Fred Craddock (Philippians: Interpretation, Louisville: John Knox Press, 1985, p. 25) has some interesting thoughts on the order Paul uses in verses 10-11:
“In terms of the Christian calendar, Paul put Easter before Good Friday, or to be more precise, in verses 10-11 he speaks of Easter, Good Friday, and Easter. For Paul, the resurrection interpreted the cross, planting it centrally not only in his faith but also in the style of his life and ministry. Rather than erasing Good Friday, Easter was God’s vindication of Good Friday as the definition of God’s way in the world and for the world: obedience, suffering, death. This is not to say Paul was morbid, meditating on crucifixion scenes, imaging himself hanging on a tree. Taking the form of a servant and being obedient to death took shape in word and deed, in concrete acts of ministry.”
Reading the Scripture
Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:
• Read the scripture as if it were a letter from a dear friend (See the introduction). Place the scripture in an envelope addressed to the class and ask a member to open and read it aloud.
o First Reading: Read it quickly (not so quickly that you can’t understand it) because you can’t wait to hear what Paul has to say.
o Second Reading: Read it very slowly to take in every word.
o Ask the class, “Which parts stood out to you?” Reread those sections as class members name them.
o The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)
o WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)
• Paul’s word’s, “whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ” (7, 8), remind me of the lyric of some songs. You can find these songs on video on the webpage (http://www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/):
o Be Thou My Vision: “naught be all else to me save that thou art.”
o Give Me Jesus: “you can have all this world but give me Jesus.”
o Spoken For (MercyMe): “take this world from me, I don’t need it any more… my heart is spoken for.”
• Run the Race: Paul relates the Christian life to an athlete pressing on “to the goal” (3:13-14). The New Testament World in Pictures (pp. 297-306) contains a number Sculptures, pictures, and articles of the Olympics, racing, and sporting events of the Roman era.
• The Formations Teaching Guide refers to three inspirational racing stories, “Who Won?” I have placed video of these three races on the webpage (/sunday-school-supplements/). (1) A scene from Chariots of Fire, (2) An Olympic race, (3) a re-enactment of a Special Olympics race.
• Focus on Stewardship:
o “What you are is God’s Gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God.” –Danish Proverb (quoted in The Giving Myths, Stephen McSwain, Macon: Smyth & Helwys, 2007, p. 171).
o Remind the class of stewardship dates and emphases (see introduction to this unit).
I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons.
• Philippians: Interpretation, Fred Craddock (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1985), available in Keith’s office.
• The New Testament World in Pictures, William H. Stephens (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1987) in the library.
• For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)