Month: December 2022

December 30, 2022


Philippians 1-4 (ESV)

Please spend time reading Philippians 1-4, write out any key themes, verses, or insights.


December 29, 2022

Philippians 4:10-23

Philippians 4 Commentary

Philippians 4:10-23 (ESV)

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Reflection Questions

Philippians 4:10

  • How have the Philippians renewed their concern for Apostle Paul?  Who are the people in my life that I ought to renew my concern for?  What are some ways that I can concretely show my concern for them?

Philippians 4:11-13

  • What was Apostle Paul’s secret to being content in every situation?

Philippians 4:17-19

  • Why would God consider the Philippians’ gifts to Apostle Paul as “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God”?  How can I be storing up treasures in the “account” that’s being held by God (cf. Matthew 6:20, 19:21)?
  • What does Apostle Paul mean when he says that God will meet all of our needs, given the fact that he was no stranger to “hunger”, “need,” and “troubles”?  How does God meet my needs when I am experiencing hardship and difficulties in my life?


December 28, 2022

Philippians 4 Commentary


4:3 Reconciliation often requires third-party intervention, in this case a true companion. This person is unnamed in the ESV, although the word (Gk. syzygos, “true yokefellow,” see ESV footnote) could be read as a proper name. Paul is especially eager to see Euodia and Syntyche reconciled because they have labored side by side with him in the gospel. Cf. 1:27, where Paul also encourages unity among those who are “striving side by side” (Gk. synathleō, the same verb used here) for the gospel. Paul did not isolate himself and minister alone; he deliberately worked with many others. In view of first-century culture, Euodia and Syntyche probably ministered mainly among women (cf. notes on Acts 18:26; Rom. 16:7; 1 Tim. 2:12). The book of life has OT roots (e.g., Ex. 32:33; Ps. 69:28; cf. Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27) and refers to God’s record of those who belong to him.[1]

4:4 Rejoice. The joy that Paul calls for is not a happiness that depends on circumstances but a deep contentment that is in the Lord, based on trust in the sovereign, living God, and that therefore is available always, even in difficult times.

4:5 Reasonableness is crucial for maintaining community; it is the disposition that seeks what is best for everyone and not just for oneself. The Lord is at hand emphasizes the fact that Jesus will surely return as judge and will hold people responsible for their deeds (cf. James 5:9). Paul does not specify when this will happen (cf. Matt. 24:36–44; 2 Pet. 3:1–13).

4:6–7 Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt. 6:25–34) that believers are not to be anxious but are to entrust themselves into the hands of their loving heavenly Father, whose peace will guard them in Christ Jesus. Paul’s use of “guard” may reflect his own imprisonment or the status of Philippi as a Roman colony with a military garrison. In either case, it is not Roman soldiers who guard believers—it is the peace of God Almighty. Because God is sovereign and in control, Christians can entrust all their difficulties to him, who rules over all creation and who is wise and loving in all his ways (Rom. 8:31–39). An attitude of thanksgiving contributes directly to this inward peace.

4:8 think about these things. The Philippians are to fill their minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

4:9 Beyond having a proper spiritual outlook (v. 8), the Philippians are to practice what they have seen Paul doing. As they make progress in this way, they will find that it is not simply the peace of God but the God of peace himself who will be with them.[2]

4:10–11 Paul is grateful for the Philippians’ support, but he wants them to know that even in difficult circumstances he has learned … to be content.

4:12–13 The secret of living amid life’s difficulties is simple: trusting God in such a way that one can say, I can do all things through him who strengthens me. This does not mean God will bless whatever a person does; it must be read within the context of the letter, with its emphasis on obedience to God and service to God and others.[3]

[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2286). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2286–2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2287). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

December 28, 2022

Philippians 4:1-9

Philippians 4 Commentary

Philippians 4:1-9 (ESV)

1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Reflection Questions

Philippians 4:1-3

  • What can I learn about the dynamics of the church from the fact that Apostle Paul had to plead with Euodia and Syntyche, who contended with Apostle Paul for the gospel, to agree with each other?

