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The Prison Epistles Ephesians Colossians Philemon Philippians

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1 The Prison Epistles Ephesians Colossians Philemon Philippians
Critique this picture… Paul typically had a scribe write for him Paul was under house arrest (Acts 28:30-31)

2 NT Overview (Paul’s Letters)
NT Overview (Paul’s Letters) “To the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8) Acts Apr 48- Sep 49 1 Galatia Apr 50- Sep 52 2 Aegean Spr 53- May 57 3 Asia Feb 60- Mar 62 1 Rome Spr 62- Fall 67 4 Spain Aut 67- Spr 68 2 Rome May 57- Aug 59 Damascus Antioch May 57- Aug 59 Trials Fall 49 The Council Spring 68 Expansion of Church Matt Luke Acts Mark John Missionary Prison Pastoral Gal 1 Thess 1 Cor Eph 1 Tim 2 Tim 2 Thess 2 Cor Col Titus Romans Philem Gospels & Acts Phil Pauline Epistles Pauline

3 What are the “Prison Epistles”?
Ephesians Colossians Philemon Philippians Why “Prison Epistles”? They refer to Paul’s bonds Eph 3:1; 4:1; 6:20 Col 4:3, 18 Philem 1, 9, 10 Phil 1:12-13 Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

4 Who carried these letters?
Tychicus He carried the Ephesian and Colossian epistles (Eph 6:21; Col 4:7) He was accompanied by Onesimus (Col 4:9) Onesimus A slave to Philemon from Colossae He probably carried the Epistle to Philemon when he returned to his master, though it is not specifically mentioned (Phlm 12) Epaphroditus A man from Philippi, he carried the Philippian Epistle back to his people (Phil 2:25, 28) Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

5 What was Paul’s attitude?
In Philemon, Paul was hopeful (evlpi,zw = hope) that he would be released (Phlm 22) In Philippians, Paul was confident (oi=da = know) that he would be released (Phil 1:25; 2:24) Conclusion Written on 2-3 separate occasions Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon are written around the same time (probably AD 60-61) Philippians is written later (probably AD 62) Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

6 Occasion for Prison Epistles
Paul was imprisoned in Rome and Epaphras was with him They were joined by Onesimus, a runaway slave Paul received news of a crisis in the Colossian church (heresy) He wrote in response to the Colossian problems and sent Tychicus as the letter bearer He also sent Onesimus with Tychicus with a letter to Philemon He also wrote a general circular letter for several Gentile communities in Asia Minor (e.g. Ephesus) Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

7 Some months later (AD 62)…
Paul was still in prison The Philippian church sent Epaphroditus to minister to Paul Paul found out from him problems in Philippian church: external opposition (3:17f.) and internal disunity (4:2) Epaphroditus became very sick (Phil 2:26) Paul sent him back with a letter to address problems of Philippian church Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

8 How Do You Respond to Trials?
201  You say… Strategy Temperament Epistle  “I’m right!”   Push through   Choleric  Ephesians   “Why me?”  Depression Melancholy  Philippians “I’ll just get through” Compromise   Sanguine  Colossians  “It’ll pass”   Ignore it   Phlegmatic   Philemon

9 Ephesians Authorship External Evidence:
The early church unanimously agreed with Pauline authorship. Dispute from Erasmus (16th cent.) and radical German schools (19th cent.) make it the most disputed Pauline epistle today. Internal Evidence: Paul identified as the author in 1:1 and 3:1. The style and content is consistent with Pauline authorship.

10 Recipient Ephesians 1:1 General Observations
“From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” “In Ephesus” not found in the oldest and best manuscripts No direct knowledge of recipients No personal greetings General Observations Written to Gentile believers Makes no reference to any specific crisis or problem Presents a positive Pauline gospel The most general and non-situation specific epistle. Probably a circular letter for churches in Asia Minor.

