Philippians 2: Life of Joy

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This lesson is part of a series (that I’m co-teaching, this time picking up at the start of the second chapter).


  • Have you ever received encouragement from an unexpected source?
  • Do you have an “irrational” fear or phobia? (spiders, heights, crowds, flying, germs, etc.)
  • What is something that frequently annoys you?

Philippians 1

Here’s a recap of the first chapter:

  • Philippians are a source of joy for Paul
  • They (and we) are partners in the gospel
  • Paul’s chains have advanced the gospel
  • Motives vary, but the gospel is pure
  • Paul urges them to live worthy of the gospel
  • We have those same tools: unity, courage, faith

Paul’s press agent encouraged him to come up with a subtitle for this sequel chapter.
Here are some ideas that they pitched around in the bullpen.

Philippians 2: Epistolic Boogaloo
• Phil Hard With a Vengeance
• The Roman Empire Strikes Back
• The Wrath of Khan
• Beyond Thunderdome
• Be Amused; Be Very Amused
• Dude, Where’s My Joy?
• 2 Fast 2 Humorous
• Paul and Timothy’s Excellent Epistle
I’ll admit that my research on the subtitle may not have been as thorough as I would have liked.

Life of Joy

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Phil 2:1-4)

That’s a lot of positive language! Here are some of the terms that Paul uses in this paragraph to describe the life that we should live:

  • Encouragement
  • Love
  • Comfort
  • Tenderness
  • Compassion
  • Joy
  • One Spirit
  • One Mind
  • No Selfish Ambition
  • No Vain Conceit
  • Humility
  • Interests of Others

There’s an acronym for JOY that is often used to describe the priority on which we should focus our thoughts:

  • J – Jesus
  • O – Others
  • Y – You


  • What are ways that we can show encouragement, comfort, love, tenderness, compassion, joy, one spirit, one mind, selflessness, modesty, humility, and interest to those in need?
  • Who are people in need of all that? Where are they? How can we reach them?
  • How did Jesus reach them?

Life of Humility

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! (Phil 2:5-8)

This is a deep passage, that could fuel en entire course on theology, but from a high level, let’s look at what that means in a few simple questions.


  • What did Jesus become to save us?
  • What did he give to do that?
  • What did he take to do that?
  • How can we “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus?”
  • What could we become, give, and take to do that?

Life of Eternal Glory

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil 2:9-13)


  • “Therefore God exalted him…”
    • It has been said that when you see the word “therefore” you should ask yourself what it’s “there for”.
    • This one is there to show that Jesus is exalted because of all those things he did in verses 5-8.
    • Could Jesus have chosen not to? He prayed for it in the garden, until blood came out of his head.
  • “Therefore… work out your salvation…”
    • Work out our salvation? Isn’t it already covered by grace?
    • Yes, the fact of our salvation is, but not the means.
    • We’re told to work out our salvation, not work for it.
  • “…with fear and trembling”
    • Fear of… God? his gift? our salvation?
  • “…for it is God who works in you”
    • God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power.
    • God lives inside us. In that respect, we’re a vessel to carry around God, much like the Ark of the Covenant.

Life of Gratitude

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. (Phil 2:14-18)

You know what’s hard to do without complaining? Complaining! But still, if our food order is wrong, or our airplane seatmate takes the whole armrest, or whatever petty annoyance comes our way, we can react in a few ways. We can (A) complain, (B) accept the situation, (C) address the situation, or (D) improve the situation.


  • Do everything without grumbling or arguing
    • Everything? Isn’t that a bit extreme?
  • Drink offering (“Pour out the drink offering to the Lord at the sanctuary.” – Numbers 28:7)
    • Paul describes himself as being poured out as a drink offering, as described in the Passover meal.
  • 4 Passover cups (Sanctification, Proclamation, Blessing, Praise)
    • There are four cups in the Passover meal, including the Last Supper.
    • But at the Last Supper, Jesus did not pour out that final cup. Instead, he poured out his own lifeblood on the cross, completing the seder as he saved us all.


  • Who can you encourage, that would not expect it?
  • How can we surpass our fears with God’s “spirit of power?”
  • How can you address an annoyance without complaining?


You can download the PowerPoint slides here.