Following Jesus into the Kingdom: Philippians 2


Hear the word:  Philippians 2:1-13

Learning Objectives:

(1.)  Children will be able to talk about epistles, letters written from early followers of Jesus to early Christian communities.

(2.)   Children will summarize Philippians 2:1-13 in their own words.

Respond to the word:

(1.)  Set the scene & look at maps:  Talk through the context of the letter with your class.  Paul is writing from prison (perhaps in Rome?) to the church in Philippi, located in northern Greece.  It would have taken a long, long time for a letter to travel from Paul’s prison cell to the church in Macedonia.  (At the time of his writing, the Christian community in Philippi was the westernmost Pauline church.)  As Paul writes from prison, he is not sure what is own future will look like (see Phil 1:12 – 26).  Paul encourages the Christians in Philippi to follow Jesus’ example, even as Paul seeks to follow Jesus’ example.  Reflect on why Paul felt that it was important to write to the Philippians.  Why is imitating Jesus so important?

Here is a map coloring page that shows Philippi, as well as some of the other early Christian communities.  I am happy to print this for you.

nap of the 2nd missionary journey

4th & 5th graders may want to watch the Saul/Paul clip from the “Ancestors” DVD series.  I will happily set it up for you.

(2.)  Simon Says…  Play a round or two of ‘Simon Says.’  (Here are instructions, in case you forget how to play.)  Talk about what it means to imitate someone else.  Do we ever imitate friends, teachers, or parents?  In his letter to the Philippians, Paul encouraged the church to imitate Jesus.   How do we imitate Jesus?  How do our parents imitate Jesus?  How can we help each other imitate Jesus?

(3.)  “Emptied himself”:  What does Paul mean when he said that Jesus “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…”?  Find different snapshots of Jesus’ self emptying here, here, and here:

Discuss –  How do we empty ourselves as Jesus emptied himself?  How can we help one another do this hard work?

Tracing hands:  Trace around your hand and cut the shape out.  One each finger, write one way that you can practice following Jesus by serving others.

(4.)  Word search: Philippians 2:4-11 is a famous hymn, a song that the church has sung since churches started singing songs.  We still sing these words in hymns today (see, for example, hymn #448).

Print out the words to this ancient hymn, cut out each line, and hide the lines around your classroom.  Encourage the class to work together to find and order the lines in the hymn.

(5.)  Make a magnet:  I can put magnets for coloring in your classroom, with the text of this verse.  Or, use blank magnets and write prayer-adaptations of the verse.

Merciful God,
give us the same attitude as Jesus,
who emptied himself
and was obedient to you
all the way to his death on the cross.
Make us eager to put others before ourselves,
and their needs before our own.
We ask this through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

(6.)  Wash Feet: 

Fill a large basin or bowl with warm water and place it on the floor with several towels.  Invite the children to sit around you and take their shoes and socks off.  Each child takes a turn washing one another’s feet. Tell them the story of how Jesus washed his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper (John 13: 5-17).  Talk about how Jesus’ self-giving in washing feet is an example of his whole life of self-emptying.

Conclude in prayer.



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