11 Special Characteristics
Date Paul wrote this Ephesians during his first imprisonment in Rome, AD Special Characteristics Ephesians has the longest sentences of any NT writing and 8 lengthy sentences total (1:3-14, 15-23; 2:1-7; 3:1-13, 14-19; 4:1-7, 11-16; 6:17-18) Of all NT writings, Ephesians gives the fullest explanation of the unity between Jews and Gentiles

12 The Temple Temple Courtyard Court of Gentiles Court of Women
Most Holy Place Holy Place Main Temple Temple Courtyard Court of Priests Court of Israel Court of Gentiles Court of Women

13 Warning Text for Gentiles
Ephesians 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” “Let no foreigner enter within the partition and enclosure surrounding the temple. Whoever is arrested will be responsible for his death which will follow.”

14 Message of Ephesians Ch 1–3 The unity of Jews and Gentiles in the church who are equal positionally. Blessings in Christ as equal to predestined Jews (1:3-23) Experience of salvation and reconciliation with Jews in the body of Christ (Eph. 2) Growing knowledge and strength (Eph. 3) Ch 4–6 The walk of the Christians that shows their Jew-Gentile unity through love as a testimony to the world. Unity (4:1-16) Holiness (4:17—5:20) Submission/ headship (5:21—6:9) Reliance upon God (6:10-20) Love (6:21-24)

15 When someone is drunk…

16 Summary & Applications
Summary Statement Paul instructs the Colossian church in the supremacy and deity of Christ and exhorts practical outworking of this doctrine in order to fight a syncretistic heresy threatening the life and ministry of the church. Applications Do you mix Christian belief with other worldviews? Avoid legalism & asceticism

17 Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
Ephesians 5:18 NLT Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. 19singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

18 (Exaltation in Christ)
Key Word Unity (Exaltation in Christ) Key Verse Ephesians 4:1-3 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

19 Summary Statement Application
Paul explains God’s mystery—the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church who are equal positionally—to exhort these two groups at Ephesus to live worthy of this calling through a unified love for one another as a testimony to the world. Application Do you really believe you are equal with other members of the body of Christ? How do you express your unity with believers who are different from you?

20 Colossians

21 Author External Evidence
Early Christian writers attributed authorship to Paul. 1. Early support for Pauline authorship comes from Justin, Marcion, Irenaeus, Tertullia, & Clement of Alexandria. 2. Unquestioned acceptance of Pauline authorship prevailed until the 19th century German scholars denied it based upon internal factors. Internal Evidence Many factors support Pauline authorship: 1. The letter claims to have been written by Paul. 2. The similarity of Colossians to Ephesians argues for Pauline authorship as they were written at about the same time. 3. Colossians has many affinities to Paul's letter to Philemon, of which the authenticity is impeccable.

22 Ephesians & Colossians
Characteristics These twin epistles can be compared and contrasted in many ways: Ephesians & Colossians Ephesians Colossians Similarities: Written in prison, carried by Tychicus Stresses wisdom, knowledge, fullness, & mystery First half—position Second half—practice Similar passages: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (1:7) “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:14) “to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (1:10) “and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross” (1:20)

23 Ephesians & Colossians
Characteristics Ephesians Ephesians & Colossians Colossians Similar passages Similar passages 1:15-17 1:3-4 1:18 1:27 1:19-20 2:12 1:21-23 1:16-19 5:22-24 (wives) 3:18 (wives) 5:25-33 (husbands) 3:19 (husbands) 6:1-3 (children) 3:20 (children) 6:4 (fathers) 3:21 (fathers) 6:5-8 (slaves) 3:22-25 (slaves) 6:9 (masters) 4:1 (masters)

24 Ephesians v. Colossians
Differences Emphasizes the Church as the Body of Christ Emphasizes Christ as the Head of the body General, universal Specific, local Peaceful, calm Polemic, concern Reflective, quiet Spiritual conflict

25 Circumstances Date Origin/Recipients
Colossians was written during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:30). The best evidence suggests a specific date of autumn 61. Origin/Recipients The epistle mentions Paul's many associates, especially Tychicus, who carried the Colossian and Ephesian letters accompanied by Onesimus with the letter to Philemon. This provides evidence that the Ephesian, Colossian, and Philemon letters all had the same origin. Therefore, Colossians must have been written to Colosse from Rome.

