How Do We Know Paul Wrote Ephesians?

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how do we know paul wrote ephesiansJohn Oakes tackles and answer quite clearly that we do know that Paul wrote Ephesians. It is a concise and informative look into how and why he wrote. Was there a scribe that did the actual writing as Paul dictated it or not is truly a very moot point. There words still stand the test of time as being the inspirational words of God. That is truly all that we need to be worried about versus who scribe the letters. But I’ll let John take it from here:


Thank you so much for your faithful work and dedication to answering my questions. The Bible calls us to be ready in and out of season, so i would like to knock down a question about the writers of the Bible. The Bible claims that John wrote his gospel, Paul wrote Romans, and Paul wrote Ephesians. So my question is did they write them? I have heard that Paul told someone what to write in some of his books, but this should not take anything away from the inspiration of the Bible. My friend once told me that its kind of like how he types up this for his boss. But do we take these situations by faith? Because “everything without faith is sin.” Also a claim that might be made is, “Well the Bible is all made up, a whole group came together and made a book and say it was written long ago by a man named Paul and so on. If you have any information on this it would be a blessing.

Answer of “How do we Know Paul Wrote Ephesians”:

It is normal and customary today, and was as well in the time the New Testament was written, for a person to dicatate a letter, but someone else to transcribe the letter. Scholars believe that it is likely that some or perhaps many of Paul’s letters in the New Testament were written down for him by an assistant. 1 Corinthians 16:21 (I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand) seems to prove that this is the case, at least for 1 Corinthians. The same can be said for Ephesians 6:11. You can be assured that Paul looked very carefully over these letters before they were sent out. You can also assume that those who received them, understood them to be from Paul, not from an assistant. They bore all the authority of the apostle Paul. To be honest, it does not take much faith at all to accept this explanation. Perhaps we could argue that it takes faith to believe that these letters are all inspired by God. It is hard to ‘prove” each letter is inspired, so faith is required. However, it does not require much faith at all to believe that these letters represent Paul’s thoughts, even if they were actually physically penned by a scribe/assistant.

As for your second question, even the most liberal of scholars (Bart Ehrman, for example) agree that Paul was a real person who wrote actual letters, some of which ended up in the Bible. Such scholars might question that some of the letters ascribed to Paul were written by others, but even they agree that he wrote, for example, 1 Thessalonians and Romans. So, the theory that some group got together and faked all these letters is not tenable. You can safely dismiss this idea. We have manuscripts from the second century, and quotes from Paul in the early centuries. There is no reasonable doubt that Paul was a real person, who was responsible for most, if not all of the New Testament letters ascribed to him.

By the way, there are some serious scholars who think that it is possible that another John, known as Presbyter John may have written the book of John. I think that this theory is almost certainly not correct, but you should be aware that, although the authorship of Paul of at least some of the letters ascribed to him is accepted by all, there is a significant minority who question the authorship of John. Either way, the book was accepted by the early church as authoritative and as inspired. I am 98% convinced that the apostle John wrote the book, but even if he did not, it is clearly inspired and, by faith, I believe that God directed the formation of the New Testament.

John Oakes

IF you are interested in further writings and answers to biblical questions I suggest you check out for yourself.

What Paul Teaches Us About Money

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Lessons from Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul is the most well-known Christian missionary. He was beaten, persecuted, shipwrecked and thrown into prison numerous times for His faith, and yet wrote half of the New Testament!

Most of the church doctrine you see today is a result of Paul’s writings. Paul was an amazing and gifted man of God; and one that we would all do well in esteeming. Paul also talked about money on more than one occasion. So let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul teaches us about our money.

1. The Love of Money Is Powerful & Destructive

Paul mentored, discipled and wrote two letters to a young pastor named Timothy. Here’s what Paul says to him in 1 Timothy 6:10:

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (ESV)

Ok, so a couple things to note here.

The first is that Paul never says that money itself is a root of evil – rather he says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

If money were evil, we’d all be in trouble. But loving it is where the problem lies.

How can we tell if we love money? Maybe these things will help – do you have a desire to be rich, to make a quick buck, do you always look for something that will benefit you financially or what your “cost” will be to volunteer or help others?

