Today we start a new 30-day study together! I’m excited! We are going to spend this month of November studying the second chapter of Philippians. This letter to the Philippians is rich with lessons for all of us! With the Holy Spirit’s help, I believe we will be different people by the time we finish this study together!
Even though we will be focusing most of our study on chapter 2, for today — this first day of our time together — we will be looking at just the first 11 verses of chapter 1. We need to understand a little of the background behind this letter. Then, if you want to take the extra time, you can follow the instructions for doing a little more research to help you better understand the background of this letter.
Looking at the first eleven verses of the book will probably use up your five minutes of study time for today. However, if you have the time, a commentary will help you learn a little more about this letter to the Philippians. Don’t start feeling guilty, if you don’t have time to do that optional part of this lesson! There’s no teacher looking over your shoulder, no deadlines, no grades, no extra credit — just you wanting to learn what you can from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit ready to teach you! Do what you can, and relax!
Assignment: Pray for understanding and concentration as you start your study today. Then read Philippians 1:1-11.
In your notebook or in the margin of your Bible, note answers to the following questions:
- Who were the recipients of this letter?
- Who wrote the letter?
- Who else is with the author?
- What do we learn about the recipients of the letter?
- What does the author want for the recipients?
Answering these questions will help us better understand what we will read and study in chapter 2.
If you would like to use a commentary to do a little more research, you will find instructions for doing so at the end of this post (after the children’s assignment).
By the way, we won’t be using colored pencils for marking the text until Monday, so if you were still planning to find or purchase some, you have the weekend to take care of that little task.
For your children:
In addition to a Bible, you will need a lunch packed for everyone (in a bag, basket, or box). You will also want to print out this map or find a map of the area to show your children as you study today. If your children are old enough to read, you may also want them to have their own Bibles to read.
- Start by explaining to your children that the New Testament contains a lot of letters that were written to people in churches. These churches were formed because missionaries were sharing the good news of Jesus in other countries.
- If you own a globe, show the children where you live on the globe, and then the general area of the Roman Empire where Paul ministered (modern-day Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Italy).
- Before you read any of Philippians to your children, ask them to listen for answers to the following questions:
Who is the letter from?
Who is it to?
- Then read Philippians 1:1 aloud while they listen.
- After they have answered the two questions, point out the following places on the map and explain their significance in our study. (You might want the children to take turns circling each city’s name with a colored marker as you point it out. It’s always good to get them physically involved!):
Jerusalem – This is where Jesus was crucified and then rose again from the dead
Philippi – This is the home of the people who received Paul’s letter.
Rome – Paul most likely wrote his letter to the church in Philippi from this city. He was imprisoned here, waiting for a trial that would decide whether he would be put to death for preaching about Jesus.
- Explain that two men were with Paul in Rome. One man’s name was Timothy, who was a fellow missionary with Paul. The other man was Epaphroditus. He was from Philippi, and the Christians there had sent him to Paul with gifts, because Paul had to provide for his own expenses while under arrest. (We will learn more about both of these men later in our study.)
- Take a few minutes to act out the scene in Rome. Assign these roles to different children (and parents, if desired):
Guard(s) (A guard is not mentioned in the book of Philippians, but it will help communicate to the children that Paul was imprisoned while he wrote his letter. If you have more than four children participating in this little drama, just add some more guards!)
- Set Epaphroditus up with a gift of food (a box lunch for everyone) to deliver to Paul and Timothy.
- Have him go outside and knock on the door.
- The guard can answer the door and then allow Epaphroditus to bring the gift in to Paul and Timothy.
- Epaphroditus tells them that it is from the believers in Philippi. Paul should thank him, and then thank the Lord before sharing the food with everyone, including the guards. (Paul would have shared. :-))
- During lunch, if you are familiar with the book of Philippians, share a little bit about it as you eat.
Tomorrow we’ll have Paul write a short letter to send back to Philippi with Epaphroditus!
Additional optional assignment for Mama: If you have time, reading a little bit in a commentary will help you better understand the background of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Follow the steps below for using Blue Letter Bible for your research.
- Go to www.blueletterbible.org. This is a free Bible study website that we will use several times during our study this month.
If you’ve studied with us in the past, you may notice that Blue Letter Bible has changed its format. Sigh…I just start to figure out how to use something, and then they update it and I’m outdated again!
For those who are familiar with the old site, you might like to know that you can go back to the old format by clicking on the blue “BLB Classic” button in the upper left-corner of the screen. I feel better just knowing I can go back to the familiar if I need to.
We’re going to tackle Blue Letter Bible’s new format in this month’s study! It will take a little getting used to, but I have to admit – it does look like it will be easier to use than the old one.
- After going to www.blueletterbible.org, click on the word “Study” in the menu bar.
- Then, under the heading “Commentaries”, click on “Text Commentaries”. This will open a list of commentaries available on this site.
- Click on “Henry, Matthew” to open a list of the contents in Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.
- Click on “Philippians”, then on “Introduction to Philippians”. Reading this short entry will give you information about the city of Philippi and how its church was started.
In your notebook or Bible, note any new information you gather from this reading. (If you really want to explore, go back to “Text Commentaries” and select another commentary to read!)
See you tomorrow!