BL - 34 Pauline Epistles

  The epistles written by the Apostle Paul are called as Pauline epistles.  In the New Testament he has written many epistles to various churches.  All those churches except the church at Rome were established by Paul.  He was the apostle to the Gentiles.  His call and mission was unique.  Now let us study about his epistles.
Epistle to the Romans
A.  Background of the Church
                        Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire.  There were many Jews of Rome who visited Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Act 2 : 10).  By hearing the gospel preached by Peter on that day, many became believers.       Some Roman Jews also became believers (Act 2 : 41).  When those believing Jews returned to Rome, they established a church in Rome.  Thus, Roman Church was built by believers, themselves.  As the church grew, it had both the Jews and many gentiles.  This church was built neither by Paul nor by any other apostles but by the believers, themselves.
B.  Authorship
Although the church was not built by Paul, he was very concerned for this church.  He wrote this epistle as he expressed his eagerness to visit this church (1 : 11-13).  Paul’s authorship of the Romans is established with many proofs.
  1. Internal Evidence shows Paul is the author (1 : 1).
  2. External evidence proves Paul’s authorship as well. The early church fathers like Clement of Rome, (95 AD), Ignatius (107 AD) and Polycarp (150) support Pauline authorship.
C.  Place and Date of writing
                        The epistle of Romans was written from Corinth at the end of Paul’s third missionary journey (Rom. 15 : 23, Act 19 : 21 ; 20 : 3).  Paul mentions about Phoebe of Cenchrea which is Corinth’s eastern sea port (Rom. 16 : 1-2).  He wrote this epistle about 56 AD.  Probably Phoebe took this epistle to Rome.
D.  Occasion and Purpose
                        Paul had a plan to go for a mission trip to Spain (15 : 24).  Perhaps, Paul planned to make Rome as the base for his missionary trips which he intended to do in western part of Roman empire.  In order to explain his plans and to request prayer support (15 : 30-32) he wrote this epistle.
  1. Introduction and Thanksgiving 1 : 1-15
v: 1-6 – Paul introduce himself as an apostle of Christ who has called him.
v: 7 –  Paul addresses all believers as Saints.  All those who are washed by the blood of Jesus are Saints (1 John 1 : 7).
v: 8-15 – Paul thanked God for their faith and prayed so that he could get a chance to visit Rome.  Paul believed his visit to Rome would bring mutual blessing to both, himself and believers at Rome city.
  1. Gospel reveals the power of God – 1 : 16-17
v : 16 –  The Greek word for power is ‘dunamis’.  From the word ‘dunamis’ two modern words are derived; one is “dynamite” which is destructive – the gospel destroys the works of satan; the other one is dynamo which is constructive and gives light – the gospel constructs the life of believers by giving the light of Jesus.  Sinners become saints through salvation.  Gospel gives light to a sinner who stumble at darkness of sin.
v : 17 – ‘The just shall live by faith’.  By believing the gospel of Christ that Christ died for our sin, we will be saved (1 Cor. 15 : 3-4).  This salvation comes to us by faith alone, not by our works (Eph. 2 : 8-9).  This phrase was used by Martin Luther during Reformation to prove that salvation is by faith alone.  “The just” here refers to the believer who got God’s righteousness available in Christ by faith on Him.
  1. Sinner receives righteousness from God by Faith 1 : 18-4 : 25
            In this portion of scripture, Paul explains that all are sinners in the world.  But when such a sinner believes Christ as his only Saviour, God declares him as righteous. Abraham who became righteous by faith was an example of this great truth.
  1. All are sinners – 1 : 18 – 3 : 20
1 : 18-32 – The gentiles are sinners before God.  Every one in the world  has conscience about God within him (19).  More over, man could understand the power of God through creation.  Yet man does not glorify Godbut he worships man-made gods (25).  As a result of ignorance about God, man commits sins.  Those sins are listed here. (29-32)
2 : 1-3 : 8 – The Jews thought and judged others as sinners (2 : 1-3).  But the Jews are also equally sinners.  God will judge all (2 : 9), because He has no partiality (2 : 11 ; 3 : 29).  The term “the Greek” (2 : 9, 10) represents all gentiles.  Circumcision will not make one sinless (2 : 25).  God especially elected the Jews in order to reveal His word (3 : 2).  This special responsibility does not make them perfect.  Hence every Jews is sinner before the Holy God.