Secondly, Paul tells us that loving money is destructive.

Notice the vivid language he uses – through this craving some have pierced themselves with many pangs and have wandered from the faith!

This is a bold statement that essentially says, the craving or desire for more and more money can and will lead to not just financial ruin, but ultimate destruction.

2. Be Generous

The second money lesson from Paul is to be generous. Notice what he says in the very famous passage of 2 Corinthians 8:7:

But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you – see that you excel in this act of grace also.

Ok, so what is this act of grace that Paul is talking about here?

Well, if you look at the context of chapter 8, you’ll notice that Paul is talking about the generosity of the Macedonian Christians who were giving out of extreme poverty. Paul is challenging the Corinthian church (and us today) to excel in the gracious act of giving generously to others!

I love what Paul says two verses later about why we should give so lavishly, so generously and without complaint:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

Jesus’ generosity to us through the Gospel so that we may live should motivate us to be generous to others.

3. View Your Work as a Means to a Greater End

Why do you work!? Have you ever asked yourself that before? Some of us would answer, “Because I have to” or “Because I enjoy it” or “What else would I do?”

But the Apostle Paul gives us a different view of work that I think many Americans don’t have. Here’s what he says:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Whoa! Did you notice the “so that”? Let him work hard so that he may have something to share with those in need!

We work hard to earn money so we can be a blessing to others. If American Christianity understood that, we’d see the giving go up dramatically in the U.S.

We aren’t called to hoard or to build up a huge retirement nest egg or buy bigger houses or drive more expensive cars, we are called to share with those in need!

How often do we pass by opportunities to be a blessing to others by sharing what we have? Or worse, how often do we even look for them!?

Paul challenges us to view our work through a Kingdom lens and stop idolizing our wealth!

4. It’s OK to Be Rich

Wait a second – didn’t you just say Christians aren’t called to be about nest eggs and fancy cars?

Am I contradicting myself here?

Not at all. I don’t think Christians need to take a vow of poverty because you can be rich and not be about your wealth. It all comes down to the heart.

But, if you are rich, you have to be careful – and you have to be generous. Look at what Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.

Notice Paul says they are to do good, be generous and ready to share. It’s OK to be rich, but are we ready to share!?

What Are Your Thoughts?

Which one of Paul’s teachings resonates most with you? Would you add any other teachings on money from Paul?

St. Paul and Syria: Why Syria Is Important Today

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An Interesting Perspective About The Country Of Syria, And What We Should Do About It!
syriaA lot of Christians are becoming aware of the prophecy of Isaiah 17:1 about Damascus, Syria but are unaware that SYRIA in found many other times in the Scripture! Especially interesting is the influence that Syria played in the early church and its years of development.

The apostle Paul (called Saul before his conversion) was on his way to Damascus, Syria when he was confronted by the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:1-25) Of course, Paul went on to pen the greater part of the New Testament Epistles and did great missionary work. That’s worth noting…but read on…

In Acts 11:20, it speaks of the missionary endeavor of “preaching the Lord Jesus” in Antioch, Syria, and “a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord”. Among that great number who believed were Gentiles (non-Jews). The impact of that outreach ended up becoming an established church in that region, where Paul and Barnabas taught for a whole year. Act 11:26 tells us that, “…the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

Antioch, Syria actually became the headquarters of the early church, not Jerusalem! Isn’t that interesting? Hold on…there’s more!

Then in Acts 13:1, we read of a gathering of the early church’s prophets and teaching leaders meeting in Antioch, Syria. As they were fasting and praying, the Lord directed these leaders to send out Paul and Barnabas on another mission outreach to take the gospel towards Europe. (Here’s where it get interesting…)

That one commission, which came OUT OF SYRIA, (from the early church, after praying, fasting and seeking God), eventually led to the Gospel being brought to our European ancestors, who in turn brought the Gospel to America, which in turn has reached the entire world with the Gospel!


Syria was one of the most importance places for the impact of the Gospel reaching the entire world! Satan is the epitome of one who holds grudges, and he will NOT forgive and forget! He wants to destroy the country that first housed the early church! He wants to torture and torment these people because of what they have done and could do for the cause of Christ!

