Lesson 1: Paul's Relationship with the Philippians

Lessons in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overview Lesson Index

Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
Memorable Moments in Acts (Optional Activity) Click here



1. To understand the deep connection between Paul and the Philippians and realize he wasn’t writing a book to people he barely knew
2. To realize that relationships we form are a big part of living out our relationship with Christ


Joy, Hardship, Community, Fellowship, Relationships

Scripture Memorization

Philippians 1:3, Philippians 1:9-11

OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)

GROUP BUILDING (5 minutes)

Use the questions below to get students thinking about how the places they have lived have affected their lives. It is important to realize the personal attachment Paul had with the people of Philippi. If the students have only lived in one place, get them talking about what is special about that area. Discussion will most likely come around to people.

• Have you lived where you currently live your whole life?
• Where are some of the places you’ve lived?
• Where is the favorite place you’ve lived?
• What made that place so special?
• What makes where you live now so special?

GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)

Write the following words on 10 separate index cards:

When?About 60AD
Why?To strengthen partnership

Have everyone sit in a circle, and give the cards to 10 different students. Let each student look at his or her index card, but not let anyone else see what it says. Then have the students fold their card in half to conceal the writing.

Pick one student to start. Have him or her state his or her name and reveal if his or her card is a question or an answer. Then have that student select another person from the group. The selected person will also state his or her name and reveal his or her card.

If the cards match (question to the correct answer) the first person takes the card from the person he or she chose and then selects some other student to continue play. If it’s not a match, play continues in the same manner with the person he or she picked. Continue this way until you have at least a few matches, but don’t spend too much time on this game.

DIGGING IN (30 minutes)

The apostle Paul spent a lot of time traveling to many places to share the gospel. After being with people all over the known world, he often wrote to those he had met, sending them greetings, sharing their burdens, and encouraging their faith.

Before we get into the book of Philippians, let’s look at who they are, how they came to know Paul, and what relationship grew between the great apostle and the people.

Read Acts 16:6-10

Discussion Questions
1. Why would the Holy Spirit prevent Paul and his companions from preaching the gospel in Asia? (God knowing the heart of all men knew Paul's efforts would be better utilized in Macedonia.)
2. What got Paul's attention to go to Macedonia? (He had a vision/dream.)
3. When did Paul and his companions decide to react to God’s calling? (“at once”)

Read Acts 16:11-15

Discussion Questions
1. Where did Paul and company settle while waiting for the Sabbath? (The river right outside Philippi.)
2. Why do you think they sought those who were already gathering in prayer? (It may have been Paul's custom to speak with those in the local synagogue first, as they would share similar backgrounds.)
3. If Lydia was a worshipper of God, then why did she need to respond to Paul’s message? (Lydia was most likely a Gentile who had converted to Judaism. Upon hearing Paul's message Lydia placed her faith in Christ.)
4. What did Paul’s message encourage Lydia and her household to do? (Lydia and all her household were baptized, and then they invited Paul and the rest of his group to stay in their home.)
5. Do you ever stay at someone else’s house?
6. What type of people do you let stay at your house?
7. What does this say about how Christians relate to each other? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)

Read Acts 16:16-40

In addition to what this says to us, it shows that Paul and company were beginning to make deep relationships with the Philippians. Lydia’s house remained significant throughout their stay in Philippi.

Discussion Questions
1. Why were Paul and Silas jailed in the first place? (For throwing the city into an uproar, advocating unlawful customs.)
2. What happened to Paul and Silas before they were thrown into the jail? (They were flogged, stripped and beaten by the crowd.)
3. What happened to Paul and Silas once they were in prison? (They were put in stocks and locked into the “inner cell”.)
4. With all they endured, how do you think they mustered the strength to praise God? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
5. How do you find strength to praise God during difficult times? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)

The prison at a glance:

Fastened in stocks—limited or no movement, unable to walk to a toilet (if there would’ve been one) or perhaps even extend their legs.

Inner cell—a roman prison, the actual cells were reserved for poor criminals and conditions were rough. The inner cell would’ve been more intense, probably with little to no lighting or ventilation.

Flogging—just as Jesus was flogged, the Romans beat prisoners with whips with sharp, jagged materials tied in. Combined with a mob-style beating, Paul & Silas would’ve been very weary from their punishment.

Optional Activity (10 minutes)

Memorable Moments in Acts (Activity) Click here

Now we are going forward about 10 years in Paul’s ministry. He is again in jail, under house arrest in Rome when he writes to the Philippians.

Read Philippians 1:1-11

Discussion Questions
1. With what emotions did Paul convey in his letter to the Philippians? (gratitude, joy, thankfulness, etc.)
2. How do you think the Philippians reacted when they read it? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
3. Why was Paul’s relationship with the Philippians so special, based on verse 7? (It was a relationship built on persecution and hardship)

MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)

It’s time to make this real to us. The relationship between Paul and the Philippians is a model for us as Christians. I want you to look to the person on your right. If there is no one on your right, look at the person on your left. How much do you really know about this person?

Do you know how many brothers and sisters they have?
Do you know when they accepted Christ?
Do you know what they are struggling with now?

Ask them now!

Asking these questions is hard, and it’s uncomfortable to realize we care so little sometimes, but like Paul and the Philippians, we should all have a passion for one another that leads us to pray for, know about, and love actively our brothers and sisters in Christ.

CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes) 

Pray that the students get to know everyone in the group in a meaningful way and that they truly care about one another.

Author: Titus

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