When we receive a letter (or read an email) from someone we love, we read the entire letter. We might initially skim its pages, looking for particular bits of news or endearing passages, but we will always go back and carefully read the entire letter to savor all its news. We don’t just open a letter, pick a few random paragraphs to read, and then set it aside.
We don’t want to “open” Paul’s letter to the Philippians and just read a few isolated paragraphs of it either. Even though we will be focusing primarily on chapter 2, we need to read the entire letter at least once during our study. That’s what we will do today! So this lesson may take a bit more than our allotted five minutes. (Don’t get discouraged! It only takes about five minutes to read the entire book. Every lesson won’t be this long! And…tomorrow is catch-up day, if you don’t finish today.)
Assignment: Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Then read the entire book of Philippians. When you have finished, do the following:
- Assign a title to each chapter of the book. Your titles should reflect the themes of each individual chapter.
- Write a short one-paragraph summary of the entire book. What is its main message? What main ideas was Paul sharing with the believers in Philippi?
- Note any truths that especially stood out to you as you read.
For your children:
(Note: Adapt this lesson to fit the ages of your children. You may need to do all the writing, and you may want to select only two or three passages, or even just one, to read.)
Today we are going to pretend to be Paul writing his letter to the Philippian believers. While your children help him write, they will hear some of the important messages Paul included in his letter.
You will need your Bible, an envelope, a piece of paper, and a pencil or pen.
- Give one child an envelope and have him “address” it to “The believers in Philippi”.
- Give another child a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. He will play the role of Paul for the next couple minutes. (If your children are young, you may want to do the actual writing for them.)
- Read Philippians 1:21 aloud and discuss what it means.
- Have “Paul” write a short sentence that summarizes the message of the verse. (Discuss this together as a family, and then, if necessary, help him know what to write – or write it for him.)
- Pass the paper on to another child.
- Read Phil. 2:3-4 aloud, discuss it, and have the new “Paul”, with the help of the entire family, write a summary sentence about this passage.
- Pass the paper on, read Phil. 2:5-11, discuss it, and write a new summary sentence.
- Repeat this sequence with Phil. 3:3-7, Phil. 3:13-14, Phil. 4:4-7, and Phil. 4:11-13.
- When you have finished, have the last “Paul” fold the paper up and put it into the envelope and seal it.
- Choose someone to play the role of Epaphroditus. Have him carry the letter all through the house (or even outside, if you would like) while the rest of you gather together on a sofa to play the role of the Christians in Philippi. (Sing a song while you wait!)
- Epaphroditus can finally arrive in Philippi (your living room), knock on the door (or wall) and deliver “Paul’s letter” to the Christians there.
- Answer the “door”, joyfully greet Epaphroditus (explain to the children that he almost died when he was with Paul!), and then read Paul’s letter together!