Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. The Best Book in the Bible series will provide entry points into faithful study and encourage you to fall in love with various books of the Bible.
Do you struggle with anxiety and depression? Does it ever feel like joy is fleeting and impossible to maintain? Are you beaten down by your own desire for ‘things’, unable to find contentment? Do you wrestle with how to follow Christ’s example in the midst of trials and suffering? If so, Philippians is for you.
Main themes: joy, humility, endurance
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13)
Paul is writing from prison to a church he loves. Even though he is faced with suffering and persecution, he overflows with joy.
In chapter 1, Paul discusses his prison conditions, but redirects the focus back to his opportunity to preach Christ in every situation. Despite his dreadful circumstances, he rejoices because the gospel is going forward.
Chapter 2 is an exploration into humility, and includes one of the most dynamic passages regarding Christ’s humility in suffering as the God-man (2:5-11). Jesus is shown to demonstrate perfect humility; a model we are to imitate.
Chapter 3 explores some personal details, as we see a glimpse into how Paul sees his own life in light of the Cross. For Paul, nothing on earth is more valuable than knowing Christ; everything else is rubbish in comparison (3:4-14).
Chapter 4 is an encouragement for unity and peace within the body. In the end, we are not to become consumed with anxiety over circumstances, rather, we are to trust in God and manifest the true contentment that is found in Christ.
What Makes This Book So Great:
No letter in the New Testament is more geared toward the pursuit of joy in Christ. It is an incredibly uplifting letter; one of Paul’s most personal. Parts of the letter are written almost like a journal entry; you really hear Paul’s heart! But over and over again, we are called to rejoice (1:4, 18, 2:17, 18, 28, 29, 3:1, 4:4, 10), even in the midst of our trials. This letter single-handedly helps us get our perspective right, as we consider the blessed joy of our fellowship with Christ far surpassing any circumstance we might be caught in.
As the fight for joy rages on, Paul is helpful beyond simply commanding us to “rejoice!”—He provides a method. We learn that the battle for joy and contentment begins in our minds. We are told that humility is an attitude of the mind (2:3), and those who “set their minds on earthly things” fall into destruction (3:19). A careful study of Philippians helps equip the believer to fight for joy in an age that tries to convince us that we need ‘things’ to make us happy.
With the letter being only four chapters long, try reading through it in one sitting, taking note of how much it is like a love letter. Even in his style of writing, Paul is quick and pithy, which provides easily memorizable verses which serve as “fighter verses” for us. As you dig in and study, challenge yourself to learn whole passages from this letter. You will find that in times of struggle, Philippians will come to your rescue.
- John MacArthur, Philippians. Chicago: Moody, 2001.
A verse-by-verse commentary that is helpful for any thinking student.
- J. Alec Motyer, The Message of Philippians. Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1984.
A rich, accessible study of the book.
- Peter T. O’Brien, The Epistle to the Philippians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.
An advanced study in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series.
- Matthew Harmon, Philippians: A Mentor Commentary. Mentor, 2015.
A new, widely-acclaimed exhaustive exegetical commentary.
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries