lesson
18

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Blessings and Salutations
Philippians 4:14-23

warm up
 
   1. T or F When we help others we help ourselves also.
   2. T or F Our giving in support of the work of the gospel is one indication of how much we love and appreciate the work. 
wise up

The church at Philippi was not a wealthy congregation as implied in verse 19, but they were generous with what they had toward Paul and his work in sharing the gospel with others. There was a missionary zeal among those at Philippi that Paul himself had evidently planted. In the previous study, Paul stated that he had learned to be content even when he experienced physical hunger and want. (Cf., Vs. 11-12.) There were also times when he worked with his own hands to make the bread money he needed. (Cf., I Cor. 4:12.) Still he was grateful for what ever amount of help his brethren were able to send him from time to time. 

I. Do we appreciate the generosity of others? Vs. 14-18 
   1. Whenever we help others in  the work of sharing the gospel we "do well." (Vs. 14.) There is perhaps no greater work to be involved in financially or otherwise. Unfortunately, the work today, like that in the days of Paul, often goes unsupported. In verse 15, Paul indicated that no other congregation shared in the work when he departed from the province of Macedonia. But the small struggling church at Philippi had supported Paul from the beginning of the gospel (when they were converted) and numerous times after that. And Paul appreciated their efforts. But what about us today? Do we appreciate the sacrifice and generosity of those who support the work? Do we appreciate those who give of their time, talents and often their bread money to support the local and international work of sharing the gospel? Do we ourselves share in the work as generously as we should and could? These are deeply personal and sensitive questions but they touch on a subject that even the apostle Paul gently and carefully touched upon.

   2. Paul did not want to sound selfish, as if he was wanting their gifts, although he could use and was appreciative of whatever they gave. In verse 17, his reason for desiring their monetary gifts was clarified. He knew that every time they gave to help him in the work they were the ones who benefited the most. As stated in verse 15, there was a "giving and receiving." And they received back as much or more than they gave. In Matthew 6:20-21 Jesus said, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." In Acts 20:35 Jesus stated a principle that is still true when he said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Do we put our money where our mouth is? Do we invest in heaven by investing in the work of the church? When we do, we are the ones who benefit the most. Discuss some of the benefits that come back to us when we generously support the work of the church today.

   3. Is our giving sacrificial in nature? In verse 18, Paul explained that the money sent by the church at Philippi was like the sacrifices offered to God in the temple under the Old Covenant. They possessed a "sweet smell" or aroma. Their gifts were "acceptable sacrifices." They were "well pleasing" unto God. And He, after all, is the one we seek to please. God knows our hearts, our motives and our bank accounts. God knows when our gifts are sacrificial and when they are mere tokens. Do we truly give as we have prospered? (I Cor. 16:2.) Imagine all the good that could be accomplished if everyone was generous in their giving.

II. Do we appreciate the generosity of God? Vs. 19-20    
   1.
Paul knew that when his brethren cast their bread upon the waters (Ecc. 11:1) it would come back. While he could not repay them personally for their support, he was certain that his God would gloriously supply all their needs. (Not wants but needs.) Does our God have bigger pockets than we do? How do our riches compare to what he has? Do you believe that when we are generous in our giving that God blesses us? Does sacrificial giving imply "trust in God?" Discuss some of the ways that God will supply our needs both now and eternally. 

   2. Having stated what God is capable of doing, Paul began to praise Him. In verse 19, he referred to God as "my God" but in verse 20, he is "our Father." There is a sense of unity that exists as we become involved together in the support of the gospel. And whatever we are able to do together let us remember, it is God that deserves the glory. Discuss some reasons to praise God today.  

III. Paul's closing remarks. . . Vs. 21-23 
   1. Paul closes the epistle by sending greetings from others who were with him. It is interesting that some from Cesar's household had been converted. This says a lot about the influence of Paul but more importantly about the power of the gospel itself. (Rom. 1:16.) Imagine the encouragement and enthusiasm that such a greeting would have generated among those at Philippi and elsewhere when this epistle was first read. Would such news be an encouragement to you?
   2. Paul began his epistle (1:2) with a prayer that God's "grace" would be with them and he closed with a similar prayer and benediction (Vs. 23.) There is no greater wish for others than the wish that God would look with favor and blessing upon them. Surely we all need the graciousness of God. Without it we are hopelessly lost. No wonder Paul includes it as a reminder at the beginning and end of almost every epistle he wrote.

wrap up

   1. What a great epistle this has been to study. Perhaps you could take a moment to go back and read it again from start to finish. Of all that Paul discussed in the epistle, what made the greatest impression upon you? What is your favorite section of the epistle?

 copyright 2001       I sincerely hope God has blessed you in this study - Ed Thomason

 

 

 

 

 

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