Bible Topics
in the Christian Library
Philippians 1:3-11

John L. Kachelman, Jr


I. Consideration in general of the lesson text.

1. One has aptly characterized this section as "the heart of the apostle exposed."

2. Within these few verses we note the opening prayer of Paul to the Philippians. Such was customary of the apostle in his writing (Rom. 1:9; 1 Cor. 1:4; Eph. 1:16; 3:14; Col. 1:3; 2:1; etc.).

3. Within these verses the serious student will find his labors richly rewarded by thoughtful study. One finds here love, devotion, joy, peace, and assurance of Almighty's God's control.

II. We note in this section Paul's continuing emphasis on joy.

1. His opening remark (v. 3-6) expresses his joy.

2. His further remarks (v. 7-8) verify the first.

3. His prayer stands as a final acclamation of Paul's joy.

III. From this marvelous text we are able to note the ways in which we can increase our joy.

1. Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone present were able to share in this joy which Paul possessed?

2. Such is a reality and our lesson focuses upon how we can do this!


I. By constant and specific prayers for others (v. 3-4).

A. It is significant to observe the emphasis of Paul on prayer.

1. He was one who believed in prayer and made ample use of it (1Ths 1:2; 2 Ths 1:11; Phlm 4).

2. A casual study of Paul's prayer will reveal his faith in God's power, his understanding of prayer's effectiveness, his petition for any who had need, and his realization of his own personal need for prayer (1Thess. 5:25; 2 Ths 3:1).

3. But in this prayer we note a most interesting point--Paul was joyful BECAUSE OF prayer! (v. 4b). Consider the close connection Paul saw between prayer and joy (cf. Philippians 4:4-7). 

B. Prayer was a weapon wielded by Paul (I Thess. 5:17). Note how he used it in Philippians--

1. He used it remembering friends (1:3).

2. He used it towards the ill (2:27).

3. He used it to help those who were harsh or unkind (1:17). He did not become bitter. Prayer gave Paul the victory over unkindnesses and criticism!

4. He used it to obtain peace of mind (4:6-7).

C. Here is a point which explains why many have not found joy in Christianity--they do not have the proper connection with God through which joy comes!

1. We must develop a spirit of prayer so that the exercise will not be a tedious thing, but one of delight!

2. Hb 11:6--Faith is essential!

3. Seriously look at your prayer-life in light of these points.

II. By fond remembrances (v. 3, 7. 8).

A. Paul could experience great joy even in a Roman jail because of the fond memories he had! 

1. There were memories of his brethren in Philippi.

2. Surely he remembered the abuse he suffered in that city (cf. Acts 16)--But he did not dwell on the abuse--he rejoiced because in the suffering the jailer was converted!

3. Paul made it a point to so design his thinking that upon the recollection of each one, he found a source of joy!

B. We find in this point a much needed lesson!

1. We need to condition ourselves to the point that we can find good and joy in all events!

2. We need to store up good memories to use in times of weakness and failing. How quickly we forget those who have helped us the most!

3. Consider how blessed you are with good friends and fellow believers--express to them your gratitude and appreciation.

4. Consider your effect upon others--Do we put a glow into their hearts as they remember us? Some kind word spoken, compassion demonstrated, or help extended will cause your memory to kindle joy!

III. By steadfast confidence in God's Will (v. 6).

A. Joy is evident in the life of one who possesses a trust and confidence in God's Will.

1. To know that God's eternal design will be completed, always equips us with the ability to overcome any trial.

2. Paul could write this not knowing what the future would hold for him--But he knew that whatever occurred, God's designed purposes would not be hindered (Acts 21:14).

B. This calm assurance should be evident in the lives of all Christians today.

1. Calm assurance in God's Will can help us realize the greatness of His power (Philip 4:13,19).

2. Calm assurance in God's Will assures us of the final victory (Ro 8:31; 2 Co 2:14).

3. Calm assurance in God's Will guarantees the eventual fulfillment of His purposes (Ro 8:28).

4. Calm assurance in God's Will leads us to triumphantly assert: "He who began... will perfect it!"

C. The Christian's key to joy will be found in the words of verse 6--Do we hold confidence in God's Will?


I. One has to be impressed with the practical and simple points just studied.

1. Joy can be increased in all of God's children.

2. Three ways have been discussed by which we can increase our joy:

a. By continual and specific prayers (v. 3, 7, 8).

b. By fond memories (v. 3-4).

c. By steadfast confidence in God's Will (v. 6).

II. Do you have this joy in your life? Are you striving to increase your joy in Christ?

III. Remember that God's Will is being carried on to its completion. Men may oppose His Will but they can never keep it from being fulfilled. We must be certain that we are cooperating with God! 

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

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