1. What is Paul rejoicing in?
Paul is joyful that the Philippians have revived their concern for him through a financial gift sent with Epaphroditus.
2. Many people think of Philippians as a thank you letter. Yet Paul never thanks the Philippians for their partnership with them. Here he says he “rejoiced in the Lord” for their concern. What does that tell you about Paul’s perspective on their financial help?
He knows that their ability and desire to give ultimately comes from God. He probably is thankful to the Philippians, but he is more eager to express his delight that God is at work in them.
3. Why would it be significant for the Philippians to know that Paul is not rejoicing because they alleviated his need? (Hint: revisit the question “What is he specifically rejoicing for?”)
Paul is not rejoicing because he was in desperate need and suddenly things are better. He wants that Philippians to know that their gift is a cause for rejoicing because their gift shows that their faith is genuine and that they are trusting God.
4. What is Paul’s secret to contentment and strength? How does this work?
He does all things through “him”, i.e. Christ, who strengthens him. As Paul moves through life, he knows that God loves him and that Christ died for him. He knows that when he dies he will go to be with the Lord. So whether he lived or dies, has comfort or suffering, he has a source of hope and joy in Christ that energizes him to fulfill any work God calls him to.
5. How does Paul describe his relationship with the Philippians? How is his relationship with them unique among the churches he planted?
Most churches didn’t give, but the Philippians entered into a partnership with Paul to support his ministry.
6. What is the difference between volunteering or donating and entering into partnership with someone?
Donating or Volunteering can be more about the person donating than that need. Most problems cannot be solved by quick fixes, but God does amazing things through relationships, and a commitment to tackle a problem over time. In a partnership you give not just your money or me, but you very self. The commitment to a relationship with someone offers a source of hope, encouragement, and possibility which is absent in one time gifts. One time gifts and opportunities are obviously great, only partnerships are more powerful.
7. What is Paul’s desire for the Philippians in their partnership? What is he seeking for them?
He is seeking that they might have credit with God. He is more concerned about their relationships with God than his own situation. Paul may be receiving monetary help from the Philippians but what he is seeking is their good.
8. Why does Paul call their gift a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, and pleasing to God? Was it a gift to Paul or to God? How might the different perspectives affect someone’s giving?
It was a gift to both Paul and God. But ultimately when we give or serve, we are serving God not men. Our ultimate motivation is to please God. This is more important than even the help that we give to each other. The first question we have to ask is not “how can I help my fellow man?” but “how can I please God?”
9. Why is it significant for the Philippians to know that God will supply their needs?
If they were concerned about meeting their own needs, they would not be focused on meeting the needs of others. When we know God takes care of us we are free to care for others.
10. What might Paul want to emphasize about God’s generosity with the phrases, “according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus?
He wants to emphasize that God gets glory for the way he pours out his riches on those who are in Christ. This helps emphasize to the Philippians and to us that God is not limited or stingy or reluctant to provide for us. He is gloriously rich and in Christ has bound himself to caring for his children.
11. How does God get glory when we are generous?
When we are generous in the name of Jesus, we give glory to God because we highlight the fact that God has been generous to us. When we make it clear that God is generous he is glorified.
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