Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. This lesson begins a study of one of the most delightful books in the New Testament.

1. "This is an epistle of the heart, a true love letter, full of friendship, gratitude and confidence" (King).

2. "For many, Philippians is one of the 'choice morsels' to which the believer frequently resorts" (Blair).

3. This book is short and only requires a few minutes to fully read through.

II. This book is very practical for the believer.

1. Its practicality is seen in the often repeated phrases of joy and peace.

2. Job's assessment is correct (Job 14:1). Man is constantly plagues by trouble and strife. As a result of this bombardment, relatively few ever find true joy and peace!

3. Philippians addresses this need and should the student apply its truths, then joy will result! "He who loses himself to the dynamics of this Epistle, will emerge more than a conqueror through Christ. Read it! Study it! . . . You will then be well along the way to happy, fruitful, victorious living" (Blair).

4. We are presented with a challenge in the reading and studying of this Book--May we so study that at the conclusion of this series we will be able to see a definite progress in obtaining the blessed joy found in Christ!


I. Some general introductory remarks on the Book.

A. The author and place of composition noted.

1. The author is Paul. Even among the critical scholars Paul's authorship is generally accepted.

2. The place of writing was in a Roman jail while Paul was awaiting trial. He had been accused by the Jews of raising insurrection, profaning the Temple, and of being a ringleader of the Nazarenes (Acts 21:28-30; 22:30; 24: 5-6).

3. The following facts are known about the prison experiences of Paul--

a. He could receive visitors, but could not go to them (Acts 28:17, 30).

b. He was constantly chained to a Roman soldier (Eph. 6:20; Acts 28:16, 20).

c. Even though bound and facing an unknown verdict, Paul constantly preached and taught Christ (Philip. 1:13).

d. We note Paul's attitude while in prison--He speaks repeatedly of joy, grace, and peace. He is confident and trusting in God's Will. There is no doubt, but rather confidence and assurance!

B. Brief consideration of the city of Philippi.

1. Two broad ideas are suggested detailing how it became a Roman province.

a. The most common--It was here that the two forces of Rome met a final death-battle. The Republican forces of Brutus and Cassius were defeated by those of Anthony and Octavian (Augustus) in 42 B.C. Proud of the victory Octavian elevated the city to a Roman colony. Soldiers retired there.

b. Another account tells us that Philippi was in the midst of a struggle between Rome and Macedonia. The Romans were running out of salt (by which their armies were paid) and the Roman legions were threatening to return home. The citizens of Philippi preferred Roman rule to that of Macedonia, so they collected a great amount of salt and gave it to Rome by which the army was paid. Rome won and incorporated Macedonia into the Empire. As a reward to the city, the Emperor conferred upon them the status of a colony.

2. The city was located on a well traveled highway and was visited by strangers from many lands. 

C. The introduction of the gospel to this city noted.

1. The account is found recorded in Acts 16.

2. We have record of three converts in Philippi.

a. Lydia (Acts 16:12-14).

b. The slave girl possessed (Acts 16:16-18).

c. The jailer (Acts 16:25-34).

3. From this tiny beginning the church grew until it could be saluted as in the opening verse -- Philip. 1:1.

II. The thesis of the book is found by looking at the three words (concepts) most often repeated.

A. Basically the thesis is: Only as one has his/her mind set on Christ, will true joy be experienced.

B. Notice now how this thesis is demonstrated.

1. The concept of "joy", "rejoice", or "gladness" is found over 19 times in this book!

a. So pronounced is this concept that most commentators use it in the title of their book.

b. We have here the sharing of the secret of Christian joy!

2. The words "mind", "remember", or "think" are used at least 16 times!

a. Joy is found in the manner in which a believer thinks--his attitude toward life!

b. In this book Paul stresses that one's attitude toward people, things, events, and Christ affects their life!

c. Thus joy is intimately connected to one's attitude!

3. Mention of Christ is found over 70 times in this short book! On an average this is one reference to Christ every one and one-half verses.

C. There are some pointed observations arising from the thesis of Philippians.

1. The pages resound with a firm declaration that true joy can be found!

a. Far too many fail to enjoy life because they have hopelessly resigned themselves to the opinion that joy is a dream never to be realized in life.

b. But Paul says that joy is a reality! It can be found and found much easier than many think!

2. This thesis comments on Proverbs 23:7--we are what we think!

a. If one cultivates negative, selfish, and pessimistic attitudes why should he be surprised to find the world so gloomy?

b. Philippians explains what kind of mind we must cultivate if we are going to find joy in a world of suffering and sorrow.

3. This thesis clearly shows us that without Christ we are destitute of joy! (I Cor. 15:19b). Presented so clearly in this book is the fact that for one to have TRUE joy, one must be united with Christ. Note: At the beginning of every chapter we observe the phrase "in Christ"!

III. An overall view of how Philippians answers the problems of life.

A. There are basically four "thieves" which rob us of joy.

1. CIRCUMSTANCES--things just do not go "our way"--the weather is terrible, the traffic is horrible, your job is a constant burden, etc.

2. PEOPLE--"All of us have lost our joy because of people: what they are, what they say, and what they do" (Wiersbe).

3. THINGS--Our materialistic society robs us of joy each day that we live.

4. WORRY--This is the worst thief of all.

B. Paul tells us how to apprehend these four vicious thieves of joy--In essence he says that we must cultivate the proper mind--We need the MIND OF JOY! Note the response of Paul to each of these robbers--

1. Circumstances--Chapter One--develop a single mind seeking to serve Christ (v. 21). We should live not to enjoy circumstances, but to serve Christ! "He did not look at Christ through his circumstances; rather, he looked at his circumstances through Christ--and this changed everything" (Wiersbe). Little Peggy stated--"Dad must have had an easy day at the office. He didn't squeal the tires when he pulled into the driveway, and he didn't slam the door when he came into the house. And he even gave Mother a kiss!" FAR TOO MANY CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE ARE BEYOND OUR CONTROL!

2. People--Chapter Two--we become aggravated with people (most often) because we are not getting our own way. The Christian is one who anxiously serves not wanting to be served (2:3).

3. Things--Chapter Three--the person who follows Christ will look at this world's goods from heaven's viewpoint--and this will drastically change our ambitions! (Cf. V. 7-8, 13). Abraham Lincoln was walking down the street with his two sons, who were crying and fighting. "What's the matter with the boys?" a friend asked. "The same thing that's wrong with the whole world," Lincoln replied. "I have three walnuts and each of the boys wants two!"

4. Worry--Chapter Four--worry results from the failure to see circumstances, people, and things in spiritual ways (v. 4, 6a). In chapter four Paul lists several things which helps the believer to remain confident in God's Will: peace (1-9); power (10-13); and provision (14:23). Worry will disappear with right praying (6-7); right thinking (8); and right living (9)!


I. This lesson in no way covers the Book of Philippians in a comprehensive way.

1. We have set forth some basic points which stress the main thoughts of this epistle.

2. This study is greatly needed because all allow the four thieves to steal joy from life.

3. We encourage all to seriously read, study, and apply our thoughts to your life.

II. What can you do to find this wonderful joy?

1. Make sure you are "in Christ".

2. Look for opportunities to put your mind to work in a positive way. Begin today to practice exercising the right attitude toward circumstances, people, and things!

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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