Daily Bible Study Tips –
Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Philemon
Overview of Paul’s Letters: Romans and 1 Corinthians
Overview of Paul’s Letters: 2 Corinthians – Philemon
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Comments on Galatians and Ephesians
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Philemon 1:1-9, Dear Philemon
Philemon 1:10-25, I’m writing on behalf of Onesimus.
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Philippians 2:1-11 (4/19/09)
Paul, like John, says to his dear readers that his own joy cannot be complete unless they are in fellowship with each other, with him, and with God. One difference between Paul and John is that Paul is always full of practical advice. What does it mean, exactly, to be in fellowship? Paul gives us specific guidance in vss. 1-4. Follow this guidance, and you will fill your church or synagogue with the power of God for the world.
Paul goes on to quote a hymn, probably the earliest Christian hymn that we have a record of. Poetry is notoriously difficult to translate, and in most translations of the Bible the reader has no clue whether any particular text is a poem. This is partly because poetic forms and conventions are really different in Hebrew, Greek, and English, but it's partly because the translators don't try hard enough. The ISV version of vss. 6-11 shows that a translator who works really, really hard can take a beautiful poem in one language and make it into a beautiful poem in another language. Who will set it to music for us? The first half of the hymn presents the model of Christian unity given to us by Jesus.
In God's own form existed he,
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.
and shared with God equality,
deemed nothing needed grasping.
Instead, poured out in emptiness,
a servant's form did he possess,
a mortal man becoming.
In human form he chose to be,
and lived in all humility,
death on a cross obeying.
Now lifted up by God to heaven,
a name above all others given,
this matchless name possessing.
And so, when Jesus' name is called,
the knees of everyone should fall
wherever they're residing.
Then every tongue in one accord,
will say that Jesus the Messiah is Lord,
while God the Father praising.
Response from Fellow-Reader Dick P: There are a few possibilities that fit the meter of the poem. Three have alleluias (630, 317, and 306 in the United Methodist Hymnal).
The one that I’d use is “Old 113th,” which can be found as number 60 in UMH. It’s the best fit, and I like the tune. All one would need to do is tie the last two quarter notes in each third phrase together, and they are already the same pitch, so that’s an easy adjustment. I’ve heard a slightly different tune to the same hymn, but didn’t find it in the UMH. It must be a left-over from my days as a Presbyterian.
You've heard the phrase, "a man's man." Before his conversion, Paul was "a Jew's Jew." After his conversion, he knew that nothing he could be or do could obtain his salvation, except to belong to Christ. Nevertheless, having been saved, he did not stop there, but "forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead," he pressed on "toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." As United Methodists, we join Paul in going on to perfection – not because we expect perfection to save us, but in joyous gratitude that Christ Jesus has already
It's always unfortunate when church members can't get along with each other. You would think most churches are big enough that people who can't get along could at least ignore each other, but sadly, I know of cases where this hasn't been true and one or the other person has left. So what happens if the church is not only small, but the only church in the neighborhood? Euodia and Syntyche were two women in the church at Philipi who apparently couldn't get along. Both were good workers who had helped Paul. There was no other place for them to go. Paul urges them to get along with each other, and he also urges others in the church to help them. When we see conflicts in the church, we can't help by spreading rumors or fanning the flames, but maybe we could help by prayer, peacemaking, and impartiality.
We've had a great year, haven't we? I hope you learned a thing or two about the scripture; I certainly did. Even more, I hope you learned that you must read the scripture for yourself if you want to know what it says. Most of all, I hope you learned to crave the word of God. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you with all richness and wisdom!"
I Thessalonians 1:1-10
The establishment of the church in Thessalonica was one of Paul's great success stories. He and Silas were able to spend only three weeks there before having to leave town in a hurry for their own safety (Acts 17). Naturally Paul was thrilled to learn that the church had taken root and survived.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The early Church expected that Jesus was going to return within a very few years. As time passed, some of the first Christians died. The church at Thessalonica was particularly concerned that those who died before Jesus' return would not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Paul reassured them that there was nothing to worry about – Jesus would take care of the dead in Christ even before the living. This is why the Apostle's Creed says that Jesus will judge both "the quick and the dead."
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Many of us were reminded yesterday that Pastor Charlie sometimes interceded on behalf of the Cowboys during his pastoral prayer on Sunday mornings. Let me add something to that. Charlie's pastoral prayers were a perfect example of what the New Testament says public prayer ought to be. As just one example, he always prayed for political leaders, as Paul urged Timothy to do. I asked Charlie once if he wrote his prayers down or made them up on the spot. He said that he wrote them down. I told him that they ought to be collected and published as a model of what pastoral prayer in our time should look like. He was gratified, although as far as I know nothing ever came of it. I never read Paul's letters to Timothy or Titus without remembering Charlie's prayers.
Philemon 1:1-9, Dear Philemon (6/15/2010)
Several of the letters of Paul are to individuals. One of these is to Philemon, who is otherwise never mentioned in the New Testament. A long time ago, one of my papers was reviewed by a fellow who taught me more about reviewing than about the topic of the paper. He started his review by saying (roughly) what an honor
it was to be chosen to review this outstanding work
, which was probably going to win a Nobel Prize
! By this time I could see that he was a man of intelligence and discernment, so when he started tearing the paper to shreds, I took his comments very seriously.
Paul takes much the same approach with Philemon. He starts his letter by complimenting Philemon in glowing terms: “our beloved fellow worker,” “I hear of your love and faith,” “I have derived joy and comfort” “because of your work for the saints.” Then he alludes quickly to his authority over Philemon, only to dismiss it immediately in favor of “an appeal to love” ”for an old man in prison.” By this time, if I were Philemon, I would be feeling that Paul was a man of intelligence and discernment, and I would consider his appeal – whatever it turned out to be – very seriously.
Philemon 1:10-25, I’m writing on behalf of Onesimus. (6/16/2010)
Paul gets to his point: Onesimus, a runaway slave belonging to Philemon, has become a Christian and a useful aide to Paul. Paul is sending him back, and he pleads with Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ. The name “Onesimus” means “profitable”; this is probably why Paul makes the comment in vs. 11 about Onesimus’s former and current level of usefulness.
Over the centuries, various commentators have put forward opinions about where this letter was written, who Philemon was and where he lived, and whether vs. 18 implies that Onesimus not only ran away but also stole something from Philemon while he was at it. However, what you see is what we’ve got. You know what I know. You also know what the commentators know, so don’t feel too intimidated by what they think. I love reading commentaries, and they can be entertaining, insightful, instructive, and useful. They can also make stuff up from whole cloth. You have to read the Bible for yourself.
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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