3 : 9-20 – Both the Jews and the gentiles are under sin (3 : 9).  The whole world become guilty before God (3 : 19).  So nobody will be justified by the deeds of the Law (3 : 20 ; Is. 64 : 6).  All are sinners before the Holy God (23).
  1. The manifestation of God’s righteousness – 3 : 21-31
Nobody is perfect and righteous before God by the law.  But God made the way by which a sinner can get the righteousness of God.  That way is Jesus Christ (22 ; Jn. 14 : 6).  All who believe Jesus Christ will become the righteous.  God justifies the sinner who believes Christ (26).  So nobody can boast (27).  In order to escape from the condemnation, and to become righteous, one must believe Christ.  God’s righteousness is manifested through Christ.      
  1. Abraham became righteous by faith – 4 : 1-25
Abraham was justified by faith.  When he believed God, he became righteous (4 : 3).  He was justified before circumcision by faith.  Having received the righteousness of God by faith, he was circumcised.  So faith was the first, circumcision was the second.  Circumcision was the outward sign of inward faith.  Abraham showed his inner faith by outward circumcision (4 : 11).  In the same way, every sinner who has faith in Christ will receive righteousness of God.  Having the righteousness of God within us through Christ is the guarentee of our salvation.
  1. Blessing of  Having God’s righteousness – 5 : 1 – 8 : 39
By having God’s righteousness, a repented sinner is entitled to receive so many blessings.  Some of them are explained by Paul in these passages of scripture.  Every believer gets those blessings in his life.
  1. Reconciled Life – 5 : 1-21
Sin came into the world through one man (12).  To redeem the sinners, Christ died (8).  Through His death, Christ reconciled the sinners with God (11).  Since Jesus reconciled the sinners with God, every repented sinner receives peace with God (1), access to God (2), assurance from God (3,4), indwelt by the Holy Spirit (5).
  1. Sanctified Life – 6 : 1-23
After making reconciliation, God   begins the act of sanctification in the life of believer.
6 : 1-14 – First a saved person should not continue in sin because he is dead to sin.  Sinner was baptized into the death of Christ (3).  Here ‘Baptism’ refers that a saved person has been crucified with Christ for his sins and that he has become a member of the body of Christ.
6 : 15-23 – Second, a saved person should not live in sin, because he is under grace.  We are saved by grace (Eph. 2 : 8,9).  We have to seek God’s power and grace to defeat sin in our life.  As we over come sin, sanctification gets progress in our daily spiritual life.
  1. Victorious Life – 7 : 1-25
7 : 1-12 – In this passage Apostle very clearly explains how a sinner gets freedom from the Law of Moses.  As a wife gets freedom to marry another after her husband’s death (2), a believer is freed from the law.  So believer can choose grace instead of sin.  Law could not save, although it was good (7,12).  No one could fulfill the requirements of law.  Hence ‘Law makes every one, sinner before God (9).
7 : 13-25 – Moreover, Paul explains the spiritual battle of a Christian in this passage.  Every Christian faces this spiritual battle within himself.  Paul also faced the same battle within him (15).  He said “sin dwells in me” (17).  The sin that dwells in our body (18) tries to subdue the works of Holy Spirit in us.  Hence the battle begins between our old sin nature and our New Spiritual nature (23).  Due to this inner battle within a Christian, every  Christian struggles to get victory over sin.  Paul experienced it in his life.  He looked for a deliverer.  In such a battle, Paul got victory through Christ.  He thanked God for it (25).  Christ delivers us to help us to over come the sin.
  1. Spirit – led Life – 8 : 1-39
In the previous chapter, Paul explained How Jesus Christ delivered us from the power of sin.  In this chapter, Paul explains how the Holy Spirit actively involves in the life of believer.  While contrasting with the activities of flesh, Paul explains some of the works of Spirit in believers as following.
  • No condemnation to those who walk by the Spirit (1)
  • The Spirit made me free from sin and death (2)
  • The law is fulfilled in us through the Spirit (4)
  • We are able to think the things of the Spirit (5,6)
  • The Spirit of God indwells in us (9,11)
  • The Spirit makes righteous life (10)
  • The Spirit will give us resurrection (11)
  • The Spirit destroys the works of flesh (13)
  • The Spirit leads the children of God (14)
  • The Spirit makes us to call God ‘Abba, Father’ (15)
  • The Spirit witnesses we are children of God (16)
  • The Spirit helps us in our weaknesses (26)
  • The Spirit intercedes for us (26)
8 : 27-39 –  God has elected the believers for a special purpose (28) according to His will (27).  He would fulfill that will in the life of every believer (29, 30).  None can separate us from God’s love (31-39).  Out of his love, He gave His only Son for us (32).
