I hope you have grown to know God more and I hope, for even a few minutes each week, you have found yourself seeking a greater measure of His presence and activity in your life. I began the series with a word about God being in our midst. In chapter two, we discussed how God has come to us and works in us to do His will. We ended with a discussion of maintaining a focus on God’s activity, being sure to rejoice for the things He has done in our lives.
This has been a powerful process for me. We all read with our own lenses and Scripture is so large with so many intersecting narratives and concepts, it easy to get lost in a train of thought while we read. I appreciate you all joining me on this journey. This series prompted the opportunity to think more deeply and more intentionally about the text and seeking a sense of what God was wanting to communicate. I want to be clear that I think God uses each of us and our lenses to speak truth, while also understanding the complexity and finitude of our human experience. We can only see so much in a text, but I can also only speak to so much within the confines of a project. That is simply to say I don’t believe I exhausted the letter to the Philippians, but also, I believe our multitude of perspectives are important to our collective spiritual growth.
With all those qualifications given, I found that this series opened my eyes to how the Holy Spirit is working in our midst as a church community and as individual believers. Unity with Christ – the crossroads where our humanity meets divinity in Christ – will always be a strong lens for me. I don’t know if this was just me wanting to see these themes, but I found that Philippians was richer in these themes than I ever considered before. I have read and studied Philippians a number of times and as I’ve said, it is one my very favourite books in Scripture. There are always new things that God is going to teach us in His word, with new pieces of application and growth as we mature and grow into His image.
Before I discuss some more practical things I wanted to share, I just wanted to express how grateful and humbled I am to have this opportunity. It is not a small thing to share one’s thoughts publicly with the endorsement of a community. I do not carry that endorsement lightly because it matters to me to be considered thoughtful and careful enough with the text and the congregation to be entrusted with this blog for the summer. I am grateful and appreciate everyone who was able to read these posts and will read them later. It is an encouragement that people would care to read what I have to say.
I also wanted to take some time with this post to introduce some resources I used. As I’ve stated before, I find the work of academics in providing understanding of Scripture to be invaluable. There is a lot of meaningful work being done and I am always learning so much from the different angles being explored. There are a number of various fields of history, archaeology, biblical studies, etc. that give us insight into Scripture. For this series, I was trying to be as accessible and relatable as possible, so even though I did some background work and some research, I wanted to prioritize what I felt was occurring in the text as I encountered it. What I see, as I’ve said, is my perspective, but it was also informed by some of the things found in the resources I’ll share here:
First, I wanted to share this video from the Bible project that was an overview of the whole book in about 9 minutes. I didn’t share this before because I didn’t feel like it really had a place in our study. However, I found this really helpful to be a type of refresher on Philippians as I began the study. I think the visual is very accessible and gives some good overview of the book, giving good background knowledge that would be useful for anyone who reads Philippians another time.
Second, a scholar who is young but becoming a very prominent scholar on the New Testament is Dr. Nijay K. Gupta. I did reference him in the series from his book, Reading Philippians: A Theological Introduction. Now, similar to the Bible Project video, Dr. Gupta’s book is a short overview, but goes much more in depth than a 9-minute video. Dr. Gupta also provides more application and relatability to the text and the Philippian community. I encourage reading it. It’s a fairly short read, but would be really valuable in understanding how we study and apply the Bible. There are multiple purchase options on Amazon or wherever you buy books.
Last and more on the intense side of things is the Bible study program I have begun using: Logos. If you follow the link below, you can download a version of Logos for free. There are a number of features and resources that come free that are really valuable. What I found useful about Logos is that it comes with the digital copy of the Faithlife Study Bible that has verse-for-verse notes on each passage as you read through. If you want to get really serious, there are a multitude of various resources available for purchase. One fun little thing about Logos is that they give a free book every month. It is a tool and a software, but from what I have heard, it is sort the epitome of Bible Study in terms of really digging into a multitude of resources. It can be overwhelming, and I have only scratched the service, but I figured it would be better to make you aware because it’s free and can be useful once you work out some of the kinks and have it operating to your liking.
One of my favourite things to do is to study Scripture and write out my thoughts. I hope this has been meaningful and spurred growth in your life. This really is a privilege for me and something I hoping to continue doing for the rest of my life. It is a passion of mine that people know God and can trust Him because He faithful to His word and faithful to those who seek Him and follow Him. May we continue to grow together and build relationships that foster deeper understanding of our God.
Holy Spirit, as we end this series on Philippians, may our understanding of your work in the church not end here, but grow further and further. As your word states, you are bringing us from glory to glory. May we trust in your faithful work to care for us, molding us further into the image of Christ, who gives of Himself, that we might have life abundant in Him. Thank you for your word and thank you for your faithfulness to the Church over centuries that we have your inspired writings. We submit to you and ask for your presence to continue in our homes, workplaces, and church. Amen.