Lecture 4: Pauline Lit and Theology
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12. 2 What is this describing? Written from Rome during Paul's first imprisonment 62-63 AD
The date and place from which Philippians was written.
13.2 What is this describing? Written from Rome at the beginning of Paul's imprisonment in 61 AD
The date and place from which Colossians was written.
14.2 What is this describing? Written from Rome in 61 AD
The date and place from which Philemon was written.
15.2 What is this describing? Written from Rome in 61-63 AD.
The date and place from which Ephesians was written.
Recognize the background material, occasion, and purpose for Philippians (12.1 and 12.3)
- 1. From a vision that he had in Troas, Paul went west into Europe. Philippi was the first church he planted there (Acts 16:9-10, 14-15, 30-33), and Philippians is one of his most personal letters.
- 2. He and his church have a deep affection (“love” for each other, Phil 1:7; 14:16).
- 3. He has no need to convince them of his authority, and simply presents himself as a servant
- (literally, slave) of Christ Jesus.
- 4. The Philippians were faithful supporters of Paul’s missionary efforts with prayer and money.
- Occasion and Purpose:
- 1. To encourage the Philippians in their suffering for the faith by his example in prison.
- 2. To acknowledge receipt of their gifts and thank them for their support, commending Epaphroditus and Timothy to them, adding that he hopes to be released from prison and come to them.
- 3. To let them know of his well-being and continuing ministry in prison – adversity creates opportunity.
- 4. To warn of the Judaizers (legalists), using his own testimony, and to warn of pagans, who pervert the gospel.
- 5. To heal division in the church, entreating Euodia and Syntyche to reconcile, asking “loyal yokefellow” to help them do this.
- 6. Paul addresses those who are acting selfishly, murmuring and fighting with each other. He calls them to have the “mind [attitude] of Christ,” who renounced his heavenly position and humbled himself coming into this world, living as a human and as a slave – being obedient unto death, even death on a cross. As a result, he is the highly exalted “Lord” before whom all of creation will bow ( 2:5-11). This is one of the key “Christological” passages in the N.T. Paul calls the church back into harmony and mutual concern for one another (cf.2:2-4, 14; 4:2-3).
Recognize the background material, occasion, and purpose for Colossians 13.1 and 13.3
- Historical Background of Colossae: Several hundred years before Paul, Colossae had been a leading city in Asia Minor, but subsequently declined. It was located 100 miles east of Ephesus on the Lycus River. It was on the great East-West trade route leading from Ephesus to the Euphrates River. It was near the more prominent cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis. While a relatively insignificant city under Roman rule, it seems to have had a cosmopolitan flavor, comprised of Phrygians, Greeks and Jews.
- The church at Colossae: Paul never visited Colossae (Col 2:1). One of his disciples, Epaphras, a native of Colossae, who was probably instructed by Paul at the Hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9-10), likely planted the church at Colossae as well as those of Laodicea and Hierapolis (1:7; 4:12-13). Here we see Paul’s strategy in church growth, training and releasing disciples.
- Occasion and Purpose:
- Epaphras visited Paul in Rome and reported on both the progress of the gospel at Colossae and the incursion of false teaching: a seaming synthesis of Hellenistic mysticism and Jewish legalism.
- This heresy perverts the gospel and will bring the Colossians into demonic darkness and bondage. It undermines the finality and all-sufficiency of Christ.
- Paul’s primary purpose in writing is to refute this heresy by establishing the book’s theme: the primacy of Christ in creation and redemption.
Recognize the background material, occasion, and purpose for Philemon 14.1 and 14.3
- Slavery was a fundamental institution in the Greco-Roman world. Its “rightness” is never questioned; it was as common as a shopping mall is today.
- Slavery in the Roman Empire is not exactly comparable to slavery as it has become known to American society. While slaves were, for the most part, exchanged as property, they also had rights under Roman law. For example, they could file complaints against their masters. Slaves were frequently educated and trained in a skilled trade. Commerce would have come to a halt without them. They could build families, accumulate wealth, and ultimately purchase their own freedom. An emancipated slave of a Roman citizen could also become a citizen with all its rights and privileges. In some circles (i.e., Stoic philosophy), slaves were considered to have the same human rights as freedmen and citizens. Slavery was widespread and considered “normal” or even a beneficent way to care for the poor.