26 Argument Paul writes the Colossian epistle to deliver the church from a serious heresy threatening its very life since it is attacking the deity of Christ. His response to this cult takes a two-pronged approach. He first establishes the supremacy of Christ as God in order to deal with the theological basis of the false teaching (chs. 1–2). He then provides practical instruction in light of the deity of Christ which, when followed, will put the enemies of Christ to shame as they see holy living in the church (chs. 3–4).

27 What was the Colossian Heresy?
Asia Minor was the seedbed for what developed into 2nd century Gnosticism. Paul’s counterattack tells us this about the heresy: Jewish—legalism of following OT laws and ceremonies (2:16-17) Greek philosophy—followed a so-called “deeper knowledge” revealed only to a special “elite” (2:2b-4, 8-10) Worshipped angels as mediators between man and God (2:18) Denied the deity of Christ (1:15; 2:9), & thus His supremacy (1:15b, 17a) & ability to create (1:16) & sustain the world (1:17) Ascetic nature had a low view of the body (2:20-23) What was the Colossian heresy? The above shows it was a syncretistic Jewish-Greek-Ascetic-Pagan cult. Paul's method to fight the heresy is to emphasize the deity & supremacy of Christ.

28 Colossians Key Word Deity
(Church’s Ascended Head) Key Verse “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

29 Philemon

30 Philemon Authorship Recipient Date
Paul refers to himself three times as author (vv. 1, 9, 19) Recipient Philemon, a wealthy Christian slave owner in Colosse, is the primary addressee, but others in his church are included as well (v. 2) Date During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, AD 61.

31 Philemon Occasion Purpose
Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, probably stole some money and ran away (18) He became Paul’s convert (10) Paul wanted to return him to Philemon (12) Purpose Appeal for forgiveness and reconciliation (17) Appeal indirectly for the services of Onesimus (13-14, 20-21) Request for a guest room (22)

32 Key Word Key Verse Forgiveness (Pardon of Onesimus) Philemon 17-18
“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

33 Summary Statement Application
Paul requests the Christian slave owner, Philemon, to forgive his runaway but repentant slave, Onesimus, whom Paul led to Christ and sent back to Philemon to be received as a Christian brother and to teach forgiveness. Application Whom do you need to forgive a wrong done to you? Whose forgiveness do you need to request?

34 True Koinonia (Fellowship)
“Fellowship of your faith” (v. 6) Fellowship involves participation Participation in Christ involves sharing and involvement with each other True fellowship means mutually participating in Christ  forgiveness and reconciliation True fellowship promotes the good of everyone It involves changing perceptions and acting accordingly This letter has a good example: 3 outstanding debts Powerful reversals Outcome Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

35 3 Outstanding Debts Onesimus’ Debt: He owed Philemon whatever he stole
He owed Philemon his life Advice: return to owner for due punishment Paul’s Debt: He owed Philemon value of each day’s work lost Advice: charge any debts Onesimus owed to my account, I will pay it Philemon’s Debt: He owed Paul his new life in Christ (19) Advice: welcome the runaway slave as a brother; but do better than that—return him to me Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

36 Powerful Reversals Property  beloved brother Inferior  equal Useless  “useful” (Onesimus, v. 11) Fellowship in Christ overturns all distinctions created by social structures Jeremy Chew, East Asia School of Theology, Singapore

37 “Did Philemon Forgive Onesimus?”
1. Philemon preserved this epistle & allowed it to be circulated & copied—this would be highly unlikely if he did not forgive Onesimus!  2. Paul expressed great confidence that Philemon would do more than even forgive Onesimus (v. 21)—perhaps free him? 3. Ignatius addressed the bishop in the nearby church in Ephesus about AD 115—and his name was Onesimus!

38 Perspectives Paul's short letter to Philemon demonstrates both the importance of forgiving offenders & also being forgiven as necessary decisions for walking with God. This views the letter from the perspective of both Onesimus and Philemon. The letter was not simply a personal correspondence to Philemon alone. It addresses others in the church and the uses the plural “you” in verse 25.