  1. God’s Dealing with Israel – 9 : 1-11 : 36
                        God’s sovereign act of election is explained in these three chapters.
  1. Israel’s Rejection – 9 : 1-29
9 : 1-5 –  Paul had a great desire for the salvation of his own people (The Jews).
9 : 6 – 13 – God has elected the nation of Israel for a special purpose.  He used them to give the law, and the promise to the world (4).  Finally Jesus Christ also came (5) through Israel.  For this purpose, God elected Jacob a sinner.(13).  Through this election God manifested his grace to a sinner and to the sinful world.
9 : 14-29 – Paul further explains about Justice of God and  about How Israel rejected God’s ways (Jn. 1 : 11).  Although Israel as nation rejected God’s plan of salvation, there would be a remnant who would be saved as Isaiah predicted. (27,28 ; Is. 10 : 22,23).
  1. Israel’s lack of God’s righteousness – 9 : 30-33
Gentiles did not seek righteousness through the law, but they got righteousness through Jesus Christ.  Such righteousness in Christ is rejected by Israel.
  1. Israel need of God’s righteousness – 10 : 1-21
Christ is the end of the law (4).  Since Israel could not attain the righteousness by the law, it should accept Jesus Christ to attain righteousness of God.  This righteousness is available through faith in Christ (9,10).  All those who call Jesus Christ shall be saved (13) and receive God’s righteousness.  This righteousness is proclaimed through the gospel (15).
  1. Israel’s Restoration – 11 : 1-36
Israel has rejected God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ.  So God has set aside Israel as a nation for certain period now.  During this period of rejection, God will save some Israelites as He kept some remnants in Israel at Babylonian captivity and at the period of Elizah (3-4).   
Since Israel rejected God’s salvation.  God specially provided salvation to Gentiles (11 : 11).  To explain this, Paul used the example of grafting of Olive Tree (17-24).  The rejection of Israel will continue until the fullness of the Gentiles (25).  After the period of Gentiles, God will again deal with Israel as nation (26).
Note :  Period of Gentiles began with the Babylonian captivity (586 BC).  The fullness of Gentiles refers to either rapture of the church or destruction of Antichrist.
  1. Christian conduct in Daily Life – 12 : 1-15 : 13
Upto chapter II, Paul dealt about doctrinal and theological issues.  Chapter 12 onwards, he deals about practical Christian life in day to day affairs.
  1. Conduct toward God – 12 : 1-2
We should live for God as a living sacrfice.  The term “world” (2) refers to godless system of ungodly people. Christian’s life should be exemplary.
  1. Conduct toward fellow believers – 12 : 3-13
Every Christian should give brotherly love to another Christian (10).  We should use our spiritual gifts in the church for the growth of others.  Paul listed out a few gifts (6-8).  Gifts may vary from one to another (6a).  Our gifts must be used according to the guidance of God’s word (6b).
  1. Conduct toward unbelievers – 12 : 14-21
As Jesus forgave who crucified Him, we have to behave with those who oppose us (14).  We should not take revenge against others.  God will do it for us (19).  Do good to our opponents.
  1. Conduct toward to the state or authorities – 13 : 1-14
All authorities and rulers are appointed by God.  They have to give account to God who is the creator (14 : 12).  Since they are appointed by God, we have to respect every higher authorities (7).
  1. Conduct toward the weak believers – 14 : 1-15 : 13
Every church does have both weak as well as strong believers spiritually.  The strong believers must encourage the weak brothers by giving spiritual exhortation and encouragement (15 : 1,2,7).  The word of God permits to have own food style for Christians (6) block.  But our food style or any other life style should never be a stumbling to a weak believer (21).
Barnabas was the best example for strong believer.  He always encouraged others who were neglected by others.  He encouraged Paul first and then John Mark.
  1. Concluding Remarks – 15 : 14 – 16 : 27
  1. Paul narrated his mission works – 15 : 14-33
            Paul had a long years of desire to visit the believers in Rome (15 : 23).  Paul also asked their prayer support for his ministry (30).
