November 18, 2007–Since asbestus (sp?) was found in our building during remodeling, we will not be meeting there for several weeks while they remove it. This Sunday we will be meeting at the Viking Chapel at 1:00.
Philippians; Colossians; Philemon
It is unanimous that Paul wrote Philippians. He wrote it from prison, probably in Rome in 61 AD. If indeed he was in Rome, he was in his own rented house, where for two years he was free to impart the gospel to all who visited him. Paul’s focus in Philippians was to thank them for the gift they had sent him upon learning of his detention at Rome (1:5; 4:10-19). He takes advantage of the opportunity to include 1. a report of his own circumstance; 2. to encourage them to stand firm in the face of persecution and rejoice regardless of circumstances; 3. to encourage them to humility & unity; 4. to commend Timothy & Epaphroditus to them and 5. to warn them against the Judaizers (legalists) and antinomians (libertines) amoung them.
The city of Philippi was named after King Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and a prosperous Roman colony, whose citizens enjoyed Roman citizenship. They were proud to be Romans, dressed the part and often spoke Latin. This is probably the imputus to Paul’s reference to the believer’s “heavenly citizenship” (3:20-21). Many of the Philippians were retired military men who had been given land in the vicinity and who in turn served as a military presence in this frontier city. That Philippi was a Roman colony may explain why there were not enough Jews there to permit the establishment of a synagogue and why Paul does not quote the Old Testament in his letter to them. This letter is sometimes called the “Letter of Joy” since the word “joy” in its various forms occurs some 16 times.
Philippians Chapter 1:
v. 6: What good work is Paul speaking of? What is “the day of Jesus Christ” and how would this work last until that day?
v. 11: What are the “fruits of righteousness” and how is one filled with them? What does it mean that these fruits are “by Jesus?”
v. 12-14: In what ways has Paul’s imprisonment furthered the preaching of the Gospel?
v. 19-22: What is it that is going to save Paul?
How does one acquire this kind of positive thinking in the face of adversity?
v. 29-30: What is the conflict Paul is speaking of that the Philippians share?
Philippians Chapter 2:
v. 5-11: This is considered one of the most profound Christological passages in the New Testament. Why do you think it holds such esteem? See Isa. 45:23.
v. 12-16: With the aforementioned knowledge, here is a “call to action.” How do grace and works combine in Paul’s teaching?
Philippians Chapter 3:
v. 7-14: See Joseph Smith’s “Lectures on Faith” 6:5,7 here.
v. 10: What kind of “knowledge” is Paul speaking of?
Philippians Chapter 4:
v. 8: Where have you heard this before? How well do we actually do this?
v. 9: Can you say this to your children? Your co-workers? Your spouse? From reading this verse, what do you know of Paul?
Colossians is a genuine letter of Paul and remains undisputed. It is dated during Paul’s 1st imprisonment in Rome, where he spent at least 2 years under house arrent (Act. 28:16-31), at AD 60, as the same year as Ephesians & Philemon. Before Paul’s day, Colosse had been a leading city in Asua Minor (present-day Turkey). It was located on the Lycus River & on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River. By 1st century AD it was degraged to a second-rate market town, which had been surpassed long before in power and importance by the neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colosse gained biblical importance due to a convert from Ephesus, Epaphras, carrying the gospel to Colosse (1:7-8; Act. 19:10). The resultant church became a target for heretical attack, which motivated Epaphras’ visit to Rome to see Paul who then wrote the letter to the Colossians in response. The specific heretical teaching is never identified in Colossians but must be inferred from statements made regarding false teachers. Some of these teachings are supposed to be:
1. Ceremonialism (2:16-17) and circumcision (2:11; 3:11).
2. Asceticism (2:21).
3. Angel worship (2:18).
4. Depreciation of Christ (1:15-20; 2:2-3,9).
5. Secret Knowledge (2:2-3, 18).
6. Reliance on human wisdom and tradition( 2:4,8).
These elements seem to fall into two categories: Jewish & Gnostic. The theme of Colossians is the complete adequacy of Christ as contrasted with the emptiness of mere human philosophy.
Reading Colossians in a modern context, is today’s church suseptible to heresey and if so, how does one protect oneself from becoming victim?
Colossians Chapter 1:
v. 15-20: is perhaps an early Christian hymn. It is divided into two parts, 1. Christ’s supremacy in creation (15-17) and 2, Christ’s supremacy in redemption (v. 18-20). If this were indeed a hymn, why did Paul include it? If this were a hymn you sang today, how would it affect you? Can you think of a similar hymn in our hymnal today?
v. 28: Perhaps a better word here, than “perfect” would be “mature.” How do we become “mature in Christ?” How does your understanding differ with regard to these two different word usages? Which do you prefer?
Colossians Chapter 2:
v. 8: From Jim F.’s notes: “The word translated “spoil” is a rare word, so it is not easy to establish what it means with certainty, however it appears to mean something like ‘to carry off as the spoils of war.’ “ What is Paul warning them about here?
Colossians Chapter 3:
v. 1-2: What does it mean to “seek those things which are above?”
v. 3-4: What does it mean to be “hid with Christ in God?” and to “appear with him in glory?”
v. 17, 23-25: How would observing the teachings of these verses affect your life and our world? Why do people not live this way?
v. 18-22: Why would Paul insert this family relationship between v. 17 and 23? What do you think is happening in Colosse? Does the matter addressed in Philemon relate to these verses? How can we apply these teachings today?
This book was written at the same time as Colossians, AD 60, and sent to Colosse with the same travelers, Onesimus and Tychicus. Philemon was a believer in Colosse who, along with others, was a slave owner. One of his slaves, Onesimus, had apparently stolen from him and then run away, which under Roman law was punishable by death. But Onesimus met Paul and through his teaching became Christian, now willing to return to his master. Paul writes this personal appeal to ask that he be accepted as a Christian brother.
To win Philemon’s willing acceptance of Onesimus, Paul writes very tactfully and in a lighthearted tone, which he creates with a wordplay (v. 11). The appeal, v. 4-21, is organized in a way prescribed by ancient Greek and Roman teachers: build rapport, v. 4-10, to persuade the mind, v. 11-19, and to move the emotions, v. 20-21. The name Onesimus is not mentioned until the rapport has been built, v. 10, and the appeal itself is stated only near the end of the section to persuade the mind, v. 17.
Elder McConkie wrote “The gospel changes a servant into a brother” as the title to this book. In what ways do you agree or disagree with this statement? What can you assume about Philemon based on this letter and situation? What can you assume about Oneisimus based on this letter and situation? Why would Oneisimus desire to return to his master?
v. 1: In what sense is Paul a prisoner of Jesus?
v. 2: Apphia is thought to be the wife of Philemon.
v. 5: Why would Paul include this description of Philemon? Does such a description apply to you? How does being labled such incline you to behave? Does this form of letter have the power Paul intends it to have?
v. 15-16: In what ways has Oneisimus’ absence made him a brother forever? If Philemon was a believer when Oneisimus lived with him as a slave, why did it take Paul to teach him the gospel?