A Synoptic Study Chart of Philippians

May 1, 2016 — Leave a comment

One of the most powerful tools I have learned to help me study the Bible is creating a synoptic chart or what is often called a synthetic chart. Before I teach through any book of the Bible I spend a couple of weeks creating a synoptic study chart.

During the past six months I have been teaching through the book of Philippians and this chart below is the synoptic study chart that I have been using to teach through the book.

 Synoptic Study Chart of Philippians

(Here is a PDF version, A Synoptic Study Chart of Philippians)

I. MESSAGE OF PHILIPPIANS

Believers ought to live righteously based on the example of Christ, by staying in harmony with each other, enduring suffering, and focusing on the righteousness we all have.

II. KEY VERSE

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about your, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News” Phil 1:27 (NLT).

III. OUTLINE OF PHILIPPIANS

I. PAUL’S GREETING, LIFE PURPOSE, AND GOAL FOR BELIEVERS (1:1-30)
A. Paul’s Introduction (1:1-11)
B. Paul’s Joy about Christ Being Preached (1:12-18)
C. Paul’s Life for Christ (1:19-26)
D. Live as Citizens of Heaven (1:27-30)

II. THE CHRISTIAN LIFE THEY SHOULD HAVE (2:1-30)
A. Focus on Others (2:1-4)
B. Have the Same Attitude as Christ (2:5-11)
C. Shine Brightly for Christ (2:12-18)
D. Applause for Timothy (2:19-24)
E. Applause for Epaphroditus (2:25-30)

III. PAUL’S PAST AND THE FUTURE GOAL FOR CHRISTIANS (3:1-21)
A. Paul’s Heritage and Confidence in Jesus (3:1-6)
B. Righteousness through Christ (3:7-11)
C. Perfection Not Yet Reached (3:12-16)
D. Living as Citizens of Heaven (3:17-21)

IV. PUTTING THE CHRISTIAN LIFE TOGETHER (4:1-23)
A. Harmony and Joy Among Believers (4:1-5)
B. Direct Instructions for the Christian Life (4:6-9)
C. Paul’s Gratefulness for What Little He Had (4:10-17)
D. Sweet Smelling Sacrifices and the Security of the Saints (4:18-23)

IV. THEOLOGICAL THEMES IN PHILIPPIANS

A. The Work & Result of Christ

One of the messages about Christ in Philippians is that he will return again (1:6, 10; 3:20; 4:5). Additionally, Christ produces a righteous character seen as the fruit of salvation (1:11). Christ was the reason for the suffering of Paul and the Philippians (1:13, 29). Living should mean living for Christ by doing fruitful work (1:21-22, 27). The attitude of Christ was used as an example for what type of attitude the Philippian believers should have had. While Christ was God he did not hold on to it (2:6), but he gave up his divine privileges, took the position of a slave, and was born of a human being (2:7). In order to do the work God wanted him to do, he died a criminal’s death on the cross (2:8). In that act, God elevated Jesus and gave him the name above all other names (2:9) in that every knee should bow and tongue should confess in heaven, on earth, and below earth would bow to him (2:10-11). Paul later explained that believers no longer rely on the Law and works for their righteousness, but instead they rely on what Christ has done (3:3, 7-9).

B. Sanctification

God began a good work in the Philippians and Paul said that work would continue (1:6). Paul wrote that he wanted Philippians to live pure and blameless lives until Christ’s return (1:10) because righteous character brings glory and praise to God (1:11). Furthermore, the people of Philippi were supposed to live as citizens of heaven conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the good news of Christ (1:27). Several clear goals of sanctification are laid out in this letter: don’t be selfish or try to impress others, be humble by thinking of others as better, don’t look out for your own interests, but take interest in others too (2:3-4). Part of the work of sanctification is serving others for Christ (2:16) just as Timothy (2:21) and Epaphroditus (2:30) did. Paul no longer counted his own righteousness by obeying the Law, but instead counted himself as righteous by faith in Christ (3:9). With that said, Paul said he had not yet reached perfection, because he was reaching forward to that perfection (3:12). Paul encouraged the Philippians to pattern their lives after his (3:17). As citizens of heaven Christ would take the Philippians weak mortal bodies and make them into glorious bodies like Jesus’ body (3:21). Paul’s emphasis on sanctification continued into chapter for where he urged the Philippians to fix their thoughts on what was true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (4:8). I hope that you find this chart helpful for your growth in Bible knowledge and future teaching endeavors.

C. Paul’s Imprisonment

Paul started his letter to the Philippians stating that he and Timothy were slaves of Christ Jesus (1:1). Then, he told the Philippians that they held a special place in his heart because they shared in his imprisonment (1:7). Paul attributed all the things that happened to him to helping to spread the good news (1:12). Everyone knew that Paul was in chains because of Christ (1:13). Paul wanted the readers to know that believers gained confidence and boldly spoke God’s message without fear because of Paul’s imprisonment (1:14). Paul referenced that he was in the middle of his struggle and suffering (1:29-30).

D. Suffering Because of Ministry

The Philippians had a special place in Paul’s heart because they shared with Paul in his imprisonment (1:7). Paul wrote that he was in chains (1:13) and prison (1:14) because of Christ. Later Paul said that him and the Philippians been given the privilege of knowing of Christ and suffering for him (1:29). And, that suffering was a struggle which Paul and the Philippians both had knowledge of (1:30). In addition to the suffering Paul and the Philippians were encountering, Paul mentioned that Epaphroditus had risked his life for the work of Christ to the point of death (2:30). Nearing the end of Paul’s letter he wrote that he wanted to suffer with Jesus sharing in Jesus’ death (3:10) and that the Philippians were sharing with Paul (in some way) with his present difficulty (4:14).

V. PAST LESSONS IN PHILIPPIANS

If you are curious to learn more about the book of Philippians here is a list of lessons I have developed and posted on my blog:

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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