When I became a Christian, I was given a verse as “my verse,” and it has stuck inside my head for more than 40 years. It’s from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6). Every time I read it or have cause to remember it, I think back to a cool night in January in the basement of one of the main classroom buildings at LSU.
A few decades later, I returned to the classroom where it all happened. That’s the photo above, taken in 2010.
When I saw that a group of people, many of whom I knew in person or online, had created a Bible study for Philippians, I had to see what it was about.
I was not disappointed.
Paul’s Letter to the Philippians is designed as a guide for a group Bible study. To punch that point home, it’s a guide designed by a group for groups. In fact, the individual chapters were not so much edited as curated by Dan King and Crystal Rowe.
In the foreword, King explains how the study and guide were developed: “this community commentary was compiled through an online group study on the epistle, in which we worked through the entire book one passage at a time. Bloggers and writers from various backgrounds led us through the discussion as if we were sitting in someone’s living room together talking through this amazing piece of Scripture.”
The guide includes the historical context for the letter, and then 11 discussions, covering the letter’s major sections. Each section follows a similar format: discussion of the passage, a Greek word study, and an English word study. The word studies focus on a particular word in the passage, providing definitions, synonyms and word origins. Word studies, including their origins, are not superfluous – they provide depth of understanding and often open a study or discussion into a new direction.
As King says, this is a Bible study by “real people,” trying to work out what the epistle teaches and how it applies to life. The writers involved in the discussion and the guide include King, Rowe, Marty Duane Scott, Mark Lafler, Rachel Slough, Lyla Lindquist, Dave Moser, Ryan Tate, Diana Trautwein, Joshua Gillies, Ayomide Akinkugbe, Eric Swalberg, Sheila Lagrand, Asjlet Pichea and Evan Dawson. (I’ve actually met Dan King and Sheila Lagrand in person, both at Laity Lodge near Kerrville, Texas. Online, I’ve “met” Marty Duane Scott, Lyla Lindquist, Ryan Tate, Diana Trautwein and Eric Swalberg.)
The writers represent different Christian faith traditions, from evangelical to Episcopal. They bring their faith traditions to this discussion, and it enriches and deepens our understanding.