Week 11 (March 19-25): Philippians – Hebrews 5

Reading Plan for Days 71 to 77:

Sunday, 3/19: Philippians & Colossians
Monday, 3/20: 1 Thessalonians
Tuesday, 3/21: 2 Thessalonians
Wednesday, 3/22: 1 Timothy
Thursday, 3/23: 2 Timothy
Friday, 3/24: Titus & Philemon
Saturday, 3/25: Hebrews 1-5

Some Introductory Comments:

Background on Philippians, Colossians, & Thessalonians

These four letters are written to three different communities, addressing concerns and issues the Christians in these communities were experiencing:

  • Philippi: The main theme of Philippians is persistence in the faith despite both opposition and even the threat of death. It is of note that the letter to the Philippians, which is generally considered authentically Pauline, includes reference to what seems to be a pre-existing hymn of the church/faith (see 2:5-11). Written around 56AD.
  • Colossae: This letter was written in response to a “false teacher” who was likely teaching a form of syncretism (the blending of religious traditions, in this case Christian faith with Judaism and Greek philosophy). This letter is written with a very high Christology (theology of Christ), and is generally considered (60% of scholars) to be written not by Paul but by one of his disciples, drawing on Paul’s letter to Philemon.
  • Thessalonica: While 1 Thess is generally believed to be by Paul, scholars seem evenl7 divided whether he or a disciple wrote 2 Thess. 1 Thess is the oldest extant New Testament document, written around 50 or 51 AD by Paul during his Second Missionary Journey and within just a few months of preaching in the church. It encourages a church amid opposition, and expresses Paul’s self-defense against accusations against his character and motives. 2 Thess focuses on how to understand the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to return (when that return had not yet occurred).

Introduction to the “pastoral” letters

The “Pastoral” letters (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) are so-called because they seem to be written to pastoral leaders in a more established church than the earlier letters of Paul. Indeed, these letters allude to such organization within the church that they appear to come from a time after Paul’s life and death. (Though I remember several scholars and some of my professors asserted that 2 Timothy was perhaps written before 1 Timothy, and was actually written by Paul – it has a few more personal touches than the first letter.)

These letters offer insight both into the early church and some of the gifts and expectations of pastoral leaders in the church. As you read the letters, I invite you to consider the qualities they recommend and why these qualities were (and might still be) important for our pastoral leaders.

Blessed reading to you this week! Please post any comments, insights, or questions you might have in the comments section below.

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