Week 1 - Inspiration - why you know that you can trust the Bible as God’s Word. Week 2 – Foundation - what the Bible does in your life. Week 3 – Illumination - how does God show me what he wants me to see in the Bible. Week 4 - I’m going to teach you how to do a Bible study.
The secret of Bible study is simply learning to ask the right kind of questions. The more you bombard a particular text with questions, the more you’re going to get out of it. The Bible is a supernatural book and you can study a passage over and over and you’ll never hit bottom. There are passages in the Bible I have studied for 40 years – the Sermon on the Mount, Psalm 23, the Beatitudes, Romans 8:28 and so on. Every time I go back to them I go, “Wow! I didn’t see that before!” If you learn the principles of observation you will see things in Scripture you’ve never seen before. While there are different kinds of questions - there are 4 categories you use in every Bible study.
There are 4 words – observation, interpretation, correlation, application. These 4 things you will do when you’re going to sit down to look at a passage of Scripture and study it for yourself. Observation: question - What does it say? Simply look at the text - what does it say? – and you write down. The difference between Bible reading and Bible study is you use a pen.
Interpretation: question - What does it mean? The Bible means what it means - we use metaphors, analogies and so on. “You’ve been pulling my leg.” How you know what it means is by looking at the context - you have to look at the verses around it.
Correlation: question - What other verses explain it? Is there anything else in the Bible that would help me understand what I’m reading right now? You use the Bible to explain the Bible.
Application: question - What am I going to do about it?
Philippians 2: 19 – 30 - little background. Paul writes this letter from Rome. Paul – apostle -wrote much of the NT - imprisoned in Rome for his missionary work. Due to appear before Caesar - hoping to be released to go back to all the churches that he started - not able to - so he’s writing letters to the churches. Philippi - city in Greece. The Philippians had taken up a love offering for him and sent it to him and now he’s writing them a thank you note for sending him this offering. READ
You might read this - why did God put that in the Bible? Paul’s just talking about a couple of friends - you guys sent them to me, I’m going to send him back to you. It doesn’t sound like deep doctrinal truth - doesn’t sound like there’s encouragement for me. You might even think this is just a passage you read quickly, skip over to get to the really good stuff in the Bible. You’d be dead wrong! Because you didn’t do the observation and the interpretation.
Remember - 2 Timothy 3: 16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and it is useful to teach us what is true, to make us realize what’s wrong in our lives, it straightens us out, and it teaches us how to do what’s right.” Romans 15: 4 “For everything in the Bible was written to teach us so that through the endurance and encouragement of Scriptures we might have hope.” We must study it, not just read it.
1. Observation. What does it say?I see 3 things in this passage.
A. I observe that Paul intends to send 2 men to Philippi.
Nothing fancy - nothing spiritual - just what I see. v. 19 “I hope to send you Timothy.” v. 25 “I think it’s necessary to send Epaphroditus back to you.” So he says I’m going to send 2 guys to you – Timothy and Epaphroditus.
B. I observe is that Paul endorsed these guys as role models.
In fact they’re role models who deserve honour. v. 20 – Timothy - “I have no one else like him.” Paul is the greatest Christian who’s ever lived - he says I’ve got nobody in the world like Timothy - that would be the greatest possible compliment you could ever receive for your faith. Epaphroditus – v. 29 “Welcome him and honor men like him.”So he’s saying whatever these guys are doing – they’re unusual, they’re unique and they are worthy of honour. You need to follow them and you need to honor them. Notice - both of them - “like him.” 3rd observation question: So what are these guys like? Why are they so special? Read through the passage again - Paul says 5 things about these guys.
v. 20, 21 - Timothy “He takes a genuine interest in you.” v. 22 - Timothy “He has proved himself.” v. 25 - Epaphroditus “He’s my brother, my fellow worker and my fellow soldier.” v. 26 - Epaphroditus “He longs for all of you and he is distressed.” v. 27 - 30 “He almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life.”
All I’ve done - read it - wrote down what I saw. Paul’s talking about 2 guys - going to send them back to Philippi - endorses them as role models - says we ought to honor them. These guys have 5 characteristics in their lives - observation.
2. Interpretation. What does it mean?
Extremely powerful passage - gives us 5 marks of what it means to be a man of God or a godly woman. If you want to be the kind of person God blesses and uses - want God’s power in your life - better study this passage. Let’s go back and look at the 5 things we observed - What does it actually mean?
v. 21 - 1st characteristic - Timothy “I have no one else like him.” Why? Because “He takes a genuine interest in your welfare and everybody else only looks out for their own interest.” That’s rare – unusual - different. One of the ways you interpret Scripture - comparing it to other translations. Often it takes a phrase to explain a word. In English - only 1 word for “love.” Greek - 4 words for love. By looking at different translations, you can get a bigger interpretation without having to know any Greek or any Hebrew. Couple of other translations of this verse - “Timothy genuinely cares for you while others only care about themselves.” Phillips -“They’re all wrapped up in their own affairs.” So we have the 1st characteristic of a godly man.