  1. Paul greeted the known believers by name and concluded his letter with doxology -16 : 1-27
A.      Background of Corinth
                  Corinth was one of the oldest Greek cities.  Julius Caesar had rebuilt the city as a Roman Colony in 46 B.C.  It was a commercial city in 1st century A.D.  It was a trade center between Asia and Italy.  During Paul’s day, it was a cosmopolitan city with Roman colonists making up the majority.  There were also native Greeks as well as a large colony of Jews.  Many Corinthians were interested on Philosophy.  The city of Corinth had many temples (12 temples and 26 sacred places) and many gods (8 : 5).  Many temples were the centers of prostitution.  The important deity was Aphrodite (goddess of sexual love).  Her temple was located on top of Mt. Acrocorinth and was the center of sacred prostitution with one thousand female slaves.  The term “Corinthian girl” meant to a temple prostitute.
B.       Church at Corinth
Paul planted church at Corinth on his second missionary journey (1 Cor. 3 : 6; 10 : 4, 15 ; Acts 18 : 1-18) in 50-51 AD.  Paul ministered there for eighteen months.  The church members were from various language and cultural backgrounds such as Greeks, Romans, Jews and other nationalists.  But majority of them were gentiles but some Jews (Acts 18 : 8).  Most of them were from the lower classes (1 Cor. 1 : 26-31) and slaves (1 Cor. 7 : 20-24).  They came from pagan backgrounds (6 : 10-11 ; 8 : 7).
C.      Date and Place of writing
Paul wrote this epistle from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16 : 5-9, 19) toward the end of his three year residence in that city  on his  third missionary journey.  Therefore this epistle must have been written in 55 AD.
D.      Authorship
Paul is the author of this epistle.  Internal evidence proves his authorship from the text (1 Cor. 1 : 1) as well as from the language usage.  The style of writing fits well with other accepted Pauline writings. In external evidence, the evidence for Pauline authorship is abundant from 1st Century A.D.  Church Father Clement of Rome (95 AD) mentions the epistle by name.  Polycarp (2nd Century AD) mentioned about Pauline authorship.  Even the famous liberal scholar F.C. Baur (19th Century) accepted Pauline authorship.
E.       Occasion and Purpose
Paul received reports from various individuals about the problems in Corinth (1 Cor. 1 : 11 ; 5 : 1).  He wrote one epistle (1 Cor. 5 : 9).  But they misunderstood it.  So Paul again wrote this epistle (1 Corinthians).  Paul wrote this epistle with the following purposes.
  1. To instruct and restore the believers by correcting erroneous practices such as divisions (1 : 10-4:21), immorality (5 : 1-13; 6 : 12-20), abuse of the Lord’s supper (11 : 17-34) and misusing of spiritual gifts, (12-14).
  1. To explain about believer’s resurrection (15).
  1. To motivate them for helping the poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem (16 : 1-4).
  1. Introduction and thanksgiving 1 : 1-9
1 : 1-3 – Paul introduced himself and addressed the epistle to church at Corinth.  Sosthenes was the former ruler of the jewish Synagogue at Corinth (Act. 18 : 17).  He became Christian.
1 : 4-9 – Paul thanked God for spiritual gifts given to the believers at  and God’s faithfulness to keep them until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. Problem of Division in Church – 1 : 10 – 4 : 21
  1. Division over Leaders – 1 : 10-17
1 : 10-13 – Believers were divided into various groups.  Paul condemned such divisive spirit.  Believers should not exalt any Christian leaders or political leader above Jesus Christ.
1 : 14-17 – Paul says that Christ sent him to preach the gospel. Gospel simply means that Christ died for sinners and that those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved (1 Cor. 15 : 3-4 ; Rom. 10 : 9 ; Jn. 1 : 12)
  1. Causes for the problems – 1 : 18 – 4 : 21
Corinthian Church had misunderstanding of the gospel message (1 : 18 – 3 : 4) as well as of the church (3 : 5-4 : 21).  In this passage, Paul explained what is true gospel and what is church. 
