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PHILippians Anne O’BrieN A Bible Study on Philippians. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians

Introduction Paul wrote this letter when he was a prisoner in Rome in about AD62. (Acts 28v30-31 indicates he was a prisoner in his own hired home, but he was chained to a Roman soldier and not allowed to preach.) The letter was sent to the Christians in the church at Philippi (in Macedonia) – a church he had founded on his second missionary journey. From reading Acts chapter 16 we can picture some of the people who would have been there: n Lydia – a business woman who sold purple cloth – and her friends n The jailer and all his family and possibly some of the other prisoners who witnessed Paul’s miraculous escape from prison n And no doubt many others had joined their group. Major themes in Philippians include Grace, The Mind (Attitudes and motives), Joy and Service.

Chapter 1

Read verses 1&2 So, Paul was in prison and Timothy was with him. Paul called himself a servant of Jesus, but the Greek word “doulos” actually means a slave. Paul had given himself 100% to the Lord with no thought of reward. Paul’s greeting (inspired by God) is ‘Grace and Peace’. The Jews normally greeted each other with the word “Shalom” meaning peace, and the Romans used the word “pax”. But the pax Romana had more of a political association. But the Christian greeting of ‘grace and peace’ is far greater and more significant and meaningful. It’s an expression of what God wants us to have. We all know what peace is (we certainly know when we don’t have it!) – but what is grace? GRACE n In it’s most basic form it is ‘that you might know forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 26v17&18) n When we fall away God’s grace is expressed in his desire for our return (grace not punishment) n God’s grace works in our lives to help us react differently and, in turn, to show grace to others n God’s grace allows us to make mistakes and grow n Our character and habits are reformed as we grow, they are reshaped by God’s grace n God’s Grace always shows love before judgment (as Christians, sometimes we can be more critical than non-Christians! We need to pray for grace!) n Grace is like water from a tap. You don’t rely on yesterday’s grace for today. It is received daily by walking with the Lord n Grace is about sacrifice – the ultimate picture of God’s grace is Christ on the Cross. It’s about going the extra mile, even for those who are difficult to love. n Knowing God’s grace gives us security and confidence and self-esteem There are 9 fruits of the Spirit and none of them are grace – and yet none of them happen without grace. Grace is the underlying factor which enables us to grow. MERCY – God not giving us what we deserve GRACE – God giving us what we don’t deserve Praise God for his grace because without it we would all be destined for Hell and miss out on a glorious future in Heaven. Read verses 3-8 Paul was thankful for Christian friends who supported him in prayer and practically – those who gave up their time for him. He may have started his Christian life as a loner, but he had many faithful friends whom he loved (v8 – and whom he longed for with affection). It’s easy to take things for granted but we all need other people and know how encouraging it is to have someone praying for us. Like Paul, we need to remember to be thankful. And Paul prayed for them too – with joy. Joy is an underlying theme in this letter. We would think, “What has Paul got to be joyful about”? He was imprisoned. But knowing that he had friends brought him joy (v4, v6, v7) Q. How is joy different from happiness? Where is our source of joy?

JOY John 15v15: Jesus said, “I have called you friends”. This is the basis and starting point of our joy. Acts 20v24: Paul said his joy came from finishing the race – it’s about doing those things which God has called us to do. n Paul knew that joy could come through difficulties – seeing God’s hand at work, despite the problems. n Joy is a result of spending time with God, reading the Bible and meditating on his words. n The feeling of self-esteem and confidence that we have from knowing we are loved by God, gives us joy. n n

