Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Notes on Philippians and Philemon

In this alternative grouping, Philemon and Philippians are only put together because of the possibility that they were written during time in prison at Ephesus. For the grouping of these two in the original 40 Day Bible series, see here for Philemon and here for Philippians.

    • Closely associated with Colossians. We don't know exactly what Onesimus did. Did he run away? Did he mess up a business deal, since slaves in that day sometimes were very educated and did their master's work. Slavery was not racial in the manner of American slavery.
    • Paul doesn't specifically tell Philemon to set Onesimus free. He asks him to receive him back and presumably not punish him. Paul promises to pay for any money Philemon might be out.
    • It is fun that Paul turns the screws on Philemon by sending this seemingly very personal and sensitive matter to the whole church. Talk about peer pressure! Everyone looking at Philemon to see what he'll do.
    • Like the introduction says, we'd like to think that Philemon gave him his freedom and that he eventually became bishop of Ephesus, as tradition suggests.
    • It is speculation, but does Paul's quick departure from Ephesus in Acts 18:18-21 allude to an initial arrest of Paul in Ephesus, causing him to leave the city for a time? Might he have visited Philemon as he says in this letter? Colossae was at least one path to take through the interior of Asia Minor.
    • Chock full of memory verses (especially chapter 4)--learning to be content, to live is Christ, I can do all things through Christ, my God will supply all your needs, rejoice in the Lord, think on the right things, working out our salvation with fear and trembling...
    • Traditionally from Rome, although Ephesus is also suggested, Paul is thanking them for the material support they have sent while he awaits trial in prison. Philippians sure sounds like 2 Corinthians 1:8.
    • He does stop in the meantime to push them toward unity and uses the example of Christ in the hymn of Philippians 2. Later in the letter he will urge two of the women leaders of the church to settle their differences.
    • In chapter 3, he warns the Gentile audience against getting circumcised. He gives his resume as a Jew but in the end indicates it wasn't enough, wasn't anything next to Christ.
    • One other interesting thing about this chapter--Paul indicates he was very good at keeping the Law before he believed. It's just that doesn't amount to anything next to Christ.
    • By the way, I think the upward call in 3:14 has to do with resurrection. In 3:12, Paul is not talking about him not being perfect yet. He's saying he isn't yet guaranteed resurrection. He is not pressing on toward perfection but toward the hope of resurrection.

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