Philippi was the center of Paul’s Macedonian ministry. In all of the Macedonian cities — Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea — Paul ran into strong opposition from the Jews. In this letter, Paul writes to the church in Philippi to encourage them to not lose hope. The people were being discouraged by both Paul’s imprisonment and by the strong opposition they were facing by the false teachers. Paul encourages them to receive the joy, peace, and humility of Jesus so that they can be strong, press on, and finish the race. This is a very encouraging letter for people who are experiencing difficult times.

Visual Outline

This image is designed to offer a visual outline of Philippians. Scroll down to preview the images in a PowerPoint and download the PowerPoint and 5-lesson PDF that works through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Feel free to use these images as a way to structure your own teaching and preaching through this letter of encouragement to a church under pressure.


Philippians 1:1-18a

This image sets the context for this personal letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi. Paul is writing to his friends in Philippi while he is in prison. We don’t know for sure which imprisonment this was. Many scholars think he wrote this from his house arrest in Rome at the end of Acts. The letter is a thank you note for the gift that the church sent to him. The messenger who brought the gift was named Epaphroditus. He became ill and nearly died, so Paul was also writing to assure the church that Epaphroditus was OK (Philippians 2:25-30).


Philippians 1:18-30

A key word for this letter is rejoice. Paul encourages his friends to continually rejoice in the grace of God in spite of difficult circumstances. He urges them to stand strong together in unity and maturity.

Philippians 2:1-30

It seems like there is some sort of tension or conflict brewing in the church at Philippi.  Paul urges them to be unified and to have the “mind of Christ” which is humility. Paul quotes a hymn that describes how Jesus gave up the glory of God to be humiliated on the Cross. 

Paul then reminds the Philippians that they shine like stars when they seek to be pure and innocent children of God in a perverse world.

Philippians 3:1-6

It is important to keep in mind the circumstances that precipitate the writing of a letter. Something was going on in Philippi that was disturbing the church and causing Paul great concern. We can only piece these circumstances together from what Paul wrote. In this passion it seems clear that a group of people were harassing the church and trying to convince them that Gentiles must be circumcized in order to be disciples of Jesus. This is one of the primary themes in Paul’s letters. It is the main reason Paul was run out of town and stoned and left for dead on many occasions.  Paul gets riled up about this and calls his opponents “dogs” which probably meant wild dogs that are bloodthirsty, like a pack of wolves.

Philippians 3:7-4:1

Paul encourages the Philippians by reminding them of his own story. He was once an honored member of “the circumcision” but his encounter with the risen Christ changed everything. Now he knows that the true circumcision is of the heart and is led by the Spirit. Paul strives to be like Jesus in humility and perseverance and urges the Philippians to follow him in that pursuit.

Philippians 4:2-23

The final section of the letter is full of personal messages to individuals in the church. It also offers encouragement to keep their minds on the positive things of God as they rejoice in all circumstances. Finally, it is evident in these words that Paul truly loves these people and is thankful for their friendship and partnership in the work of the Good News of Jesus.

Philippians Bible Study

This PDF offers a 5-lesson Bible Study to guide a small group or individual through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Each lesson has study questions and a short commentary/reflection. The printable PDF is included in the download package.

Below is a preview of two of the pages from the study.

Preview the PowerPoint

More Resources to Study Philippians

Enjoy this excellent overview from The Bible Project

Reading Paul’s Mail

The Apostle Paul began his professional life as a Pharisee who was determined to exterminate Jesus’ disciples. He encountered the Risen Christ one day and it changed his life forever. The rest of his journey took him across social boundaries that he never dreamed possible. His letters have shaped the church for 2,000 years.

Reading Paul’s Mail will guide you through all of Paul’s letters in chronological order. It was originally written for a network of house churches in 2004. The design is to study five days per week for 16 weeks. Each daily lesson contains discussion questions, food for thought commentary, and a Children’s discussion/activity.

The study is available in print on Amazon. 

This PDF is 254 pages of full-color illustrations, daily readings, study questions, and commentary. It also contains a “Just for Kids” section to help you engage children in the study.

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