To think about: If we haven’t got joy, are we in the place where God wants us to be? Read verses 9-11 And so, Paul prays for his friends. He prays that: n Love between them would be evident, that they would be close to each other and to God. n It wouldn’t just be about feelings, but based on knowledge and spiritual insight n Christian love should not be dependent on what a person is like, but that it should be based on God’s love for them. (e.g God died for that person – why should we not love them?) n They (and we) would have spiritual discernment (i.e. not be led astray), purity, and the fruits of righteousness. n That they would become more like Jesus, ready to meet him when he comes again What is righteousness? n Righteousness is not something we can do or get by our own works n When we repent of, and give God our sin, he exchanges it for righteousness n We keep our righteousness by keeping our focus on God (the cares and needs of life can shift our focus) n Being humble and repentant can bring us back into righteousness n If we look for righteousness in another (pointing the finger), we may be in danger of losing our righteousness GOD EXPECTS US TO BE RIGHTEOUS He expects us to be right living, and have the right motives for everything we do – but he gives us righteousness when we are in the right place with him. 1 Corinthians 1v30: Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God, that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Read verses 12-14: Opportunities Paul said he was “in chains” not because of the wishes of the Romans, but he was in chains for Christ. He saw it all as part of God’s purpose for his life. Paul just saw this as another means of advancing the gospel. Paul’s situation had encouraged other Christians to be more daring about sharing their faith. Often, it’s not what our circumstances are but how we look at them that counts. We may not realise it (more than likely we don’t!) but others see us and it has an influence on them. So, wherever we find ourselves, we must remember that we are where we are for a reason. And therefore, look for opportunities to share the gospel and serve others. Q. Do you know you are where you are because God wants to use you there? Read verses 15-18: Humility and Priorities Some (thankfully very few) evangelists preach the gospel because they like to hold a crowd, or because it makes them feel good, or they like to be the best or most famous, or even because it pays financially (although not usually!). Their motives are wrong. Paul had them in his day but, he didn’t get uptight or worried about it. He said the important thing is that Christ was being preached. We’re not evangelists, but maybe we should look at our motives for doing what we do. Q. Do we serve Christ out of humility and love, or for other reasons? What other reasons might there be? Do we let the motives of other people bother us? Read verse 19: Rejoicing Again we see Paul rejoicing. He is in prison and not allowed to preach. Others are preaching the gospel, but not in a way he would prefer. Yet he is not down, he rejoices. He knew he was in God’s will and, as long as that was the case, God could still use him for his glory. Q. Where was the source of Paul’s joy? If we trust in ourselves, we only see the problems and not the answers; and we do not get the support we need.

Read verses 20-26: A certain future Paul wasn’t under any illusions – he knew he would suffer and die – but he saw it as a privilege; and he saw death as nothing more than a step into an even better life. Jesus was with him in the prison and would be there in the next world. And yet, he wanted to stay because he still had work to do. As Christians we should all be able to say with Paul, “For me to live is Christ – to die is gain”. Q. But, is being with Christ the most important goal in our lives? We should have no fear of death. But, often family ties, love of our job or leisure activities or friends, can feel more important to us. Paul was unusually singular. For him, living was about Christ – and dying was about Christ. Read verses 27&28: As readers of Paul’s letter we are admonished to: n Live appropriately, befitting the gospel (v27). But what is the best way to do that? By rigidly keeping the law, or by showing grace and love? – Or both? n Stand firm in one spirit (v27), knowing what we believe and being in agreement with each other and with the Scriptures n We should not be fearful (v28), so that others will see the way to salvation Read verses 29-30: “It has been granted to us to suffer”!! Suffering is a gift!! We are certainly not exempt from suffering, nor are we meant to be. Q. Why did Paul see suffering for Jesus as a privilege? Is it Scriptural elsewhere? Q. What kind of persecution might we have to endure in our country – and in other parts of the world? What the New Testament says about suffering: Suffering is part of following Jesus Read John 15v18,19 Philippians 1v29 2 Timothy 1v8 and 3v12 1 Peter 3v16,17 Suffering gives us opportunities Matthew 5v44 Philippians 1 Suffering brings greater reward in Heaven Matthew 5v10 Luke 6v23 Romans 8v17 2 Timothy 2v12 1 Peter 3v14 Revelation 2v12

Chapter 2 Q. What things might cause disunity in a church? Read verses 1-4: Here we see Paul (writing the word from God) desiring to see unity in the church and expecting Christians to understand the necessity of working with one aim and purpose for the sake of the gospel. He says, “If Christ has brought you encouragement, comfort, fellowship and compassion – then: do these things: n Be like minded, with a shared purpose (v2) n Be one in the spirit (thought) and love for each other (v2) n Don’t be selfish or vain (v3) n Be humble, putting others first (v3) n Look after yourself, but look after each other too (v4)