- What is evident here, as elsewhere in Paul, is that the Apostle doesn’t try to abolish slavery, but rather directs the proper relationship between slaves and masters. This is consistent with his other letters where he addresses the relationships between Jews and Gentiles, husbands and wives, parents and children, citizens and the government, and believers in Christ. All relationships must be conducted in light of our all belonging to Christ which changes everything.
- Occasion and Purpose:
- Onesimus, a runaway slave, somehow found Paul in Rome. Since Paul had stayed with Onesimus’s master, Philemon, in the past, they probably had met. (Onesimus may have been a house-hold slave.) Paul led Onesimus to Christ in prison and returned him to Philemon to heal their broken relationship. This letter carries this design. It obviously did the trick or it would have been destroyed. Here Paul intercedes for Onesimus that Philemon will take him back. Paul also takes responsibility for any damage incurred by Onesimus running away. He comes back of his own free will, not under guard, “not only as a slave, but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (verse 16, RSV).
Recognize the background material, occasion, and purpose for Ephesians 15.1 and 15.3
- Background:Historical Background
- Ephesus was the most important city in the First Century in western Asia Minor. It was both the Roman provincial capital and the greatest commercial center in Asia. Its temple to Artimus (Diana) was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Its population was about 250,000. Its theater seated over 20,000 and is still in place today.
- Cultural and religious background
- By far the most significant religious element in Ephesus was the worship of Artemis (a.k.a. Diana). The city of Ephesus believed it had a divinely directed covenant relationship with the goddess and proudly proclaimed it. The temple of Artemis was the largest building in the Greek world. The worship of Artemis is associated both with mystery rites and magic. Ephesus had a reputation for being a center of magical practices. Mystery and magic are clearly reflected in Luke’s account of Paul’s missionary trips to Ephesus in Acts, (esp. ch. 19).
- Occasion and Purpose: With the continued success of Gentile evangelism in and around Ephesus, the church was flooded with converts from the region who feared evil spirits, cosmic powers and magic.
- They needed to know about the status of Christ amidst the spirit-powers, what their new identity and lifestyle in Christ involved, and how to view their strained relationship with the Jewish believers who preceded them.
- Although not knowing Paul personally, they submitted to his apostleship.
Recognize the reason why Paul, in writing to the Philippians, uses the example of the Son of God’s emptying himself and humbling himself. (Sect. 12.3.5 & 12.4.4)
- To heal division in the church, entreating Euodia and Syntyche to reconcile, asking “loyal yokefellow” to help them do this.
- Paul addresses those who are acting selfishly, murmuring and fighting with each other. He calls them to have the “mind [attitude] of Christ,” who renounced his heavenly position and humbled himself coming into this world, living as a human and as a slave – being obedient unto death, even death on a cross. As a result, he is the highly exalted “Lord” before whom all of creation will bow ( 2:5-11). This is one of the key “Christological” passages in the N.T. Paul calls the church back into harmony and mutual concern for one another (cf.2:2-4, 14; 4:2-3).
- Stand united in suffering, humility and holiness, 1:27-2:30:
- 184.108.40.206 Be one in suffering: grace to believe and suffer, 1:27-30
- 220.127.116.11 Resources for unity, 2:1-4
- 18.104.22.168 The example [“mind, attitude”] of Christ
- “Who...did not consider equality with God something to be ‘grasped’ (NIV – Greek harpagmos, better – “used for his own advantage” (TNIV) or, “exploited” (NRSV, N.T. Wright) or, “jealously retained,” 2:6
- “But made himself nothing (kenoo)” or, better, “poured himself out” (Gordon Fee).
- Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, taking the job of the lowliest servant (John 13:1ff). We are to do the same, to empty ourselves to serve others, not to exploit them. Jesus liberates us to assume the most humble form of service to others.
In one phrase/sentence state the theme of Philippians
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain
In one phrase/sentence state the theme of Colossians
The primacy of Christ in creation and redemption
In one phrase/sentence state the theme of Philemon
Paul intercedes for Onesimus, a runaway slave, asking his master, Philemon, to accept him back as a fellow brother in Christ.
In one sentence/phrase state the theme of Ephesians
God's wisdom (his revealed mystery) of cosmic reconciliation in Christ.
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