No, it’s not a typo! Far too often, our smiles are backed by happiness (a joy-substitute that is all-too inconsistent). We need to learn how to overcome our happiness and find REAL JOY! Certainly Paul’s circumstances were anything but joyful! He had been arrested illegally, taken to Rome, and was now awaiting trial. There was division among the Christians there (1:14–17), and some were trying to make matters worse for the apostle. How was he able to have such joy in the midst of uncomfortable circumstances? Because happiness is based on our happenings while joy is based in Jesus! He had the “single mind”—his concern was not for Paul, but for Christ and the Gospel. Five times in this chapter he mentions the Gospel (vv. 5, 7, 12, 17, 27), and Christ is mentioned seventeen times! Paul looked upon these circumstances as sent by God (v. 13) for the purpose of exalting Christ (v. 20). If Paul had been double-minded, he would have complained because life was so uncomfortable.
** Download the Student Guide HERE.
The single mind is concerned with three priorities (this lesson only includes the first one):
1. The Fellowship of the Gospel (1:1–11)
To be “in Christ” and a part of the Christian fellowship is a source of joy when things become difficult. Here is Paul, a prisoner in Rome, yet rejoicing because of the fellowship of the Gospel. Three phrases summarize his joyful attitude.
A. “I have you in my mind” (vv. 1–6).
Paul was not thinking about himself; he was thinking instead about the dear saints (set- apart ones) in far-off Philippi. Every memory was a blessing to him—including the suffering he experienced in that Philippian jail (Acts 16). As he prayed for them, he rejoiced over their salvation and growth. He knew that what Christ had begun in their lives would be completed, for Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Rev. 1:8; Heb. 12:1–2).
B. “I have you in my heart” (vv. 7–8).
The Philippian church was composed of a mixed group of people, but they were bound together by love. Among them were wealthy Lydia, the jailer, the slave girl (all found in Acts 16), plus other believers, mostly Gentiles. They had shared in the Gospel ministry with Paul; their hearts were united in their love for Christ and each other. How different they were from the Corinthian church! (2 Cor. 12:20–21)
C. “I have you in my prayers” (vv. 9–11).
Paul always took time to pray for people; his prayer here is that they might live full lives. An empty Christian is a tragedy! He prayed that they might be full of love and discernment; that they might be faithful in their daily walk; and that they might be fruitful in Christian service. This was a prayer for Christian maturity.
- Where does ‘happiness’ (according to the lesson) come from? Where does it not come from?
- Where does real joy come from (3:1; 4:4)?
- Why does Paul present the ‘single mind‘ as a solution to unhappiness (circumstance-based joy)?
- To whom did Paul & Timothy send this letter? (1)
– To the Pastors, the Deacons, and the _________ at Philippi
5. For what is Paul thankful concerning the Philippians? (5)
– For their _______________ in the __________
- What does the fellowship of the gospel mean to you?
- What is Paul confident of concerning the Philippians? (6)
– That God will __________ the work begun in them until rapture / resurrection
8. Why did Paul have this confidence? (7)
– Their partnership in the proclamation of the ___________ & God’s grace
9. What things did Paul pray for the church? (9-11)
*This is a simple outline for how you should pray for your church!
– That their __________ might abound
– That their _______________ might grow
– That they might be ___________ (approve the things that are excellent)
– That they might be ________ and holy before God
– That they might be _______________ as they serve the Lord
10. What is the main take-away for you out of this lesson?