Personal joy and joy in the church will come from serving others. The old maxim is still true: J.O.Y stands for Jesus, Others, Yourself Q. How is humility different from low self-esteem? How do we find a high self-esteem, but still be servants? Christians are not meant to be solitary. We are part of the family of God – not just part of a group of people who share the same interest and faith. And just as we have responsibility to others in our own family, we have a responsibility to our Christian brothers and sisters – both those we know and those we don’t know. Read verse 5-8: “Have the same mindset as Jesus Christ”. We should base our thoughts, our attitudes, our motives and our desires on the example that Jesus set for us. The passage goes on to tell us how Jesus’ mindset worked: by humbling himself. Even though Jesus was equal with God and part of the Godhead, he didn’t “act God” when he walked the earth as a man, he didn’t take advantage of his position. He voluntarily humbled himself to become a servant and to suffer the cruellest death – for our sakes. How Jesus was humbled: n He had the lowliest of births and no where to lay his head n He depended on others and had no home (during his ministry) n He knew sorrow, rejection and grief n He rode on a donkey; he ate with sinners; he lived simply n He experienced humiliation; his friends deserted him n He was accursed as he suffered the death of crucifixion Read verses 9-11: But “God exalted him to the highest place”. The reward for servanthood and martyrdom was glory and worship. How Jesus was exalted: n He started with the most dramatic death n But God raised him from death to effect our salvation n He fulfilled his purpose by conquering sin and death n He was miraculously taken up into heaven (Ascension) n He took his rightful position at God’s right hand in Heaven n He is in a position where ultimately every knee will bow to him n The name of Jesus is above every name One day we too, as followers of Jesus and walking in his will, will be miraculously taken up into heaven – at the Second Coming – when we also, will receive our reward. But like Jesus it is servanthood first and glory to follow. Read verses 12-13: In verse 12 Paul says, “Work out your own salvation”. Note: We don’t have to work for our salvation but we have to work out our salvation. Verse 13 talks about “to will/want to do, and to act”. We want to live for Jesus but the power isn’t there to do it. Old sayings often ring true, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. But Paul reminds us that it is God working in us in order to work through us. The power to will, and the power to act come only from God. But the choice to will and to act comes from us. To will – to determine a course of action To act – to carry out the action All of our actions come first from what our mind desires to have and do. So, to follow Christ we need a Christdriven mind. We cannot work out our salvation unless we have the mind of Christ that he puts in us. It’s when we align our will with his will that we are able to work out our salvation “in order to fulfil his good purpose” (v13b). Read verses 14,15 “Children of God in a warped and crooked generation” was how Moses saw the people of Israel and how Paul saw the Christian church in his day – and indeed, how it seems to feel in every generation. God’s people are always like foreigners in the land – but they are also ambassadors. We should not grumble or argue, but strive to be blameless and pure as Christ lives in us.

Earlier we looked at what causes disunity in a church. Look back over these verses (2v1-14). Q. What advice has Paul given for maintaining unity in the church? Consider your life. What one thing have you done that makes you feel your living has not been in vain? What things could you do? Read verses 16-18 Paul wanted the Christian church to hold fast to the gospel and be united and true to what they had learnt and proclaimed. He felt this would be the test of whether he had been successful spiritually. He wasn’t on earth to build a following, but to establish the Christian church. Effectively Paul said (v17), “Even if I die because of my preaching, I can still rejoice in the privilege of bringing you to a life of faith and service.” Verse 18: And you too should be glad and rejoice with me. “To will and to act” - Coming back to this phrase, this is what makes our lives worthwhile and brings us joy – making a difference to the lives of others as we remain in the will of Christ. Q. Do the virtues of sacrifice and service still exist today? As examples of these qualities Paul has already written about Jesus, but now he goes on to write about Timothy, Epaphroditus and, lastly himself. Read verses 19-24: Timothy n Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a gentile father; but Paul always considered Timothy to be “his own dear son in the faith”. Over the years, Timothy had walked with the Lord, and had become a willing and trustworthy servant of Paul in the Lord’s work. n Paul’s imprisonment prevented Paul from going personally to visit the Philippians so it was natural that Paul would choose Timothy to go – “he will show genuine concern for your welfare”. n Timothy wasn’t selfish. He was willing to work for the Lord and go on Paul’s behalf. (Neither was Paul selfish. Paul needed Timothy for his own morale support, but he was willing to let him go. One wonders why no-one in the church in Rome was willing or able to help Paul.) Q. When it’s always “you” that is helping and doing the jobs, do you feel it’s unfair – or do you wish others would share the load? Read verses 25-30: Epaphroditus Epaphroditus had come from Philippi with their offering of money (chap 4v18) and to attend to Paul in Rome, “to take care of all of his needs”. It was a dangerous thing to do travelling alone with money to Rome, the place where persecution was at its height under Nero. He was a man of sacrifice. n He was like a servant, but Paul called him a brother and a fellow soldier. Brother reflected his caring serving nature. Soldier reflected his determination to serve the Lord at all costs. Epaphroditus was obviously dedicated. n But Epaphroditus fell ill and very nearly died whilst in Rome. We don’t know why, except that it was a result of his work for Christ. So, in effect he risked his life for Paul and the Lord’s work. Even when he was ill his distress was on behalf of his friends and family back home in Philippi and not for himself. n

