The Apostle Paul encouraged the Saints in Philippi to work together in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. He counseled them to follow the Savior’s example of humility and selflessness, and he taught that God was working within them to bring about their salvation. Paul described sacrifices he had made to follow Jesus Christ.
Paul describes blessings that come from opposition
What words could you use to fill in the blanks of the following statement by President Brigham Young?
“Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’ you kick it ____________________; you never kick it ____________________. The Lord Almighty so orders it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 264).
(You will discover the answers later in this lesson.)
What are some examples, either from history or from our day, of people kicking, or opposing, the Savior’s Church and His followers? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
As you study Philippians 1, look for a truth that can help you understand how opposition can affect the Lord’s work.
Locate Philippi on the accompanying map showing the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul.(click to view larger)
Paul established a branch of the Church in Philippi during his second missionary journey (see Acts 16). He later wrote his epistle to the Philippians while he was imprisoned, likely in Rome. In Philippians 1:1–11, we read that Paul expressed gratitude and love for the Philippian Saints.
Read Philippians 1:12–14, looking for what resulted from the opposition Paul experienced during his missionary efforts.
As described in these verses, the opposition Paul experienced led to “the furtherance [advancement] of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). People throughout the “palace,” or military headquarters, knew Paul was imprisoned for preaching about Jesus Christ. Paul’s imprisonment also inspired other Church members to become bolder in preaching the gospel.
From Philippians 1:12–14 we learn that opposition we experience in following Jesus Christ can help further His work.
In President Young’s statement, fill in the blanks with the words upstairs (which means forward in this context) and downstairs.
Imagine that you are a writer for a blog or a newspaper. In your scripture study journal, write headlines for two or three true situations in which opposition helped further the Savior’s work. These stories might come from the scriptures or from the lives of people you know. (The following is one example of a headline: “Protests against missionary work serve to increase people’s interest in learning the message of the gospel from local missionaries.”)
As recorded in Philippians 1:15–26, Paul taught that whatever happened to him would magnify the Savior.
Joseph Smith Translation, Philippians 1:28 reads, “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries, who reject the gospel, which bringeth on them destruction; but you who receive the gospel, salvation; and that of God” (in Philippians 1:28, footnote a).
Notice in Philippians 1:27–30 what Church members would experience on behalf of the Savior. Consider how the Philippian Saints would have been blessed by remembering that opposition they experienced in following Jesus Christ could help further His work.
Paul teaches about the Savior’s condescension and instructs the Saints concerning their salvation
Read Philippians 2:5–9, and consider marking or noting words or phrases that illustrate the humility and selflessness of Jesus Christ.
We can learn the following principle from Paul’s teachings in these verses: If we follow Jesus Christ’s example of humility and selfless concern for others, then we can become more unified.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some ways in which we can follow the Savior’s example of humility and selflessness in our families, schools, and wards or branches?
When have you seen people consider others’ needs before their own? How did these efforts increase unity?
As recorded in Philippians 2:9–11, Paul taught that ultimately “every knee [will] bow” and “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Take a moment to visualize that moment, and think about what you hope this experience will be like for you.
Read Philippians 2:12–13, looking for what Paul counseled the Philippians to do that could enable their experience of bowing before the Lord to be joyful. The phrase “fear and trembling” in verse 12 refers to reverential awe and rejoicing (see Psalm 2:11; Guide to the Scriptures, “Fear,” scriptures.lds.org).
Some people misunderstand Paul’s instruction to “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) to mean that we are saved by our own works. We can be saved only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We must, however, satisfy the requirements for salvation, which God has provided (see Articles of Faith 1:3–4). As recorded in Philippians 2:13, Paul taught that God helps those who are trying to satisfy the requirements for salvation by helping them to “will,” or desire, and to obey “his good pleasure,” or His commandments.
From Philippians 2:12–13 we learn that God helps us desire and do what is required of us for salvation, which is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Consider writing or noting this truth in your scriptures.
Through the influence of the Holy Ghost, God can help us change and purify our desires so that we want to obey Him (see Mosiah 5:2). When have you felt God changing your heart so that you wanted to obey Him? How has He helped you to more faithfully keep His commandments?
Paul describes sacrifices he made to follow Jesus Christ
What is an object that represents something you value that the world would also consider valuable (such as an object representing family, friends, education, food, technology, or wealth)? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
What would you be willing to give up this valued possession for?
As you study Philippians 3, look for what Paul gave up in order to gain a prize that is also available to us.
As recorded in Philippians 3:1–2, Paul warned the Church members in Philippi of corrupt teachers (“dogs”) who claimed that Church converts should conform to certain Jewish practices, including circumcision (“the concision”). In Philippians 3:3 he taught that those who “worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus” were “the circumcision,” or God’s covenant people.
Read Philippians 3:4–6, looking for what Paul said about his Jewish heritage.
Note the social and religious advantages in Jewish society that Paul once possessed. He had an Israelite lineage, he was a Pharisee, he was zealous for Judaism, and he strictly obeyed Jewish religious law.
Read Philippians 3:7–11, and consider marking or noting words or phrases that indicate how Paul viewed the advantages he once had in Jewish society.
Paul willingly “suffered the loss of all things” (Philippians 3:8) so that he could know Jesus Christ; “be found in him” (Philippians 3:9), or be in a covenant relationship with Him; be justified through faith in Him; suffer for His sake; and be part of “the resurrection of the just,” or the righteous (Joseph Smith Translation, Philippians 3:11 [in Philippians 3:11, footnote a]).
Read Philippians 3:12–14, looking for what Paul recognized about his spiritual progression. Note that the word apprehend in this context means to obtain.
Rather than focusing on what he had left behind, Paul was pressing forward to obtain “the prize of the high calling of God” (Philippians 3:14), which is eternal life. Complete the following principle based on what we can learn from Paul’s example: If we ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________, then we can come to know Him and obtain eternal life.
President Gordon B. Hinckley told of meeting a naval officer who had come from another nation to the United States for advanced training and who had joined the Church during his stay. Consider what that young man was willing to give up to follow Jesus Christ.
“He was introduced to me just before he was to return to his native land. … I said: ‘Your people are not Christians. What will happen when you return home a Christian, and, more particularly, a Mormon Christian?’
“His face clouded, and he replied, ‘My family will be disappointed. They may cast me out and regard me as dead. As for my future and my career, all opportunity may be foreclosed against me.’
“I asked, ‘Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?’
“His dark eyes, moistened by tears, shone from his handsome brown face as he answered, ‘It’s true, isn’t it?’
“Ashamed at having asked the question, I responded, ‘Yes, it’s true.’
“To which he replied, ‘Then what else matters?’” (“It’s True, Isn’t It?” Ensign, July 1993, 2).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What have you (or someone you know) given up to follow the Savior?
Why are the prizes of knowing Jesus Christ and progressing toward eternal life worth the sacrifices you have made?
Ponder whether there is something you need to give up to more fully follow Jesus Christ. On a separate piece of paper, write down a goal to give this thing up. Place the paper where you can see it often over the next few weeks. Then write Completed assignment 4 in your scripture study journal.
In Philippians 3:15–21 we read Paul’s warning of the destruction awaiting those who focus solely on earthly pleasures. He also taught that Jesus Christ will change our imperfect physical bodies into immortal bodies like His.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Philippians 1–3 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: