Chapter 1 – Fellowship in the Gospel (Phil. 1:5) Learning the basics.
Learning to receive love:
Phil. 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
Paul loved them with such an affection and care that they came to know what it is like to be loved by God. In Phil. 1:7 Paul says they are all partakers of his grace (not God’s grace, but Paul’s grace). They were like babies to him and he was carrying them on the wings of his grace until they could receive it for themselves.
Learning to love:
Phil. 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence until the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.
Paul wanted them to learn to love not only in action and feeling, but with understanding and discernment.
Chapter 2: Fellowship of the Spirit (Phil. 2:1)
Learning to be humble:
Phil. 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
In Phil 2:12, when Paul talks about working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, he stops carrying them as much so they can learn to get hooked up with God and become dependent on Him, which is true humility. This reminds me of a Mama bird I saw recently that had its baby riding on its back. All of a sudden the Mama bird dropped the baby so it could learn to fly. Paul was doing the same thing with them, but added in verse 13 that it is God who is working in you and He will catch you and carry you now. This is fellowship in the Spirit because the Spirit takes over as we become dependent on God. However, the Holy Spirit can’t take over if we are holding on too tightly to the people we are ministering to.
Chapter 3: Fellowship of His Suffering (Phil. 3:10)
Learning to die to self:
Phil 3:10-11 That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death: if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Paul next teaches them the importance of and how to die to the flesh. He teaches them by example and tells them he could glory in the flesh more than anybody, but he chooses not to because he wants to know Christ and his goal is to forget those things which are behind and to reach forth to the things that are before, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:13-14)
He not only teaches them by example but, in Phil. 3:17 he tells them to be followers of him and others like him as examples. This is important because when we die to the flesh, we need to learn a whole new way of acting. Being an example is also one of the best ways of teaching.
Phil. 3:20-21 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.
We are being made to be like Him as we let Him subdue all things to Himself as we submit to Him.
Chapter 4: Yoke-fellows and Fellow-laborers (Phil. 4:3)
Learning to stand fast in the Lord:
Phil 4:1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
They have graduated and become co-laborers, but Paul continues to teach them with a series of instructions to help them to “stand fast in the Lord” (Phil. 4:1):
- Be of the same mind in the Lord. (Phil 4:2)
- Help each other. (Phil. 4:3)
- Rejoice always. (Phil. 4:4)
- Let your moderation be known unto all men. (be gentle and forbearing). (Phil. 4:5)
- Remember that the Lord is near at hand. (Phil. 4:5)
- Do not be full of care about anything but pray about everything and then be filled with thanksgiving. Then God’s peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7)
- Think about things that are true, honest, just pure, lovely, of a good report, praiseworthy and virtuous. (Phil. 4:8)
Then he gets back to himself as an example (Phil. 4:9): “Those things, which you have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” They received love from him as he taught them to love by example. The following are things they saw and heard him do:
- To be content in whatever state he was in. (Phil. 4:11-12)
- To do all things through Christ who strengthened him. (Phil. 4:13) “I can’t do it” was never in his vocabulary.