And this is why we should be praying for the people of Syria, so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can once again go forth throughout the people of Syria!

We American Christians owe a debt of gratitude to the precious Syrian people. They have already been through so much in the last couple of years, with many stuck in the middle of a vicious civil war.

If the enemy has his way, the country will continue to be ravished and destroyed, and when it is left in ruins, he will want the Muslim Brotherhood to take control the people left, and lead them to further destruction. This is such a shame.

Let’s PRAY and DO all we can do to reach out to the very country that reached out to the world with the Gospel.

In particular, we should be praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Syria that God would give them great courage and boldness in the midst of war and persecution. Pray for the missionaries and pastors who need strength as the lead their little flocks. Many need shelter, clothing, food and medical care as a result of this civil war.

We need to pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ gets communicated clearly, powerfully, compassionately and consistently to the people of Syria. We should be praying that the eyes of the Syrian people would be opened so that they would turn away from Islam to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is well able to change their country.

We need to pray for our own country’s leaders that they will have wisdom to know the right thing to do regarding our involvement in this situation. We are to pray that our leaders govern well, protecting life and liberty.

And finally, let us pray that God will revive the church in America, and that we will own up to our responsibilities to live out this Good News to our world!

Think about it! – John Muncy

Are You A Son Of Abraham?

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abrahamPaul has spent the first two chapters of Galatians defending his ministry and the gospel.  In chapter 3, he has turned his attention to giving doctrinal reasons for not following the Judaizers who are false teachers.  In verses 1 through 5, Paul states that the Galatians received the Spirit by faith, not works.  He continues his discussion in verses 6 through 9 today.

In verse 6, Paul says Even so, Abraham BELIEVED GOD AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  You can almost hear the false teachers screaming with pride to the Galatians:  Follow us!!! We are the sons of Abraham.  For Paul to bring up Abraham at this point, word had to be getting  back to Paul that they were using this to further this case.  As someone who zealous for the Law at one time, Paul knew where these false teachers were coming from.  So, he set outs to show the Galatians that the Judaizers are wrong.

Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 in Galatians 3:6.  In Genesis, the Lord had come to Paul in a vision.  He told Abraham that He would his shield and his reward would be great.  Abraham tells the Lord that he is childless and his servant will be his heir.  God tells Abraham he will produce offspring from his own body and takes him outside and shows him the stars.  He says that his descendants will outnumber the stars.  Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Abraham didn’t work for his righteousness.  He simply believed.  He had faith.  So, Paul is saying to the Galatians, “Why would God require more from you than He did from Abraham?”  The Lord did not require Law from Abraham.  Why is he suddenly requiring Law from you?

Paul says in verse 7, therefore , be sure  that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.  Here, Paul explicitly says that those who come to faith in Christ are sons of Abraham.  Paul is exploding the thought that to be a son of Abraham, you had to be born a Jew.  We might recall Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees as this point.  In John 8:39, the Pharisees claim Abraham as their father.  Jesus tells them to do the deeds of Abraham.  What did Abraham do?  Believed.  Paul expands on what Jesus said and says that birth does not guarantee whether you are in Abraham’s line or not.  It’s believing as Abraham believed and having his faith.

Verse 8 is curious.  Paul writes The Scriptures foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham saying ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.  Think about what Paul is saying here.  He tells the Galatians that God justifies Gentiles by faith and that the scriptures testify to this.  The scriptures that Paul is talking about is what we call the Old Testament.  Then he says that the gospel was preached to Abraham in Genesis 12:3.  This is when God initially calls Abram.  The Lord tells Abram to leave his family and country and go to a land that He would show him.  God said that he would bless those that bless him and curse those that curse him.  And all the families of the earth would be blessed through him.

Let’s simplify that for a second.  Basically God is saying, “Abram, I am going to start a nation out of you.  Out of that nation will come the means to bless the world.”  This is the gospel.  Is it the full nature of the gospel as we know it?  No, but Paul calls this the gospel.  The blessing is Jesus Christ and to partake of this blessing requires the same thing that Abraham did:  BELIEVE.  Paul explicitly says this in verse 9: So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer.

