SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Philippians is another letter written by Paul, while he was in prison, to a church he started. The recipients of this letter were in Philippi, which is on the north coast of the aegean Sea in modern Greece.
- Paul begins by addressing the recipients of the letter and his appreciation and prayers for them (verses 1-11). Here are some definitions to help:
- Saint/holy person - Someone who has given their life to Jesus. Through Jesus’ death on the cross we can be freed from sin and made holy by God, which makes us "saints". Paul used the word "saint" like we use the word "Christian".
- Overseer/elder/bishop - a designated leader in a church. Paul appointed them in the churches he started (see Acts 14:23).
- Deacon - a designated leader who served the needs of the people in a church. The first to be deacons where those in Acts 6:1-6.
- Paul is in prison, but he is not complaining. He rejoices that God is able to use his circumstances to help more people know about Jesus.
- Paul was able to have this attitude because he understood the truth about life: "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (verse 21). The idea is that what life is really about is being close to Jesus and living with and for Him, and when we die it only gets better because we'll be with Jesus in an even more significant and intimate way.
- Paul ends this chapter by urging everyone to fully live their lives for God, and in a way that represents Him well. He also says that we need to have total unity with other believers.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- When our focus is on Jesus, and we live for Him, we can have joy even in the worst of circumstances. The way we evaluate our situation will not be based on our circumstances, but on how God might be able to use them for His purposes.
- Jesus Christ is not just someone we believe in, or put our trust in. We are supposed to center our lives on Him. He is what we live for. When we do that, everything else will start to "fit".
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What’s your reaction to Paul’s outlook on life? Do find it hard to believe? Challenging? Or maybe exciting? How would your life be different if you lived this out? What things are keeping you from living every moment to get closer to God? Paul said that for him to die would be gain. If you were to die today, do you feel like you would be losing or gaining?
- Consider memorizing verse 21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."