A. A godly man is caringEverybody else is only interested in their own agenda, their own business, their own things that they’ve got to. So it is rare to find an unselfish man. I’m going to talk to most of you men today but as a pastor I care about the women in our church. Those of you single women, I want to protect you. How to identify a selfish man before it’s too late - Does he only talk about himself? Has he ever brought you a meal because he knew you were too busy - he sensed it and you didn’t have to tell him? Does he ever go out of his way to make sure you feel safe? Does he ever ask for your opinion on anything? Will he cancel his plans if you’re sick so he can take care of you? Is he obsessed with his appearance? Will he do something that he doesn’t like to do just to be able to spend more time with you? Does he pick up his mess or expect you to pick it up? A godly man is a caring man.
Next characteristic -“Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father, he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” God’s Word translation - “You know what kind of person Timothy proved to be.”This guy is dependable, reliable, faithful.
B. A godly man is consistent
The greatest ability in life is dependability - people of conviction and character. Difference between conviction and an opinion? An opinion is something you’ll argue about; a conviction is something you’ll die for. Godly men are committed to God’s standard - consistent in their values.
Next characteristic -“I send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and my fellow worker and my fellow soldier.” 3 metaphors here that are relational – brother, fellow worker, fellow soldier. “He’s also your messenger because you sent him to me to take care of my needs.”
C. A godly man is cooperative.
The Christian life is a family, it’s a fellowship and it’s a fight. The phrase brother and sister is used about 133 times in the Bible to refer to Christians. We are to treat older women in the church as mothers, older men in the church as fathers, we’re to treat the younger men as brothers and the younger woman as sisters. We’re children in God’s family - there is a relationship.
We’re a fellowship - we have the same task, the same mission, the same great commission. We’re to work together and serve together. We’re fellow soldiers - we have the same battle, the same enemy – Satan. So we support and encourage each other. That’s why we have small groups because we’re in this together. When you see somebody who says I don’t really need to go to church, I don’t need a small group, I don’t need anybody else, he’s proving that he doesn’t know how much he needs what he needs. Nobody has it all together. We need each other. You have strengths that I need, I have strengths that you need and we need each other. Godly men cooperate - not lone rangers - not difficult to get along with - know how to be on a team - know how to work - know how to give and take.
Next characteristic – v. 26“For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.” He’s worried about the fact that they’re worried about him.
D. A godly man is considerate.
You think not just what other people say, but you think of their emotions. You think of how what you say and how you act is going to affect other people. Not - “I just say what I think.” Any idiot can say what he thinks. It takes a mature man to hold his mouth when he knows he needs to hold it. 1 Peter 3: 7 “Husbands be considerate as you live with your wives.” The number one cause of marriage problems is simple selfishness.
Next - “Indeed he was ill, and he almost died… he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help that you couldn’t give me.”
E. A godly man is courageous.
He’s courageous not for his own benefit. He’s taking risks for the benefit of others and the kingdom of God. God uses courageous people who put people before profit and who put courage before comfort and convenience. Who put service before security. Who take a risk for the kingdom of God. Who serve God and others with reckless abandonment. That’s a godly man. Paul says you need to honour men like that.
3. Correlation. What Other Words Explain It?
Is there anything else in the Bible about Timothy and Epaphroditus? There are 2 complete books about Timothy - 1 and 2 Timothy. So I could go on and I could read and find out a whole lot more. What about Epaphroditus? Philippians 4 - tells us why they sent him.
Does the Bible have anything to say about these qualities – caring, consistency, cooperating, consideration and courage. Use a concordance - word index of most words in the Bible. Most study Bibles have some study tools added – small concordance. In your small group workbook - section on Bible study methods and Tools for Effective Bible Study.
4. Application. What will I do About it?
“Don’t deceive yourselves. Don’t merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1: 22. Small groups - SPACEPETS. 9 questions to ask - Is there a sin to confess? Is there a promise to claim? Is there an attitude to change? Is there command to obey? Is there an example to follow? Is there a prayer to pray in this verse? Is there an error to avoid? Is there a truth to believe? Is there something I can thank God for?
Is there a sin to confess? Maybe. Is there a promise to claim? No. Is there an attitude to change? Yes. I need to change that attitude. Is there a command to obey? Yes. Honor men like this. Is there an example to follow? Yes. 5 examples - consistency, caring, cooperating, being considerate, being courageous. Write out a sentence on what you’re going to do about it.
This message is desperately needed today - in a culture that idolises celebrities. Shallow people doing shallow things. We’ve put them on the cover of magazines and pay them millions to be shallow. We pay millions to guys who are thugs and ought to be in prison - celebrities. Guys who move from one woman to the next in adultery and we act like it doesn’t matter. Nonsense - we desperately need are men and women of God today - caring, consistent, cooperative, considerate and courageous. You thought this passage had nothing to say!
Prayer: “Father, I want to thank you for men and women in this church who have proved worthy of honour by caring about more than just their business or themselves. For those who have been consistent and have served you in tough times as well as easy times. For those who have been cooperative and been in small groups. Lord, we need all of these in our lives. Help every man and every woman to be more courageous. Help us to be considerate of each other’s fears and weaknesses and differences. May we use the model of Timothy and Epaphroditus to motivate us to change. In Jesus’ name. Amen
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119: 11. You cannot be a godly man, you cannot be godly woman unless you build your life on the Word and it’s in your heart and mind.