Bible Study of Philippians 1

Click here for the Bible Gateway site with Philippians 1 in the English Standard Version, New International Version, and New Living Translation.

1. How Paul felt about the Philippians

Philippians 1:1-8

  • Wishing them grace and peace (Philippians 1:1-2).
  • Thankful for their fellowship (Philippians 1:3-5).
  • Confident of their development (Philippians 1:6).
  • Lonely for their company (Philippians 1:7-8).

What do you know about the church in Philippi?

Paul is writing this from prison. How does this help you more deeply appreciate his attitude, greeting, and appreciation for the church in Philippi?

What is the difference between thanking someone (“Thank you.”) and thanking God for someone (“I thank God for you.”)? Which do you prefer to hear?

I notice Paul mentions  both the “defense and confirmation of the gospel,” in his cause for appreciation. Why and how must the gospel be defended? Think of the ditch on both sides of the road that we can fall into regarding the gospel. Think also of the substance of the gospel, which includes the resurrection of Jesus.

2. Paul’s prayers for the Philippians

Philippians 1:9-11

  • An abounding well-founded love (Philippians 1:9).
  • A pure and excellent life (Philippians 1:10).
  • Fruitfulness to God’s glory (Philippians 1:11).

How do you pray for the people of your family? The fellow members of your church? Your neighbors? Your coworkers? Your enemies? Which of these facets of Paul’s prayer capture your attention? How might this shape your prayers? (Note: This is an example for us, not a command or a proscribed pattern for prayer.)


3. How Paul felt about imprisonment

Philippians 1:12-20

  • An opportunity to preach (Philippians 1:12-13).
  • Gave courage to his companions (Philippians 1:14).
  • Motivated his opponents to preach (Philippians 1:15-18).
  • Helped his own salvation (Philippians 1:19).

When was the last time you thought of a difficulty as an opportunity to advance the gospel? How does that color your understanding of our current situation?


4. How Paul felt about death.

Philippians 1:20-26

  • It would glorify Christ (Philippians 1:20).
  • It would be to his benefit (Philippians 1:21,23).
  • It would be a loss to the Philippians (Philippians 1:22).
  • It was not imminent (Philippians 1:24-26).

We are not most fit for heaven when we are least happy on earth. Reflect on this. How happy are you here and now? How fit are you for heaven? How do we become “fit for heaven?”


5. Exhortations.

Philippians 1:27 to 2:5

  • Live a life worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).
  • Suffer with courage (Philippians 1:27-30).
  • Be united (Philippians 2:1-2).
  • Be unselfish (Philippians 2:3-4).

The two Lutheran Questions (What does this mean? and How is this done?) are answered in these verses. What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel? Your manner of life should reflect the influence of the gospel. The death and resurrection of Jesus and his second coming, the forgiveness of sins, and the gift of salvation should shape our identity. And our identity should shape our lives. The phrase hints at our citizenship of the gospel kingdom, “behave as citizens worthy…”


  • Do you believe in the holy Christian Church; the communion of saints?
  • Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins?
  • Do you look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come?

If so, how does that show up in your life?

What impact does our unity in this faith have in our lives as Jesus followers? In gospel witness? In kingdom impact?

How is unselfishness shaping my behaviors and values during these difficult days?


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