Philippians 2:19–30: Servanthood

by Aug 22, 20160 comments

Download Complete PDF Now


At first glance, Philippians 2:19–30 seems like it has nothing in common with the wondrous Christ hymn from Philippians 2:6–11. The Christ hymn packs dense, soaring theology into one of the most famous passages in the entire Bible, and this passage seems to address nothing more than the itinerary of who will visit the Philippians, and when. These two passages scarcely seem to come from the same author, let alone to belong in the same letter with only a short separation. But in fact, Paul writes this section of the letter, detailing why Epaphroditus has returned to his fellow Philippians, and why Timothy has not yet come, not only to handle logistics, but to continue pressing forward the themes of Christ-like servanthood. In describing Timothy and Epaphroditus, Paul honors two servants with the highest possible praise: that they resemble their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. These two passages share close thematic commonality, but with an important twist: Paul here describes not what Jesus would do, but what ordinary, human, servants of Jesus would do.

Discussion Questions

1. Do ministry details and logistics matter to God? Do you know people who are faithful in detailed, logistical work, but do not get much credit for their service in the gospel, since much of what they do is behind the scenes? How can you honor and encourage such people in their important work?

2. In your life, whose interests do you seek? What are Christ’s interests in your family? in your neighborhood? in your work? in your church? What is one area where you need to repent from seeking your own interest, rather than the interests of Christ? What do you need to change in your life in order to put Christ’s interests first?

3. How do desires and deeds interact? That is, how do the desires of your heart influence the deeds of your hands? Or, from the other perspective, how does serving sometimes soften your heart toward people you struggle to love? How might you cultivate both godly desires and also godly deeds? Finally, do your deeds flow from servile fear or from love?

4. Whose ministry are you in a position to encourage and build up? In what ways do you seek to do that? If you are young and inexperienced, who might you work alongside someone with equal-mindedness, as a son to a father? Or, if you are old and mature, how might you mentor a younger kingdom worker?