion as my own. Two truly are better than one!
On a side note, did you see the shift in pronouns found in Acts 16? From verse 1 – 10, the pronoun used to describe the traveling mission team is the word they. But in verse 11 the they becomes a we. Because of this transition in terminology, it is thought that Luke (the writer of Acts) joined the journey – perhaps in Troas. It also reminds us that every word matters in THE WORD!
As you know, Philippians only contains four chapters. But they are four very lovingly written, power-packed chapters. Our study will be segmented for the purpose of examining the details of the key words and themes throughout our text. I hope you’ve got your boots on girls! We’re going to be treading the water of the Word together and it may get a little deep. Oh yeah – I sure hope so! How ’bout you?
Begin our study by reading Philippians 1:1-14. That will be our text for this week’s study. Today, we’re going to examine Paul’s word choices, how they relate to us and how the Philippian church partnered with Paul in the ministry.
1. What did Paul call Timothy and himself in verse 1?
Some versions use the term bondservant (doulos) others say servant. In the original it can be either, but the language used in Philippians 1 lends itself to the term, bondservant – one who gives himself up to the will of another.
Paul and Timothy were all in. They both understood what it meant to be captivated by the One who had set them free. The Savior who came as a Servant had left them an example of what it means to be a servant leader and they were willing to surrender their will for His – not because they had to but because they wanted to.
3. As you evaluate your life, do you consider yourself a bondservant to the Lord Jesus Christ? If so, how does your life demonstrate that to be true?
4. In Philippians 1:2, who does Paul address?
It’s interesting to note that Paul calls himself and Timothy bondservants, but he calls the church at Philippi saints, bishops and deacons. Perhaps he wanted to remind them of them of who they were in Christ – of the responsibility that came with the blessing of being saved by the Living God. Maybe he just wanted to reaffirm his role as a servant even though it was he who had pioneered the church plant in Philippi in the first place.
Let’s define Paul’s audience as we begin our study with a little word fest. And can I just say up front that when we get into the original language, feathers may get a little ruffled. Sweet friends, that’s not my intention at all. I feel like I’m just jumping into the fire on this one, but God’s Word is God’s Word. We can’t make it mean what we want it to mean, nor do we have to accept what we’ve always been taught. We are to examine the Scriptures and get a personal grip on the truths found in the pages of holy writ – even if they don’t match the traditions of men. I’ll be interested in hearing from you all about today’s lesson:
Saints (hagios) – Holy ones. Set apart ones. Only used once in the Gospels but more frequently in the rest of the New Testament. It’s a term often used to describe true, born again believers.
Overseers (episkopos) – A man in charge of overseeing the church. Bishop and elder are terms used interchangeably with the word overseer. It is the same word used in 1 Timothy 3:2 and in Titus 1:7. Timothy was referred to as the first overseer (pastor, bishop) 2 Timothy 4:22 . Although often a point of contention and misunderstandings, the overseer is simply the pastor, elder or overseer of the church – the guardian of the body of believers God has entrusted him with.
Deacons (diakonos) – One who administers the commands of another. Within the church, someone who cares for the poor, distributes money to those in need and serves others. Contrary to popular belief, a deacon is not one in authority, he is one under authority – specifically the authority of the pastor/elder/bishop/overseer.
5. As you reviewed the list of those Paul was writing to, were you surprised by the definition of any of these terms?
I absolutely LOVE to study God’s Word and I absolutely love to study God’s words. Sometimes they surprise us. Sometimes they confront our theology. What we think to be true gets turned on it’s head in light of each word in the Word of God. The definitions we studied today may have wrecked your theology, but I promise, sweet friend, they will ground your heart and breathe life into your spirit!
When we write a letter to someone, we often struggle with the opening lines. What do we say and how do we say it? Paul remedy the greeting dilemma by echoing a familiar salutation in almost all of his letters. Grace and peace to you is found in 1 Corinthians 1:2, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1,2 and 2 Thessalonians 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3. In fact, most of the 150+ times you find the word grace used the New Testament, it is used by Paul in his various letters.
The phrase, grace and peace, seemed to be Paul’s tag line. But it means so much more than mere words on a page.
Grace (charis) – God’s unmerited favor to fallen man extended to all who trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross.
Grace (charis) – Also means the proof or benefit of God’s grace demonstrated by the power and favor of God in one’s life as described in James 4:6.
Peace (eirēnē) – Tranquility, security, prosperity and harmony. Also used to describe the state of the soul of a Christian who is assured of her salvation. Paul often uses the term peace to describe a sense of confidence in God for those who have been born again.
6. Can you describe a time when you sensed the grace and peace of God in your life?
7. Why do you think God’s grace and peace are important?
As we conclude today’s lesson, look at Philippians 1:3-5.
8. What was Paul’s attitude toward the Philippian body of believers and why?
In verse 5, some versions use the phrase, participation in the gospel; some use the phrase, partnership in the gospel; and still others use the phrase, fellowship in the gospel.
9. What do you think that phrase means and how do you personally live it out?
Paul prayed for his partners in the ministry. They were partners with a purpose. They joined arm in arm to turn their world upside down for Christ. When there was a need to be met in one local congregation, the Philippian church did what they could to meet that need (2 Corinthians 8). They understood they were all on the same team; they served the same King and put all differences aside to accomplish the goal of reaching their community for Christ and caring for one another well. They prayed for one another, the laughed and cried together – they supported one another. They were partners with a purpose.
10. Do you see yourself as a partner with a purpose? How do you demonstrate that you are on the same team as other brothers and sisters in Christ – no matter what?
11. Is there anything in your relationships with other believers that would prevent you from functioning as partners with a purpose? (Is it really worth it holding onto something that holds you back from fulfilling His plan for your life?)
I honestly love looking at how Paul loved the Philippian church. I love how they loved each other. I love you like that. I can’t explain it. I don’t even know many of you by name, but I love you like that.
We’re all on the same team, trying to do this thing called life well. We are all trying to live out this faith life to the best of our ability. Sometimes we blow it. Sometimes we see success on the horizon. But you and I are on planet earth for such a time as this…and if I can encourage and pray for you and if you can encourage and pray for me, then we’ll be more effective in accomplishing our ultimate goal.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.”
We weren’t meant to do this thing alone. There’s strength in numbers. There’s power in our prayers for one another.
We’re better together, sweet sister! We’re better together! 🙂
With that in mind, what can you do to foster old and new relationships with other believers to help them in their journey?
Below are two sisters who are impacting other women with the Word. They don’t know each other, but unknowingly, they have locked arm in arm and become partners with a purpose:
Two sweet sisters who are studying with us have been blogging about our study. I can’t tell you how much it made my heart smile to see them excited about the Word and blogging about their own personal journey through Philippians! I’d love for you to visit them both so we can begin to develop real relationships with each other. Cyberspace really helps us connect with one another in an unprecedented way!
Karen lives in New Zealand and writes a blog called “Maturing.” Kela lives in the states and writes a blog called “Pursuing What is Excellent.” Be sure to pop into their blogs and say hi! Let’s get connected and do this thing together! If you’re doing the same, please let me know.
If you don’t have a blog or can’t schedule our study in your posts, don’t feel bad. You can participate and help develop community with your comments and emails! I love each and every one of you and even as I’m writing this, I can’t help but smile! 🙂 You truly bring joy to my journey and rock my Bible study world!
You won’t want to miss Wednesday’s study! We’ll be looking at love, prayer and a promise.
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© Stephanie Shott, 2011