Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Why does Paul open up his letter with so many other greetings, when it's a personal letter to Philemon?

Why does Paul close with so many greetings from other brethren, when the letter to the Colossians does the same?

Deuteronomy 23:15-16.
Why does Paul directly break this Old Testament command? Is there possible another command that supersedes it?

Who is Epaphras? Why does Paul mention him?

**If your having trouble with interpretations (the how to), please email me.**

Monday, April 28, 2008

Just a reminder.

The homework for the next meeting was to bring two observations in each paragraph to interpretation. Each observation needs two interpretations to go with it.

Since verse 8-16 is one of the main paragraphs in this letter you should do at least five observations to interpretations.

Remember this is were your paragraph titles come in handy. A paragraph title is the main point in each paragraph . When doing your interpretations, pick the main observations that would apply to the main point of each paragraph.



This is the format for each paragraph, except for the 5th which gets five instead of two.

Who: Paul, a Prisoner

Observation: "Paul (who), a prisoner (repeated word/theme) for Christ Jesus (who/deity)"

Notice: Paul mentions his name in this letter three times, and refers to being a prisoner five times.

Examine: This is the only letter Paul starts out with mentioning that he's a prisoner. In all the other letters he mainly mentions his apostleship, and sometimes a servant/slave/bond-servant, depending on your translation.

Paul (who):
1st "Paul, a prisoner"
2nd "I, Paul, an old man"
3rd "I, Paul, write this with my own hand"

Prisoner (repeated word/theme):
1st Prisoner for Christ
2nd A prisoner also for Christ
3rd My imprisonment
4th Imprisonment for the gospel
5th Epaphras, my fellow prisoner

Historical Background:
People are being put into prison for the sake of the gospel. Both Paul and Epaphras are in prison.


Why: Mention prison?
Paul is in prison for the sake of the gospel, which he keeps emphesising. Paul's faithfulness to the gospel led him to lay down his rights of freedom, and in the same way, now he is asking Philemon to lay down his rights and take up forgiveness.

Paul is putting a strong but subtle touch in his letter. He wants Philemon to know that the favor he is asking, is not from a place of authority (although he is) but from a place of sincerely living out the gospel, with all of it's implications.

Literary context:
why does Paul mention himself 3 times?
Paul is making sure that Philemon knows that he is the author of this letter, and at crucial times in the letter he invokes his name to reassure Philemon.

***interpretations can build on each other, or they can stand on their own. As in the example above the second interpretation builds off of the first, but the third stands on it's own.***

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Interpritation: based on observations.

Once you've gone through your bible and pulled out all the historical background from the book of Philemon and Colossians, you'll want to start looking into bible dictionaries (historical background info only, sometimes dictionaries are really interpretations).

Look up: Philemon, Onesimus, house church, slaves etc... then once you've gleaned all you can from both the internal (The Bible) and external (Dictionaries and other helps) historical background, you'll begin to bounce all your observations off of the historical info and come up with interpretation: what did it mean to the Original Reader.

Observations: refer to your chart/handout from first week.
Notice: pick an observation
Examine: mention every thing about the observation

Historical Background: The only binding cultural background is the internal background found in the bible.

Interpretation: What did it mean to the original readers.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Historical Background


1. Critical Method:

a) Who wrote the book?

b) To whom was it written?

c) When & were was it written?

2. Historical Method:

a) What is the historical setting of the book? What is the culture of the audience?

b) If it is an epistle, when was the church founded?

c) Who makes up the church?

d) What are their strengths and weaknesses?

3. Literary Method

a) What is the type of literature? (Refer to last page in booklet)

c) If an epistle, what are the parts and references?

. name of writer

. name of recipient

. prayer, wish, or thanksgiving

. body of letter

. final greeting

4. Survey Method (use 2-3 sentences for each of the following)

a) What is the main idea of the book?

b) What is the major reason that the book was written?

Remember, your observations will help you with the historical background.
Review what you observed, then pull out of the text history. I.e "church in your house"-historical we know that the early church to which Paul was writing meat in a house. Another example would be "I Paul a prisoner for Christ" Historicaly people are being put into prison do to their faith in Jesus.

Also refer to Colossians, for further historical background. Philemon is just one member of a church (which meats in his house), he's part of the church of Colossi. Historical things mentioned in the book of Colossians would also apply to the book of Philemon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Key what???

In the observations step, one of the last things to look for is the key verse.
The key verse is a verse that summarizes the main idea of the book (it can be more then one verse), it tells why the book was written. This can be done at anytime in the observation method, yet usually it's one of the last things I will look for. By the time you've color coded all your observations, you'll have a good idea what the main point of the book is.

Just a friendly hint, there is one figure of speech in the book of Philemon that is (not the key verse) a very important key to unlocking the reason why the book was written.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Color Coding is a useful tool in the Inductive Method. Not only does it get you into the text to pick out each observation, it helps you see how the flow of a book is laid out. Remember good observations are key to good interpretations. The more you see, the more you have to build a biblical interpretation.

So color away your text.

Also just as a side note, in the observation process were just looking to see what is there, not to interpret it.

Philemon: Observations Update.

Observation: "What the Texts Says"

A couple of Key observations for the book of Philemon are:

1. Who
2. Authors Progression.(Follow his logic)
3. Figures of Speech. (F.O.S.)
4. Geographical Locations. (both literally and figuratively: in Christ, in him, in the heavenly places.)

I'll be posting updates all this week.
The homework is to finish your Observations for the book of Philemon and read the book of Colossians before class. It would also be good to do your observations on the last chapter in Colossians.

