Published on March 25, 2008
Prison epistles: Prison epistles Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, & Philemon Why “Prison” Epistles?: Why “Prison” Epistles? Paul refers to himself as a prisoner or as being in bonds. Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles-- 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 6:20 the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Colossians 4:18 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Philemon 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 9 yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul--an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus-- Prison references in Philippians: Prison references in Philippians Philippians 1:7, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Links b/t Ephesians, Colossians & Philemon: Links b/t Ephesians, Colossians & Philemon Who is the common courier of Col & Eph? Eph 6:21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, Col 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. Who is the companion of Tychicus? Onesimus, the slave of Philemon. Traditionally scholars have linked the meeting place of the Colossian church to Philemon’s house. Where is Paul imprisoned?: Where is Paul imprisoned? Caesarea? Closer for Onesimus to escape from Colossae. But Paul’s contact was too limited in Caesarea (Acts 24:23). Also Paul had little hope of release like that mentioned in Phile 22. Ephesus? Absent of a direct reference, 2 Cor 11:23 indicates Paul had other imprisonments. Not a far enough hiding place for Onesimus. Better possibility for Philippians to allow quicker travel/communication time for Epaphroditus. Why is Rome the traditional location?: Why is Rome the traditional location? Certainty of imprisonment there (Acts 28:30-31). Some limited freedom (house arrest). The names of Paul’s traveling companions on the trip to Rome appear in Col 4 & Phile 24. A highly populated city (Rome) a good distance from Colossae makes an appealing hideout for a slave. Such a location would date the prison epistles approximately AD 61 –63. The Case for Ephesians being a Circular Letter: The Case for Ephesians being a Circular Letter “In Ephesus” is missing from many significant early manuscripts. A lacuna, blank space, exists. Unlike other epistles, Ephesians lacks references to specific people. Paul’s relationship with the Ephesians reflected in Acts 20:36ff is close. Explains what the “letter from Laodicea” (Col 4:16) was: a circular letter coming from Laodicea. Later it became most associated with a large destination in Asia Minor: Ephesus. Relationship of Ephesians to Colossians: Relationship of Ephesians to Colossians Similarities: Christ as Head of the church, household codes, doctrine followed by application. Distinctions: Colossians is specific to address the false teaching spreading in Colossae. Ephesians expresses a general letter to a Christian church that begins with a praise formula that affirms the blessings of being in Christ. The Purposes of Ephesians: The Purposes of Ephesians To accent the truths of the Christian church. To motivate believers in their walk with God. To encourage unity in the church. Eph 4:1 I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Theological Themes in Ephesiansby Clinton E. Arnold, Talbot School of Theology : Theological Themes in Ephesians by Clinton E. Arnold, Talbot School of Theology 1. The Greatness of God in his work through Christ in choosing, redeeming, fulfilling his plan, loving and raising Jesus from the dead. 2. The Exalted Christ over all principalities (1:21), head of the church (1:23) and bridegroom. 3. Salvation in its Present Dimension believers who have been saved (2:5,8) are exalted with Christ (2:6) with access to the Father (2:18;3:12). THEMES IN EPHESIANS (cont.): THEMES IN EPHESIANS (cont.) 4. Status of Believers “in Christ” occurs 34 times in Eph to reveal a new existence in corporate solidarity with the resurrected and exalted Lord. 5. Unity of Jew and Gentile into the one body of Christ (2:16; 3:6) removing hostilities. 6. The Struggle with the Powers : the superiority of power from the Supreme Christ is sufficient to overcome the fears conjured by Artemis, goddess of the underworld. Power is accessible through union with Christ. THEMES IN EPHESIANS (cont.): THEMES IN EPHESIANS (cont.) 7. Ethical Obligation of Believers to rid their lives of unregenerate speech & fleshly relationships. Live out their calling by fleeing temptation, using gifts, & loving like Christ. 