When was the last time that you wrote a letter? A real letter, one that involved a pen and paper. Do you recall the last letter that you received a letter?
Not so many years ago, receiving a letter in the mail sparked excitement. Once you identified who had sent it — a relative, friend, or a prison pen pal — you were likely eager to see what they had to say. Letters connected people. Letters shared thoughts, affections, news, and well-wishes.
The same is true of the letters of Paul, John, Peter, and others in the New Testament to believers and churches of their day. The primary difference between the letters written to the early church and those you and I have received was the cost and effort involved in sending them. The letters that you and I received had been composed, sealed, stamped, and dropped in a mail box. The paltry price of a stamp — what was the cost of a stamp when you were young? — assured delivery of the letter. In Paul’s day, many common folks did not have enough money to purchase the supplies for writing or have a servant who could deliver it — by foot — to someone. Sending or receiving a letter in Paul’s day demanded a good bit of money and much effort. A letter was a big deal.
With that context in mind we will begin to study one of Paul’s letters: the Book of Philippians. It’s a short book of four chapters. Our pace for surveying it will be less hectic than our study of Proverbs. Here is how we will approach Philippians. On Saturdays I will post an outline along with some basic notes for the chapter to serve as a skeleton for your reading of it. On Mondays I will highlight a few key verses from the chapter, provide some supplemental information for your reading, and offer a comment of explanation or two. On Thursdays I will post a handful of practical applications from that week’s chapter. By covering only a chapter each week we will be able to read the it several times over, marinate in it, and get a good feel for what is being said and how it can be applied. Sound good?
As a supplement to the blog posts please join the Bearded Acorn Facebook forum. It will function as a place for you to post about your are reading, your thoughts, or questions. It gives us all an opportunity to interact as we study the chapter together. Go ahead, take a moment and join it.
Background on the Book of Philippians:
Paul started the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey (this is recorded in Acts 16:12-40). The Book of Philippians was written years later while Paul was imprisoned in Rome for his faith.
He wrote to the Philippians for four reasons:
- To express his thanks to them for their support of him.
- To explain why he had sent Epaphroditus (who had delivered the letter to him) back to them.
- To inform them of his current circumstances in Rome.
- To warn against false teachers who might mislead them.
The Book of Philippians has two primary themes: living out the Gospel and joy in doing so. With that in mind, here’s a reader-friendly, dirt-under-the-fingernails breakdown of chapter one:
- Paul’s fellow believers: 1-11
- Paul’s circumstances: 12-18
- Paul’s future: 19-26
- Paul’s advice: 27-30
The book of Philippians will both encourage and challenge us. Along the way we will see many practical applications and points to pray about. I’m glad you decided to join in. Jump into chapter one. Check out the Facebook Forum. I am eager to see what God will teach us as we study this potent and practical book together.