What does this mean for us in the 21st century who are 2,000 years removed from what Paul is talking about?

1.  Physical birth is not the same as spiritual birth.  It doesn’t matter who our parents are or what church we are born into.  Our backgrounds do not matter when it comes to faith.

2.  We must believe like Abraham.  Abraham believed in the impossible and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.  He had faith that God could give him a son in his old age.

3.  Faith gives us a new family.  If we are sons of Abraham for believing as he did, we gain a whole new set of brothers and sisters.

4.  Faith takes a load off of us.  No longer do we have to work for our salvation.

5.  Faith makes it possible for us to carry the blessing.  God promised that all the nations will be blessed.  We are blessed and we carry that blessing with us to others.

6.  Faith leads us to be justified.  We are acquitted in front of God for all of our sins.  We are not guilty.

7.  Faith allows us to have the Spirit.  Claiming to be a son of Abraham means little.  Unless you believe as Abraham did, you won’t receive the Spirit.

Letter to the Romans

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Letters to the Church: Romans

Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Ruins of the spectacular Roman Forum–the political and cultural heart of the city of Rome. Image by Carla Tavares.

Start reading it here: Romans 1

When was it written? Probably around A.D. 55-57, about 25 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

To whom was it written? “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people”—that is, members of the church in the city of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire.

Why was it written? Paul longed to visit the Christian community in Rome, but his travels and responsibilities toward other churches in the Empire made that difficult. In his letter, Paul mentions a plan to visit the Roman church on his way to Spain.

This letter was written with a number of purposes in mind. Foremost among them was a simple explanation of the gospel of grace; but Paul also wanted to address growing tensions between Jewish and Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians in the church.

What does it say? Much of Romans consists of what might be called a “Gospel presentation.” Setting a model that Christians continue to follow today, Paul outlines the basics of the Christian gospel, hitting all of the key points: God’s holinessmankind’s sin, and the saving grace offered by Jesus Christ. He then moves on to talk about how believers, once they’ve been justified by faith, should respond to that gift of grace. Paul’s approach is logical and thorough—he clearly and thoughtfully lays out his case, anticipating questions and taking time to explain the more challenging elements. He is careful to ground his message of the Gospel against the backdrop of the Old Testament.

The letter also spends a good deal of time addressing a troublesome rift that was dividing Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome. Early Christians were faced with some important questions about the roots of their faith: what was Christianity’s relationship to the Jewish faith? Was is necessary for Christians to observe Jewish laws and behavioral restrictions? Was it wrong for Jewish believers to adhere to Jewish traditions? Paul’s message to both factions was a plea for unity in Christ: although following the Jewish law could not bring salvation outside of Jesus Christ, Paul challenged everyone in the Roman church to show grace and tolerance to fellow believers who, for reasons of conscience, followed different rules about diets, holidays, and other religious practices.

Noteworthy passages: Given the centrality of the book of Romans to Christian theology, there are far too many key passages to note all of them here. However, a few that especially stand out include:

  • Romans 1: Paul introduces himself with beautiful, graceful words that communicate both his passion for Christ and his love for the church.
  • Romans 7:14ff: The classic description of the “dual nature” that plagues every Christian. Paul perfectly describes the believer’s struggle to live for Christ while continually resisting the temptations of sin.
  • Romans 12: How then shall we live? Paul describes what a Christian life looks like.
  • Romans 14-15: How to approach “matters of conscience”—tensions that arise when some Christians feel compelled to observe practices or restrictions that others consider unnecessary. In brief: be gracious, humble, and generous at all times, and this won’t be a problem.

What can we learn from Romans? The book of Romans is a powerful, important letter than can be appreciated by any church. Its clear outline of the Gospel speaks for itself. And even the issues that were specific to the 1st-century Roman church—the tension between Jews and Gentiles—have clear relevance to the diverse, worldwide Christian church today. It’s probably simpler to just encourage you to read the book of Romans instead of trying to sum up its many key points. Consider these questions as you read:

  1. Why do you think Paul took the time to lay out the Gospel so clearly, rather than dive straight into the church-specific issues that needed addressing?
  2. What picture of the Roman church do you gather by reading Paul’s letter?
  3. Your church probably isn’t divided over the Gentile/Jew question. What issue might Paul have addressed instead if he were writing to your church today?
  4. Imagine that you’ve received this letter from Paul. What might you write back to him in response?

