Philippians 1:3-8 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. One of the Philippian Christians to whom Paul is writing was a woman named Lydia. Describe her conversion as it is recorded in Acts 16:13-15 (printed below)

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. (14) One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. (15) When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. If you consider me a believer in the Lord, she said, come and stay at my house. And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:13-15)

When Paul and Silas brought the gospel to Philippi, on the Sabbath day they went outside the city gate to the river, where they found a place of prayer. Among the small group of women who gathered by the riverside for prayer was one who is defined as “a worshiper of God” (i.e., a Gentile who had come to believe in the God of Israel), named Lydia. As Lydia listened to the preaching of the gospel, “the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message;” consequently, she believed in Jesus the Savior and presented herself for baptism.

2. Another one of these Philippian Christians is a man we do not know by name but only by profession, he was the Philippian jailer. Describe the circumstances of his conversion as they are recorded in Acts 16:24-34 (printed below)

While in Philippi, Paul and Silas delivered a soothsaying girl from demon possession, as a result, the civil authorities had them beaten and cast into prison, the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully.

Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. (25) About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (26) Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. (27) The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. (28) But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself! We are all here! (29) The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. (30) He then brought them out and asked, Gentlemen, what must I do to be saved? (31) They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household. (32) Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. (33) At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. (34) The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and the whole family was filled with joy, because they had come to believe in God. (Acts 16:24-34)

The jailer, no doubt a rough and hardened man, showed no interest in the gospel until he was roused out of his sleep in the middle of the night by an earthquake, and to his amazement discovered that none of the prisoners had escaped. When he witnessed this sight for himself, he trembled with fear and earnestly besought Paul and Silas to explain to him the way of salvation.

3. Despite the differences in their lives, what do Lydia and the jailer have in common along with the rest of the Philippian Christians and all Christians? See Philippians 1:6 (printed below)

Of this I am sure, namely, that he who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Lydia came to Christ through a slow, gradual process. Apparently, there was dissatisfaction with the idolatry and debauchery of her Greek pagan upbringing, an attraction to the Jews and their knowledge of the true and living God, and all this culminated with an introduction to Christ and her response of personal faith in Him. The jailer came to Christ as the result of a sudden, earthshaking experience. Despite the striking difference in the background of these two individuals, the apostle addresses them together, as well as the rest of the Philippian Christians, and says: God has begun a work in you and He will perfect it.

4. The apostle Paul testifies that he offers up his prayers with joy “because of your fellowship in the gospel.” How did Lydia and the jailer demonstrate their fellowship in the gospel? See Acts 16:15 and Acts 16:33-34 (printed above under questions #1 and #2)

Lydia insisted that the missionaries be her guests while they carried out their gospel ministry in the city of Philippi. The jailer tended to the missionaries’ wounds and brought them into his home and fed them.

5. How were Paul and Silas treated by the citizens of Philippi? See 1 Thessalonians 2:2 (printed below) How were those Philippians who believed in Christ treated by their fellow citizens? Note Philippians 1:29-30 (printed below) What affect did this treatment have upon their allegiance to Christ? Note Philippians 1:4-5 (printed above)

We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know… (1 Thessalonians 2:2)

…it has been graciously granted to you, for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (30) You are experiencing the same opposition that you saw happening to me and now hear is happening to me. (Philippians 1:29-30)

In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy, (5) because of your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now. (Philippians 1:4-5)

The apostle Paul reminds the Thessalonian Christians that it was common knowledge how much he and Silas had suffered and how they had been shamefully treated in the city of Philippi. The missionaries suffered persecution at the hands of the cruel and pagan citizens of Philippi, and the church encountered the same treatment. Even in the face of such hostility and opposition these Philippian Christians did not forsake Christ. The apostle Paul rejoices “because of your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”