1 : 18-25The Jews and the Greeks thought that the message of the cross is foolishness.  They did not believe Jesus Christ; because the Jews loked for a sign from Christ (22 ; Mt. 12 : 38) – the Jews would not believe anything without seeing an outward sign –  and because  the Greeks looked for wisdom (22).  The Greeks would not believe anything without having scientific or philosophical concept.  Paul condemned such attitude of the Jews and the Greeks.  He stated dry wisdom (wordly wisdom) will not save us but true wisdom that is revealed in the gospel of Christ (21) will save us.
1 : 26-31 – Here, Apostle distinguished between worldly power, wisdom and divine wisdom.
2 : 1-5 – He says how he preached the gospel with the power of God without using human wisdom.
2 : 6-16 – The Holy Spirit gives us free wisdom and understanding (11) through His teaching ministry (13; Jn. 14 : 26).
3 : 1-4 – Groupism is the direct result of carnality.
3 : 5-17 – A true church is planted by the works and efforts of many individuals but God is the one who really gives growth (6,7).  The church is pictured as God’s field and God’s building (9).  The foundation of Church is Jesus Christ.  God’s building here probably refers “Christian Life and Service”.  It can be built by either method – by using durable material (gold, silver, precious stones) or by using perishable materials (wood, hay, straw).  Such building (Christian Service) will be tested by fire on the Day of Lord’s return.  If one’s works like gold, silver, precious stone endure the test of fire, one will receive the reward for his Christian service and life.  If one’s works of wood, hay, straw do not endure fire, he will not get any reward for his Christian service.
3 : 18-23 – Wordly wisdom is foolishness before God (18, Lk. 11 : 52 ; 12 : 15-21).
4 : 1-5 – Paul states that God has given him the ministry (1).  So he has to be faithful (2) in it. 
4 : 6-13 – Paul like other apostles humbles himself (10) and explains how he suffered for gospel.
4 : 14-21 – Paul expressed his fatherly love (15) for Corinthian believers.  And He sent Timothy to Corinth to teach them.
  1. Problem of Immorality and Law suits – 5 : 1-6 : 20
  1. Immorality in the Church 5 : 1-13
5 : 1-2 – A man  in the church had immoral behaviour by having sex with his stepmother.
5 : 3-8 – Such an immoral person will be judged by God.  To judge them, God may use even satan (5) for the destruction of the flesh (body).  Such immoral person would die by sickness such like AIDS (HIV).
5 : 9-13 – Paul advised the believers that they should not keep fellowship with such immoral person who was in the church.
  1. Lawsuits against fellow brothers – 6 : 1-11
God through Paul advises that a believer must not go to court against another brother in church.  It is good to settle all the issues within us according to the guidance of God’s word.  Going to court against a brother is waste of time and money.
  1. Christian Freedom – 6 : 12-20
Paul again deals with sexual immorality.  Although Christians are free to act, it is not good to act against our own body by having sexual immorality.  Our Christian freedom should not be misused.  Because our body is the temple of Holy Spirit (19 – 20).
  1. Principles of Christian Marriage – 7 : 1-40
This chapter explains the principles of a Christian marriage.  The Bible does not encourage divorce.  Especially a believer should never initiate divorce himself or herself.
7 : 1 –  “Not to touch a woman” is a special euphemism for sexual intercourse with other women.
7 : 12, 25 –  In these verses, Paul used the term “I say, not the Lord”.  Sometimes Christians misunderstand these statements.  Let us study these terms.  “Not the Lord” means that the Lord Jesus Christ did not explain these things about marriage during His earthly ministry.  He taught about marriage in Jewish family, but He did not explain about for gentiles Christian.  So Paul again explained about Christian marriage in general for both the Jews and the Gentiles.  The term “I say” does not mean that Paul himself said his own views.  But it means “Paul explained what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him about Christian marriage”.  So he said in verse 7 : 40 “I also have the spirit of God”.  It is very clear that Paul taught what the Holy  Spirit intended to teach.
  1. Food sacrificed to Corinthian Idols – 8 : 1-11 : 1
  1. Basis for Christian conduct – 8 : 1-13
Corinth had many temples.  In those temples unbelievers offered animal sacrifices to idols and ate flesh (meat) of those sacrificed animals.  Often, such worships included drunk with wine and sexual immorality.  The new believers of Corinthian church had confusion about these matters, especially about eating meat.  They asked Paul concerning food offered idols.  Paul advised them “to be sensitive” in this matter so that they might not become stumbling block to weak believers.  Hence the basic for Christian conduct is love.  Love edifies (8:1).