8. Apostle to the Gentiles in administering the mystery of God’s grace to the Gentiles. Even imprisonment helps advance this mission. 9. The Church (universal) is a living organism where all members are involved. A household, a growing body in connection with the head, a bride in relation to the bridegroom. “Grace” in Paul’s Lettersby A. Boyd Luter, Talbot School of Theology : “Grace” in Paul’s Letters by A. Boyd Luter, Talbot School of Theology Intro: 100 of the 154 (2/3) of the NT occurrences are in Paul’s letters. In God to man relations, “undeserved favor” for salvation or gifts. From man, thanksgiving, offering, encouraging speech. The Grace of God and Christ A. Attitude, attribute reflecting God himself. B. The astounding reality of divine charis demands an awed response of human charis (thanksgiving) to God. 2. The Grace of Salvation : 2. The Grace of Salvation A. Summed up in Eph 2:5. B. Dimensions: begins with God’s pretemporal electing purpose (Eph 1:3-6), includes the actual offering of the gospel message, fundamentally is the present gift (dorea) of eschatological justification, the ongoing work of sanctification. C. Paul’s unique sustaining grace for weakness (2 Cor 12:9). D. Our response to grace: gratitude and good works (Eph 2:10), disciplined godly life (2 Tim 2:11-13), zeal (Titus 2:14) & generosity (2 Cor 8:1-4). 3. Gifts of Grace : 3. Gifts of Grace A. The believer is graced with various charismata (Rom 12:6) or gifts - personal endowment of grace. B. Paul’s calling was grace-given apostleship (Gal 2:9). 3. Greetings of Grace: 3. Greetings of Grace A. His salutations as well as benedictions substitute the traditional hellenistic “greetings” with “grace to you” as an inclusio of the significance of the gospel of grace. B. Divine grace is expressed in speech in presenting gospel (Col 4:6) as well as giving grace to other believers (Eph 4:29). The privileges of the christian (Eph 1-3): The privileges of the christian (Eph 1-3) Spiritual Blessings in Christ (1:3-14) Election, redemption, seal of the Holy Spirit Prayer Concerning Divine Resources (1:15-23) to understand hope of calling, inheritance, & power. New Life in Christ (2:1-10) Formerly dead, enslaved, objects of wrath but made alive spiritually. Who am I (in christ)?: Who am I (in christ)? Chosen through God’s infinite mind by His infinite love. Cleansed redeemed (bought back) by a rich owner lavishing grace upon me. Sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise! What was the function of the seal? To authenticate personal ownership. To secure or protect by that name. To show a finished transaction. The matter is settled. Slide19: Man’s condition From Ephesians 2:1-3 Dead in your sins. Disobedient following the world & its ruler. Depraved gratifying the cravings of the flesh. Doomed by nature, objects of wrath. God’s compassion From Ephesians 2:4-10 Life – made us alive with Christ Obedient – created in Christ to do good works. Victorious – God raised us up with Christ. Escape by grace you have been saved through faith! Privileges of the christian(cont): Privileges of the christian (cont) D. Life as reconciled persons (2:11-22) Gentiles formerly without hope now have peace with God & are one with Jewish believers. E. Life as God’s heirs (3:1-13). Gentiles are joint heirs sharing the promises of God. F. Experience of God’s love & power (3:14-21). Through prayer & God’s abundant response. Paul’s Prayer in Eph 3:14-21: Paul’s Prayer in Eph 3:14-21 “More than any other NT epistle, Ephesians has the character and form of prayer.” – Markus Barth Adoration – acknowledges the Trinity, unity of the church & riches of God. PETITION – for spiritual strength through the power of the spirit. “Greater experience of the Spirit’s power will mean the character of Christ increasingly becoming the hallmark of the believers’ lives… the character of Christ should increasingly dominate and shape the whole orientation of their lives.” – Andrew Lincoln. To grasp how how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ (3:18): To grasp how