Study Guide


Philippians - Week 4

Posted by CF Community Team on


As a Community Group Leader, we want to offer you insight into Cornerstone's current series and how this relates to you and your Group. Please take a few minutes to visit the resource page below to understand the revisions!

Sermon Series Resources for Leaders


Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

Read Philippians 2:12-18 out loud together. In this passage, Paul instructs the Philippians on how to be like stars in the sky, shining brightly and radiating Jesus in a dark, hurting, and perverse world.

As we focus specifically on the memory verses for this week (12-13), take a moment to read them again in several different Bible translations, including at least one paraphrased version like The Message, The Passion Translation (TPT), Amplified (AMP), or God’s Word (GW). Tip: The Bible App from YouVersion offers more than 61 versions in multiple languages.

Let’s spend some time discussing three key concepts Paul teaches in these verses:


The word obey is often associated with a direct order. What do you think of when you think of obedience? Does it have a negative or a positive connotation?

What do you think God is asking of His Church today? When you think about responding to that call, how do you feel? Excited? Nervous? Overwhelmed? Ill-prepared? Inspired? Our responses reveal much about our strengths and our weaknesses. In what way, can the strengths of our community make up for our weaknesses?

Why do you think Paul thought it was important to include the qualifying phrase: “not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence”? “How is obedience in the absence of an authority figure more powerful than obedience in their presence?

Read Philippians 2:8. How does Christ’s example of obedience to His Father relate to Paul’s command to obey here in verse 12?


In the sermon, Becky said that many people view salvation as a flat, reduced, one-dimensional word. We often think of salvation as a one-time event when we decided to ask Jesus to be Lord of our lives. However, Paul uses the word salvation to mean something much more than a singular event in our lives. How would you describe what salvation means to you in terms of the past, present, and future?

What does “continue to work out your salvation” imply for you on a daily basis? What are some synonyms for the phrase “work out”?

We learned during the sermon that the original phrase “continue to work out” in its original language of Greek is a second person plural, present imperative. It’s a fancy grammatical term, but it essentially means that Paul is saying that working out your salvation should be done by more than one person. It is a plural imperative. It is a command meant to be implemented in and by a whole community working together. How is the salvation God is working out in you connected to what He is doing in those around you? How do you think we are supposed to help each other in our present AND future salvation?


Earlier, you read the focus passage in several different translations. Go back and look at how each of the ones you chose translates the concept of God’s work. If someone in your group has a study Bible or access to one (i.e. a Life Application Bible or an ESV Study Bible), also look at the scholarly footnotes for this verse. What strikes you the most about the different ways the versions describe God’s work in you. What does it accomplish? What synonyms do they use instead of the word “work”? Why do you think they chose them? What do you like or dislike about their choices?

In this process of working out our salvation and letting God work in us, we often get confused about our role and God’s role. When we try to do God’s work in our lives, it can be frustrating! Have you ever tried to make something happen that was really God’s job? What were the indications that you were doing the work God should have been doing? How does the fact that it is God who has to do the work -- and not you -- encourage you?


Our driving question for Community Groups this week is, “What is God asking me as an individual — and what is He asking us to do as a community of believers — to truly be like stars in the sky, shining brightly and radiating Jesus in a dark, hurting, and perverse world?”

Referring back to Philippians 2:12-18, let’s discuss what’s involved in becoming the lights God wants us to be.

