I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, . . . Paul to the Corinthians
It's time for the final installment of Paul and the Philippians. I hope you're not too worn out to do just one more lesson. Paul's writings are often studied for their theological content. Church systematic theologians as diverse as Augustine, Luther, and Barth have found in Paul's work the essence of the gospel. And perhaps rightly so, but what about Paul as pastor, as shepherd of a diverse collection of Gentile (pagan) churches. As you do your study this week, use your preparation time to consider Paul, the pastor.
I thank my God every time I remember you . . . Paul to the Philippians
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Paul to the Galatians
Consider the two driving forces of Paul's work: his mission to the Gentiles and his concern for the poor. According to his own words, his agreement with the Jerusalem church included both aspects.
- Take a look at this succinct article on Paul's mission by a premier Pauline scholar, E. P. Sanders.
- Read Galatians 1:15 - 2:10, an extended passage in which Paul discusses his calling.
- Read Acts 15, the account of the Council at Jerusalem, for what it tells of Paul's work.
Section 1 – Philippians 4:2-8
1. What plea does Paul make to Euodia and Syntyche?
2. What is their relationship to Paul? To the church?
3. Paul instructs the Philippians to rejoice and for emphasis repeats his command. Is this a realistic imperative? How would you respond to an injunction to “rejoice”?
4. How are these Christians to deal with the anxiety that comes from being a cultural/religious minority?
5. What does Paul see as the result if the Philippians follow his suggested approach to anxiety?
6. What “how to” guidance does Paul provide for “right thinking” and “right doing”?
Section 2 – Philippians 4:9-23
7. What is the secret of Paul’s contentment with his life?
8. How did the Philippians share in Paul’s troubles?
9. What other mission church is mentioned here?
10. Paul identifies one particular group of saints (Christians). Who are they and what evidence do they provide as to Paul’s location as he writes?
How would you rate Paul's pastoral skills based on his interaction with the Philippian church? Use a 1 -10 scale, with 10 being the highest rating and 1 being the lowest rating. Provide examples from the letter to support your rating.
- The New American Bible with study notes is a handy online tool to consult for your bible studies.
- The IVP New Testament Commentaries are has available online at the Bible Gateway. Take a look at Gordon Fee's commentary on Philippians. All the volumes are written from a scholarly evangelical perspective.
- As Paul Tells It is a web site with a variety of resources for the study of Paul and his letters. Check his argument for Ephesus as the location where Paul wrote Philippians.
- Jesus and Paul is a collection of articles on Beliefnet that look at various aspects of Paul's ministry by a diverse collection of New Testament scholars. Some of the links are now dead, but most are active.