Philippians 1:1-11

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Spend some time in worship.




Philippi was a city in Greece in the region of Macedonia. It was named after Alexander the Great’s father. It was important because of the gold-mines in the area, and it was situated on the main route from East to West Europe. It had a mixed population of Greeks, Romans and a few Jews. . Many of its citizens were retired Roman soldiers who had a strong loyalty to Rome and Caesar and so Paul faced opposition when he spoke of Jesus being the King of the world. This opposition continued for the early Church after his departure. There were many gods in Philippi. Paul visited the city in about 52 AD when he met Lydia and other women by the river and planted the first church to be established in Europe there. He visited them again in AD 57 or 58 (Acts 20:1, 6) and strengthened his friendship with the believers there.

Eleven years later, while Paul was under house arrest in Rome, waiting for his trial to take place in front of Caesar he wrote this informal loving letter to his friends in Philippi. It reveals their friendship, rather than any authority Paul may have had over them as in some of his other letters (1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 1:11-14 etc). Timothy was with him at the time of writing. He greeted his friends by combining the usual Greek form of address (grace) with that of the usual Jewish form of address (peace), both of which can only come through Jesus Christ, thus uniting the membership of the Church.

He addressed three groups of people. Firstly, all the saints – that is those in Philippi who had been set apart by God for a special purpose (all who believed in Jesus Christ) in the same way 21 st century believers have been set apart to serve God. Secondly, he included all the leaders of the Church. The Greek word’ episcopo’ has been translated bishop in some versions.These men would have had the authority to give Holy Communion and were responsible for oversight of the congregation. Thirdly, Paul addresses the deacons – the men who served. Paul blessed them all with a prayer for grace and peace.

Paul’s joy at his friendship with the Philippians shines through this letter. He was grateful to all of these people for what they had done for him as they partnered with him in spreading the gospel from the moment they met him. He emphasized their unity within the Church as he included every one of them in his letter. He told them how grateful he was to God too for He had used them to bless him and was confident that God would continue to use them until His work was complete when Jesus returns. The Philippians were very generous in their support of Paul and he expressed his gratitude to them by praying for them. In spite of his current circumstances, in prison and facing possible execution, the thought of them made him happy. He had deep affection for them all, just as Jesus loved each one of them.

Even so, Paul prayed that the Philippians love would increase in such a way that it would benefit the Kingdom of God (the Greek word used for love here is ‘agape’ which is described in 1 Corinthians 13). Paul prayed they would be discerning so they would know what was right and what was wrong. (He had rebuked the Church in Corinth which seemed to love indiscriminately – that was not the right way 1 Corinthians 5:1-7). The love Paul was talking about in regard to the Philippians would be evident in the way they lived. It was necessary for them to love with wisdom – sometimes great harm can be done when people step in to ‘help’ in a situation without researching what is actually needed. Paul prayed that the Philippian Believers would fulfill the goal of all Christ-followers – to live in such a way that all glory and praise be given to God, know that it is not due to anything the individual does or accomplishes but by the grace of God.


Have you ever been to a new place full of strangers, and felt instantly at home? Where were you? What made you feel that way? Is it a challenge to walk into a room full of strangers? Are you able to do it? Where does Jesus feature in such a challenge?


  • If Paul were to write a letter to Gracepoint would he write a loving letter or one that corrects, guides or strives to unite the congregation? How would you, as a member of Gracepoint feel receiving such a letter? What can you do, personally, to ensure Gracepoint received a loving letter?
  • ‘Every member is a partner in the Gospel.’ How do you partner with one another, with the church, with Jesus Christ in the Gospel? What does this mean to you? Are you aware of using your gifting to do so? Have you ever thought of God smiling in joy at the work you do for Him? How does that make you feel?
  • The members of a G.O.A.T. church spur one another on.’ Who encourages you? If you worship on line, how do you feel about not being in community? What stops you from attending worship together? (There may be a valid reason – this is not a blame game.) If you worship in community, how does it help you through the week? What benefit do you receive? What blessings do you give to those around you? In either case, are you growing more like Christ every day?
  • ‘Jesus is at the heart of all we do.’ Would you say you live ‘in Christ’? Are you aware of the encircling presence of Jesus in your everyday life? How does this influence what you do and say? Would you say Jesus is the centre of all you do? Why/why not? Can you see Jesus in one another?
  • ‘In such a church members hold each other in their hearts’. Is this how you feel about the members of Gracepoint (or wherever you worship)? Is this how you feel about the members of this group? How does the way you feel about the people with whom you live your faith life affect the way you live? How often do you pray for them? What does it mean to you that they pray for you?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Lord, we want to be a church that dwells in You. We acknowledge Your presence at Gracepoint and here in this room. Let us see You as we gather together in Your name. Let us hold Your love and the pain of the world in our hearts so that from that small Calvary Your healing water flows. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

Ask God to who you how you can live ‘in Christ’ this week as you partner with Him in the Gospel. Be prepared to share what happens with the group next week.


Hargreaves, John, A Guide to Philippians, SPCK, London 2001

Philippians Chapter 1

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