“Lesson 125: Philippians 4,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)
“Lesson 125,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Paul instructed the Saints in Philippi to be prayerful and to seek whatsoever is righteous. He also declared his confidence in the enabling strength of Jesus Christ. Paul concluded his epistle with another expression of thanks to the Philippian Saints for the support they gave him in his times of need.
Before class, write each of the following statements on separate pieces of paper, and give each of the papers to different students:
“I am worried about passing an upcoming test.”
“I am worried about a family member who is sick.”
“I am worried about standing up for my beliefs.”
“I am worried about whether I can be a successful missionary.”
Begin the lesson by writing the word worry on the board. Point out that throughout our lives, we will experience challenges or circumstances that may lead us to worry. Invite the students who have the papers to stand and read their statements one at a time. Ask the class to think about times they have had similar worries.
What are other worries we might experience due to challenges or difficult circumstances?
Ask students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals about a challenge that they or someone they know is worried about. Invite students to look for a truth as they study Philippians 4 that can help them when they worry.
Remind students that in Paul’s epistle to Church members in Philippi, he commended the Church members’ faithfulness (see Philippians 2:12) and taught them about the eternal rewards that are available to those who sacrifice for and are faithful to Jesus Christ. Summarize Philippians 4:1–5 by explaining that Paul counseled the Saints to stand firm in faithfulness to the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, and let their gentleness (see verse 5, footnote a) be evident to others.
Invite a student to read the first phrase of Philippians 4:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Paul’s counsel to the Saints. Refer students to verse 6, footnote a to help them understand that the phrase “be careful for nothing” means to not be overly concerned about anything.
Write the following phrase on the board: As faithful followers of Jesus Christ, if …
Invite a student to read the remainder of Philippians 4:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul counseled the Saints to do instead of worry. You might explain that supplication is a humble, earnest request.
How would you summarize Paul’s instructions in verse 6? (Write students’ responses on the board as an “if” statement similar to the following: As faithful followers of Jesus Christ, if we pray with supplication and thanksgiving, …)
Add the word then to the statement on the board. Invite a student to read Philippians 4:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessing Paul promised for praying with supplication and thanksgiving. Explain that the word keep in this verse means guard (see verse 7, footnote c).
How would you summarize the blessing Paul promised? (Write students’ responses on the board after then. Students should have identified a principle similar to the following: As faithful followers of Jesus Christ, if we pray with supplication and thanksgiving, then God will bless us with His peace.)
When we worry, how can expressing gratitude in our prayers help bring us peace?
What does God’s peace guard our hearts and minds from?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for additional ways God’s peace can help us:
“Because He respects your agency, Father in Heaven will never force you to pray to Him. But as you exercise that agency and include Him in every aspect of your daily life, your heart will begin to fill with peace, buoyant peace. That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles. It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective” (“Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 93).
According to Elder Scott, how can God’s peace help us with challenges we experience?
When have you prayed with supplication and thanksgiving in a time of worry and been blessed with God’s peace?
Ask students to refer to the worry they wrote about earlier in the lesson. Encourage them to pray with supplication and thanksgiving instead of worrying. If students wrote about someone else’s worry, encourage them to share this principle with that person.
To prepare students to identify an additional principle that Paul taught the Philippian Saints, divide the class in thirds. Assign a third of the class to think about their favorite food item, another third of the class to think about a humorous image or story, and the remaining third to think about an image of or experience in the temple. Invite students to focus their minds on this thought for 30 seconds.
What effect, if any, did focusing on this thought have on you?
Point out that what we think about can influence our desires and behaviors. Invite a student to read Philippians 4:8–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul admonished the Philippians Saints to think on and do. You might explain that “think on” means to give careful, continuing thought.
Invite students to consider marking each type of thing that Paul instructed the Saints to focus their thoughts on.
In addition to thinking on these things, what did Paul counsel Church members to do?
What blessing did Paul promise the Saints if they would follow his teachings and example?
What principle can we learn from what Paul taught the faithful Saints in Philippians 4:8–9? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If faithful Saints focus their thoughts on whatsoever is righteous and if they follow apostles and prophets, then the God of peace will be with them.)
How can focusing our thoughts on whatsoever is righteous influence our desires and behaviors?
Ask the class to turn to the Articles of Faith in the Pearl of Great Price. Invite a student to read aloud the thirteenth article of faith. Ask the class to follow along, looking for similarities with Philippians 4:8.
What similarities do you notice between these two verses?
Point out that when the Prophet Joseph Smith cited this “admonition of Paul” from Philippians 4:8 in the thirteenth article of faith, he changed “think on these things” to the more active “we seek after these things.”
Why do you think it is important for us to seek after things that are honest, true, chaste (or pure), virtuous, lovely, and praiseworthy?
How would seeking after such things help us focus our thoughts on such things?
After sufficient time, invite a student from each group to report to the class what his or her group discussed for each question.
As you have focused your thoughts on righteous things, how has the God of peace shown He was with you?
Encourage students to write in their scripture study journals or class notebooks one way they can improve their efforts to focus their thoughts on righteous things and follow God’s apostles and prophets.
Summarize Philippians 4:10 by explaining that Paul thanked the Philippian Saints for the support and care they had offered him during his trials.
Invite a student to read Philippians 4:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul told the Saints he had learned.
What had Paul learned to do in all circumstances?
Invite a student to read Philippians 4:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who the source of Paul’s strength was.
Who did Paul say was the source of his strength?
Explain that Paul’s statement in verse 13 pertains to his ability, in the strength provided by Jesus Christ, to do all things that were pleasing to or required by God, including being content in any circumstance.
What can we do to access the strength that Jesus Christ provides?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for what this strength can enable us to do:
“God pours out blessings of power and strength, enabling us to achieve things that otherwise would be far beyond our reach. It is by God’s amazing grace that His children can overcome the undercurrents and quicksands of the deceiver, rise above sin, and ‘be perfect[ed] in Christ’ [Moroni 10:32]” (“The Gift of Grace,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 108).
In what ways might we experience this strength or grace? (Possible answers include increased resilience; resolve; courage; patience; perseverance; and physical, mental, or spiritual stamina and power.)
When has Jesus Christ given you strength to do something good? (Consider sharing a personal experience as well.)
Summarize Philippians 4:15–23 by explaining that Paul again thanked the Philippian Saints for supporting him in his times of need. The Saints’ gifts were a pleasing offering to God, and Paul promised that God would meet their needs as well.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths discussed in this lesson.
Help students memorize Philippians 4:13 by writing the verse on the board and saying it aloud together. Erase one word and say the verse aloud again. Repeat this until all the words have been erased.