International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 1, 2011
Purpose: To discover how worship of Jesus Christ completely reshapes our lives and purpose
Scripture Text: Philippians 2:1-11 (NRSV)
(1)If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, (2)make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (3)Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. (4)Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. (5)Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, (6)who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, (7)but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, (8)he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. (9)Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, (10)so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,(11)and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Paul's letter to the Philippians is an interesting letter to study, because it was written to the most supportive church, that he and Silas founded, while on his second missionary journey. Paul's decision to cross over from Turkey and Asia Minor and to go into Europe with the gospel of Christ came from a vision. The city of Philippi was located in Macedonia and was named after Alexander the Greats father. At the time of Paul's visit it was a Roman outpost, and the citizens of Phillipi were given Roman citizenship.
The reason for the letter is explained in chapter 4 verse 2 “I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.” Word had come to Paul, while he was a prisoner in Rome, about these two women that were tearing the church apart. It appears from his reference, “I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women,” That Silas may have been the one left in charge of the church in Philppi. (Acts 16:19).
It is a common practice sometimes to read the scriptures and apply them on a personal basis, however this passage seems to be more apply applied as a communal or congregational letter. In the original Greek, the first four verses are written as one sentence. It is a rhetorical question to an obvious truth; Paul is making his point, “be more Christ like.” Or as Paul writes in verse 5 “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
Amazingly down through history, some of the things causing the tension in Philippi, may be some of the same things that has created within the Christian community, so many different denominations and forms of Christianity. Is it possible these two women were disagreeing over a form of baptism, or how Holy Communion was celebrated? Or maybe it was the power structure of the church.
Whatever the differences, Paul reminds them, to not insist on being right all the time. “4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”
Paul then gives them a lesson in humility, by sharing what Christ went through when He became obedient to God. Christ reigned with God, and created with God. He possessed all of the power of God, but chose not to use that power, for a season, while he was here on earth with us. In other words, He was always a King, but choose to become like a slave and servant, and willing to face a death reserved for slaves and servants, a death so cruel it was not allowed to be used on a Roman citizen, it was reserved for the lowest of humans.
It is God's recognition of Jesus' humbleness and obedience that generates Jesus' highly exalted status in all of creation. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Our willingness to acknowledge/confess Christ as the Messiah, is what brings “glory to God the Father.” The knowledge or light that we have received from our study or upbringing, should always be tempered by the humbling thought that our own thoughts are usually less than humbling. It is hard for us to admit that being right, in our own mind, and being in the mind of Christ, do not always align. We are encouraged to show the same Grace as Christ.