Philippians Study Questions
Learn more about this study.
This study uses the inductive study process of observation, interpretation, and application. It’s divided into 35 daily lessons that should take you 20-30 minutes per day. Bookmark this page in your browser on your computer, or save a link to your home screen on your device for easy reference. Follow along each day in the table of contents below.
Along with these study questions, you will need your Bible and a notebook or binder with loose-lined paper to take your notes.
If you are not familiar with the inductive Bible study process, be sure to read How to Use the Inductive Bible Study Method to familiarize yourself with this method.
If you would like a printable version of this study guide in a pdf, sign up for the email list and I’ll send it to your inbox!
Before you begin…
Before you begin your study you are going to want to designate a few pages at the front of your binder or notebook for creating some specific lists.
At the top of a page, write the title “List of Paul”. Now turn to the next page and write the title “List of Philippians”. Lastly, turn the page again and write the title “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians”. You will use the list of Paul and the list of Philippians during the Overview. The list of Paul’s commands you will be using throughout the study.
Also, consider how you want to take your notes. I recommend writing each day’s notes on a new sheet of paper. Write each day as the heading of your page. (example: “Day 1”, “Day 2”) Do what makes sense to you.
Begin your study today, and every day, in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your tour guide through the scriptures as you study Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. Thank Him ahead of time for all that He is going to reveal to you.
For your first assignment, read through the entire book of Philippians in one sitting. This will give you a general idea of the flow of this book.
Read through chapters 1-2 and look for every reference to the author and to the recipients. Ask the 5 w’s and h questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) about the author and recipients and make a list of everything you learn about them on the pages you designated before beginning this study guide.
Today, you will add to the lists you started yesterday. See what you can learn about the author and recipients in chapters 3-4. Follow the same pattern you used yesterday for listing these details.
What else can you learn about Paul and his relationship with the Philippians? Look at these cross-references and add any new insights to your lists.
- Acts 15-17:1
- Act 20:1-6
- Finish up the overview today by reading Acts 28:23-31.
- How does this compare with what you read in Philippians 1:12-13? Record your insights in your notes.
- If someone were to ask you what Philippians chapter one is about what would you say? See if you can summarize this chapter in a sentence or two. Record this in your notes.
- Now break the chapter down even further. Look at each paragraph and write a one-sentence summary for each. Record these in your notes.
- You’ve now completed the observation step for chapter one. Good job! Now, it’s time to move into the Interpretation. In this step of the Bible study process, you begin to dig a bit deeper by asking the question “What does it mean?”
- Who is this letter written to? (Look in verse 1) Do word studies for the words ‘saints’, ‘overseers’, and ‘deacons’. Record what you learn.
- Read 1 Timothy 3 and make note of any new insights you gain about overseers and deacons.
- See what you can learn about the word ‘bond-servant’. First, do a word study for the word ‘bond-servant’ in v1. Record what you learn in your notes.
- Look up Deuteronomy 15:10-17 and note what the Old Testament teaches about servants.
- What does it mean to be a bond-servant of Christ?
- Today, you will start looking deeper into verses 3-11. Before going any further, read through these verses.
- What do you learn about how Paul prays for them? (You may have already done this in your overview, but it’s good to take a second look). What are his feelings towards them? How do these feelings influence his prayers?
- What specific things does he pray for in v. 9? Write your thoughts in your notes.
- What does Paul hope to be the result of his prayers for them? (look after the words “so that…” in v. 10 NASB)
- These verses give us a great example of how we can be praying for the people God has placed in our life. Is there anyone you can be praying for in a similar way? Write out a prayer for them below. You could even write out the verse and insert their name when appropriate.
What phrase is repeated in verses 6 and 10 (NASB)? Write it out. Look up the following verses and note how they relate to this phrase.
- 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
- Hebrews 12:1-2
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
- To start today, read through verses 12-18 of chapter 1. What does Paul report about the result of his imprisonment? What is his attitude about his circumstances? Write out your observations. Be specific.
- In verses 15-18 what two groups of people are contrasted? What are Paul’s thoughts regarding both of them?
- Read through verses 18-20. Go slow so you don’t miss anything. What is the purpose of Paul’s rejoicing?
- Today, you will read a portion of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians. Before you do, ask the Lord to reveal His truth in this chapter. Read 2 Corinthians 4-5:8
- Now, go back and compare what you see in 2 Corinthians to Philippians 1:20-23. What do you think Paul means when he says “to live is Christ and to die is gain”? What is his attitude towards death? Write out your thoughts.
- Start today by reading Philippians 1:21-26.
