These small group studies of Philippians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Philippians 1:19-30 Inductive Bible Study


I. Paul expected to be delivered one way or another from his bondage (19-20)

II. To live is Christ and to die is gain (21-26)

III. Live worthily of the gospel and of suffering (27-30)


What is Paul referring to in verse 19? What possible way or ways could he be delivered? Was he delivered?

What do the worlds “earnest expectation” indicate about Paul’s attitude toward the future? What might our attitude be in a similar position (dread, fear, anxiety)? What might Paul consider to be being put to shame? Was Paul bold? How? How could Paul’s death glorify God?

Can you truthfully say Christ is always exalted in your body?

What does it mean “to live is Christ”? What does this tell us about the meaning Paul found in life? Where do you find meaning in life? Through relationships? Achievements? Materials?

What were the advantages of each of the possible roads in front of him? Why did Paul desire to depart to be with Christ?

Is verse 25 a supernatural revelation or just a firm belief on Paul’s part?

Do you think to die is gain? Is there anything in this world holding you back from wanting to be with Christ in heaven? Is there anything in this world that makes you hope Jesus will come back later to give you more time on earth? Are you scared of dying or do you have the same calm assurance that Paul had that to die is immensely beneficial?

What do you think is the biggest lesson you can get from the above verses? If you were in Paul’s position being wrongfully imprisoned, what kind of things would you write to your family/friends/brothers/sisters in Christ?

Does verse 27 teach that we can ever be worthy of salvation? Then what does it mean? Are you living worthy of the gospel? What word sums up Paul’s desire for them in the second part of verse 17 (unity)?

What does verse 28 mean? How would their calm/bold response to their opponents signal their opponents destruction?

What does the word “granted” mean? Do you think of suffering for Christ as a gift? Is it a gift? Why? In what way might the Phps have suffered for Christ? Do you think the “gift of suffering” is for all believers? Have any of you ever suffered for Christ? How was your response? How should you respond?


Psalms 4:7-8, Romans 12:12 – Be joyful, God alone makes us to dwell in safety. And persevere with joy in the midst of trials.

Romans 8:26, Galatians 4:6 – The Spirit.

Acts 28:30 – Paul was imprisoned for two years during his first Roman imprisonment.

1 Timothy, 2nd Timothy, Titus – The events in the letters can’t be harmonized with the book of Acts leading scholars to believe Paul was released the first time (as he expected) from Rome and did further ministry before being imprisoned again several years later.

Matthew 10:32 – Everyone who confesses me before men I will confess before my Father.

Titus 2:8 – Your opponent will be put to shame having nothing bad to say about you.

1 Peter 3:16-17 – Keep a good conscience so that your opponent will be put to shame.

1 Cor 10:31, Colossians 3:17 – Do everything for the glory of God.

2 Cor 5:8 – Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Galatians 2:18-20 – To live is Christ. I have been crucified with Christ. Christ lives in me.

1 Peter 2:19-25, 1 Peter 4:12-16 – Suffering for Christ.

Ephesians 4:1-6, 1 Thess 2:11-12 – Live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Teaching Points:

Philippians is a book filled with practical points on Christian living. Many of these practical applications on Christian living come directly from the life of Paul. He shares a lot of his own experiences with the Philippians as well as what God is doing in the middle of these experiences, how God is using them in His life and for the kingdom. The church was doing very well so apparently didn’t have a lot of need to relay the foundation of the gospel or basic doctrines. Unlike the Galatian church, neither were they facing heretical teachers. But they did have a close connection to Paul and would have wanted to know how his imprisonment could be in God’s plan and what Paul though of it.

What are the main themes in this passage?

1. Paul’s expectation of deliverance.

2. Paul’s desire to be a good testimony in the middle of this trial.

3. Paul’s resolution to live for the Lord while he could.

4. Paul’s hope for being with Christ.

5. Paul’s realization that staying on earth to share the gospel for a while was still necessary.

6. Paul’s exhortation to live worthily of the gospel.

7. Paul’s declaration that they would also face suffering for the sake of the gospel.

Let’s look at these one by one.