Philippians 4:6-7

  • What is the relationship between “being anxious” and “prayer”?  Why is it important to present our requests to God with thanksgiving?

Philippians 4:8-9

  • What are the things that fill my thoughts?  What are the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise that can replace my current thoughts?
  • In this passage, Apostle Paul shows different ways to experience the peace of God.  What are things that I am anxious about?  What concrete things can I do to experience “peace that surpasses all understanding”?


December 27, 2022

Philippians 3:12-21

Philippians 3 Commentary

Philippians 3:12-21 (ESV)

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Reflection Questions

Philippians 3:13-14

  • Why does one need to practice “forgetting what is behind and straining forward” to heaven?  What does it look like to “press on” towards heaven?

Philippians 3:17-21

  • Why should we as Christians “keep [our] eyes on those who walk according to the example” given to us by our spiritual forefathers?
  • What are the characteristics of those who “walk as enemies of the cross of Christ”?  What are the characteristics of those whose “citizenship is in heaven”? 


December 26, 2022

Philippians 3 Commentary


3:2 Dogs was not only a general term of derision in the ancient world, it was particularly a word used by some Jews in reference to Gentiles, who were considered ritually unclean. With biting irony, Paul says that the Judaizers, not the Gentiles, deserve that label. Paul’s irony continues as he labels those who extol good works of the law as evildoers and those who mutilate the flesh. This last phrase (Gk. tēn katatomēn) is a play on words with circumcision (Gk. peritomē). The Judaizers’ supposed badge of pride turns out to be the sign of their destruction. On Jewish views of circumcision, see note on Acts 15:1.

3:3 In contrast to those promoting physical circumcision (v. 2), the true people of God (the circumcision) are those who worship by the Spirit of God (cf. John 4:23–24). They glory in Christ Jesus (cf. Phil. 1:26) and put no confidence in the flesh (that is, as Calvin put it, in “everything that is outside of Christ”). This verse mentions all three members of the Trinity: “God” (the Father), “Christ Jesus” (the Son), and “the Spirit of God” (the Holy Spirit).[1]

3:4–6 Paul’s opposition to the Judaizers was not because he himself in any way lacked a Jewish “pedigree.” When it came to the things of the flesh—the whole system of life that held sway before the coming of Christ and the giving of the Spirit—Paul had perfect credentials. He was circumcised on the eighth day in accord with OT law (Lev. 12:3). He was an ethnic Israelite and knew the tribe from which he came. Hebrew of Hebrews probably indicates his descent from Jewish ancestors, and many think it also means that he spoke Aramaic (the national language of Israel in his day), even though he came from Greek-speaking Tarsus. He was from the strictest religious sect—the Pharisees (Acts 26:5). His zeal was such that he had even been a persecutor of the church. He probably had thought of himself as following in the footsteps of Phinehas (Num. 25:11) and Elijah (1 Kings 19:10, 14) in his zeal. If anyone could be said to be blameless in following the law, it was Paul. But before God it was no righteousness at all, for though Paul thought he was pleasing God, in persecuting the church he had shown himself to be the “foremost” of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).[2]

3:7–8 gain … loss. Paul’s accounting, however, has now changed completely: what formerly went into the gain column—his power, prestige, and “obedience”—now goes into the loss column. Likewise, the crucified Messiah, whom he had assumed must be a “loss,” is now seen as the ultimate “gain.” The language of loss and gain probably alludes to Jesus’ teaching (see Matt. 16:25–26).[3]

3:10–11 The goal of trusting in Christ is to know him, that is, to know Christ in a personal relationship, and also to know the power of his resurrection—namely, the power Christ exerts now from the right hand of God. But this power is made known as the believer shares the same kind of sufferings Jesus faced—the sufferings that attend faithful witness in a fallen world. The good news is that those who suffer with and for Christ will attain the resurrection from the dead, even as he did. [4]

3:12 Paul stresses that he is not already perfect—he is still involved in the struggles of life in a fallen world and hence he still sins; the full glory of the resurrection remains in the future. I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. There is a balance of faith and works, of God’s call and the believer’s response.

