Philippians: A Prison Letter of Joy - Introduction

Philippians: A Prison Letter of Joy - Introduction

Introduction: A LOOK AT THE BOOK

The letter to the Philippians was from "Paul and Timothy" to "all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops (or overseers) and deacons."  Philippians 1:1.  This is one of four letters written by the apostle Paul during his first Roman imprisonment.  The other letters were Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.

The church at Philippi sent Epaphroditis to Rome with a generous gift for Paul.  While he was with Paul he became very sick and almost died.  When he recovered from his illness, he returned to Philippi with this prison letter of joy.

The primary reason that Paul wrote this letter was to say thank you for the gift that he had received from them.  There were three other reasons for writing mentioned in the letter.

  • He wanted to address the rivalry and personal ambition among some believers.  Philippians 2:3, 4; 4:2.
  • He wanted to warn them about Judaizers who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation.  Philippians 3:1-3.
  • He wanted to expose the enemies of the cross of Christ, who were worldly in their pursuits.  Philippians 3:17-19.

Paul was not a stranger to prisons.  In fact Paul and Silas, his companion at the time, had earlier been in prison in Philippi, where they prayed and sang hymns to God.  During the apostle's brief incarceration the prison guard was saved together with his family.  Read Acts 16:16-34.

It is interesting and worthy of note that the words "sin" and "sins" are not mentioned even once in this letter.  Instead we find "joy," "rejoice," and "rejoicing" throughout the entire epistle.  The theme of the letter is joy, and the key verse is Philippians 4:4.  "Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!"

The following 20 multiple choice questions have been prepared for you to answer as you read the book of Philippians.  Record what you believe to be the correct answer.  When you are finished, check your answers with those given at the end of this lesson.

  • How did Paul describe Timothy and himself?
    • As saints in Christ Jesus.
    • As bondservants of Jesus Christ.
    • As bishops and deacons.
  • What did Paul want the Philippians to approve?
    • His preaching and teaching.
    • Circumcision.
    • The things that are excellent.
  • In what did Paul rejoice?
    • The message of Christ.
    • The judgment of insincere preachers.
    • The law of Moses.
  • By what means did Paul expect to be released from prison?
    • By prayer and the supply of the Spirit.
    • By death.
    • By a pardon from Caesar.
  • For what purpose should believers strive together with one mind?
    • For the growth of the church.
    • For the perdition of the enemies of God.
    • For the faith of the gospel.
  • What should believers watch for?
    • The interest of others.
    • The tricks of the devil.
    • False apostles.
  • Which name is above every name?
    • El Elyon, the most high God.
    • Jesus.
    • Lord.
  • How should Christians conduct their lives?
    • Without complaining and disputing.
    • With fear and respect for adversaries.
    • With love for drink offerings.
  • Who served with Paul like a son?
    • Barnabas.
    • Timothy.
    • Epaphroditus.
  • Who was so sick he almost died?
    • Paul.
    • Timothy.
    • Epaphroditus.
  • Of whom should Christians beware?
    • No one.
    • Women preachers.
    • Evil workers.
  • For whom did Paul suffer the loss of all things?
    • Christ Jesus his Lord.
    • The saints at Philippi.
    • The circumcised body of Christ.
  • What did Paul forget?
    • The names of quarreling women.
    • Those who persecuted him.
    • Those things which were behind.
  • What is the end of the enemies of the cross of Christ?
    • Purgatory.
    • Soul sleeping.
    • Destruction.
  • Where is the believer's citizenship?
    • In heaven.
    • In the new Jerusalem.
    • On the earth.
  • Who were Euodia and Syntyche?
    • Deaconesses.
    • Women who labored with Paul in the gospel.
    • Elders in the church at Corinth.
  • How can believers receive the peace of God?
    • By laboring in the gospel.
    • By praying with thanksgiving.
    • By giving generously to the work of the Lord.
  • What can Christians do through Christ?
    • All things.
    • Some things.
    • Important things.
  • How did the church at Philippi share in Paul's distress?
    • By giving.
    • By letter writing.
    • By becoming a home base for missionaries.
  • What has God promised to supply?
    • All our wants and desires.
    • Nothing.
    • All our needs.

 

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Lesson 1 - The Ministry of the Gospel

 
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Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
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