This page serves as the “Table of Contents” for articles that emerge from a new blog series that will strive to create a counseling commentary on the book of Philippians.

This begs the questions, “What is a counseling commentary?” and “What might you expect that is unique from a series of this nature?”  Here are five focal points that I hope make this series a beneficial contribution to the fields of pastoral care and biblical studies.

    1. Focus on Emotional Regulation – Paul says he wants this book to promote peace in the hearts of his readers (1:2). As we journey through the book of Philippians together, we will be asking the question, “How does what Paul is saying and how he is saying it cultivate rest for the mind and a settled disposition in hard times?”
    2. Focus on Relational Harmony – Paul is writing during a time of Christian persecution (1:13) and to a church experiencing internal conflict (4:2). As we reflect on Philippians, we will consider, “What approach is Paul taking to help these believers facilitate unity amid the disagreements that seem intense in this church?”
    3. Focus on Paul’s Pastoral Approach – Most commentaries focus on what the author says. That is vitally important. But this can distract us from noticing what the author is doing. Counseling is effective because of the relationship as much as the advice given. Said differently, counseling is not just the words we say (the noun, counsel), but also the impact of the relationship we share. A counseling commentary should consider how God inspired Paul to engage with these believers amid their hardships in addition to what God inspired Paul to write.[1]
    4. Focus on Collective Care Methods – A biblical letter has a different audience from modern counseling. Modern counseling happens in the privacy of an office and is focused on one individual or family at a time. A biblical letter is written to a group; that is, a church. Stated concisely, modern counseling has an individualistic audience and biblical writings have a collectivist audience. A counseling commentary should consider how to account for when this distinction becomes significant for pastoral care or counseling.
    5. Focus on Appeals to Motivational Structures – In the book of Philippians, Paul is perpetually appealing to the motivational structures of these individual believers. He is concerned that they not only live holy lives (i.e., what they do or don’t do), but also in refocusing what compels them to live this way (i.e., why they do what they do). Particularly, in hard times when our preferred options are not available to us, this distinction is important for us to find meaning in our suffering.
A counseling commentary should consider how God inspired Paul to engage with these believers amid their hardships in addition to what God inspired Paul to write. Click To Tweet

More distinctive benefits to this type of commentary may emerge. But these are the focal points with which I am beginning this project.

I hope you will read along with me, and that this series enriches both your understanding of the book of Philippians and the skills with which you care for friends using the hope that Scripture offers.

With that said, this commentary series will be devotional in focus; that is, the intended audience is the Christian reading for their own spiritual development and personal ministry. While I hope the series is beneficial for the vocational pastor, professional Christian counselor, and perhaps even the biblical scholar, my primary audience is the person who has never opened a Greek Lexicon or the DSM.

Table of Contents

[1] This is not to imply that every action that Paul took as a church planter and pastor was divinely inspired like the letters he wrote which are in the Bible. But those aspects of his letters which capture how he pastored and counseled through his letters would carry the same weight.