Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Philippians 2:14-18

warm up

How would you answer this: "I have the greatest difficulty doing the right things when:

[  ] I am agitated about something or someone
[  ] I am feeling out numbered by worldly pressures and worldly associates
[  ] I am called upon to make a personal sacrifice for the cause of Christ
Discuss as a class some things that we might do when faced with each of the above situations.
wise up

   Verse 15, seems to be the pivotal verse in this lesson. It is Paul's desire that his brethren live their lives in such a way that they "may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke..." The statement, "That ye may be... sons of God" sounds odd considering that the Philippians were already children of God. But Paul recognized that there was a difference between being a child of God and being a "child of God without rebuke."  And the words "without rebuke" can be translated as "without blemish." Paul wanted his brethren to be able to stand before God and man without any stains or blemishes and thus "blameless" before God and man as well as "harmless" to others and to the cause of Christ.  
   Paul discussed three situations or times when we might be most tempted to do or say things that would bring blame upon ourselves and harm to others or the cause of Christ.

I. Do we seek to be children of God without rebuke in times of agitation? Vs. 14
Murmuring (or grumbling) is usually a private complaint. Sometimes we fail to keep our gripes to ourselves and they become public. 
   2. Disputing in this context has to do with quarreling, or arguing, or calling something into question in a provocative manner and is usually public. 
   3. Paul says we should "do all things" without murmuring or disputing. What are some common things that even Christians gripe or argue about? Is it possible to actually do "all things" (even things that agitate us) without murmuring or arguing about it? Can griping and being argumentative become a habit? Discuss the harm that "murmuring" can do to oneself, to others and to the cause of Christ. Discuss the harm that "quarreling" can do to oneself, to others and to the cause of Christ.  

II. Do we seek to be children of God without rebuke in times of alienation? Vs. 15-16
Like it or not, Christians are out numbered by the world. (Cf., Matthew 7:14.) And like it or not we are in the midst (middle) of a crooked and perverse nation (or generation.) It is never easy being different. But we are not alone nor without help. (Cf., Matthew 28:20.) Discuss a few of the things within our own generation that might be considered crooked or perverse. 
   2. It is in the context of darkness that lights are most needed and shine brightest. God did not choose to remove us from the world but to make each of us vessels of light to a world of darkness. (Cf., Matthew 5:14-16.) According to verse 16, we shine as lights (plural) in the world by "holding forth the word of life" (the gospel.) 
How do we as individuals "hold forth" the word of life? How do we do this collectively? Do our actions speak as loud as our words as far as the world is concerned? While we understand to power and influence of our example before others (Matthew 5:16), who and what is the true source of our light? (Cf., I John 1:5-7.) Is Paul suggesting that we be evangelistic in this text? When our light fails to shine in word or deed, are we blameless and harmless? 

III. Do we seek to be children of God without rebuke in times of adversity? Vs.  17-18
   1. Paul was willing to give his life as a sacrifice (literally as a sacrificial "libation" similar to the drink offerings poured out upon the altar in the days of Moses.) He was saying that his life was poured out upon the service of their faith. He suffered adversity and faced possible death because he dared to preach Christ to the Philippians and others like them. Yet, he is not complaining and does not wish them to mourn his situation. He found joy in serving and even sacrificing for the cause of Christ and hoped that joy would become a common emotion that they could share together. (Vs. 18.) Discuss circumstances of adversity when Christians today, although separated by distance, often share a common bond and a common joy.
   2. Read Romans 12:1-2. What sacrifices are we called upon to make? When adversity comes our way and we must make personal sacrifices, how do we generally react? Can our attitudes, words and actions cause harm to others and bring harm to the cause of Christ? How can we stay blameless and harmless during such difficulties? 

wrap up

   1. Looking back over these verses, we may each differ as to which situation is most difficult for us.
But sooner or later, we will be faced with times of agitation, alienation and even adversity as we follow Christ. Let us do our best to be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, with out rebuke..."


 Please read Philippians 2:19-30 for next week   copyright 2001