Letters from Paul

Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy

Philippians 2:1-11
Philippians 3:4b-14
Philippians 4:1-9

Colossians 3:12-17

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

1 Timothy 2:1-7

More Letters from Paul

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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. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible: International Standard Version®. Copyright © 1996-2008 by The ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission.
Philippians 3:4b-14

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 saved us.

Philippians 4:1-9

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.

Colossians 3:12-17

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.

More Letters from Paul
Overview of Paul's Letters
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians, Ephesians, Philemon

Copyright 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016, 24 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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