3:14 Goal (Gk. skopos) could also refer to the finish line in a race or an archery target. Paul’s life is purposeful, for he constantly aims toward a heavenly goal. The prize is the fullness of blessings and rewards in the age to come, most especially being in perfect fellowship with Christ forever.

3:17 While Paul is not yet perfected, he is confident enough in his Christian walk to ask the Philippians to join in imitating me and other mature Christians. Much Christian growth comes through imitation of other Christians (4:9; 1 Cor. 11:1; 2 Thess. 3:8–9; 1 Tim. 4:12, 15–16; 2 Tim. 3:10–11; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:3).[5]

[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2285). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2285). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2285). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2285). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2286). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

December 26, 2022

Philippians 3:1-11

Philippians 3 Commentary

Philippians 3:1-11 (ESV)

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Reflection Question

Philippians 3:4-6

  • What is surprising about Apostle Paul’s refusal to put confidence in the flesh? What are the things in my life which cause me to put my “confidence in the flesh”? 

Philippians 3:7-10

  • How strong and personal is the conviction that it is much greater to know Christ than to have the good things this life can give me? In other words, is the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ” something I can authentically feel and affirm?
  • According to v. 10, what is involved in knowing Christ?  How does suffering with Christ bring about fellowship with Him?


December 23, 2022

Philippians 2:12-30

Philippians 2 Commentary

Philippians 1 Commentary

Philippians 2:12-30 (ESV)

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

Reflection Questions

Philippians 2:12-13

  • What does it mean to work out my salvation with “fear and trembling” as God “works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure”?  Why is “fear and trembling” an appropriate attitude in working out my salvation?
  • How has God worked in my life “to will and to work for his good pleasure”?

Philippians 2:14-16

  • How is “crooked and twisted” an accurate description of the current generation?  What steps can I take so that my life will “shine like lights” by contrast?

Philippians 2:20-30

  • Note the descriptions of Timothy and Epaphroditus. How am I challenged and in what ways can I become a “Timothy” to my leaders and an “Epaphroditus” to my brothers and sisters, fellow workers, and fellow soldiers?


December 22, 2022

Philippians 2 Commentary

2:1–4 Appeal for unity through personal humility

These verses bring us the strongest possible appeal for Christian unity, the kind of appeal that many Christians seem prone not to take very seriously today. In v 1 Paul gives four reasons for such unity; in v 2 four ways to describe it; in v 3 two negatives to avoid and two positives to follow; and in v 4 a negative and a positive.[1]

2:1–2 Paul is not doubting that encouragement, participation in the Spirit, affection, and sympathy are realities in Christ and are present in the congregation at Philippi. He uses a conditional sentence (if) to provoke the Philippians so that they will reflect on whether these qualities are evident in their lives. The Philippian believers must make sure they continue to progress in the absolutely critical area of love for one another. As Paul emphasizes, they must be of the same mind. This does not imply a drab intellectual uniformity; rather, the Philippians are to use their diverse gifts (cf. 1 Corinthians 12) in an agreeable, cooperative spirit, with a focus on the glory of God.

2:3–4 There is always a temptation to be like Paul’s opponents in 1:17 and operate in a spirit of rivalry, looking to advance one’s own agenda. Such conceit (lit., “vainglory”) is countered by counting others more significant than yourselves. Paul realizes that everyone naturally looks out for his or her own interests. The key is to take that same level of concern and apply it also to the interests of others. Such radical love is rare, so Paul proceeds to show its supreme reality in the life of Christ (2:5–11).

