October 29-november 4
life of paul
Paul’s conversion from Christian persecutor to one of history’s greatest gospel proclaimers is one of the most well known stories in the book of Acts. Were it not for God’s powerful work through the life of Paul, the gospel’s spread in the early days of the Church may have looked significantly different. Not only were his missionary journeys integral to the Holy Spirit’s work in building the church throughout the Mediterranean region, but his letters make up much of what is the New Testament today. In total, 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament were written by Paul over a period of about 18 years.
We will read a number of Paul’s letters over the next few weeks, but want to pause from Acts this week to read two -- Galatians and Philippians -- which contain a bit of biographical information about Paul. Paul did not spend much time writing about himself, instead using his effort to write about the truth of the gospel and its application in the lives of believers. The majority of what we know about him comes from Luke’s writing in the book of Acts. That being said, Paul includes some personal information in Galatians 1-2 as well as Philippians 3.
Galatians is all about grace. In writing Galatians, Paul addresses the issue of whether or not Gentile Christians need to be circumcised and uphold the outward ceremonies of Jewish Law in order to be saved. This was an important issue in the early Church. In response, Paul says, “...a person is not justified by works of the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:16) Paul wrote Philippians while in prison in Rome. The focus of Philippians is a reminder for Christians in all circumstances to “Rejoice in the Lord always…” (Philippians 4:4)
five christ centered divisions
As families, what can we glean from the book of Philippians? It is clear that Paul experiences a deep, loving relationship with the Philippian church similar to a father/child relationship. What does he say as the father? In prison, Paul hears reports that the Philippians are discouraged, alarmed by opposition, andexperiencing the beginnings of disunity. These are all similar to what our families experience. What is Paul’s encouragement? He appeals to them to live like Christ. Christ emptied Himself by becoming a man, living His life as a servant, suffering and dying on the cross. As parents, we can model the actions of Christ and encouragements of Paul to our children. We can live humbly, considering others as more important than ourselves and looking out for the interests of others, beginning within our family. As we model this behavior, we gain credibility to appeal to our children to live in the same way.
- Describe some of the attitudes in verses 2-4.
- Picture the most powerful ruler in the world wearing a golden crown with the most expensive jewels in it. Picture him sitting on a high throne and everyone in the world coming to serve him. Now picture him taking off his crown, putting on normal clothes, and walking around the street. People might not even recognize him. How is this like what Jesus did? Discuss.
- What would have happened if Jesus had clung to His own personal interests as God?
- What are some of your own personal interests? How do these conflict with the interests of someone in your family?
Activity 1: Heroes of the Faith
Visit torchlighters.org to learn of heroes past and present day who have demonstrated what it means to empty yourself for the sake of Christ and others. Site includes videos and written stories, coloring pages, puzzles, books, etc.
Activity 2: Jesus is in God’s Form
Point at a chair and say, “That is in the form of a chair.” What do I mean? I mean it has all the things a chair is supposed to have. It has legs. It has a back. It has a seat. It is shaped a certain way. It is a chair in every way. Play a guessing game describing things in the room and guess what that are. Now think about how
Jesus is in the “form of God”: He has all the essential qualities of being God. God knows everything; so does Jesus. God is all-powerful; so is Jesus. Describe some other words that describe God the Father and Jesus.
Questions and activity adapted from Write through the Bible curriculum.
Small Group Discussion
Grace permeates Galatians. The Christian life from beginning to end is the result of God’s grace and is empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit. As you read Galatians, what commands are there to obey? What principles are there to follow?
What promises are there to claim? Philippians is a letter of encouragement to believers to keep their eyes on the power and the joy of the gospel, particularly their fellowship in it. Perspective in the midst of opposition is Paul’s focus of the letter. What examples are there to follow? (Joy, Fellowship, Citizenship).