Friday, April 11, 2008

A.W. Pink

Here is only one safeguard against error, and that is to be established in the faith; and for that, there has to be prayerful and diligent study, and a receiving with meekness the engrafted Word of God.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

literary types

Types of Literature

In the Bible

Many people don’t realize it, but every time they pick up their bible they’re really picking up 66 separate books, that have main message. They start reading in Genesis and make their way through Revelation and sometimes don’t even realize that the BIBLE has many different authors. People don’ t stop to think about the culture the text/book was written in or that fact that the author had an adjenda when he/she first wrote the book/letter. Another thing they don’t realize is that the Bible is filled not only with different authors but also different styles of literature. Understanding the different types of Literature can help in how one interprets the bible, and a certain type of passage.

I want to give an over view of the types of Literature that are mentioned in the bible and then explain very briefly about them.

1. Historical Narrative.

2. Psalms

3. Wisdom literature

4. Prophets

5. Gospels

6. Epistles

7. Apocalyptic

  1. Historical Narratives: these books (as the name implies) give a historical account of what happened. They tell history. One thing they don’t tell is whether or not what is recorded was right or wrong the author usually leaves that up to the reader to determine.
  2. Psalms: All the other books in the Old Testament talk about what God has done or is going to do. They are God’s words to man, but in the Psalms it mans words to God. The Psalms show a person relation ship to God in very poetic words: their struggles, joy, life etc… They express worship towards God and they also can be prophecies

Psalms will often talk or deal with theological ideas, but in and of themselves one should not get their theology from them alone.

  1. Wisdom literature: These are short sayings that show what should happen do to right living and life style. The problem with these is that many people when they read them look at them as commands and promises.
  2. Prophets: The prophets were God’s covenant police in the Old Testament. When the people of Israel sinned, God would remind them about the curses and judgment coming on them through these servants. They would call Israel back to repentance, tell them what would happen if they didn’t, and they also would predict a time of restoration for God’s people.
  3. Gospels: Are the teachings about Jesus, and the teachings of Jesus. One must keep in mind the historical context of the gospels (e.i. the culture, people, beliefs…). Also one must realize that each of the Gospel writers had a different reason for writing their Gospel. When interpreting them one MUST understand Figures of speech and how to interpret parables.
  4. Epistles: Letters that addressed specific needs of their 1st readers. Since they are letters one needs to read the whole letter and not just a part, since it is impossible to get the context of a letter if one reads only the beginning or the ending of the letter. One must also remember that the letter was written to a specific people group in a specific culture and time. To understand what the author is telling them it’s necessary to understand the culture. (One can decipher culture from other Epistles and also the book of Acts helps with this. It is profitable but not necessary to have a historical/cultural help out side of the bible)
  5. Apocalyptic: This is a literary type that was popular between 200 BC and 100 AD. It is very symbolic in nature. It was birthed out of times of persecution, and also filled the gap of silent years when God stopped talking to his people thought the prophets. This literature is highly structured.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cup of the Wrath of God

Psalms 75:8

"For in the hand of the Lord there
is a cup with foaming wine, well mixed
and pours out from it, and all the wicked of the earth
shall drain down to the dregs."
Psalm 11:6

“Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.”

Isaiah 51:17

“Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering.”

Jeremiah 25:16-17

“Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me; ‘Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stager and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.’”

The cup of the wrath of God is fearful.
Imagine this cup was for you to drink,
imagine there was no escape...

Unless you to repent, you will all likewise parish. (Luke 13:1-5)

Doesn't sound very loving...or does it.

It's a warning, unless one turns from there sins, they will drink from the cup of the Wrath of God. So all of a sudden the warning doesn't seem hateful but loving. Truth is being proclaimed. Repent or parish.

One may ask, "If i turn to God, repent, ask for forgiveness, what about the cup He has for me?".
And he (Jesus) said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)


"And you, who were dead in your trespasses...God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of dept that stood against us with its legal demands.
This he set aside,


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

1 Corinthians 1:17

"For Christ did not send me to baptize
but to preach the gospel,
and not with words of eloquent wisdom,
lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."

Paul hit's the nail on the head. What he said 2000 years ago is just as relevant today as it was back then. The Corinthians held eloquence in high honor. They had the right programs, the entertainment, they looked to great leaders, great speech givers. They were all about doing it "right". Yet Paul tells them that what they hold dear, what they esteem, is empty. Their wisdom, their eloquence, their programs/entertainment, is empty. He lets them know that the cross is powerful all on it's own. He reminds them that when he came he didn't use the right methods, or the popular way of conversing to convey to them the gospel. He preached the cross, because in it is the power of God, in it and through it, it has the power to transform a person from a child of Wrath to a childed of God.

Today we need to get back to the preaching of the cross. Why are we trying to decorate Jesus up, trying to impress the world, trying to manipulate people. Christ is beautiful all on his own. He needs no help in saving. If we would just preach the Cross, and like Paul proclaim and live, "I know nothing except Christ and him crucified." why? because in that one event is the power of God to save sinners like you and I.

If we are not seeing the power of God in our churches to save sinners, I mean really save sinners, we need to evaluate ourselves and ask if by our "methods" were not in reality emptying the cross of its power, because were putting more faith in our methods then in the Power of preaching the cross.

watch-maker. By A. W. Pink

Analogy has been drawn between a savage finding a watch upon the sands, and from a close examination of it he infers a watch-maker. So far so good. But attempt to go further: suppose that savage sits down on the sand and endeavors to form to himself a conception of this watch-maker, his personal affections and manners; his disposition, acquirements, and moral character—all that goes to make up a personality; could he ever think or reason out a real man—the man who made the watch, so that he could say, "I am acquainted with him"? It seems trifling to ask such questions, but is the eternal and infinite God so much more within the grasp of human reason? No, indeed. The God of Scripture can only be known by those to whom He makes Himself known.