The Prison Epistles of Paul
Apostolic School of Theology
Joshua L. Poole
The Epistles of the New Testament are arguably the most spiritually in depth readings in the entire Bible. Paul, the author of the Epistles, gives a detailed account of his life which was centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The contents of his writings explain the perils, trials, persecutions, of a devout man determined to finish his course on earth, living in the will of God. Some such writings were the Epistles Paul wrote while in prison for teaching the message of Jesus Christ unto Salvation. These letters written to the churches of that day were instructions given to address the issues of true Christian living. Paul gives his readers the hope of God even in the most perilous of times. It also shows that even while incarcerated, there are still works to be done for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Paul, through Christ Jesus, overcame the greatest of obstacles to bring future audiences the hope and assurance they would need, believing in the word of God. The structure, message, purpose, and contribution, would reach people from generation to generation, seeking and saving the lost!
The Prison Epistles of Paul
The Book of Colossians
The book of Colossians is believed to written sometime in between 56 and 61 A.D. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome (Tenney, 1985). In this letter to the church at Colossae, Paul addresses the issue of Gnosticism in the church. Gnosticism, according the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus (2013), is the thought and practice especially of various cults’ of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis or knowledge. Paul’s desire in this prison letter was to correct the false teachings that were rising up in the church at Colossae. The problem of heresy was brought the forefront of the letter and would be the main focus of his writing. Structure
There is a specific structure of the book of Colossians which can be broken up into two parts. The first (10:3-2:23) is the polemic against false teaching, and the second (3:1-4:17) is made up of exhortations of proper Christian living. According to Webster (2013), “polemic” means to aggressively attack or refute the opinions or principles of another. This is typical of Paul and his approach, presenting a theological foundation, with the position on which practical exhortations are built (Tenney, 1985) Message and Purpose
The message and purpose of the book of Colossians was Paul’s counter attack on the “Colossian Heresy” that he considered being an opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This false teaching is identified as “philosophy” (2:8), presumably drawn from some Hellenistic traditions as indicated by the reference to “the fullness” (1:19); “the rudiments of the world” (Gk stoicheia; (2:8, 20) “wisdom” (2:3, 23); and ascetic practices (2:23) (Dockery, 1992). The major theme of the book of Colossians centers on the supremacy of Christ in all things. Paul undoubtedly sought to address issues such as family life, conduct and speech, and the putting on of the love of God in his message. He gives the basis for resisting relational legalism (2:16-23), turning the attention of the believers focus back to their personal relationship with Jesus Christ where it should be. Remember as mentioned earlier, the correct theology was laid out in chapters 1 and 2, and followed by exhortations of how to live a Christian life were given in chapters 3 and 4. In saying that, one can draw the premise of the book of the book of Colossians as one of correction, followed by instruction. Contribution
Colossians provides the audience with one of the Bible’s fullest expressions of the deity and supremacy of Jesus Christ. The evidence of this is found in chapter 1 verses 15 through 20. Paul talks about the majesty of praise that sets forth Jesus Christ as the...
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