Some fun Philippians facts:
- You can find the story of the start of the church in Philippi in Acts 16:11-40.
- Paul likely wrote the letter sometime in 60-62 AD from a Roman prison.
- Paul typically wrote his letters to deal with rising issues in his churches, but from all appearances, Paul wrote this letter as a thank you for the gift they sent him and to encourage them to stay united.
Scripture: We are going to start by simply reading a scripture. I chose Philippians 1:7-11 today. Take a minute to read it, and then read it again.
“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Observe: Now we will start looking at different elements and items that are in the scripture. We are simply making notes of what we see. I have given you a few examples. You fill out the lines below with other observations. Start by simply looking for what sticks out to you.
- Paul is endeared to this church.
- They have come along side Paul in his ministry.
- Don’t let the number of dots determine how many observations you make.
Ask Questions: Here is where you might have to do some homework by going to a commentary. There are many free good ones online. Matthew Henry’s commentary is linked above and a great place to start. But a lot of times the text will answer your questions for you, and these questions will help determine the meaning.
- What is this scripture saying about God?
- Is God doing something?
- What is this scripture saying about us (humans)?
- Is there a command in this passage?
- Is there anything I don’t understand?
- EX: What is the fruit of righteousness?
- (Write out your questions)
Find The Meaning: We will look at what we observed and the answer to our questions, then determine what the scripture is saying. We are taking all of our observations and answered questions, and putting together the things that the author is saying.
- EX: Paul confirms his affection for the church because they have worked so hard to come alongside him in his mission to spread the gospel. Their gift showed that they were willing to put their money where their mouths were.
- (Now write the things you found)
Application: This is the part where we determine what the scripture means for us and how we should respond. This is where we bridge the gap between what it means to everyone, and what God is specifically saying to us. This process ends with a practical step God is calling us to take.
- EX: It’s great to talk about doing things for God. But what truly bears fruit is actually doing it. Obedience is better than intention. What has God called me to do that I have said yes to, but haven’t done yet?
- (Now look at the truths or meanings you observed above and think about how it applies to your life)
This is how we begin to read and understand the Bible. It’s not a fast process, it’s not always an easy process. But for those who want to know God and live their lives for Him, this is the process God uses to give us wisdom and guidance, and to show us who He is. I hope you have fun with this, and I pray it sparks the realization that you really can read and understand the Bible.