1. Do all things without grumbling or disputing. This is not a marginal suggestion by Paul as a product of the other teachings in this letter. In one sense, the whole letter to the Philippians is about conquering grumbling! This idea is an extension of verses 12 and 13; it is a way to work out one’s salvation! He is especially connecting this idea of not grumbling or complaining to the mind of Christ in verses 2.3-8 and the way Christ lived his life Be people of lowly, humble, others-oriented service in ministry, and do all of it without grumbling. But how? And just how central is this idea of not grumbling? And where does joy fit in?
2. What is grumbling? What is the opposite of grumbling?
3. Read Matthew 5.11-12 and 14-16. What similarities do you see in how Jesus describes His children as lights in the world and how Paul describes how to shine as lights in the world? What makes a person “bright” in a world full of reviling, persecution, slander, and darkness?
4. Look back at 1.25-28 How does our fearless joy of faith and absence of grumbling serve as a sign to outsiders of their impending destruction? And a sign of your salvation! What types of thoughts and emotions come up for you as you consider this aspect of the role of joy in your life? What does this mean for you?
5. 2.17-18 How can Paul possibly be glad and rejoice about dying? How are they supposed to rejoice with him?
6. 2.19-30 Upon reading these verses it may seem like Paul is launching into a description of some travel plans for Timothy, for himself, and for Epaphroditus. What is Paul doing here? Why does he mention that he wants to send Timothy and Epaphroditus to them?
7. Think of some people in your life who exude these qualities: others-oriented, humble, unified in the body of Christ, striving side-by-side with the brethren, standing firm, fearless, joyful, shining, looking to the interest of others, not grumbling or complaining.
8. Which of these qualities has the Lord put on your heart?
9. 3.1 How might we define what it means to “rejoice in the Lord?”
10. Who are these dogs? What are they like? (Psalm 22.16-18; Matthew 7.6, 15.26; Luke 16.21; 2 Peter 2.22)
11. What is the difference between the dogs and the circumcision?
12. Look at verses 3:18-19. What parallels do you see with his description of the ‘dogs’? What differences?
13. In verse 6 Paul says he puts no “confidence in the flesh.” Confidence for what?
14. Notice in verses 3:7-8 that Paul basically says the same thing three times! What types of things do you notice? What similarities do you see? What differences?
15. What might it cost you to gain Christ?
16. In verses 3:9-10 it states “that I may know Him.” What is that connected to? What is Paul doing so that he may know Christ? See 3.7-9
17. What are the four things in verse 10, Paul has in mind as the goal, valued at surpassing worth, of his counting all things as loss?
18. Let us get out of our heads the idea that “the power that raised Jesus from the dead and now lives in us” (Ephesians 3.20; Colossians 1.11 and 29) is a power that removes suffering from our life. That is not the gospel. That is not the cruciform way of Christ. And it is certainly not what Paul is teaching here.
Paul does not want to take a different path to heaven than Jesus did. He wants to know Jesus! He wants to become like him, and becoming like Jesus means a life of suffering and joy! The power of Christ’s resurrection is the power to suffer. It is not possible for this power to come from the flesh. This is why Paul counts all things of his earthly pursuits as loss, because they cannot get him to Christ.
Ephesians 1.16-2.6 “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers… that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead… 2.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
How do these verses teach us how God’s power works in our lives? This power enables us to live in this life, not just in the next. How does it help us to share in Christ’s sufferings?
19. What parallels do you see with Philippians 3:11-14 and 1 Corinthians 13:12? How does this affect your reading of the meaning of verse 12?
20. In 3.13 many of our translations may say, “but one thing I do,” and it is peculiar because Paul then lists two things, or even three if you include v. 14. Why does he do that? The “I do” in that phrase was inserted by our translators. The text literally states, “one thing, forgetting what lies behind, and straining… I press on.”
How would you summarize the main idea of what Paul is trying to communicate in verse 13? What is the “one thing”? How is this teaching guarding against a Christian who might say, “I know I’m saved. I can just coast into heaven now.” What is that person missing?
21. 3.15 What does it mean to be mature?
(Mt. 5.48; 1 Cor 13.9-11, 14.20; Hebrews 5.13-14)
22. What do mature people think about? “Think this way” is also in 1.7, do you see it? It’s also in 2.5! What is the description of this mindset?
23. There are those among us, perhaps even ourselves, who do not yet think with this mindset, but Paul is confident that the Lord will reveal to them, or to us, what we need to know (also recall his prayer from 1.9-11). Based on this mindset, what would it look like to respond to a fellow believer who “thinks otherwise” –namely that they do not think of the Christian life as a life of suffering, and becoming like Christ in his death?
What did I learn about God today?
What did I learn about myself?
How is God relating this to my life right now?
What does God want me to bring in prayer to Him today?