2:5–11 Christ’s Example of Humble Service. This passage is often referred to as the “hymn of Christ.” Paul depicts Christ’s example of service in a stirring poem that traces his preexistence, incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of God. Paul wrote this magnificent theology to encourage the Philippians to consider other people’s interests first (see v. 4). Jesus is the paradigm of genuine spiritual progress: not a self-aggrandizing struggle for supremacy, but a deep love for God and neighbor shown in deeds of service. Verses 6–11 have some clear indications of poetic structure, leading some to believe that this is a pre-Pauline hymn adapted by Paul. It is just as likely, however, that Paul composed the hymn for this setting. In view of the myriad theological questions that arise in these verses, it is critical to keep two things in mind: (1) these verses were written not to spur Christians to theological debate but to encourage greater humility and love; and (2) the summary of Christ’s life and ministry found here is not unique: the same themes are evident throughout the NT. [2]

2:12–13 The Philippians have obeyed (cf. Christ’s obedience, v. 8) in the past and should continue to do so as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling. They cannot be content with past glories but need to demonstrate their faith day by day as they nurture their relationship with God. But while God’s justice is a cause for sober living (“fear and trembling”), it is not as though Paul wants the Philippians to be anxious that they can never be good enough to merit God’s favor. Rather, it is God’s love and enabling grace that will see them through: it is God who works in you. They can rejoice in God’s empowering presence even as they work hard at living responsible Christian lives. While v. 12 may seem to suggest salvation by works, it is clear that Paul rejects any such teaching (cf. 3:2–11). In 2:12 Paul means “salvation” in terms of progressively coming to experience all of the aspects and blessings of salvation. The Philippians’ continued obedience is an inherent part of “working out” their salvation in this sense. But as v. 13 demonstrates, these works are the result of God’s work within his people. both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Even the desire (“to will”) to do what is good comes from God; but he also works in the believer to generate actual choices of the good, so that the desires result in actions. (On fear of God, see notes on Acts 5:5; 9:31.)

2:14–15 Paul continues the theme of “working out” one’s salvation (vv. 12–13). The Philippians should shine as lights amid a crooked and twisted generation. Paul’s choice of words recalls the wilderness generation of Israel, who in Deut. 32:5 are described by these very words (“crooked and twisted generation”) and whose spiritual progress was thwarted by grumbling and questioning (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1–12). Shining “as lights” probably alludes to Dan. 12:2–3. Those who express their faith by living in this way will be raised to eternal life (see Dan. 12:2), to Paul’s great joy.

2:16 The Philippians’ obedience to the word of life is not merely a matter of private concern. As an apostle and fellow sharer in the gospel, Paul’s own labor would be in vain if they failed to hold fast until the day of Christ (cf. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:2–11; 2 Pet. 3:10–13; Rev. 20:11–21:8) and thus proved not to be genuine believers. Holding fast means both believing God’s Word and following it. Since the Greek epechō can mean either “hold fast” or “hold out to, offer,” some think that Paul may have in mind “holding forth,” i.e., proclaiming, the word of life.[3]

[1] Carson, D. A., France, R. T., Motyer, J. A., & Wenham, G. J. (Eds.). (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1252). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2282). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2284). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

December 22, 2022

Philippians 2:1-11

Philippians 2 Commentary

Philippians 1 Commentary

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV)

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Reflection Questions

Philippians 2:1-2

  • How do “encouragement in Christ”, “comfort from love”, “participation in the Spirit”, and “affection and sympathy” lead a person to “being in full accord and of one mind” with other believers?  Which of these do I need to experience at a greater level? How can I be in “full accord” and “of one mind” with other believers within this body of Christ?

Philippians 2:3-4

  • What does it look like to “count others more significant than” myself?  Who are the people whose interests I need to look after?

Philippians 2:5-8

  • Reflect on what Jesus is like based on vv. 6-8. How does this contrast with what human beings are like? In what ways does “grasping” characterize my life?


Scroll to top