how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ (3:18) Dimensions of love though by ancient commentators as the 4 directions of the cross: the upright pole reached down into the earth & pointed up to heaven; its cross– bar carried the arms of Jesus, stretched out as if to invite and welcome the whole world. Love wide enough to accept all mankind, long enough to last for eternity, deep enough to reach the most degraded sinner, high enough to exalt to heaven. - John Stott. Responsibilities of the christianEph 4 - 6: Responsibilities of the christian Eph 4 - 6 Responsibilities of Christians (Eph 4-6): Responsibilities of Christians (Eph 4-6) Unity & spiritual growth in the church (4:1-16). Interdependency of gifts brought unity in the body. New walk with other believers (4:17-32). Put off old, practice truth. New walk before unbelievers (5:1-21). In love, purity, holiness & wisdom by the Holy Spirit. Responsibilities of the Christian (cont.): Responsibilities of the Christian (cont.) 4. New standard for the home (5:22-6:9). Mutual submission of spouses, obedience of children & slaves. 5. New strength for spiritual warfare (6:10-20). Satan’s deceit requires God’s armor and prayerful readiness. Concluding greetings (6:21-24); role of Tychicus. The city of colossae: The city of colossae 100 miles east of Ephesus. Lycus Valley tri-cities with Hierapolis & Laodicea. Waned in importance after earthquake. Least important city to which Paul addressed an epistle. the colossian church: the colossian church Epaphras was converted by Paul during his Ephesian stay. He returned to his hometown of Colossae and was the founder the church. The church was primarily Gentile with Jewish influences. Archippus was in charge of the church at the time in which Paul wrote. Addressing the Colossian heresy: Addressing the Colossian heresy Did some believe Jesus was created? Thus the teaching on the supremacy of the pre-existent Christ. 2. Gnosticism? Thus the warning ag/ human philosophy absent of divine revelation. ?Worship of angels? 3. Jewish legalism? Thus the warnings ag/ Jewish circumcision, diet, festivals, traditions, etc. ?Worship of angels, who gave law? 4. Asceticism? Thus the warnings ag/ restrictions & self-abasement. Outline of Colossians: Outline of Colossians Salutation (1:1-2): Paul, an apostle w/divine authority. Person & Work of Christ (1:3-23) A. Gratitude for the faith& love of the Colossians: (1:3-8) B. Prayer for the growth of the Colossians (1:9-12): to be filled with the knowledge of the divine will. C. Supremacy of Christ (1:13-23) (1) The work of Christ in redemption. (2) The Person of Christ: supreme sustainer, head of the church, fullness of God, reconciler. (3) Effect of Christ among the Colossians: being reconciled. Major Themes from Colossians: Major Themes from Colossians Ralph Martin’s Theological Summary: “The Church’s Lord & the Christian’s Liberty” William Barclay’s Summary: “The All-Sufficient Christ needs no supplement & has no rival.” 3. The Ministry of Paul (1:24-2:7): 3. The Ministry of Paul (1:24-2:7) Explanation of Paul’s function (1:24-29): call to proclaim Christ & suffer as well. 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. B. Reassurance of Paul’s concern (2:1-5):to develop a unity of love & complete understanding of Christ. C. Encouragement to continue in Christ (2:6-7): growth in truth, rooted in Christ. 4. Antidote to False Teaching (2:8-23): 4. Antidote to False Teaching (2:8-23) Sufficiency of Christ (2:8-15): Divine fullness. No other supernatural being should be worshiped since Christ is the supreme conqueror. Warning ag/legalism & mysticism (2:16-19): Jewish legalism or human opinion. Encouragement to escape asceticism (2:20-23). A Spiritual Mind: A Spiritual Mind The Elevated Mind –set your mind on things above. Brother Lawrence: We must cultivate the holy habit of thinking of Him often. No sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God (Practicing the Presence) The Exchanged Mind – consider your earthly body as dead. Vera’s life was changed from a French Quarter alcoholic to one who ministered picking up the homeless. The Eternal Mind – your life is now hidden with Christ in God . . . In glory. What is the problem with the glory of this world? Isa 40:6. What about God’s glory? 