1. Why do you think Paul makes such a public display of these women? Why is he so concerned for unity in the Philippian church?
As Paul explained in chapter 1 & 2, unity is critical for the spread of the gospel. Disagreements keep us from supporting one another in the hard work of the ministry. Paul needs to be sure that this situation will be taken care of immediately and he trusts that the church is mature enough to handle it publically.
2. What does it mean to “agree in the Lord”?
You don’t need to agree on everything, but agreeing in the Lord means that you value the things that you agree upon because of your shared connection to Christ more than you value the things that you disagree upon.
3. What is the basis of Paul’s appeal to these women? Why might it be significant that they each labored with Paul or that their names are in the book of life?
He is continuing to build a case for their connectedness. Seeing that they have both labored with Paul implies that they are ultimately about the same work of the spread of the gospel. They are both heirs of eternal life and if nothing else better learn to get along because they will be with each other forever.
4. What does it mean to rejoice in the Lord? Why do you think he specifies “always”? Describe how it might be possible to do this even in hard times.
Rejoicing in the Lord is rejoicing because in the experience of Jesus himself. The reason you can do this always is that neither Christ nor our relationship with him ever changes, for those who are Christ’s. Even though circumstances change we can always rejoice in Jesus. Sometimes our circumstances are so painful it is difficult to rejoice in anything, even Jesus. Other times our circumstances are so good that it is hard to rejoice in Jesus because we are satisfied elsewhere. But it is always possible to rejoice in him
5. Why do you think Paul is so serious about showing our “reasonableness” or “gentleness” and “being anxious for nothing”? Why would he mention this in this context? (Hint: Think back to Euodia and Syntyche. Are anxious people reasonable or easy to get along with? How would disunity in the church affect their witness to the outside world? How would anxiety?)
Paul wants the “reasonableness” of the Philippians publically displayed so that people can see the impact walking with Christ has in someone's life. If they continue to be unreasonable with each other and inflexible, they would tear apart the unity of the church and take energy away from the preaching of the gospel.
6. How does praying bring peace? Is it because God promises to answer our every request or is it something else? (Hint: Why would prayers that bring peace have to be done “with thanksgiving”? When you think about praying, why is it important to remember “the Lord is near”?)
Most of the times our anxieties are caused by failing to recognize God in the situation. When we bring our anxieties to God, we realize that none of them are worthy of fretting over in light of the awesome power and goodness of God to us. Even if things do not fall out for us the way we pray for them, just knowing that God has been called upon to deal with the situation comforts us. Additionally, coming to God with thanksgiving reminds us that no situation is really completely bad and worth our anxiety.
7. What do our hearts and minds need to be guarded or protected from? How are we guarded “in Christ Jesus”?
Our hearts are under attack by anxious thoughts. Here Paul pictures them as invaders. Christ stands as guard at the threshold of our minds and hearts forbidding that any anxious, unbelieving thoughts should enter. The picture of Christ guarding us is of course metaphorical. He protects us from anxiety by assuring us of God’s love for us on account of his blood, and using his authority to bring about our ultimate good.
8. How might it affect the lives of the Philippians to live out Paul’s command in verse 8? How might it affect the gospel ministry in Philippi? How might it affect the relationship between Euodia and Syntyche?
They would be unaffected by suffering, captured by thoughts of Christ and the spread of the gospel. They would be hopeful, and energetic in the preaching of the gospel. It would bring peace, as people looked past each other’s faults, dwelling on forgiveness and mercy, putting away thoughts of violence and revenge.
9. Try and come up with antonyms for each of these adjectives in verse 8. How does this clarify what Paul is talking about? Do any examples come to mind?
10. Why does Paul place such an emphasis on the life of the mind (1:27, 2:2, 2:5, 3:15, 3:19, 4:8)? How does the mind fit into our experience of God, or our ability to live a life worthy of the gospel?
The mind is where we sort out everything we know about Jesus and the world. If our mind is filled with lies about God or ourselves we will never be able to live the lives God has for us. The mind is the place our souls work out our passions, our designs, our values.
11. What does it look like for the God of peace to be with someone? Why would this happen as a result of following Paul’s teaching and example? How could Paul be so sure?
The person experiences God as a peace giver. This happens ultimately from believing Paul’s gospel. Paul’s life was all about the gospel. His pattern of life was a gospel-centered life.
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