Lessons from Philippians

Session One – Introduction to Philippians (Phil 1:1-2)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

Undergoing imprisonment with the potential of capital punishment, reeling from the near death of a close companion, and the longing to reunite with dear friends are all part of the backdrop of this letter penned by the Apostle Paul. In an epistle that is more emotional than theological, Paul writes a letter full of gratitude, joy, and exhortation. In so doing, these words penned nearly 2,000 years ago to a group of believers living in Macedonia resonate even today—words that provide invaluable instruction on how to live the Christian life well. Thus, not surprisingly, this letter contains Paul’s motto for life: “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21).

Session Two – Elements of a Successful Prayer (Philippians 1:3-11)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

In this opening prayer of the letter, the apostle Paul expresses his deep love and appreciation for the Christians in Philippi. His prayer in verses 3-11 notes how thankful he is for the Philippian believers, how deeply he loves them, and how often he prays for them. In so doing, Paul highlights the importance of unity within the church, commends the Philippians for their faithful service to the Lord, and encourages the saints to grow spiritually. The apostle will discuss these themes in greater detail later throughout the letter.

Session Three: Key to Contentment (Philippians 1:12-18a)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

After his introduction to the letter, Paul moves to the body of his epistle. In a joyful note of praise, Paul sets the tone for the entire letter in this section—a tone that recognizes that his present sufferings can serve for God’s glory. Rather than focusing specifically on his situation, Paul writes to rejoice over the spiritual success of the Philippian church and the success of the Gospel.

Session Four: Finding Joy in Living or Dying (Philippians 1:18b-26)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

Throughout history, men and women have sought to prolong life and circumvent death. And yet, the apostle Paul’s outlook on life and death vastly differs from such thinking. Rather than seeking the “fountain of youth,” Paul recognizes the beauty of life and death when rooted in Christ. Regardless of life’s circumstances, Paul’s focus is Christ—and in Him alone, Paul finds great joy!

Session Five: Making Sense of Suffering (Philippians 1:27-30)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

Having discussed his present situation, Paul now directs his attention to the Philippian believers. In these four verses, the apostle Paul delivers an exhortation that will be developed throughout the rest of this letter (see D. F. Watson, “Rhetorical Analysis,” NovT 30 [1988], 79). The call to live a life worthy of the Gospel becomes the central command for the believers—a command that entails standing firm and being united.

Session Six: The Gold Standard for the Spiritual Life (Philippians 2:1-11)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

In the previous section of this letter, the apostle Paul calls for believers to live a life worthy of the Gospel. This command entails standing firm and being united. Paul now devotes this next section to the call for unity. In order to illustrate how this is to be accomplished and to stress the importance of this command, Paul utilizes Christ. Their Savior serves as an ultimate example of what it means to walk in humility and embrace self-sacrifice.

Session Seven: An Eye on the Goal (Philippians 2:12-18)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

The command of 1:27, “to conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel,” stands as the rubric for this entire section. After Paul illustrates the ultimate example of Jesus walking in humble obedience before the Lord, the apostle now returns to the Philippian believers. They are called to live as God’s blameless children.

Session Eight: Role Models for the Christian Life (Philippians 2:19-30)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

Role models influence our lives, provide direction for life, and serve as an inspiration. Understanding the importance of such individuals, Paul lays out two role models for the believers at Philippi. In so doing, Timothy and Epaphroditus serve to illustrate the manner of life which is worthy of the gospel of Christ (see 1:27).

Session Nine: The Insignificance of Credentials (Philippians 3:1-11)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

“One of the most remarkable personal confessions that the ancient world has bequeathed to us,” writes one scholar concerning Philippians 3:1-11 (P. Bonnard, L’épître de saint Paul aux Philippiens, 61). In this passage, the apostle Paul identifies what he values in life. Despite his impressive Jewish heritage and his unwavering devotion to the Law, Paul finds all of this to be a liability. In fact, he considers all of it as worthless compared to the opportunity of knowing Christ.

Session Ten: The Call for Perfection (Philippians 3:12-21)

Presented by Dr. David Hoffeditz

After stating his desire to know the Lord in 3:1-20, the apostle Paul provides both a warning and a word of encouragement for the believers of Philippi. His word of caution recognizes that spiritual perfection cannot occur this side of eternity. Such rhetoric appears to counter those who are seeking to undermine the Gospel and argue that one can be completely righteous in this life. Instead, Paul directs his readers’ attention to the hope of the future when we will be made perfect—a body transformed into the likeness of Christ.