1. Paul’s expectation of deliverance. 19, 25

Paul was at a crossroads. It is evident that he expected some kind of decision regarding his imprisonment in the near future. He realized it could be a death sentence (he talks of death several times), yet he expressed the belief and the hope that he would be delivered soon. This is not shown to be a prophecy. Neither does it appear to be a supernatural revelation. Rather it would have been Paul examining the facts of the case, the disposition of whoever was the judge, combined with the fact that he believed his ministry was not yet over. We can see from verse 19 that he placed his faith on God recognizing the importance of the prayers of the Philippians and the provision of the Spirit. If God wanted him to be delivered, he would be.

We should make a note here that the book of Acts ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome and tells us that he was there for two years. See end of Acts. There is no further narrative account as to what happened to Paul after that. This has led to several theories. We can only glean some historical data from this book and others. The main consensus among scholars is that Paul was in fact freed for a period of several years after this two year house arrest period. The main reason for this is from the books of 1 Timothy, 2nd Timothy, and Titus. In these books, Paul describes some of his travels yet these travels do not fit in to the book of Acts. The conclusion is that Paul went on more journeys in addition to the three recorded in Acts after the conclusion of Acts. For this to happen, Paul would have to have been released and then later arrested and beheaded as tradition teaches us. This would also fit in with these verses which show that Paul fully expected to be released soon.

In any case, we can see Paul’s dependence on the Lord as well as optimistic attitude even in the middle of very difficult circumstances.

2. Paul’s desire to be a good testimony in the middle of this trial.

We actually do see Paul show some concern in his imprisonment. What is his concern? He is concerned that his testimony will suffer and he will not bring glory to Christ. The very fact that this is Paul’s concern (and not his comfort, physical well-being, or long life) shows us his inner priorities. Can you imagine that many prisoners in today’s jails will be mainly concerned about their example to the other prisoners? Of course not.

If Paul did have to face death, and in fear for his life renounced Christ, made excuses for his behavior, or tried to backpedal, this would put him to shame and not exalt Christ. He wanted to be bold. Whatever would happen, he was resolved to exalting Christ first and foremost with his actions and words. This, to him, was far more important than even life or death. We should look at our own lives and the trials that we go through. Then we should consider our own attitudes. Are we scared of making a stand for God? Are we more worried with money or materials than of exalting the Lord? If Christ were sitting next to us, would He be ashamed of us? Would we be ashamed knowing He is watching?

Two martyrs who boldly stood for Christ and showed no shame, but testified to the Lord up until their deaths.

Felix Manz In 1525 Zwingli and Manz split over the issue of infant baptism. Felix felt it was a compromise with the papists (the Roman Catholics). The city council sided with Ulrich Zwingli. Felix Manz and his friends (among them Conrad Grebel and Georg Blaurock) were ordered to recant and have their infants baptized.

Not only did Manz and friends refuse, but they immediately held a meeting and conducted adult baptisms, a crime the Zurich city council made punishable by drowning within two months.

Felix Manz would prove the first victim of the wrath of the city council and Ulrich Zwingli.

Felix Manz’ Martyrdom

On January 5, 1527 Felix was led from prison to a boat. On the way he gave praises to God and preached to the people gathered to watch him die.

One of Zwingli’s priests went along, still trying to convert him. Manz’s brother and mother were there as well, urging him to stand fast.

He was put into a boat on the river Lammat. His hands were tied, and he was made to squat down. A stick was stuck behind his knees and above his elbows to immoblize him, and he was taken to the middle of the river.

There, with his mother, brother, and his fellow “rebaptizers” (Anabaptists) shouting encouragement, he was tipped into the lake, a final death by baptism.

He was not horrified nor afraid. His last words were, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

If time, Justin Martyr.

3. Paul’s resolution to live for the Lord while he could. 21-24 John 9:4

Paul didn’t know when the end of his life would be. It could be very soon. This made him all the more resolved to make use of every minute, to serve the Lord with every last remaining opportunity. He would not be one of the saints who on his death bed regretted spending too little time sharing the Word and too much time engrossed in the world. Galatians 2:18-20

He was so focused on Christ that he even said “to live is Christ”. It was in effect Christ living in and through Him since he was subordinating his own sinful desires to the will of God. Are we about “me” or are we about “Christ”? Are we taking advantage of the opportunities that we have? None of us seem to be approaching that stretch of the end of our life like Paul appeared to be. This could make us put off whole heartedly serving the Lord until some unknown future point. How many of us have thought to ourselves we will do this or that for the Lord later when we have more time? Show of hands? I know I have thought this myself. Perhaps sometime later when I can be full time ministry I will have more energy or time for sharing the Word. Perhaps later when the time is just right I will share with some of my co-workers I haven’t shared with yet. Well, that time may never come. So what to do? Resolve to live for the Lord while we can. This starts with your own walk with the Lord, then extends to your family, and to church, and to ministry.