- For what purpose does Paul believe that he will remain and not die? What or who is his concern?
- How does this confidence contrast with his letter to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:8-18; 4:6-22? (Note: Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians during his first Roman imprisonment from about 60-62 AD. He wrote 2 Timothy sometime around 64-65 AD before his martyrdom.) Write out your observations.
- What is Paul’s command to the Philippians in v. 27? Write out this command on your designated page, “Paul’s Command to the Philippians”. ***You will refer back to this page multiple times throughout this study. Keep it close by.
- What is the result of their obedience to this command?
- What do you learn about the Philippians and their circumstances in v. 28-30?
- You are almost done with your study of chapter 1! Before bringing this section to a close, look back over your notes. What has the Lord been speaking to you about finding joy in all circumstances? How was Paul able to rejoice in the midst of his afflictions?
- Feel free to consult your Bible commentaries for Philippians chapter 1. Please do not look at commentaries beyond this first chapter. Wait until after you have done your own diligent study.
Today you will begin observing chapter 2. Read through both chapter 1 and chapter 2 to get an idea of the flow of thought.
- Summarize this chapter in one or two sentences. Record the theme of chapter 2 below.
- Now, briefly summarize each paragraph of this chapter.
- v. 1-11
- v. 12-17
- v. 19-24
- v. 25-30
- How does chapter 1 flow into chapter 2?
- The word ‘therefore’ in 2:1 is a term of conclusion. Look again at what you learn about the Philippians in v. 1:27-30? How do their experiences relate to Paul’s encouragement to them in v. 2:1-4?
- What are the commands Paul gives the Philippians in v. 1-5? Record these on your page, “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians”.
- For today, read Ephesians 4 and Romans 15:5-6. How do these passages relate to what you read in Philippians 2:1-4? (note the role of the Spirit).
- Is the Lord speaking anything to your heart as you read these passages? Are there any commands you need to follow? Any attitudes you need to adjust? Ask the Lord to search your heart and help you to obey His word. At this point you may want to write out a prayer of confession or gratitude.
- Look up the word ‘humility’ (v. 3, 5) in your word study tools. Note what you learn.
- Now, look at the references to ‘mind/attitude’ in v. 2-5. How do these verses relate to the definition of humility?
- Today you will be looking at verses 5-11. This is one of the most significant and beautiful passages in scripture. Begin in prayer, asking the Lord to open your eyes and heart to what He wants to reveal to you. This passage may be familiar. Please do not allow the familiarity of the text to make you rush through this section. Ask the Lord to give you fresh eyes. Then, linger on it.
- Look up the word ‘form’ in verses 6 and 7 in your word study tools. Note what you find.
- Now, look up the word ‘emptied’ NASB (KJV says ‘of no reputation’) in verse 7.
- Based on the context of this chapter and the definitions of the two words above, what does it mean that Christ emptied Himself? Write out your thoughts.
- To what point was Christ obedient?
- What is the significance of death on a cross? Look up the following cross-references. Deuteronomy 21:22-23, Galatians 3:13
- What was the result of His obedience?
- How does Christ’s attitude relate to Paul’s command in verses 1-5?
- What is the command Paul gives the Philippians in 2:12? Add this to your “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians” page.
- What is the contrast in v. 12 and 13? Who works out what in verse 12? Who works in what in verse 13?
- Look up the following cross-references then answer the following question.
- 2 Peter 1:5-10
- Hebrews 12:1-2
- John 6:27-29
- What do you think it means to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?
- Finish today by thanking the Lord for all He has done. Ask Him to help you work out what He has worked in you.
- What is Paul’s command in verse 14? Write this on your page “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians”.
- Look up the words ‘grumbling’ and ‘disputing’ in verse 14. Note what you learn.
- What is the result of obeying this command? (see v. 15) Ask the Lord to search your heart. Are there any attitudes in your heart that may cause grumbling or disputing in your life?
- What does Paul mean when he mentions being ‘poured out as a drink offering’? In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were made daily to make atonement for the sins of Israel. Read Exodus 29:31-46. Record what you learn about the drink offerings. How does this relate to Paul and his ministry to the Philippians?
- Do you, like Paul, consider it a joy to pour out your life for the sake of the gospel?
- For your assignment, today, look through verses 19-30 and mark all references to Timothy and Epaphroditus. Then, make a list of what you learn about each of these men.
- What characteristics of these men do you find admirable? Which of these qualities would you like to grow in?
- Spend some time today reviewing your notes of chapter 2. What insights have you learned about the meaning and source of true joy? What are some things that prevent us from being joyful? Pray on these things then write out your thoughts.