Hopefully this has given you a bit of introductory insight into the book of Romans. Like all of the New Testament epistles, it’s not a long read—you won’t regret taking 30 minutes to read through it this week!

For The Love Of God: What Are Jesus Commands?

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Matthew 10:36, “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” You can’t live for money, friends, nor even family or you will be disappointed. Living for Jesus Christ is the only way to be truly happy in life, for the Lord will never leave nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and you’ll never be let down (Romans 10:11).

We are living in “perilous times” as foretold in 2nd Timothy 3:1-7, when most people have a false form of religion, while denying the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16). There is NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES. To live righteously for God in today’s sinful society, you are going to have to battle every day of your life. Wickedness is unprecedented today because of technological developments.

People on public transportation are viewing pornography to and from work on their cellphones. It’s getting insane. It used to be lewd pictures of women on sights like MSN, Yahoo, Google, and other popular sites in their advertisements; but now they’re starting to use videos of lewd and immodestly dressed women instead. Can you image what this world will be like if the Lord doesn’t return in just 10-years? Sexual advertising will be taken to entirely new levels of sleaze, showing videos everywhere on the internet instead of photos.

Technology doesn’t make humanity more wicked, it just allows people to go further down the wicked road they were already on. Satan is using technology to destroy lives like never before. Just one lewd image can plant a stronghold for Satan in your mind for a long time to come. As Christians, we need to be very wary of where all this is leading. I don’t have TV nor cable. It’s just getting too filthy, agendacized, and government-controlled. Living right is not by chance; it’s a conscientious decision. If you want to live right, then you need to think right, and television is nothing but a cesspool of smut, filth, and brainwashing garbage. There is NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.

America’s irresponsible partying culture of irresponsible drunkenness, irresponsible fornication, and irresponsible abortion have given us the world infamous reputation of being the most irresponsible people on earth!!! People who lack morals nearly always lack integrity. This is why the average sin-loving American is dumber than a box-of-rocks. There is NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE OUR EYES AS A NATION. Sin and irresponsibility are synonymous. Sin always undermines any nation. Those who will not be controlled by God will be ruled by tyrants.

The Ten Commandments can be divided into half. The first 5 deal with how man treats God, and the last 5 deals with how man treats man. This is why Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 that the whole Law can be summed up with just 2 Commandments: 1) Love God, 2) Love thy neighbor. Hardly anyone lives by these Commandments. Most people errantly think they love God, but they don’t. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if you love Him, then you’ll keep His Commandments. In John 15:14 Jesus said that His friends are only those who obey Him. The Lord doesn’t have many friends these days.

American society has become so vile and wicked that people don’t realize just how bad things have become. Filth and indecency are everywhere, and the average person laughs, thinking that everything’s a big joke. God is not laughing. In fact, In James 4:8-9 God says that if you want to draw close to Him, then you need to stop laughing and start crying and mourning as He does over this wicked world of unsaved heathens. My website ministry is a joke only to those people who are not right with God, who don’t know God, and there is NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.

Letters to the Church: Colossians

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Did you know that most of the books that comprise the New Testament are actually letters? These letters (also known as “epistles”) contain both general Christian teaching and specific instructions for the congregation to which they were addressed. As part of our Letters to the Church series, we’re taking a brief look at each epistle in the New Testament. Our previous entries examined Paul’s letters to the churches in Rome, Corinth, and Philippi.

In the decades following Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrection, Christianity wasn’t the only religion competing for people’s hearts and minds. Pagan cults and philosophies were firmly entrenched throughout the ancient Mediterannean world.

It’s understandable that early Christians—many of whom had followed such religions and philosophies before giving their lives to Christ—faced a continual struggle to keep their new found faith separate from the spiritual currents of the world around them. The Christian community in the city of Colosse was caught up in that struggle… and they needed help.

Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Start reading it here: Colossians 1

When and where was it written? It’s widely believed that Paul’s letter to the Colossians was written in 62 A.D., during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (around the same time he wrote his epistles to the Ephesians and Philippians).

To whom was it written? The house church in Colosse. Colosse had once been a city of considerable significance, but it importance was on the wane when Paul wrote his letter. The inhabitants of the area were mostly Gentiles (non-Jews), though there was a considerable colony of Jews among them as well.

Paul had never visited Colosse, but he had spent a considerable amount of time in Ephesus, located about one hundred miles to the east—so it was very likely that Paul and Epaphras (founder of the Colossian church) had been in contact with one another.

Why was it written? When Epaphras arrived in Rome, he brought with him disturbing news from the Christian community in Colosse: non-Christian teachings were circulating within the Colossian church. The problem was syncretism: Jewish and Gentile beliefs and practices were being combined, creating a sort of hybrid religion that no longer resembled true Christianity.

More specifically, the heresy taking root in Colosse was a form of gnosticism, which taught (among other things) that humans could transcend evil and the corruptions of the world through asceticism and their own strength of will. Gnostics believed that they could essentially ignore the world and follow their own desires and impulses. Paul wrote to the Colossian church to warn them away from error and reiterate the importance of the Christian ethic.

What does it say? This letter challenges the believers in Colosse to look solely to the divinity of Jesus Christ, through whom we are all saved. In it, Paul refutes the gnostic heresy spreading throughout the Colossian church and presents Jesus as God, creator of the universe. He emphasizes the importance of the cross: Jesus is Savior, and only by his blood we are saved.

Noteworthy passages:

  • Colossians 1:15-18: Paul asserts the supremacy and divinity of Jesus Christ as the head of the church.
  • Colossians 2:8-9: Paul warns to people of Colosse not to allow themselves to be led astray by false teachings.
  • Colossians 3:15-17: In this beautiful passage, Paul calls the Christians in Colosse to accept Christ and receive his peace.

What can we learn from Ephesians? Although you might not feel tempted by gnosticism or the specific heresies described here, this letter is remarkably relevant to us today. Its central premise is that humans cannot achieve salvation through their own works, ideas, or accomplishments; we can’t “improve” Christianity by adding to it ideas or philosophies from other sources, no matter how well-intentioned they are. Paul’s letter to the Colossians reminds us that there is absolute truth in Christianity. There’s no need to look elsewhere for salvation.

Consider these questions as you read Colossians today:

  1. How do you keep an eye out for heretical teachings?
  2. Have you ever tried, perhaps unwittingly, to “complicate” the message of salvation? How so—and what helped you recognize your efforts for what they were?
  3. Why do you think it was so easy for churches to fall prey to false teachings in Paul’s day? Do you think it’s still a problem in today’s church?
  4. Imagine that this letter was written to you. How would you respond?

Letters to the Church: Ephesians

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Did you know that most of the books that comprise the New Testament are actually letters? These letters (also known as “epistles”) contain both general Christian teaching and specific instructions for the congregation to which they were addressed. As part of our Letters to the Church series, we’re taking a brief look at each epistle in the New Testament. Our previous entries examined Paul’s letters to the churches in Rome, Corinth, and Philippi.

The Celsius Library in Ephesus.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

Start reading it here: Ephesians 1

When was it written? Around 60 A.D. Some sources say that it was written around the same time as Paul’s letter to the Colossians, since it’s similar in style and purpose.

Where was it written? Possibly from the prison cell where Paul was being held in Rome.

To whom was it written? Ephesians is primarily written to Gentile (non-Jewish) followers of Christ—most likely the church in Ephesus. (Unlike some of Paul’s other letters, it doesn’t begin with individual greetings. For this reason, there is debate about whether it was specifically intended for the church in Ephesus, or if it was meant to be circulated more widely.)

Why was it written? Paul wrote this letter to encourage Gentile believers, and to make it clear that Jews and Gentiles have been brought together as part of one body in Christ. Paul is also concerned that his audience be made aware of the moral laws they may have been lax in following (or that they were unaware of).

