Now it’s time to try and discern what Paul’s purpose was in writing the letter. While we may not be able to totally reconstruct Paul’s reasons for writing this letter, the more we understand the situation in Philippi, the more we can understand his message. It is fascinating to note the author’s word choices, etc. in light of his purpose for writing. In some books the purpose is clearly stated [John 20:30-31]. In others, we must figure it out from the text itself. Then we must begin to think about how this book which was written thousands of years ago intersects with our lives today.
Have you ever been in the room with a friend who’s on the phone? Have you ever tried to figure out who they were talking to and what they were talking about? You listen to what your friend is saying, trying to piece together the clues you gather from the words you hear. You want to discern what they are talking about. “Why did she say that?” “What did the person on the other end say that made him use those words?” Describe a time this has happened to you. How did what you thought you heard affect how you thought, felt, acted, etc.?
1. Why do we need to learn to interpret Scripture?
2. What is the purpose of doing an overview of Philippians?
1. In 1:3 Paul thanks God for his memories with the Philippians. What are some of the most memorable aspects of visit with them? What events recorded in Acts 16 do you see coloring Paul’s relationship with them as you read through Philippians?
2. Paul wrote Philippians around the time of a major turning point in his ministry, his imprisonment in Rome. How do you see Paul reacting to his imprisonment? How do the details of his situation come through and shape his letter to the Philippians?
3. What issues does Paul seem to be addressing?
4. From what you can gather, how would you describe the condition of the church? What was going on there?
5. What do you think Paul’s purpose is in writing Philippians?
6. In what ways is our modern situation different from or similar to the Philippians? In what ways can you resonate with Paul or the Philippians? What feels foreign?
...Culturally? (In what ways does our culture resemble Paul’s in ways relevant to Philippians?)
...Personally? (In what ways do we experience the same issues Paul addresses?)
...Redemptively? (What about God, his promises, or his commands haven’t changed?
Are there areas where God’s word and work are completely unique to the situation in Philippi?)
7. How does your experience of the gospel affect your life in your current situation? What is truly good about the good news? Even now, can you see anything that the Lord might want to do in your life from spending time in Philippians?
8. Has anything you read this week struck a chord in your heart or mind?
9. What are some of the principles of inductive Bible study that you have learned?
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