4. Paul’s hope for being with Christ.

As much as Paul did take advantage of every opportunity for serving the Lord, he had an even greater desire. What was that? Being with Christ. Going home to be with the Lord was Paul’s greatest hope, his greatest joy. His death would finally mark the end of his race on earth, but the beginning of a brand new life, eternal life, in heaven with the Lord. He wasn’t attached to this world. He didn’t want to hold off death for any selfish motivations. He didn’t have any more worldly goals he wanted to achieve first before he was ready. He was ready then and there. But although he was ready, that didn’t mean he wasted his time until actually going to be with Christ. He didn’t sit around dreaming of heaven and doing nothing on earth. His hope to be with Christ motivated him further still to spread the gospel. Why? He wanted others to also have this same chance and this same hope to be with Christ themselves.

Notice also the text doesn’t say he wants to depart to go to heaven. In fact, it doesn’t even mention heaven or paradise. Sometimes when sharing the gospel, a preacher will ask, do you want to go to heaven? Someone may eagerly respond yes. But a better question is “do you want to be with Christ?” Would you want to go to heaven if Christ wasn’t there? Would you be happy that you could still leave the pain and turmoil of this earth behind and not have God always “looking over your shoulder”? Or would you arrive in heaven and feel disappointed/crushed to discover that although there was so much gold, heavenly (literally) food, perfect music, no crying, no tears, perfect health, etc God was not there? Hopefully we do hope to be with the Lord and hopefully this is centered on wanting to be with Him from our heart. Do know the question in the apostles’ creed “what is the chief end of man?” Answer?

To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

5. Paul’s realization that staying on earth to share the gospel for a while was still necessary.

Although Paul wanted to be with Christ, he realized his job was not quite up yet. This shows again Paul’s unselfish nature (which in fact he teaches in the very next chapter). Although he personally would want to be with God sooner, there was more to consider than only himself. A lot of people could still benefit greatly from his teaching and to some extent needed him.

6. Paul’s exhortation to live worthily of the gospel.

Similar exhortations can be found throughout Paul’s epistles. Read cross-references. Ask questions. In no way does this mean that we can ever earn or deserve salvation. Of course that is impossible. Instead Paul is teaching that the gospel should motivate us to Godly living. It should invoke a response where we desire to live our lives up to God’s standards, not to earn salvation, but simply to please God who gave so much for us. Just like in 1 John 4:19, we love because He first loved us. This is yet another reminder that the gospel is not just to give us head knowledge. It is supposed to change our behavior.

Beyond this, we see Paul exhorting them to be unified. His absence would leave a void where it would be easier for false leaders to enter or divisions to rise up. This is generally the case when a strong and mature authority leaves a church. Paul did not want this to happen to them. He desired unity. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John where he prays for unity for the disciples after his absence. Seeing it taught so much should remind us that unity is important. We should stand firm together with one spirit and one mind pushing each forward towards God and to spread the Word.

Discuss verse 28.

7. Paul’s declaration that they would also face suffering for the sake of the gospel.

Sometimes before I have been guilty of taking this verse out of context (because I memorized it from a card) and concluding that all believers are guaranteed to face suffering/persecution. Actually Paul is teaching that the Phps will face suffering, not necessarily everyone. However, it is a reasonable assumption that since the world is still anti-Christ that any believers today who make a stand for Christ will still face varying degrees of suffering and persecution, though likely not to the degree of the early NT saints.

Paul uses the word “granted” which is similar to the word “given”. It is almost as if it is a favor, a privilege. In fact, it is a privilege to suffer for Christ. Do you think so? Why? The verse shows that believers should expect suffering. If we do expect it, it will help us to prepare mentally and spiritually and also commit ahead of time to standing firm in the face of pressure. When we do face troubles for Christ, we should thank God that we are worthy to suffer for Him. See to that it is for Christ’s sake. What does this mean? Our suffering is to result in His glory. If we respond correctly to it, then just as Paul did, it will be a good testimony and help turn more people to the Lord.

Study Philippians 2:1-11