1. Paul says we are to live lives worthy of the gospel of Christ. What did he have in mind? (Tell them “Look at verses 1:27-30 for insights into what he meant.”) On the other hand, try to describe what a life unworthy of the gospel of Christ would look like.
Unified, striving for the gospel, not afraid, embracing suffering as part of their faith.
2. According to this passage, what are some ways unity plays a role in the spread of the gospel? How have you seen disunity hinder the spread of the gospel?
We support each other to persevere in gospel ministry. Our perseverance itself becomes a testimony to the truth of our faith and salvation.
3. Think about what it is like to suffer. How might hard times promote disunity among a community? Why might a person be more tempted to selfishness in the midst of personal difficulty?
When you are struggling you tend to concentrate on solving your own problems first. This makes people increasingly selfish.
4. Paul begins by mentioning four aspects of the Christian experience, what are they? What do you think these things mean?
Encouragement from Christ, comfort from love, participation in the Spirit, affection and sympathy. These are all aspects of salvation. God encourages us in sorrow in a variety of ways through the grace and promises he has given us in Christ. The experience of Christ’s love is a chief comfort. The Spirit is the means of God communicating his grace and love to us as well as uniting us together as one body in Christ. The affection and sympathy is that of Christ for us. All these phrases together paint a stirring picture of Christ’s concern for us.
5. In verses 2:2-4 Paul gives the Philippians a number of commands. What are they? Just list them for now.
6. Verses 2:1-4 constitute one big thought. It is a big if-then statement. “If you have experienced these four things in verse 1, then act this way described in verses 2-4.” Think about the situation of the Philippians. How would experiencing the things mentioned in verse 2:1 empower or help the Philippians to live out Paul’s expectations in 2:2-4?
7. Paul says we are to adopt Christ’s mindset toward each other. Skim back over verses 1:27-2:4? How do we see Christ portrayed in 2:5-11 living out the life Paul has described? (If they are stuck ask: Where do we see him experiencing the elements of the Christian experience in 2:1? How has Christ fulfilled the commandments in the rest of the passage?)
Christ experienced the encouragement and love of the Father. Christ participated in the Spirit, who indwelt him in his incarnation. He leaned on the affection and sympathy of God the Father trusting him that God would restore him to glory after he humbled himself and suffered the Father’s chastisement.
8. What do we learn about Christ’s nature from these verses? How is understanding Christ’s nature significant to his example of humility?
Christ is God himself! That being so, it is all the more amazing that he humbled himself the way he did.
9. How does Christ’s relationship with the Father influence Christ’s wiliness to look out for the interests of others and not just his own? How is this a model for us in our relationship with God?
Christ looked to his Father to be concerned for his interests in the same way we are to look to Christ to be concerned for our interests. Since Christ trusted the Father to look out for him, he set about looking out for others. Thus Christ is not just an example of others-centered humility but an example of trust in our gracious God.
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