The Letter To The Philippians, Part 12

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Let’s begin with intentional reading.

Read Philippians 3:17-4:1 and consider the following:
  • Did you notice anything in this set of scripture you have never noticed in the Bible before?
  • Did you read any familiar verses? Which ones?
  • Were any of the verses you read particularly meaningful to you today? Why?

Verse 17 begins with Paul encouraging the Philippians to follow his example.  As verse 4 did, this might seem like a moment of pride for Paul if this verse is taken out of context.  It’s important to consider verse 17 in the context of what Paul had said just before.

  • Read Philippians 3:12-14 then verse 17.  What part of Paul’s life is he asking the Philippian brothers and sisters to emulate?  Is there someone in your life that has served or serves as an example to your faith in the way they constantly strive to live a Christlike life?

At the beginning of chapter 3, Paul had some harsh words for the Judaizers, and here at the end of chapter 3, Paul has some strong words for another group.

  • Read Philippians 3:18-19.  How does Paul describe this group of people in the second half of verse 18? How do people who live this way make Paul feel? How does Paul define an enemy of the cross in verse 19? What would this kind of living look like in 2020?
  • What does Paul say is the destiny of people who live as enemies of the cross?  What are enemies of the cross preoccupied with (see the end of v.19)?  Read Colossians 3:1-2.  What are believers to set their minds on?

From an earthly perspective, Paul was a citizen of Rome.  Roman citizens in the first century enjoyed many political and cultural privileges and protections.  In exchange for the benefits that Roman citizenship brought, Romans were expected to help promote the interests of Rome, spread the philosophies and ideas of Rome, and conduct themselves in a way that would bring honor to Rome wherever they traveled.  This is one reason Roman culture spread so successfully throughout the world.  Roman citizens were not only proud of their status, they were eager to spread their way of life.

  • Read Philippians 3: 20.  With this background information about Paul’s Roman citizenship in mind, why would Paul relate a believer’s identity to heavenly citizenship?  What parallels can we draw between the way Romans felt and demonstrated their Roman citizenship and the way Christians should feel and demonstrate their heavenly citizenship?
  • How would the world be different if believers spread information about their heavenly citizenship the way Romans did about their Roman citizenship?
  • Do you consider yourself a citizen of heaven?  What do you do to promote the interests of Heaven, spread the ideas of the kingdom, and conduct yourself in a way that brings honor to Heaven?

Paul wanted the Philippians to remember that their eternal citizenship was far more important than their earthly citizenship.  His hope was that keeping this perspective would help them avoid pursuing earthly pleasures.  Adopting this mindset was not only for the Philippians, but is for us as well.  Remembering that as believers we are citizens of Heaven and will one day live with Jesus should serve as an encouragement to help us “bring everything under His control” (21) as we seek to follow the example of Paul and pursue Christlikeness.

Be blessed. Be a blessing.



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