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Topic 12 Prison Letters: Philippians and Philemon A.Origin of the Prison Letters 1.Rome (Acts 28) – c. 58-64 a.Final imprisonment in Rome is traditional.

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Presentation on theme: "Topic 12 Prison Letters: Philippians and Philemon A.Origin of the Prison Letters 1.Rome (Acts 28) – c. 58-64 a.Final imprisonment in Rome is traditional."— Presentation transcript:

1 Topic 12 Prison Letters: Philippians and Philemon A.Origin of the Prison Letters 1.Rome (Acts 28) – c a.Final imprisonment in Rome is traditional location of all prison letters. b.Makes prison letters the latest of Paul’s letters. c.Problem: distance and direction of Rome from destinations. 2.Caesarea (Acts 56-58) – c a.Jailed for two years before transfer to Rome. b.Problem: distance. 3.Ephesus (?) – c a.No Ephesian imprisonment is recorded. b.“Ephesian imprisonment theory” is based on hints in 1 Cor. 15:32; 2 Cor. 1:8; 11:23; Acts 19 (G. S. Duncan). c.Favored by proximity. Map Paul's Prison

2 B.Philippians 1.Church in Philippi a.Founded on Second Journey (Acts 16:12-40). b.“Leading city” of Macedonia; Roman colony; high percentage of Roman citizens; political implications (cf. 3:20). c.Church had warm, friendly relationship with Paul. 2.Authenticity a.Undisputed. b.Paul’s “letter of joy” (uses “joy/rejoice” 16x). 3.Integrity (unity) a.Main problem: sharp break between 3:1 and 2. b.Some think composite of 2 or 3 letters (3:2-4:3 and 4:10-20 as separate letters). c.Others maintain unity. Paul & Politics

3 B.Philippians – cont. 4.Date and place of writing – Prison (1:7, 13, 16-17) a.Rome (c ). 1)Pro: references to “Praetorian Guard” (1:13); “Caesar’s household” (4:22). 2)Con: distance and direction. b.Caesarea (c ) 1)Pro: direction. 2)Con: distance. c.Ephesus (c ) 1)Pro: proximity. 2)Con: uncertainty of imprisonment.

4 B.Philippians – cont. 5.Occasion a.To tell his friends he is ok (1:12-26). b.To thank for recent gift of money (4:10-20). c.To accompany early return of Epaphroditus (2:25-30). d.To deal with tensions in the church – external persecution (1:27-30); internal divisions (4:2-3). e.To deal with false teaching (3:2-21). 1)Are opponents Judaizers? Gnostics? Both? 2)Are opponents already present or a potential threat?

5 6.Outline of Philippians 1:1-2Salutation 1:2-10Thanksgiving 1)Esp. warm; “joy” over church’s “partnership in gospel.” 2)First of 16 references to “joy/rejoice” – paradoxical joy in spite of circumstances. 1:12-26Paul’s situation 1)Rejoices that imprisonment serves to advance gospel (v ). 2)Contemplates prospects of life and death (v ). 1:27-2:18Series of exhortations 1:27-30Exhortation to endurance in persecution 1)External hostility may be aggravating internal divisions. 2)Calls for unity of mind/spirit; “striving side by side” (military/athletic image). 2:1-5Exhortation to unity in love and humility 1)Unity does not require absolute conformity (cf. Rom. 14). 2)Common purpose; unselfish concern for interest of others.

6 6.Outline of Philippians – cont. 2:6-11“Philippians Hymn” 1)Most regard as pre-Pauline Christian hymn. 2)Quoted here because it illustrates humility/self-sacrifice. 3)Presents the Christ drama in four themes: a)Pre-existence (v. 6) – heavenly divine glory. b)Incarnation (v. 7) - did not cling selfishly to his divine glory; but “emptied” himself (kenosis); became servant in human form. c)Humility and obedience (v. 8) – did not waver in face of Cross. d)Exaltation (v. 9-11) – because of obedience, God elevated him to position of Lord over all (even Caesar!). 4)Reflects 3-stage (high) Christology: heaven-earth-heaven. 5)Alternate interpretation sees parallel with Adam. a)Like Adam, Jesus was human being in image of God. b)Unlike Adam, he refused to grasp for equality with God; was humble/obedient; rewarded with exaltation. c)Finds 2-stage (low) Christology: human Messiah exalted to heavenly Lord (cf. Horrell, pp ). 6)Point is Christians should imitate Christ’s humility, obedience, self-sacrifice for sake of others.

7 6.Outline of Philippians – cont. 2:12-18Application 1)“Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling.” 2)Overcome divisiveness/selfishness in the church. 2:19-3:1Travel plans – sending Timothy; hopes to come soon himself. 3:2-21Warning against false teachers 1)Against legalism (v. 2-11) a)Opponents emphasize circumcision and Jewish law. b)Paul: lists, then discounts his own accomplishments under law (skubala = rubbish; dung; “crap”). c)Righteousness that counts comes from God through faith (v. 9). 2)Against perfectionism (v ) a)Opponents claim spiritual perfection; already “raised.” b)Paul: not yet raised/perfect; share now in Christ’s suffering; resurrection is future hope; salvation is still in progress. 3)Against libertinism (v ) a)Opponents are “enemies of Cross;” their “god is their belly;” “glory in their shame.” b)Paul: salvation of whole person including body (v. 21). c)Note “our citizenship in heaven” vs. Roman citizenship so common in Philippi (v. 20).

8 6.Outline of Philippians – cont. 4:1-9Patching up a dispute. 1)Euodia and Syntyche appear to be female leaders in church; Paul counts them as co-workers in the gospel. 2)Paul takes them seriously; their agreement is important for health of the church. 4:10-20Thanks for Philippians’ gift 1)Paul’s “contentment” with whatever he has reflects Stoic ideal of “self-sufficiency” (v ). 2)His contentment is based on Christ – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (v. 13). 4:21-23Closing

9 C.Philemon 1.Destination a.Addressed personally to Philemon – along with Apphia, Archippus, and “church in your house.” b.Probably located in Colossae (cf. Col. 4:7, 9). 2.Authenticity - undisputed 3.Date and place of writing – prison (v. 1, 9, 10) a.Rome - traditional b.Caesarea c.Ephesus – proximity (100 miles) 4.Occasion a.Returning Philemon’s “runaway” slave, Onesimus (v ). 1)Word-play on “Onesimus” = “useful” (v. 11). 2)Some argue Onesimus not a fugitive; had fled to Paul and asked him to mediate dispute; intended to return. b.Pleads for clemency (v ); promises to repay debt (v. 18); hints for release (v , 20-21). Map

10 C.Philemon – cont. 5.Two questions raised by Philemon: a.Whatever happened to Onesimus? 1)Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110) – a)Knows an Onesimus who was bishop of Ephesus. b)Was it the same Onesimus? 2)E. J. Goodspeed (1933) – theorized that it was same Onesimus and that he collected and published Paul’s letters. b.What is Paul’s teaching on slavery? 1)Does return of Onesimus imply condoning of slavery? 2)Why doesn’t Paul condemn institution of slavery? 3)Does Paul implicitly accept slavery as part of his culture? 4)If Paul accepted slavery, does that make it right/necessary for us? 5)By pleading for clemency/release, does Paul subtly transform slavery and sow seeds of its subversion?


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