Session Date Sermon Title
1 1 Jan Partners in the Gospel
2 8 Jan Joy in the imperfect present
3 15 Jan A settled perspective
4 22 Jan Unity and Humility
5 29 Jan Shining like a star
6 5 Feb Where is our confidence?
7 12 Feb Pressing on towards the Goal
8 19 Feb Peace and perspective
9 26 Feb The secret of contentment
Having celebrated the joy of the birth of Christ, we follow this up and begin the New Year with a teaching series to help us to live joyfully in our journey as disciples.
Philippi at the time of Paul (circa AD60)
1. The Message of Philippians (IVP) BST Commentary Series
Alec Motyer ISBN: 0 85111 1866 £9.99
2. Philippians (IVP) Tyndale New Testament Commentary Series
Ralph Martin ISBN: 0 85111 8801 £9.99
3. Discovering Philippians (Crossway Books) Study Guide Series
Ian Coffey ISBN: 9 78185684 1801 £4.99
4. Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters (SPCK)
N.T. Wright ISBN 9 78028107 2002 £9.99
Study 1: Partners in the Gospel
Sermon Date: January 1, 2017
Reading: Philippians 1: 1-11
The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church based in the city of Philippi circa 60-65AD. This was about ten years after his earlier visit when he founded the church.
Philippi was a prosperous Roman colony in northeastern Greece. The population was Greek, Jewish and Roman. Many of the Philippians were retired military men who had been given land in the vicinity and who were Roman citizens. Commentators suggest that the fact that Philippi was a Roman colony may explain why there were insufficient Jews to permit the establishment of a synagogue and why Paul does not quote the Old Testament in his letter to the young and growing church.
The story of how the church came into being is found in Acts 16:11-40.
Imprisoned and facing the prospect of imminent death (1:13; 17, 20-26), Paul writes to the church that he founded to help them to live in the fullness of God’s love during difficult times
Paul’s aims in writing to the growing church in Philippi were to:
a) thank them for the gift they had sent him via Epaphroditus (2:25; 4: 10-19)
b) to encourage them by sharing how God works powerfully in all situations and to trust in God and rejoice in all circumstances
c) to exhort them to live a life that is characterised by humility and unity
d) to commend Timothy and Epaphroditus to the church
e) and to warn them against some people who may try to undermine the church
Philippians is a very easy book to read, has no Old Testament references and does not address a particular heresy or problem. It is a general letter of encouragement to a church that wants to grow deeper in Christ and move forwards for His glory. It is an inspiriting letter that is full of practical application for us today.
When asked, who and what would you chose to express thanks for? Why?
Questions: (see “Helpful Hints” at the end of this section)
1. Read Acts 16: 11-40 to gain an appreciation of how the church in Philippi began and who were founding members. What was the early church like? What was society like on the time that Paul wrote?
2. What do you think Paul means by the Philippians’ “partnership in the gospel” (verse 5)?
3. Why does this give him such “joy” (verse 4)? Is it a phrase we can use about ourselves?
4. What is Paul so “confident” about in verse 6? Why?
5. In the light of Paul’s example, do you think you are deriving your joy and confidence from the right things? How do Paul’s words at the end of verse 7 help us?
6. Read Paul’s prayer in verses 9-11. Take a few minutes to think about this prayer and share what strikes you.
As we begin a new year, how would you like to grow as a Christian through this sermon series and in the year ahead?
Christian love is more than a sentiment. It is rooted in a deepening relationship with God that is revealed in a way of being and living that honours God and which brings personal peace and joy. For Christ came that we might have life and life in its fullness (John 10:10).
Think and discuss how as individuals, as a housegroup and as a church we may deepen our relationship with God, with each other and others in the days ahead.
Conclude by praying for and with each other.
Helpful Hints for discussion questions:
1 “Saints” is a New Testament word for all Christians (not ‘special Christians’ as some tend to think). We know from Acts 16:11-40 that this church included a prosperous businesswoman, a fortune-telling slave girl and a prison governor: a varied bunch who all accepted
Christ as Saviour and formed the church. The church was radical in that it was composed of a wide variety of people in a society that was stratified by status. What we hold in common in the gospel is greater than what makes us different.
2&3 The basis of Paul’s prayerful thanksgiving is not only the Philippians reception of the gospel but their active support of his ministry - a tangible sign of their faith.
The church has given a generous financial gift to support Paul and his ministry. Paul appreciates not just the gift but also the generosity of spirit that stimulated this gift, the support in prayer and their recognition that a privilege of discipleship is to support God’s work through financial giving. Giving to support the ongoing work of God is one way in which all believers worship God.
4 Paul is confident, not only in what God has done “for” his readers in forgiving their sins and giving them a personal relationship with God through Christ, but also what God has done and is doing “in” them through the work of the Holy Spirit (see verse 11).
Faith in Christ leads to living in a way of living that honours God and through which the kingdom of God is seen and comes (i.e. fruit of righteousness).
Progressively, disciples are transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image and nature of Christ. This work (which theologians call sanctification) will only be finished when Christ returns and the kingdom of God is finally completed.
In the meantime, because we all Christians are “work in progress”, Paul has another reason to be confident despite his circumstances. If God’s plan is to get me fit for heaven, he’s not going to give up on me before until got me there (cf: Romans 8:28-30). Philippians is full of ‘pressing on’ language (e.g. 3:11-14): it’s a theme that will appear again in our studies.
5 All Christians have received God’s grace and can therefore be confident in all situations because God is with us working His purposes out. We are “in Christ” and so need not worry – but we are human....