We are studying Philippians 2:1-11 for Sunday, January 27. This is the continuation of Paul’s letter to the Philippians that we began studying last week, and that contains the famous Christic hymn in verses 5-11. Here are a few questions we might want to consider in or before class:
Verse 1 invokes “encouragement in Christ, consolation from love, sharing (or community) in the Spirit, compassion and sympathy.” What would we name or look for as evidence of these realities? Why is that? What does it suggest that Paul names “being of the same mind” as strong evidence of these things? Why do we say that?
The instruction in verse 2 is addressed to a specific group of Christians. How do we understand that instruction to apply to us, and what does it instruct us to do? For instance, are the instructions to us the same as the ones to the Philippians, or do they differ? Does this letter tell the Philippians, or us, not to have disagreements? About anything, or about some things? Which things, do we think? Or does it allow for disagreements, but under certain conditions? Or …? Why do we say this – something we read in the text, something we have learned along the way, experience, what?
Still on verse 2, what does it seem Paul is saying to be in one accord about, or thinking the same way as? Why do we say this? What are we thinking here? Would it make a difference if we understood him to be suggesting that his readers have the same mind as Paul, as described in 1:18-26? What difference would that make? Why is that?
Can we think of examples of things people do from “selfish ambition or conceit” today? Does this letter seem to discourage those things, or not? Can we think of examples of people looking to their own interests? Does this letter seem to discourage those things? Why do we say this? (More personal) Can we think of examples of things we ourselves do, or have done, from ambition, conceit, or looking to our own interests? How are we feeling about those in light of this text? Why?
What would it mean to be thinking along the same lines as Christ Jesus, as described in verses 6-8? What can Paul’s readers, or we, share with Christ Jesus in these verses? Is there anything they, or we, cannot share? Does this pattern of similarity to and difference from Christ Jesus have any effect on their/our ability to think as Christ does? Does it seem to make it easier, or more difficult, do we think? Why do we say this?
Does the principle of having the same way of thinking as Christ Jesus apply to all areas of life, or just to some? (Think in particular of the way people make decisions today, about things like where to live, where to go to school, what to major in, what jobs to apply for or careers to pursue, whom to marry, etc. – how does this principle apply to decisions like that? Assuming it does, how would people go about putting this principle into practice?) Why do we say that? How do we feel about this? Why is that?
Does the message of this part of the text seem to apply to all people equally, or does it seem to apply to some readers more than others? To whom? Why do we say that? Are there some people who do not need to hear this message? Who would those people be? Why do we say that? Can we think of ways the message might be misused? What are those? Why do we think that? What would help guard against this problem? How would that help? Which seems like a bigger problem for Christians these days: people misusing this text, or people ignoring it? What makes us say that? Why is that, do we think?