Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. What is it like to watch someone suffer courageously or battle fearlessly (some examples: a cancer diagnosis, the death of a child, or a situation against all odds)?
2. What impact has it had on you or someone you know to witness steadfast bravery and boldness in the midst of persecution?
Read Philippians 1:12-14
1. At this point in Church history, Paul was the main evangelistic leader outside of Jerusalem for the spread of the Christian movement. Discuss how it could be possible for Paul’s imprisonment “to advance the gospel.”
2. Every Christian has reasons for not sharing their faith: fear, rejection, not enough knowledge or experience, embarrassment, family dynamics . . . the list goes on. The Greek word desmous means “chains, bonds, impediments, or infirmities” and is mentioned more than once in this short passage. Talk about some common desmous you face and strategize together as a group how to overcome them.
3. Many believers were encouraged by Paul’s chains and became fearless in speaking God’s Word. Others were not. Why do you think some people become emboldened to speak up while others are disheartened and crumble under persecution? What you would do if suddenly a massive persecution began around you?
Read Philippians 1:19-21
4. What did the prayers of the Philippians have to do with Paul’s chains and his deliverance?
5. Paul talked about Christ being exalted in his body by life or by death. What does it mean when he wrote, “to live is Christ and to die is gain”?
Read Philippians 1:15-18
6. What does it mean to defend the gospel? Does it necessarily include arguing?
7. Suggest some creative ways Christians can use today’s opportunities and technology to “preach Christ” with goodwill and respect in order to advance the kingdom.
8. Read Acts 8:4-8 and 26-39. Philip was among the Christians who had been scattered by persecution. God led him to Samaria and then into the desert, places that would have been unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable. What were the results of Philip’s experiences? How uncomfortable would you be willing to get for others to change their lives for eternity and rejoice in the Lord?
Close your group study with prayer, using the following as a guide. Lord, help us to speak up and move the gospel forward, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Give us boldness and bravery, Holy Spirit strength and submission, even when we walk through deserts and valleys. Help us to rejoice as we share the good news courageously and fearlessly!