lesson
15

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

The peace of God
Philippians 4:2-7

warm up
 
   1. If you were asked to try to describe the peace of God what descriptive words might you use?
wise up

There is little doubt that in our world today, there are many things that can cause grief, sorrow, loss, and heartache. Yet, our trust in God's promises and assurances helps bring inner peace in the midst of our troubles. Yet, as wonderful as this peace can be, we learn from the apostle Paul that we must make an effort in order to have and maintain such peace. 

I. Is there peace among you? Vs. 2-3 
   1. When it comes to "peace," Paul begins with the obvious. So often inner peace comes as a result of simply getting along in our relationships with others. While we may not be able to control the circumstances of life that create confusion and turmoil, we can control ourselves when it comes to preventing a lot of heartache and trouble in our lives. (Cf., Rom:12:18.) In verse 2, Paul indicates that two sisters in Christ were at odds with each other about something. When two Christians begin to have a spat or tensions develop what are some of the repercussions? Do others sometimes get hurt? 

   2. Ephesians 4:3 teaches that we should make the effort "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." While truth should not be sacrificed for the sake of unity or peace, opinions and personal judgments often must be. It is possible that much of the peace disturbing tensions among Christians is more the result of personality classes and personal preferences rather than scriptural differences. What was Paul's advice to these two women in verse 2? What is meant by being of "the same mind (in agreement) in the Lord? (Review these texts: 1:27, 2:2-3, 3:16.) While some people may never see "eye to eye" when it comes to their opinions, shouldn't they be able to be united and in agreement "in the Lord?" Going back to common ground (the authority of the Scriptures) is the only true pathway to unity when there are differences.  
   3. While Paul begged the two sisters to be of the same mind in Christ, he entreats (requests) that an arbitrator help the two women.  Who this "yokefellow" was is a mystery. Most likely it was an individual, although Paul may have been referring to the whole congregation as his "true yokefellow." But "who" he asked to help is not as important as the fact that sometimes there is a need for a mediator or arbitrator when there are differences. If brothers or sisters are at odds with one another, whose responsibility is it today to help them settle their differences?  (Cf., I Cor. 6:5.) 
   4. In the first century, as today, there were many "unsung heroes" in the early church. These two women had labored with Paul in the gospel. Had they not been at odds with one another we would not know their names. Even faithful workers can have differences. Rather than make a long list of all who labored with him, where does Paul say their names are written? Where would you rather have your name written in an epistle or in the book of life?

II. Is there peace within you? Vs. 4-7    
   1.
Paul certainly knew something about trouble and difficult circumstances. Where was he as he wrote this epistle? (1:7.) Yet, irregardless of trying times, Paul knew that a Christian can have peace within. In the previous verses, he begged and requested but beginning at verse four he begins to shout apostolic orders. Where does Paul say that Joy can be found? (Vs. 4.) Do we have to look for it? Later Paul indicates that the Lord is near. (Vs. 5b.) Does the knowledge that Jesus is near bring joy to your heart as a Christian? When people are happy, do they find it difficult to be disgruntled about life? When people are happy are they more cooperative with others that they may disagree with? When there is joy in our hearts do we feel more at peace with God, our selves and our fellowman? 

   2. Peace can also be found in "moderation." (Vs. 5a.) Radical approaches (being at the extreme right or left) in behavior or in any aspect of life can create tension and turmoil for peace loving people. The word "moderation" has to do with the idea of being reasonable, calm, and gracious. It is interesting that it is not "moderation" that Paul commands. (Obviously being moderate is a given for a Christian. When we are not moderate something is wrong.) What Paul commands is that our moderation be "made known to all men." What are some areas of our lives where moderation should be seen? (Discuss clothing, eating, habits, opinions, etc.) What does our moderation say about us as a people? How can moderation when known by others help bring peace for us individually and as a congregation?
   3. In Verse 5b, Paul mentioned that the Lord is at hand (nearby.) In verse 6, Christians are commanded not to be anxious or overly worried. How does the reminder of the Lord's closeness, in verse 5, help us not to be anxious? Since the Lord is just a whisper away, we can pray and make requests about our needs and problems at any time. How does taking our troubles to the Lord in prayer help bring inner peace and relieve anxiety for you? Does praying with thanksgiving imply "counting your blessings?" Why does taking the time to count your blessings as you pray help bring inner peace and joy?

   4. We should note that Paul was not suggesting that Christians become indifferent or unconcerned about the matters of life. He himself worried about his brethren. (Cf., 2 Cor. 2:12-13, 11:28.) But he did not allow his concerns to develop into fearful anxiety.

wrap up

   1.  If we wish to protect our hearts (emotions) and minds (sanity) we must seek "the peace of God which passeth understanding" by looking for the joy that is in Christ, following the pathway of moderation, remembering that Jesus is always nearby, counting our blessings and making our requests known to God through prayer. 

Assignment

 Please read Philippians 4:8-9 for next week   copyright 2001