‘Come, Follow Me’ for Oct. 9-15: What have Church leaders and scholars said about Philippians and Colossians?

This week’s study guide includes the apostle Paul’s writings on doing ‘all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’

This week’s “Come, Follow Me” study guide covers Philippians and Colossians, which includes the apostle Paul’s writings on doing “all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Church News recently dug through archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to learn what leaders and scholars have said about these chapters.

Paul’s imprisonment

“‘For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content’ (Philippians 4:11). These are the words of Paul in a letter to the people of Philippi. …

“It is especially astonishing that Paul, of all people, was able to be content in the state he was in. He wrote these words while bound in prison — and it wasn’t like the prisons we think of today, either. Today, prisons are typically a room with concrete bricks, a toilet, food and clean clothes, and offer a chance to work and interact with others, at least to some extent. But Paul was in a prison that historians describe as ‘twelve feet (3.6 m) deep into the ground’ and ‘disgusting and vile by reason of the filth, the darkness and the stench.’ This room, which was 6 ½ feet (2 m) high, 30 feet (9 m) long and 22 feet (7 m) wide, was where ‘prisoners who had been condemned to die either by strangulation or starvation were thrown’ (‘Roman Prisons,’ UNRV).

“That’s where Paul was.

“And yet, somehow, in this dire place, he wrote what many Christians call the happiest book in the Bible. He expressed gratitude (see Philippians 1:3), hope (see Philippians 1:20) and trust in the Lord (see Philippians 2:19). He referenced joy and rejoicing over 15 times in this letter alone.

“Unlike Paul, most of us do not spend our days locked up within prison walls. But so many of us can be locked in a prison-like state of mind — trapped within a trial that appears to be closing in on us. … When we feel locked in our own personal prisons, do we, like Paul, fill our hearts and our speech with thankfulness, hope, faith, trust and joy? Could we look back at our times in prison and refer to them as the happiest chapters of our lives? How is that even possible?

“This becomes possible when we believe what Paul believed when he said, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (Philippians 4:13). It is through Jesus Christ that we can be so full of joy even in our darkest places, ‘in whatsoever state I am’ (Philippians 4:11).”

— Hannah Pirzadeh in the February 2021 Liahona article, “We Can All Find Joy within Our Personal Prisons”

Philippians 2

“I would like all of the youth of the Church to know that they are children of light. As such, they have a responsibility to be ‘as lights in the world’ (Philippians 2:15). They have a duty to share the truths of the gospel. They have a calling to stand as a temple beacon, reflecting gospel light to an increasingly dark world. They have a charge to keep their light aflame and burning brightly.”

— President Thomas S. Monson in the August 2015 Ensign article, “Stand as a Light”

“Absolute truth exists in a world that increasingly disdains and dismisses absolutes. In a future day, ‘every knee [shall] bow’ and ‘every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Philippians 2:10-11). Jesus the Christ absolutely is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father. As members of His Church, we witness He lives and His Church has been restored in its fulness in these latter days.”

— Elder David A. Bednar, October 2014 general conference, “Come and See”

“Becoming people of integrity and honesty does not occur quickly or all at once, nor is it merely a matter of greater personal discipline. It is a change of disposition, a change of heart. And this gradual change of heart is one that the Lord accomplishes within us, through the power of His Spirit, in a line-upon-line fashion. For example, in Philippians 2:12, Paul encourages the Saints to ‘work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ But how are we to do that? Note the answer that follows in verse 13: ‘For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.’ That is, we give ourselves to the Lord and choose to be changed. He is working on us and in us.

— Elder David A. Bednar in the October 2005 New Era article, “The Message: Be Honest”

Philippians 3

“After the Apostle Paul reviewed the privileged and rewarding life of his early years — his birthright, education and standing in the Jewish community — he says to the Philippians that all of that was ‘dung’ compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase, ‘I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me’’ (see Philippians 3:7-12). Then come these verses:

“‘This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

“‘I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13-14).

“No Lot’s wife here. No looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah here. Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us, that we will win ‘the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’”

— Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the January 2010 Liahona article, “The Best Is Yet to Be,” reprinted in the January 2020 Liahona

“The Apostle Paul gave some constructive counsel to all of us who have sinned but are striving to repent. He said we should be ‘forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before’ (Philippians 3:13). In other words, we should put the past behind us and press forward, trusting in God’s redeeming power. Such an effort on our part is a demonstration of faith.”

— Elder Tad R. Callister in the August 2012 Liahona article, “How Do I Know When I Am Forgiven?”

Philippians 4

“The chorus of one of my favorite hymns entreats, ‘Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice! Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!’ (‘Rejoice, the Lord Is King!’ Hymns, no. 66). The text of the hymn is taken from Paul’s writings to the Philippians: ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice’ (Philippians 4:4). The dictionary defines rejoice as ‘to feel joy or great delight.’

“The source of the kind of joy which causes us to rejoice is an understanding of the plan of salvation.