- Feel free to consult your commentaries of chapter 2 at this time.
- It’s time to dig into chapter 3! Begin today by reading through the entire chapter.
- Read through chapter 3 again. Summarize this chapter in 1-2 sentences.
- Now, summarize each paragraph of this chapter in the following way.
- v. 1-6
- v. 7-11
- v. 12-16
- v. 17-21
- Doesn’t it seem like chapter 3:1 should have been included with chapter 2? How does the end of chapter 2 flow into the first verse of chapter 3? Write your thoughts. Make sure to record the command on your page “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians”.
- What is the warning in verse 2? Write it out.
- Look up the word ‘circumcision’ in your word study tools. Note what you learn.
- Look up the following cross-references and note any new insights you learn about circumcision.
- Genesis 17
- Romans 2:25-29; 4:1-12
- What does Paul mean when he mentions those of the ‘false circumcision’ and the ‘true circumcision’ in Philippians 3:3? Record your thoughts.
- Today you will take a closer look at the life of Paul. Read through Philippians 3 or review the list that you made about Paul on days 2 and 3.
- Now, turn to the book of Acts. Read Acts 8:1-3 and then 9:1-31. What new insights do you gain about Paul? You can add to your list of Paul from days 2 and 3.
- Read Philippians 3:7-9. What did Paul trade his old life for?
- What is the Lord speaking to your heart, my friend? Are there any ‘things’ in your life hindering you from knowing Christ more intimately? What are you going to do?
- What two kinds of righteousness does Paul mention in verse 9? What do you learn about each kind? Write it out.
- Let’s stop here for application. Before you answer this next question, please take a couple of minutes to prayerfully consider your response. Which kind of righteousness are you living in? Are you trying to work for your righteousness? Or are you resting in the righteousness found through faith in Christ?
- Read the following cross-references and note how they relate to Philippians 1:29-30 and 3:10-11. Pay special attention to the result of suffering.
- Romans 6:4-11
- Romans 8:16-18
- John 15:18-20
- 1 Peter 1:6-9, 2:18-25
- In these next references note the result of suffering, and also pay special attention to the word ‘perfect’ NASB.
- James 1:2-4
- Hebrews 2:10
- Look up the word ‘perfect’ in Philippians 3:12 and write down what you learn. (This is the same root word used in the James and Hebrews references you looked at above).
- How do verses 10-11 tie into verses 12-16?
- According to what you have read, what should our attitude be towards suffering?
- How does this last section of Philippians 3:17-21 relate to what you read in 3:13-16
- What is Paul’s command in Philippians 3:17? Record this on your page of Paul’s commands.
- What is his warning in verses 18-19?
- What is his exhortation (encouragement) in verses 20-21?
- In verse 17 Paul tells the Philippians to follow his example. Is there anyone in your life you look up to in this way? Who is another woman in your life who is faithfully following after Christ? Would you feel confident to encourage another to follow your example? If a person were to walk in your footsteps, would they be led closer to Christ?
- Read through the entire passage of chapter 3 one more time. Ask the Lord to show you any insights that you may have missed.
- Review your notes from your study of this chapter. What more have you learned from this portion of scripture about joy and rejoicing?
- You can now consult your commentaries of Philippians chapter 3.
- You have now come to the final chapter of Philippians! Great work, friend! Let’s get to it. Read through the entire passage of chapter 4.
- What is the theme of this chapter? Write a 1-2 sentence summary.
- There are two main sections in this chapter. The first being verses 1-9, and the second verses 10-23. Write a brief summary for each of these two sections.
- Verses 1-9 are packed with Paul’s instructions and commands. Get out your “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians” page. Go through these nine verses and write down each command that Paul gives. Do this slowly so you don’t miss anything.
- What is happening in Philippians 3:10-18? What is this gift Paul is referring to? What is the profit (NASB) that he mentions in verses 17?
- Read 2 Corinthians 8 for further insight, then write down your thoughts.
- Look up the following cross-references: Isaiah 40:29-31; Isaiah 41:10; John 15:4-7
- Now, read verses Philippians 4:11-13 and then verse 18. How do these verses relate to what you saw in the cross-references? How do these passages encourage you?
- Now finally, take out your list of “Paul’s Commands to the Philippians”. Read through each of these commands again.
- As you have studied this book, chapter by chapter, you have been searching for any clues as to what it means to have true and lasting joy. Could this list contain the ingredients for cultivating joy in all circumstances?
Finish your study of Philippians by writing, or simply speaking, praise to our Lord and Savior. Thank Him for the hope that He has given you which enables and strengthens you to rejoice always.