1 Pet 1:4 5. New Conduct of the Believer (3:1-4:6): 5. New Conduct of the Believer (3:1-4:6) Union with Christ in new life (3:1-4): set mind in accord with God’s holy purposes. Identity with Christ by death to old ways (3:5-11): abandon pre-conversion lifestyle. Embracing the new life (3:12-17): with the crowning virtue of love. New life at home (3:18-4:1): Husbands love. Wives respect. Children obey. Parents control selves. Servants obey. Masters be fair. General Instructions to all (4:2-6): prayer, wisdom & speech. 6. Conclusion (4:7-18): 6. Conclusion (4:7-18) Coming of Tychicus & Onesimus (4:7-9). Christian Greetings (4:10-17): with a list of friends surrounding confinement. Expressions of genuineness & benediction (4:18). The Cast of Characters in Philemon: The Cast of Characters in Philemon Who is Philemon? A convert of Paul during his Ephesian ministry (Acts 20:31) who is the slave owner of Onesimus. The church meets in his house. Who is Onesimus? The slave of Philemon who is converted by Paul. The Outline of Philemon: The Outline of Philemon Introduction (1-3): to Philemon, Apphia, Archippus & church meeting in his house. Gratitude for Philemon (4-7): faith & love. Odyssey of Onesimus (8-21) Conversion: formerly useless slave is now useful (Onesimus) for the gospel. Return Onesimus as a beloved brother. Request to return Onesimus to Paul, who would pay his debt. Paul’s Personal Request (22): a guest room. Greeting & Benediction (23-25) Lessons on Social Hierarchy from Philemonby Robert Wall: Lessons on Social Hierarchy from Philemon by Robert Wall What is our pecking order? Slave, prisoner, brother. What is the social hierarchy found in the NT? A. Jesus takes the role of a servant. (1) Intricate to his purpose in coming (Mk 10:45). (2) His willingness to take on humanity (Phil 2). B. Paul’s identification as a slave (Rom 1:1). 2. What is the social hierarchy of the Roman civilization? : 2. What is the social hierarchy of the Roman civilization? Few landowners with power. Upward mobility rare. Demographics of Rome. 1/3 slaves, irrespective of race, religion, education. 1/3 former slaves, freedmen. Slaves = economic investments, lacked privileges, easily exploited. The Christian dynamic of equal spiritual standing enters (Gal 3:28). Paul has same relationship to Philemon (master) as to Onesimus (slave) – having led both to Christ. 3. Paul’s self-identification: a prisoner of Christ Jesus.: 3. Paul’s self-identification: a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Paul is both a slave and a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Paul communicates that his measure of obedience is full & complete. 4. Affirmations to Philemon. Gracious host: along with Apphia, where Christian community (slave or free) gathers. House church reveals (1) relational nature of fellowship, (2) unofficial aspect & (3) church = people. 5. Appeal to Love: 5. Appeal to Love Philemon is Paul’s beloved friend (v.1). To whom does Paul extend love (v.5)? ALL saints. C. What impact has Philemon’s love had? Brought great love & encouragement (v.7). D. What is the basis for Paul’s appeal? Love (v.9) for love’s sake I appeal to you! 6. Appeal to koinonia & brotherhood: 6. Appeal to koinonia & brotherhood As a partner in the faith (v.6). For his son, Onesimus (v.10). No longer a slave, but brother: Christ makes all relationships new. What do brothers do for each other? Refresh one another (v.20). philippi: philippi For Philip II of Macedon, conqueror of the land in 400 BC. Early Roman colony set aside by Caesar Augustus for defeated opponents. Vision of man from Macedonia: “Come, help!” Church founded on 2nd MJ at river prayer meeting with Lydia’s conversion. Jailed for exorcism. Jailer saved! Occasion & Purpose of Philippians: Occasion & Purpose of Philippians The church sent Epaphraditus to Paul with a gift (2:25-30). After illness, Epaphraditus returned to Philippi with a “thank you” note. To ease the anxieties for him & his imprisonment as an advancement of the gospel (1:15-18). To rebuke disunity & urge humility (2:1-11). To correct the challenge from Judaizers (3:1-6) as well as perfectionists (3:12-16) and libertines (3:18-19). To prepare for a forthcoming visit by Timothy & him. Identity of Paul’s Opponents: Identity of Paul’s Opponents More than one type of problem group. Opposed particular individuals. Judaizers with tendencies toward Gnosticism. Perfectionists as well as Libertines. Outline of Philippians: Outline of Philippians Salutations (1:1-2): Leaders are “overseers) & “deacons.” Expression of Gratitude & Prayer for the Philippians (1:3-11) Thanksgiving for partnership with the Philippians (1:3-6): Close fellowship, shared labor, confidence in completion. Paul’s genuine affection for the Philippians (1:7-8). Paul’s prayer for their growth in love, discernment & righteousness (1:9-11). 