Chapter 3 In this chapter Paul continues to paint the picture of a missionary’s life - a life of sacrifice and servanthood. We’ve seen how important his friends and colleagues were to him. Missionaries are ordinary people – and often lonely - with the same needs as anyone else. Q. Do we know who our Elim missionaries are and what they do? Do we pray for them and support them if possible?

Elim currently has 85 missionaries working in 34 different countries. Some are single, some are married with children. All of them are involved in local churches and spreading the gospel, as well as helping people by using their skills of teaching, nursing, counselling, providing water, translating the Bible and many other things. Most of them live by faith. They have all selflessly responded to God’s call on their lives, leaving family and friends behind. To find out more visit the Elim missions webpage. And – importantly please pray for them and donate if you can. Read verse 1: Again, Paul says rejoice in the Lord. Actually, the Christians in Rome had very little else to rejoice in. As many as 6 million Christians died and were buried in the catacombs (underground tunnels used as tombs) in the first century AD in Rome. Paul wants us to know that nothing can steal our inner joy, because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Read verses 2&3: Paul is referring to the Judaizers, the Legalists. The Judaizers were a sect of early Christians who believed Gentiles had to convert to Judaism in order to embrace Jesus as the Messiah. They also believed that salvation was by keeping the law as well as by grace. At stake was the fact that the Judaizers said in effect: Christ’s work needs something else to constitute full salvation. Modern day Judaizers would be those who insist on adherence to church tradition as well as salvation by grace (High church, Catholicism, Seventh Day Adventists etc.). See Romans 2v28-29 These men, the Judaizers were zealots, following Paul wherever he went, literally trying to steal those who were newly converted and bring them round to their way of thinking (and leading them away from the Kingdom). People like this still exist today, even in our churches sometimes; people who say “you cannot be a Christian if you smoke or drink or do recreational drugs”. These things aren’t necessarily right or good for you, but shouldn’t preclude us from salvation. Paul calls these Judaizers “dogs,” because the Judaizers were notorious for calling the Gentiles “dogs”. In other words, Paul was turning the tables on these bigots, giving them a taste of their own medicine. He also calls them “evildoers”. What they were doing was a violation of God’s will and was harming people, preventing them from all that God had for them. Lastly, he called them “mutilators of the flesh” because they insisted on circumcision, when that was not what God required of Gentiles under the New Covenant. Circumcision was a symbol of the Old Covenant started by Abraham and ratified through Moses and the Law. The moment we turn to Christ as our only means of salvation is when we are circumcised in our hearts, it is the moment when God ratifies his New Covenant in us (see second part of verse 3). Read verses 4-6: Paul’s testimony – before he became a Christian Paul was eager to convince people that he had experienced both sides of the argument and knew what he was talking about. He was: n Circumcised according to the Law of Moses n From the tribe of Benjamin n Therefore a true Israelite (Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob, and Jacob was renamed Israel by God – see Gen 32v28) n He was also a true Hebrew – spoke the Hebrew language as well as Aramaic and Greek. n He was a Pharisee and had been an extremely devout, religious Jew who adhered to every aspect of the Law and in fact says in verse 6 that he was righteous and faultless under the Law. n He had also been zealous in persecuting the Christians, which was why he referred to himself as “chief of sinners” in his letter to Timothy. Measured by the Law, Paul was blameless. It was only when he measured himself against the claims of Jesus Christ and his righteousness that Paul realised all his achievements were in vain. Q. Which yardstick do we use when assessing ourselves? One of our own, that of the church, the standards of the ‘world’, or do we use the Word of God? How important is self-assessment? Read verses 7-11 – Paul’s testimony - the present How easy is it to agree with verses 7&8. Without Christ there is no meaning or purpose in life. Paul realised

