To Live Is Christ
1. Read Philippians 1:19-30 twice. Write down any key ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What are the key principles you believe we ought to draw from this text? Why did you choose those principles?
2. The tail end of verse 18 is part of this lesson’s text. Why does Paul say he will rejoice? What two things in verse 19 does Paul say will produce this positive outcome? What key principle do you discern from the interdependent relationship between those two things Paul mentions? What impact should that principle have on your life?
3. According to verse 20, Paul writes that he eagerly expects and hopes not to be ashamed or embarrassed to faithfully proclaim the Gospel while on trial. Read Acts 25 and 26 to see Paul’s bold faithfulness before other rulers. What are some of the highlights from these two chapters?
Each of us is called to faithfully represent (i.e., not be ashamed or embarrassed of) Christ before a watching world. Read Romans 1:16-17. Why does Paul say he is not ashamed of the Gospel? Why would that give him courage? Read Luke 9:23-26 and Luke 12:8-9. What sobering words does Jesus give on this topic of being ashamed or embarrassed about the outward expression of our faith in Christ?
Read Luke 22:54-62. Describe Peter’s experience. Would you say he was “ashamed or embarrassed” of Christ in this situation? As we saw in the question above, Jesus offers serious words for those who are ashamed of Christ and deny him. But such shame and denial do not have the last word in our lives. Read John 21:1-19. What is the good news found in these verses for those who have been ashamed of the Gospel and denied Christ? What are some other key principles you find in this scene? What encouragement does this give you?
4. In verse 20 Paul describes the courage he hopes to have so that he can honor Christ in his body. His reference to “his body” points out the fact that he will probably be beaten, perhaps to the point of death, but desires to remain faithful to Christ, even in the midst of that. What does Paul point to in verse 21 that gives him confidence, regardless of what happens to him?
5. If it turns out that God spares Paul’s life in this situation, what would that mean for Paul, according to verses 22-26? Why do you think he found deciding which two outcomes (life or death) he preferred, to be a hard choice?
What reason(s) does Paul give for believing he would live (vv. 24-25)? Who do you know who makes that same sort of impact in your life? Who in your life do you influence in such a way?
6. Yet, while Paul is away from the Philippians, he calls them to let their “manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v. 27). What does he mean by that phrase? Describe what that sort of life looks like (include Scriptures to support your answer).
Why is important for Christians to live lives that faithfully represent the gospel of Christ? What can happen when Christians don’t live such lives?
7. According to verses 27-28, what four things did Paul want to hear about regarding the Christians in Philippi? Describe what each of those things might look like in a Christian’s life and why they are desirable characteristics of a Christian community?
8. What does Paul say has been granted to the Philippians in verses 29-30? How are these two things gifts from God? Read Matthew 5:12; Acts 5:17-42; 1 Peter 4:12-19. How do these supporting texts teach and illustrate what Paul is talking about?
Should Christians go out their way to suffer? Explain. Paul and the other writers are not saying Christians should rejoice in every kind of suffering. What is the context and the kind of suffering being described in these texts? Why does this matter?
9. What does Paul mean when he says, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain?” Read two or three other translations (including a paraphrase) to help you better understand what Paul is saying here. In what ways does this verse encourage you, for this life and the life to follow?
10. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “Lord, I desire to be with you, but not yet?” Why do you suppose we say things like that? What are we not understanding? If Paul’s life was spared, what (and Whose) work do you think he would be seeking to accomplish? What reasons do we typically give for not quite being ready to die and be with Christ? What do some of these reasons possibly reveal about our greatest desires?