Come Follow Me: Philemon

Philemon used to be covered with Philippians and Colossians, and consequently, it went ignored. (Do you remember the last time Philemon came up in Gospel Doctrine?)  However, Philemon merits our close attention. It’s short and it offers a great discussion point for something really relevant and important. So, I’ll go long on Philemon (and the bottom has some old-post leftovers about Philippians and Colossians.) Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Philemon”

Come Follow Me: Ephesians

My picture, from the Kidron Valley.

As always, it’s important to start with setting and context. Remember back in Acts 19, where the silversmiths who make Athena shrines start a riot and get Paul thrown out of the city? “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”? Paul met some disciples there and stuck around for three months, and now he writes to that congregation. Paul himself is now apparently in prison (Eph 4:1) and writing letters. Whether in Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea, we don’t know.  Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon are known collectively as The Captivity or Prison Letters. These are Paul’s Folsom Prison Concert, if you will. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Ephesians”

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians constitutes the first preserved “sequel” in Paul’s letters.  In fact, Paul wrote three or possibly four letters to Corinth. Some scholars speculate 2 Corinthians is actually an edited copy of two letters smushed together, based on differing tone and structure. (There’s a break in 2:14 that picks back up in 7:5). In fact, the whole thing is a bit confused. This is one of those letters that emphasizes the fact that we get only one side of the conversation, and have have to muddle through in trying to piece it together. We know Paul’s travel plans to revisit Corinth had changed, that something or things significant had happened since the last time he had written. Let’s look at a few things about the entirety of the letter, then some specifics. Continue reading “2 Corinthians”

1 Corinthians 11-16

The latter half of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has a definite flow and organization to it. While our tendency is to zoom in on a single verse or even sentence, sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. So, let’s start with an overview and then zoom in a little.

We pick up Paul in chapter 11, where he regulates some issues about how the community should function, both relating to gender and the Lord’s Supper, which we call “the sacrament.” Then he moves on to a potentially more destructive issue, namely, the Corinthian saints are highly competitive and trying to one-up each other, but with spiritual gifts. Who is the most blessed? Who is the most spiritually in-tune? This is not terribly unusual. The Apostles themselves had argued about which of them “was the greatest” and even asked Jesus to settle the matter- Luke 9:46, 22:24, Matt 18:1 Continue reading “1 Corinthians 11-16”

1 Corinthians 1-10

This week, we’re all in one place, 1 Corinthians, which is a smorgasbord of interesting topics, conflict, and controversy. There is a lot to say, and as long as this is, I’ve left out plenty.

First, I’ve uploaded a copy of the rough text (link now fixed) from my presentation at the BYU Conference on the New Testament a few weeks ago, “Christian Accommodation at Corinth.” It’s adapted from one of the groundwork chapters in my Genesis book.

Second, some background from Jim Faulconer’s New Testament Made Harder

Continue reading “1 Corinthians 1-10”