What does it say? Ephesians is first and foremost an encouraging letter. Because of Christianity’s strong roots in Jewish history and religion, it was natural for early Christians to wonder if Christ’s gospel was limited to Jews, or if Jewish Christians held a special status because of their ethnic heritage. Paul clearly wants his Gentile brothers and sisters to know that in God’s kingdom, they are first-class citizens alongside their Jewish brethren. To get this point across, he uses a number of phrases and metaphors that imply unity: the “body of Christ” as a description of God’s kingdom on earth, and marriage as a mirror of Jesus’ relationship with the church.

Paul also reminds his audience that since they now belong to Christ, they must start living their lives differently. They need to distance themselves from immorality and strive for spiritual purity. It’s in the context of this discussion that he uses the famous metaphor of the “armor of God.”

Noteworthy passages:

  • Ephesians 2:11-13: Paul states that through Jesus, Gentiles are part of the body of Christ.
  • Ephesians 3:16-21: A prayer that the Holy Spirit will help us understand the extent of God’s love.
  • Ephesians 4:2-5: A call for humility and gentleness to guide Christians toward unity.
  • Ephesians 4:20-5:2: Words of guidance for living a moral life.
  • Ephesians 5:21-33: Why marriage can be seen as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his church.
  • Ephesians 5:5-9: A tricky and much-discussed passage that explains how slaves should conduct themselves in relation to their masters. (Slavery was common in the ancient Roman world, and the early Christian church included many believers who were slaves.)
  • Ephesians 6:10-17: Paul’s memorable description of the “armor of God.” Girding ourselves with all the bits and pieces of this spiritual armor will protect us from the “powers of this dark world.”

What can we learn from Ephesians? This letter would have been tremendously encouraging to the non-Jewish believers who received it—and its message that Christianity is not bound by ethnicity is important for readers today, no matter our nationality or ethnic heritage. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is filled with reminders that God’s kingdom is open to all those who put their faith and trust in Him.

Consider these questions as you read Ephesians today:

  1. How do you imagine the Jews and Gentiles reacted to Paul stating that Gentiles were part of the church?
  2. How have you experienced Christ “[dwelling] in your heart through faith”?
  3. Ephesians contains several passages that are full of exhortation. As you read through this letter, notice how many of these exhortations are related to how we interact with each other. Do you find any of them personally challenging or convicting?

I highly recommend reading Ephesians in one sitting. It’s short (only 6 chapters) and won’t take you too long.

Letters to the Church: Philippians

By admin

Did you know that most of the books that comprise the New Testament are actually letters? These letters (also known as “epistles”) contain both general Christian teaching and specific instructions for the congregation to which they were addressed. As part of our Letters to the Church series, we’re taking a brief look at each epistle in the New Testament. Our previous entry examined Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. Before we revisit the Corinthian church, we’re taking a detour to look at one of Paul’s most personal letters.

Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

The ruins of the forum and basilica at Philippi.

Start reading it here: Philippians 1

When was it written? We know that Paul was a prisoner when he wrote this letter. Identifying which imprisonment would make it possible to identify a more specific date. As it is, he may have been imprisoned in Caesarea (A.D. 57-59), Rome (A.D. 59-61), or Ephesus (A.D. 53-55) while he wrote it.

To whom was it written? The Christian church in the city of Philippi, one of the leading cities in the district of Macedonia. Placed strategically on the Egnatian Way, Philippi enjoyed important privileges within the Roman empire: autonomous government and immunity from tribute.

Why was it written? The Philippian church had sent the imprisoned Paul a gift by a messenger named Epaphroditus. When Epaphroditus fell ill while performing his duties, Paul decided to send him back to Philippi and asked that the church receive him with joy and hold him in high regard.

This letter stands out as one of the most personal that Paul wrote. It is joyful in nature and doesn’t harshly rebuke the congregation. Paul shows his immense gratitude to the church by thanking them for their generous gifts.

What does it say? The overarching themes of this letter are suffering and joy. Though the letter may seem to emphasize the suffering endured by Paul, his co-workers, and the Philippians, it also resonates with tones of joy.