  • Look at the first word of verse 12. In the ESV and NIV, the verse starts with “therefore.” Other versions start with “So then.” Therefore, then, etc., are all words that indicate a conclusion based on something that came previously. Essentially Paul is beginning verse 12 in mid-thought by saying, “So that…” Look back at verse 11. What does Paul declare in his previous sentence that is so critical to the rest of the passage that follows? What is it about his declaration that makes the rest of his instruction in verses 12 through 18 even possible? Why?  
  • Take a few moments to go around the room and have each person complete one or both of these statements: I’m so glad that Jesus is Lord over ___________ in my life. I need to let Jesus be Lord over ____________ and trust that He can and will work it out for His glory and my good.
  • Read the rest of verse 12. Becky said in the sermon that “when we fear God, we will have nothing else to fear.” She went on to explain that every fear we have is driven by some perceived threat and what might happen to us as a result of something bad happening. But the fear of God is not connected to a threat, but to a Father than loves us and wants what’s best for us. In your own words, what does it mean to fear God in the sense that Paul is describing?
  • Oswald Chambers, the 19th-century missionary and theologian, said, “It is the most natural thing in the world to be scared, and the clearest evidence that God's grace is at work in our hearts is when we do not get into panics. The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.Read Acts 9:31, Psalm 34:9, and 1 John 4:18. What happens when we learn to fear the Lord? If you begin to feel fearful, what steps can you take to remind yourself of the truth?
  • Returning to our focus passage, read verses 14-16. How does not grumbling and complaining stand out and radiate Jesus, especially in light of the current Coronavirus pandemic?
  • Share an example with the group of when you chose to avoid complaining and it got noticed. What impact did it have? Or maybe consider: What happens in a conversation when one person starts complaining? How does it make you feel? In what way does choosing not to complain witness to those around you?
  • Finish up by reading verses 17-18. Paul isn’t just suddenly changing the subject. He is intentionally wanting us to think about our attitudes and how they either help or harm our ability to have joy in difficult circumstances… even when facing incarceration or death, like Paul. How does avoiding the sins of grumbling and complaining, relate to the ability to rejoice? What are some things you can do individually and as a group to produce more joy?


Throughout the coming week, look for ways to act based on the passage we studied:

  • Be a light to those around you
  • Create and share joy as hold fast (i.e. meditate on) to the Word of life
  • Be joyful, without complaining or grumbling
  • Allow God to work in your life
  • Trust Him to accomplish good things, even in bad circumstances

For this week, consider memorizing Philippians 2:12-13 individually. There are many ways that someone can memorize a verse. You will find two different ways listed below. Feel free to choose one ... or both!

In addition, we encourage you to check out Daily Steps. Daily Steps is a new devotional guide designed as a companion to our weekly study guide, but it’s focused on an individual's journey, rather than group study and discussion.


MEMORY VERSE: Learn Through Repetition 

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

Say this verse 3 times each day (Tip: write it out a card and keep copies in your car, on the bathroom mirror, etc.):

▢ ▢ ▢ Monday
▢ ▢ ▢ Tuesday
▢ ▢ ▢ Wednesday
▢ ▢ ▢ Thursday
▢ ▢ ▢ Friday

Or, use the following template to fill in the blanks:

Therefore, my ______ ________, as you have always ___________ — not only in my presence, but now much more in___ _________ — continue to ____ ____ _____ ___________ with ____ and _____________, for it is ____ who works in you to ____ ____ __ ___ in order to fulfill his ____ _________.
___________ 2:12-13

_________, my ______ ________, as you have ______ ___________ — not only in my _____, but now much more in___ _________ — _____ to ____ ____ _____ ___________ with ____ and _____________, for it is ____ who works in you to ____ ____ __ ___ in order to fulfill his ____ _________.
___________ 2:12-13

_________, my ______ ________, as you ____ ______ ___________ — not _____ __ __ _____, but ____ ____ more in___ _________ — _____ to ____ ____ _____ ___________ with ____ and _____________, for it is ____ who _____ __ ___ to ____ ____ __ ___ in ______ __ _____ his ____ _________.
___________ 2:12-13

___________, __ ______ ________, ___ ___ ____ ______ ___________ — ___ _____ __ __ ________, ___ ___ ____ ____ __ ___ _________ — ________ __ ____ ____ _____ ___________ ____ ____ ___ _____________, ___ __ __ ____ ___ ______ __ ___ __ ____ ____ __ ___ __ _____ __ _______ ___ ____ _________.
___________ 2:12-13


After each weekend sermon, our pastors and various church leaders, will sit down and have a 15-20 minute discussion around the weekend's sermon. Search for "CF Beyond Sunday" wherever you listen to podcasts, or watch on YouTube by tapping the button below. FYI - This week's episode will be #54 and will go live on Sunday night, March 15. 



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