that self-righteousness was not enough – being good, even being the best, was never good enough. Paul lost everything, but gained everything. Becoming a Christian didn’t leave him less of a person, or less of a Jew. It completed him. Jim Elliot, who famously lost his life to the Auca Indians in South America said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. So what did Paul say that he had gained? n Paul gained the knowledge of Christ n He gained the righteousness of Christ n He gained the suffering of Christ Q. What exactly do those three things mean? Can we identify with what Paul is saying? Read verses 12-14 – Paul’s testimony – the future Paul said, “I press on”. In other words, “I stick at it, endure it at times, persevere with it, I keep on keeping on until I get to my goal”. Yes, the Christian life brings joy, but it’s also hard work. Paul was always content with his lot in life, but he was never satisfied with his progress in the Christian life. He wasn’t one to rest on his laurels. Q. Why is it that we have a tendency towards laziness in our Christian lives? People who do great things dedicate their whole lives to the cause of achieving those things. They not only have to be better than others but they usually want to better their own successes too – especially athletes. The ultimate, future prize of Heaven was just as real to Paul as his present reality, so he always lived in the light of the future. He knew where he was headed and was longing to hear those words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”. Paul was not suggesting that we reach Heaven by our own efforts. But, there will be rewards in Heaven. We wont all be like Paul – fact! The important thing is that we reach the goal that God has set for us personally and individually. Having given us his own testimony, Paul now moves on to US – the readers of his letter. Read verses 15-17 Note: Paul’s previous encouragement was to mature Christians – new Christians must be given time and space as they learn. One of the things we all have to learn as Christians is to discipline ourselves in reading the Word and in prayer – some find this much harder than others! But … this is how we can “live up to what we’ve already attained” (v16) that is, our salvation. Paul followed the example of Jesus Christ, who deliberately made time in his busy life to commune with his Father. Paul says, “Use us a model” – in other words follow people who set a good example and don’t get drawn in to following the wrong examples. Paul has made it clear we never have to work for our salvation BUT n We are to work out our salvation in Christlike love for one another n We are to live up to our salvation and know who and what we believe Read verses 18-21 Paul has such joy and yet he speaks of tears (v18). Q. What is causing Paul’s sadness? Paradoxically – it is ‘Christians’ who can be enemies of the Cross! These are people who profess Christ, but everything they do and say points to themselves and away from Jesus. They feed their stomachs rather than their souls. They focus on earthly things rather than on heavenly things. They glory in their own experience – little realising that this is their shame. All this, Paul says, leads to destruction rather than salvation. Q. What is the main thing that Paul wants us to remember (v20)? One day we will see Jesus and meet him in Heaven. But we are already citizens of Heaven now. Most Christians in Paul’s day lived outside of Rome but they were Roman citizens because they were governed by Rome. In the same way, we live outside of Heaven, but we are still Heaven’s citizens governed by Jesus Christ. Q. What does verse 21 promise us?

Chapter 4 Read verses 1-3 Here we get a little glimpse of part of the church in Philippi. Paul was fond of the fellowship at Philippi, they had supported him financially and provided for him as would brothers and sisters. “My joy and my crown” suggests that he was proud of them and the way they were growing together as a church. And so he encourages them to ‘stand firm in the Lord’ – to keep on in the same vein. But …