Ancient Rome attitudes toward life and death were bleak. Death was the inevitable end of life, and suffering in life was just a prelude to that grim fate. Capricious and cruel gods exacted inconsistent divine “justice” with impunity. Humans had no option other than to simply accept the ultimate futility of their aspirations and wishes.

In writing his letter from a place of exceptional suffering, Paul actually reflects that cultural background… with one crucial difference: he offers joy from that place. He writes to the Philippians to show them that his imprisonment had not impeded the spread of the gospel, but had actually hastened its expansion. Paul draws attention to the significance of suffering in the growth of God’s kingdom, and offers the Philippians that same joy-in-spite-of-suffering if they will embrace that gospel message.

Noteworthy passages:

  • Philippians 1:18b-26: Faced with the choice to either die and be with Christ or live and suffer, Paul chooses the latter for the good of the church.
  • Philippians 2:5-11: Through the example of Jesus Christ, Paul shows that there is no shame in suffering.
  • Philippians 3:17-20: Beaufitully, Paul calls the Philippians to follow his example. Though earthly suffering may be the consequence, their “citizenship is in heaven.”
  • 1 Corinthians 13: Paul’s famous call for Christians to rejoice!

What can we learn from Philippians? The book of Philippians is a beautifully crafted and very intimate letter to one of Paul’s most beloved churches. He addresses them with a clear sense of fellowship and affection. It’s forthright in calling us not only to accept our suffering, but to rejoice in it. As Christians, we are not exempt from the suffering that’s inherent to human existence—but our faith gives us a different, and hopeful, perspective on suffering that other religions and philosophies cannot. Furthermore, persecution on account of the Christian faith is a powerful testament to our God and the suffering that Jesus Christ himself endured.

Consider these questions as you read Philippians:

  1. What does this letter suggest about the church of Philippi?
  2. How do you think you would have fared in Paul’s position? Would you have turned your suffering into joy? How?
  3. Have you ever found yourself in a position to suffer for the Lord?
  4. Imagine that you’ve received this letter from Paul. What might you write back to him in response?

This post was originally posted at


By admin

By Don Kimrey

Apsotle Paul wrote, “That I may know Him and the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to His death.” (Philippians 3:10 KJV)

Here’s where I’d like to drop anchor and just think a bit. In the context surrounding that statement, the ApostlePau l is thinking about things which matter to him most. He’s “prioritizing,” and in my opinion he has his priorities straight. This single simple sentence gives you his opinion of what matters most to him. And they are as profound as they are simple.

I admire Paul greatly. He’s one of the greatest figures in Christian history, perhaps in world history. When Jesus was here, his closest friends (the Disciples) and perhaps some others wrote down the things Jesus said and did. They just recorded things as they happened and recorded them for us in what we call “The Gospels.” It was Paul, above all others, who interpreted the meaning of those acts and deeds and helped formulate a cohesive Christian theology. He’s the one person who tried to show what Jesus words and deeds meant. His courageous faith and preaching were vital in the spread of Jesus’ Gospel. His writing and teaching were perhaps more influential than any Christian thinker who has ever lived. Not just in those exciting early days following the resurrection and the birth of the Church, but even to this very day. The existence of the Church, it’s contribution in the fields of art, music, educational institutions and missions, are immeasurable and continuing. The Apostle Paul played a very crucial role in Church history.

Stated as succinctly as possible, his was a massive mind and a great spirit. No one who is objective could dispute or deny the great contributions he made and the continuing impact those contributions have.

One thing which impresses me about the man is his singular, focused statement of his burning obsession, his supreme priority: ‘That I may know Him, and the Power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformed to His death . . .” (Philippians 3:10 KJV)

That laser focused desire and determination was what drove him and served as his compass. It was the key to his power.

As we enter the season when we contemplate Christ’s sacrifice and his resurrection, what a great, great objective for us to have as our own compass! That I may KNOW HIM. . . “

Would I be imposing on our friendship if I asked you to to ponder that thought? Knowing Christ was Paul’s magnificent obsession. His driving ambition. His top priority.

In considering Paul’s desire, I’ve decided that is what I’d like to have as my own goal.

What is yours?

God’s servant, your friend and fellow student,