39 Q: What is the theme of Philippians?

40 Book Chart Philippians 181 Results of Imitating Christ’s Attitude Joy
 Humility  Protection  Peace  Chapter 1  Chapter 2  Chapter 3  Chapter 4  Joy (5x)  Joy (7x)  Joy (1x)  Joy (4x)  Attitude (1x)  Attitude (7x)  Attitude (8x)  Attitude (4x)  Suffering  Submission  Salvation  Sanctification  Salutation 1:1-2  Thanks & Prayer 1:3-11  In Prison Ministry 1:12-30  Exhorted 2:1-4  Exemplified 2:5-30  From Legalism 3:1-16  From Indulgence 3:17-21  With People 4:1-3  With God 4:4-9  Always 4:10-20 – Greetings 4:21-23  Rome  Early Spring AD 62 (first Roman imprisonment)

41 Christ is Prominent in Philippians
Characteristics Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Deity (God) 2:6 Pre-eminent (Lord) 1:2, 20 2:9-11 3:20-21 Returning in Power 1:6, 10 2:10, 16 4:5 Sacrificial (Cross) 1:29 2:8 3:18 Savior 3:20 Glorified Body (Resurrected) 3:10, 21 Incarnation (man) 2:6-8 Humble Obedient Selfless Interests (Servant) 2:6, 21 Has a Ministry Plan 2:21, 30 Provider of Needs 4:19 Helper via the Spirit 1:19 Answers Prayer Gives Faith to Believe Gives Privilege of Service 1:1, 14-18, 22 Gives Ability to Glorify Him 3:3

42 Christ is Prominent in Philippians
Characteristics Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Gives Affection for Others 1:8 2:29 Gives Righteousness (Saints) 1:1, 10-11 3:9 4:21 Gives Encouragement 2:19 Gives Knowledge of Himself 3:8, 10 Gives Glory to God 1:11 Gives Grace 1:2 4:23 Gives Comfort to Us 2:1 Gives Comfort for Others Gives Purpose for Ministry 2:16 Gives Life 1:21 Gives Ability to Do Everything 4:13 Gives Joy (Contentment) 1:18, 26 3:1 4:4, 10-13 Gives Confidence (Ability to Stand) 1:13-14 2:19, 24 4:1, 19 Gives Peace 4:2, 7 Gives Suffering 1:13, 29 3:10 Gives Rewards 1:21, 23 3:7-8, 14 Gives Humility 2:5 Gives Unity 1:15-17 2:1-2 4:21-22 Gives New Bodies (Resurrection) 3:11, 21 Gives Christlikeness (Exalts Himself in Us) 1:20, 27 3:10-14

43 Imitating the Attitude of Christ
Theme Imitating the Attitude of Christ Key Word Attitude (Priority of Unity) Key Verse “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

44 How do you need to show a more Christ-like attitude during difficulty?
Summary Statement Paul exhorts the Philippian believers to imitate Christ’s attitude that they may experience joy, humility, and peace to be protected from false teachers and disunity in the church. Application How do you need to show a more Christ-like attitude during difficulty?

45 What is the attitude of Christ?

46 Other examples of Christ-like humility
Paul served with humility (2:16-18) Paul spent his life for the Philippians (“poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice”) Timothy served with humility (2:19-24) Timothy showed genuine interest in their welfare, not his own interest Epaphroditus served with humility (2:25-30) Epaphroditus risked his life to serve Paul

47 Prison Epistle Christology
201a  Christ as… Focus Explanation Ephesians Head  Unity of Christ Christ breaks down barriers between believers  Philippians Example Attitude of Christ Christ models how to handle difficulty Colossians God  Deity of Christ  Christ is superior to human philosophies Philemon  Reconciler  Forgiveness of Christ  Christ reconciles believers to God and one another

48 Applying the Prison Epistles
202   1st Century Problem  21st  Solution (Theme) Ephesians  Jew-Gentile Conflicts (“We-ism”)   Chinese Only Baptist Only Adults Only  Realize Christian Unity (4:3)  Philippians  Persecution Prison Death Ministry Inconvenience - time, sleep - recreation  Imitate Christ’s Attitude (2:5) Colossians Denying Christ’s Deity   New Age Cults  Proclaim His Deity (2:9)  Philemon   Master/Slave (“Me-ism”)   Forgive Boss / Employee / Others   Reconcile the Relationship (vv )

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