Two female workers, Euodia and Syntiche, were not always in agreement! Perhaps they both thought they were right … perhaps it was a Mary and Martha situation … perhaps they both wanted to lead. We are not told what the problem was, but it’s fairly obvious there was disunity. It seems a bit unfair to ‘name and shame’ them. Q. Why do you think Paul did this? Who was Paul speaking of in verse 3? It is likely to have been Timothy or Epaphroditus as they were both returning to Philippi. Sometimes it is necessary to engage a more mature Christian to sort out minor problems such as these in a church. Clement is mentioned as having a leadership role and a co-worker with Paul. Other than that we hear nothing of him in the Bible. BUT .. it is believed (from historical documents) that Clement was the first Bishop of Rome after Paul died. And he had the best epitaph, didn’t he? His name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Read verses 4-6: The key to peace Using short sentences – almost like commands – Paul says we are to rejoice, we are to be gentle, we must not be anxious, we must pray. And what will follow (v7) is PEACE. Not the world’s peace, but the peace that only God can give us deep in our souls, peace which is beyond our understanding, peace which remains when all is against us, the peace that only comes from the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s peace is different to the world’s peace because it is not dependent on circumstances and surroundings. Paul was writing to Christians who knew what it was to be persecuted. He was writing to mums who were worried for their children, to dads who may not be able to support their families, to children who would have terrible memories in their dreams because of persecution and hardship. The argument for God’s peace is a circular one: Peace  rejoicing  not grumbling  no aggression  gentleness  no anxiety  prayer and trusting  Peace Notice in verse 6 Paul used 3 different words for prayer: Prayer, petitioning and requests – and all with thanksgiving. You will notice that Paul’s advice to us always lines up with those things that were spoken by Jesus (e.g. in The Lord’s Prayer.) n Prayer: An attitude of prayer is an attitude of submission – on our knees, head bent, hands together pointing heavenwards – and in our hearts acknowledging that we come to One who is far greater than us, One who is far greater than our problems. Prayer is about submission to God’s will and trust in Him. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, the Kingdom come, Thy will be done … etc”. n Petitioning and requests: “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, lead us not into temptation … etc”. We don’t need to be half-hearted about telling God our needs. Jesus said we should pray about them, Paul reiterates it here. “Do not be anxious” is a command. Take the problem or the need to Lord. Why would Jesus tell us to pray if his Father wasn’t going to answer our prayer? n Thanksgiving: Pray with thanks, acknowledgement and appreciation. “For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory”. When we state aloud God’s greatness it is easier to trust in Him for the answer, and to be thankful in anticipation of what He will do. Right praying depends on the right mindset, and the result is the peace of God. Read verses 7-9: Think and Do Q. What has Paul said we are to THINK on? TRUE – factual, genuine, reliable, trustworthy, honest, perfect NOBLE – dignified, grand, honourable, upright, things with integrity RIGHT – accurate, ethical, fair, just, moral, virtuous PURE – innocent, flawless, clean, unadulterated, wholesome LOVELY – pleasant, kindly, precious, good, nice, satisfactory ADMIRABLE – exemplary, commendable, excellent, fine EXCELLENT – distinguished, superior, notable, valuable PRAISEWORTHY – of worth, wonderful, worthy of devotion Q. In our fallen world, is there such a thing as innocence? Q. What has Paul said we should DO? (v9)

Basically, Paul said, “Do as I do”. Here is a list of some of the “I DO” things in Philippians: n “I thank God” – chapter 1v3 n “I pray” – chapter 1v4 n “I rejoice” – chapter 1v18 n “I suffer for Christ” – chapter 3v10 n “I want to know Christ” – chapter 3v10 n “I press on” – chapter 3v12,14 n “I can do all things through Christ” – chapter 4v13 Read verses 10-13: Again, Paul rejoices in the Philippians concern for his well-being. Words of concern do show a person that we care – even if we can do nothing to help. Q. Why is Paul able to say that he can be content in all circumstances? (see verse 13) Ultimately, our circumstances are not what make us happy, the secret of being content is knowing that we can go through anything when Christ’s strength is in us. Read verses 14-20: In prayer, correspondence, visits and (where possible) taking gifts of money, the Philippians had shared in Paul’s troubles – and at certain times they were the only church to do so (v15)! They had sent help more than once and now Paul wants them to be blessed (v17). Paul saw giving as a fragrant offering – parallel to an Old Testament sacrifice, which was pleasing to God (because it was a sacrifice to give it). I wonder how often our giving is a real sacrifice – or do we just give a little of what we have left over? Q. Verse 19 is often quoted, but in the light of the previous verses, do you think it is a conditional promise? Read verses 21-23 Here we have final greetings – and another snippet of information about the church in Rome: some of the believers are from the household of Caesar! At the time the ruling Caesar was Nero. History tells us that Nero was a megalomaniac with absolute power and set on destruction, particularly destruction of Jews and Christians. He personally ordered the painful and torturous deaths of millions of Christians. How amazing is it that some of his household had found salvation in Christ!! With the God of Grace and Hope anything is possible. What an encouraging note for Paul to end his letter on – GRACE. And so, Paul pronounces God’s grace on all readers of his letter.

The Estuary Elim Group of Churches are three Essex based Elim Pentecostal Churches in Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend on Sea with a shared Leadership team. We are a group of people responding to the love of God and the life changing message of Jesus Christ. Our services are lively with contemporary music, worship and preaching and teaching relevant to the 21st Century. To find out more about us visit Whether you are new to church, someone with questions or a committed Christian, we want to serve you and help you discover and fulfil God’s purpose for your life. If you would like an opportunity to email or talk to one of the team email your contact details to and we will get back to you. The Ashingdon, Rayleigh and Southend Elim Pentecostal Churches are branches of The Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance (Registered Charity No. 251549)

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