3. Paul’s Personal Experiences (1:12-26): 3. Paul’s Personal Experiences (1:12-26) Outcome of Paul’s imprisonment (1:12-14): for the progress of the gospel. Rejoicing at the progress of the gospel (1:15-18): despite the motives. Readiness for the future ministry (1:19-26): to die & be with Christ or to remain for ministry? 4. Appeals to the Philippians (1:27-2:18): 4. Appeals to the Philippians (1:27-2:18) Urging them to steadfast behavior (1:27-30): to endure suffering. Appeal for unity (2:1-5): ag/ selfishness. Imitation of Christ’s humility (2:6-11): through incarnation & crucifixion. Development of a healthy congregation (2:12-18): God’s enabling desire & power. 5. Future Visits of Timothy, Paul & Epaphraditus (2:19-30): Timothy shared Paul’s passion. Expect warm welcome for Epaphraditus. Are these people in your church?: Are these people in your church? Aaron Anonymous Freddie Fringe Hortense Holdback Gary Griper Nancy Negative Bertha Better-than-you Carrie Clique Perry Pew Potato Larry Lustful Bob Businessman Sally Servant Harry Humble Paul Prayer Edwin Encourager Becky Bible Study Greg Gregarious Abby Affirmer Gerald Giver Kathleen Kindness Is “koinonia” possible?: Is “koinonia” possible? If God is the enabler. - Since you have encouragement from being united in his love, fellowship with the Spirit. If unity is the goal. – be one in spirit and purpose (together-souled, like clocks that strike at the same moment). If humility is the attitude – have this same attitude which was in Christ Jesus. “Inappropriate to the body of Christ are: selfish eye, the pompous mind, the ear hungry for compliments and the mouth that spoke none, heart with little room for others, and a hand that only serves himself.” – Fred Craddock 6. Warning ag/ False Teachers (3:1-21): 6. Warning ag/ False Teachers (3:1-21) Warning ag/ Judaizers (3:1-3): stressed circumstances & rules. Rejection of legalism (3:4-6): Paul’s own resume’ of rules discarded. Importance of gaining Christ (3:7-11): knowing Him in the power of his resurrection. Pressing toward the spiritual goal (3:12-16): maturity of forgetting the past. Warning ag/ immorality (3:17-21): gluttony & immorality of those with minds not set on heaven. 7. Appeals for Unity, Prayer &High-Mindedness (4:1-9): 7. Appeals for Unity, Prayer &High-Mindedness (4:1-9) Encouragement for unity (4:1-3): by name. Urging to pray (4:4-7): path to peace. Need for Lofty Thinking (4:8-9): praiseworthy. 8. Gratitude for gift (4:10-20): one more than 1 occasion Philippians sent gifts (v.16). Renewed support brought rejoicing. 9. Conclusion (4:21-23): to convert slaves & members of Caesar’s household. “Joy” in Paul’s Lettersby William G. Morrice, University of Durham, England : “Joy” in Paul’s Letters by William G. Morrice, University of Durham, England Intro: A consequence of reconciliation (Rom 5:11) 1. The Vocabulary of Joy A. 131 of the 326 occurrences of Joy in Paul’s 10 letters (40%). B. The most common cognate of joy (chara) to rejoice (chairein) have the same root as grace (charis). C. Knowing grace is a celebration of joy (1 Cor 5:8). 2. Being in Christ A. Union w/ Christ is the heart of Paul’s religion (J. Stewart). B. Philippians’ theme: Rejoice in the Lord! C. The source of joy is the risen & reigning Lord. JOY (cont.): JOY (cont.) 3. Fruit of the Spirit A. With grace superceding Law, life is joyful freedom. B. Relation to love and peace in the inner life. 4. Joy in Suffering A. Paul’s letter of joy comes from prison. B. Celebrating the work of Christ on the cross. C. Expectation of being a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20). 5. Eschatology of Joy A. Link to hope. B. Rejoice in the hope of sharing the glory of God in the life to come (Rom 5:2). C. Later transformation of body (Phil 3:20-21).