“Joy comes when we have the Spirit in our lives (see Alma 22:15). When we have the Spirit, we rejoice in what the Savior has done for us.”

— Elder Quentin L. Cook in the January 2016 New Era article, “Joy Is within Your Reach”

“Speaking of some of his own mortal challenges, the Apostle Paul wrote, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (Philippians 4:13).

“And so we see that because of His Atonement, the Savior has the power to succor — to help — every mortal pain and affliction. Sometimes His power heals an infirmity, but the scriptures and our experiences teach that sometimes He succors or helps by giving us the strength or patience to endure our infirmities.”

— Then-Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October 2015 general conference, “Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ”

“In this sometimes precarious journey through mortality, may we also follow that advice from the Apostle Paul which will help to keep us safe and on course: ‘Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things’ (Philippians 4:8).

“I would encourage members of the Church wherever they may be to show kindness and respect for all people everywhere. The world in which we live is filled with diversity. We can and should demonstrate respect toward those whose beliefs differ from ours.”

— President Thomas S. Monson, April 2008 general conference, “Looking Back and Moving Forward”

A man sits cross-legged while reading the scriptures.
“Come, Follow Me” for Oct. 9-15 includes the apostle Paul’s writings on doing “all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Colossians 1

Paul urged his converts to “walk worthy of the Lord … , being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). As he helped others progress toward this goal, Paul found success as well as challenges. Even a master teacher like Paul was not able to reach all the people he taught, but he never gave up. … Paul provided a model of this by his words and actions.”

— Frank F. Judd Jr. and John Hilton III, professors of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, in the September 2015 Ensign article, “The Apostle Paul as Master Teacher”

“As we read Church magazines and manuals, as we attend Church classes, and as we sit in sacrament meetings, let us do so with a willingness to feel and to be strengthened. If we do this, we will be uplifted and encouraged, we will come to recognize how much we are loved, and we will gain a greater vision of the blessings that are ours and the divine opportunities that await us as we ‘continue in the faith grounded and settled, … not moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Colossians 1:23).”

— Elder David S. Baxter in the August 2007 Ensign article, “Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy”

Colossians 2

“In Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, we find the earliest evidence for gnosticism in the early Christian Church. Gnosticism was a false philosophy that had at its focus a belief that spirit was perfect and holy but that matter, and all that was created of it, was entirely evil. This idea held that God was a being of pure spirit and could have nothing to do with man, a creature of matter (and therefore evil); so instead of worshiping God, gnostics revered an extensive hierarchy of lower deities. It is probable that in his letter to the Saints of Colossae, Paul attacked just such a heresy by denouncing what he called the ‘worshiping of angels’ (Colossians 2:18).

“One problem Christian gnostics faced was that Christians believed Jesus Christ to have been both God and man. Because Jesus had a body of matter, his position in the heavenly hierarchies was problematic for gnostics. Paul responded forcefully to this ambivalence regarding the role of Jesus when he emphasized in Colossians 1:16-17 and Colossians 2:9-10 His preeminence over all. Note the power of his words as he defined Jesus’ position:

“‘For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him’ (Colossians 1:16).

“Paul proclaimed the Savior to be ‘the head of all principality and power’ (Colossians 2:10). He warned the Colossians to ‘beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ’ (Colossians 2:8). Gnosticism and related heresies were a serious problem for the Church. Such beliefs were so antithetical to the doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles that attempts to merge and reconcile them contributed to the corruption of the original faith. Extra-biblical sources tell us that gnosticism played an important role in the first centuries of Christian history. Whereas the religion of the Apostles did not continue, its gnosticized counterpart did.”

— Kent P. Jackson, former professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, in the December 1984 Ensign article, “Early Signs of the Apostasy”

Colossians 3

“As the Apostle Paul advised the early Saints, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord’ (Colossians 3:16).

“Music can instantly bring the Spirit into a lesson or meeting. Choosing a song to sing during a Sunday School class or a ‘Come, Follow Me’ discussion deserves the same thoughtful, prayerful consideration as the scriptures we choose to read or the part of the lesson we choose to share. Music that is prayerfully chosen can touch hearts, leaving spiritual impressions that may last a lifetime.”

— Jan Pinborough in the March 2021 Liahona article, “Keeping Music at the Heart of Worship”

“There is so much incivility in the world today. Because of the anonymity of the internet, it is easier than ever to say toxic or grating things online. Shouldn’t we, the hopeful disciples of our gentle Christ, have a higher, more charitable standard? The scriptures teach, ‘Let your speech be alway[s] with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man’ (Colossians 4:6).

“I like the idea of our words being clear as a sunny sky and full of grace. Can you imagine what our families, wards, nations and even the world would be like if we could adopt this simple principle?”

— Then-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the February 2013 Ensign article, “A Word for the Hesitant Missionary”

Two women sit outside and study the “Come, Follow Me” manual together.
“Come, Follow Me” for Oct. 9-15 includes the apostle Paul’s writings on doing “all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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