The Prison Epistles

The New Covenant Explained

Ephesians – Philippians – Colossians - Philemon

Author, Paul

“We believe that the letters ascribed to Paul were written by him in the course of his ministry as described in Acts or in the course of events which followed his imprisonment …”

Origin of the Prison Epistles

Acts 28:30–31 – Rome - 61-62AD

The Prison Epistles - Ephesians

“The Queen of the Epistles”

Unity in Christ

DESTINATION OF “EPHESIANS”

“The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians” & Greeting: Ephesus

Probably intended as a “circular letter”

Theory one: copied and circulated because not all copies have the phrase

Theory two: Destination was cities of the Maeander and Lycus valleys - Benware - 155

INTERNAL EVIDENCE

Paul greets few people - After spending so much time there?

6:21 = Tychicus (Acts 20:4)

Col. 4:7-8 = Tychicus & Onesimus

1:15, 16 = having heard of your faith

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE

Universal acceptance

Included in all the collections

READERS AT EPHESUS

Free City: no soldiers and not imposed government by Rome

Elected officials - Maps, 389

Greatest commercial city of Asia

Gentiles," god-fearers” and Jewish believers

OCCASION FOR EPHESIANS

Need to solidify teaching with all churches

Give a big picture of the gospel - 1:10

Uphold the concept of the universal church - 3:10

PURPOSE & KEY VERSE

Establish the unity of the Church in Christ

Ephesians 1:10 - with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth…

Purpose of the Epistle

To confirm the position that we have in Christ.

To describe what should be the corresponding conduct which believers ought to exhibit as a result of that new position.

CHARACTERISTICS

“in Christ” = 36x

Long Sentences: 1:3-14, 15-23; 2:1-9; 3:1-7; 4:11-16

Punctuated with prayers -         1:15ff & 3:14ff

No greetings

Emphasis on unity

CONTENT OF EPHESIANS

The Wealth of the Christian - Chapters 1-3

The Walk of the Christian - Chapters 4-6 - (35 Directives) See Maps - 388

KEY VERSES

1:1-6:24!

1:3-14, 17-23

2:4-7, 8-10

3:14-21

4:3, 11-16

5:18-19

6:10-19

The Prison Epistles - Philippians

“Thank you for your support”

Joy in Christ

Destination of the Letters

The Letter of Paul to the Philippians = to the Church at Philippi

The Church: Met in various venues

        Well organized 1:1

        Generous church 1:4; 4:10

        Affectionate relationship

        His case has progressed 1:7

PHILIPPIANS IN HISTORY

Lydia = 1st convert

Philippian Jailer

Luke stayed here - Acts 16:11,40

Colonized by soldiers of Mark Antony

Commended by Polycarp

Church & city disappeared

OCCASION

Thank you

Epaphroditus return 2:25 – 30

News of a disagreement 4:2

Receipt 4:18

PURPOSE AND KEY VERSE

Find joy in Christ through every circumstance

Philippians 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Secondary Theological purpose: explain the humiliation of Christ

CHARACTERISTICS

Joy in some form = 16x

Personal “I” more than usual

Affectionate - 1:7; 2:1 – 2

Expects a good outcome 2:24

CONTENT OF PHILIPPIANS

Joy in present circumstances - Chapter 1

Joy in humble service - Chapter 2

Joy in the knowledge of Christ - Chapter 3

Joy and peace for them - Chapter 4

Paul’s thanksgiving in his circumstances

KEY VERSES

1:6, 9-11, 21, 23, 27-30

2:1-11, 13

3:7-14

4:2-3, 4, 6-7, 8, 11-13, 19

The Prison Epistles - Colossians

The Supremacy of Christ

The Sufficiency of Christ

Destination of the Letters

The Letter of Paul to the Colossians = to the Church at Colossae

COLOSSIANS IN HISTORY

In the Lycus Valley

At the opening of the canyon of the Lycus – maps - 451

Near cities of Heirapolis, Laodicea

Colossae a small town

Surrounded by agriculture

On a trade route

Church = mix of Gentile and Jew

Jews settled by Selucids from Babylon

City mostly Gentile, ethnic Phrygians

Philemon’s home

Circular letter coming 4:16

EVIDENCE

Internal

Properly instructed 1:5 – 6, 23

Epaphras 1:7; 4:12; Philemon 23

Timothy mentioned in corroboration

External

Strong and universal

Parallel letter to Philemon

Resemblance to Ephesians

Ephesians = 155

Colossians =  95        - more than 55 = same

PURPOSE

The sufficiency of Christ

To counter a syncretistic heresy

                Ritualistic 2:16

                Ascetic 2:20 – 23

                Mystical or speculative 2:18

Combining:

                        Jewish tradition (note absence of Law)         

Oriental mysticism

                        Greek speculative philosophy

INTENT

Help Epaphras refute

Send Tychicus with Onesimus

Avoid slave catchers

Strengthen and stabilize church

THEME AND KEY VERSE

Christ pre-eminent

Christ the all sufficient Son of God

Christ the head of the Church

Colossians 1:18 - He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

CHARACTERISTICS

Like John, a “cosmic” Christ - Acquaintance with Jewish tradition - 2:16

High Christology - 1:15 – 23 - Lofty language - Intense movement of thought

CONTENT

Pre-eminence of Christ in Doctrine (Chapters 1 – 2)

Salutation - 1:1 – 8

Doctrine - 1:9 – 23

Threatened treasures of Christ - 1:24 – 2:23

Pre-eminence of Christ in Ethics (Chapters 3 – 4)

Ethics of Heart, Mind, Temper - 3:1 - 17

Ethics of Relationships - 3:18 – 4:1

Ethics of Conduct - 4:2 – 9

Greetings - 4:10-18

Key Verses

1:12-13, 15-20, 28

2:3, 6-7, 8-15

3:1-4,16

4:1-4

The Prison Epistles - Philemon

Forgiveness & Fellowship

THE SITUATION

Paul in Rome - Acts 28:30

Onesimus = Escaped slave

Stolen property - vs. 18

Becomes a Christian – vs. 10

Returning with Tychicus  - Col. 4:9

Philemon converted by Paul v. 19

Delivered with Colossians

PHILEMON

Philemon’s home center of church

Archippus lives there and conducts ministry

Genuine faith and love

Obedient and loyal to Paul

Kept company with: Mark, Aristarchus, Demas & Luke

EXTERNAL EVIDENCE

Universally accepted

Characteristic of Paul in language and style

“It breathes the great-hearted tenderness of the apostle and its dealing with an intensely difficult situation points to an author of much experience in handling social problems.”

Readers

Philemon

Aphia, his wife

Archippus, pastor

PURPOSE

Occasion:         To make Onesimus return acceptable

Comply with demands of Roman law

Explain what has happened

Appeal for true forgiveness & true fellowship

CHARACTERISTICS

Affection v. 9

Humor vs. 10-11

Onesimus = “useless” - becomes: “useful” // “profitable”

Appeal for forgiveness

Pastoral in character

CONTENT

Greeting and assurance - vs. 1 – 9

Appeal for Onesimus - vs. 10 – 16

Securing a pledge of forgiveness - vs. 17-25

Key verses

vs. 5 -7

vs.10-11

vs.15-16

vs.18