v1-2 - Once again, we're reading a letter. A couple of things stand out about the introduction here:
This letter has a co-author alongside of Paul: his protégé Timothy.
It's written to the saints (God's holy people). Notice it's not just the big wigs of the church who are saints (the elders and deacons), rather it's the whole church! That means that God considers you to be a saint!
v3-11 - The letter opens with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Each line of this prayer can be classified as either Acknowledging who God is, either thanking God for or Asking for even more Alignment with God's will.
Remember, our prayers shouldn't be designed to change God's mind, but to shape our minds. In praying this way for Paul results in joy, confidence and affection, even though as he prays these words he's languishing in prison.
v12-26 - Most people would view Paul's imprisonment and suffering as being major setbacks, but when you're life is fully aligned with God's will like what Paul's was, setbacks aren't possible!
Being in prison allowed Paul to share the gospel with with the entire palace guard (v13).
The fact that Paul was able to be an effective witness while in a dungeon gave confidence and inspiration to others to dare to proclaim the gospel.
Even those sharing the gospel for completely wrong reasons were at least still sharing the good news, so God's will was being advanced.
Still, it's far better to share Jesus because you love Him, not because doing so will gain you status.
Paul goes on to give immediate application on how living according to the purposes mentioned in v9-11.
As he writes this, he's wasting away in prison and he's failing physically.
Yet because he has a clear purpose for living, he can see that whether he lives or dies, these purposes will be fulfilled. Even as he's locked up in a dungeon near death, living according to these purposes helps him realize he's in a no-lose situation!
v27-30 - Whatever happens in life - good or bad - conduct yourself as the saint that you have been made in Christ.
This will result in unity in the church (stand firm together, striving for the faith of the gospel - v27).
Remember, through the gospel God has given you TWO things:
A saving belief in Jesus;
AND: a calling to suffer for Jesus.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Psalm 57 shares how David's suffering brought him closer to God.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: How does Paul complete the following sentence? “For to me, to live is Christ …” (See verse 21.)
What does it mean to suffer for Christ in SW Minnesota (or wherever you're at) in 2021?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God, our Father (v2) who began a good work in you and will see it to completion (v6)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God for the strength to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of Christ (v27)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: