Chapter OneStudy 1
Building a Foundation
When we added on to our home, the extra construction required
strengthening the foundation. We live in California, where
preparing for earthquakes is a way of life. New, reinforced concrete
had to be poured. Steel rods had to be glued into the old foundation,
tying old and new together. All this had to be fastened securely
to the house through bolts and clips and metal straps. Now when the
earth moves, the whole house will bend and flex as a single, strong
People need strong foundations, too. That is why Paul begins this
letter the same way he begins most of his other letters: by emphasizing
fundamentals. His very emotional words emphasize his ties to the
Christians at Philippi and speak of his frequent prayers. There is love
here-love that, Paul prays, will grow increasingly intelligent. This
loving fellowship, with Christ and each other, can hold these Christians
together no matter how the world is shaking.
1. Think of someone who has had a big part to play in your
spiritual growth or, conversely, whom you have greatly
influenced. What emotions do you feel for that person, and
2. Read Philippians 1:1-11. The apostle Paul had an intense
spiritual history with the Christians at Philippi. What words
does Paul use to describe his attitudes when he prays for
3. What attitudes do you typically hold when you pray for
If you don't have Paul's attitudes, how can you become more
4. Paul mentions his "confidence" that the Philippians will
carry on in their Christian growth (v. 6). What is the root of
5. What does Paul mean in saying that the Philippians "share
in God's grace with me" (v. 7)?
Why does this sense of shared grace undergird their mutual
6. Often in our "share and prayer" times we concentrate on illness, jobs, and family problems. What does Paul pray for? How can we embrace this as a better model for our prayers?
7. What does Paul mean when he prays that "love may abound
more and more in knowledge and depth of insight" (v. 9)?
Where and how have you seen this kind of love exhibited?
8. We often build friendships on compatibility. We look for
people who are likable to us and whom we admire. On what
basis does Paul ground his love for the Philippians-on this, or on something else?
9. Suppose there was someone in the Philippian church whom
Paul found especially difficult to get along with. What do
you think he would do to gain a joyful and loving attitude
toward that person?
10. What would it take for you to develop these kinds of attitudes
and feelings for other Christians?
What difference would it make in your life if you did develop
such attitudes and feelings?
This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and
more in knowledge and depth of insight.
During the next week use Paul's prayer for the Philippians as a
model for your own prayers. Think especially of a person with whom
you have had an intense spiritual connection. (This could be a parent,
a spouse, a relative, a friend, or a pastor.) Ask God each day to give
that person a more knowledgeable and insightful love as well as discernment
for what is really best in his or her life. Ask God to make
that person "pure and blameless" and to fill him or her with "the fruit
of righteousness." As you think of this person, try to personalize these
requests to the circumstances you know he or she deals with.