  1. Paul’s apostolic authority defended – 9 : 1-27
Paul was a special apostle, called by Jesus Christ (1 : 1 ; Act 9).  He had many privileges as the apostle (9 : 4-7).  But he controlled himself.  He did not use many of those privileges for the sake of believers (12).  He worked and earned money for his needs.  He did not put his burden over believers. (18).  By giving his example, Paul asked them to follow his example in this matter (11 : 1).
  1. Old Testament Example – 10 : 1-22
In the Old Testament, some people of Israel became idolaters on the way to Canaan.  God punished them.  This was an example (11).  Paul adviced them to flee from idolatry (14).  Paul differentiated Corinthian idols from true God.  God is faithful (13); but idols are not so.
  1. Do all for the Glory of God – 10 : 23-11 : 1
Paul again explains his example.  All things are lawful to him (23).  But all will not edify the weak brothers.  So Paul says that he would never do anything that would not edify others (29).  He urges Corinthian believers to follow him (11 : 1).  He advices them and us “do all for the glory of God” (31).  If our conduct and acts do not glorify God, we should not do those things.
  1. Believer’s conduct in worship Service – 11 : 2-34
Paul explained how believers must behave in the worship service.  In this passage he dealt about women’s head covering and Lord’s supper.
  1. Women’s proper head covering – 11 : 2-16
According to Corinthian customs, women must cover her head before the public.  Women by covering of her head show her respect to husband in the public.  A woman who appeared bareheaded in the public place was considered to be loose and immoral.  Paul adviced women to cover their head so that they can keep public testimony.
  1. Principle of Lord’s Supper – 11 : 17-34
Corinthian believers had misunderstood and misused Lord’s supper.  Paul advised them not to misuse Lord’s Supper.  He taught the right principle of Lord’s supper.  The right principle of observing Lord’s supper is “Remembrance of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins.” (24, 25).
  1. Spiritual Gifts – 12 – 14
  1. Introduction to spiritual gifts – 12 : 1-11
First the Holy Spirit makes every person to confess Jesus Christ as Lord (3).  Then, he gives various gifts to believers.  The Holy Spirit gives to a believer at least one gift according to His will (11).
  1. Illustration of the Principle of body – 12 : 12-31
The church is compared with the human body.  The body has various organs (members of body).  The church has many members (believers) like organs.   As the organs have different functions, the believers have various spiritual gifts.  Every believer must identify his own gift and use it for the growth of the church.
  1. Intertwined with Love – 13 : 1-13
If  the spiritual gift is not exercised with love, it is useless.  Every believer must exercise his / her gift with love.  First he should have love for God; Second Love for fellow Christians; third, love for unreached.
  1. Importance of Prophecy – 14 : 1-25
While practicing love, the church must give importance to prophecy (Revelation of God’s word) because the New Testament was not written then (1).  Since the spiritual gifts are given for edification of the church, believers must try to excel and to develop their gifts (12) (1 Tim. 4 : 15).
  1. Rules for exercising spiritual gifts – 14 : 26 – 40
There was disorderliness and confusion regarding spiritual gifts in Corinthian Church (33).  In order to avoid confusion, and to bring order in the church worship, God gave a few rules to Corinthian church for exercising gifts.  This portion of scripture puts forth the following rules.
  • Exercise the gift for edification – 26b
  • Maximum three should speak in worship – 27a, 29
  • Unknown tongue should be interpreted – 27b
  • One should not speak without interpretation – 28
  • When a prophet speaks, other must judge it (They should judge whether it is based on God’s word – Rom. 12 : 6) – 29
  • Two or three prophets must preach one by one in a worship – 29, 30, 31
  • Women must keep silence in the church (34) but learn from husbands (35)
  • Do everything in decent and in order – 40
While giving these rules, Paul also wrote them to have the desire for prophecy (word of God) and   he said not to forbid them to speak, if they follow the rules (39) in Corinthian church.
Various Views concerning the rules of using the Spiritual Gifts
  1. The Gifts must be exercised always in accordance with the rules. Every believer has atleast one gift (1 Cor. 12 : 11).  A believer may have more than one gift. For example, Timothy had preaching gift, gift of evangelism and pastoral gift (1 Tim. 4 : 14;   2 Tim. 4 : 2-5).
  2. The rules are given to the Corinthian Church which only misused the gifts.
  3. The Corinthians mixed and confused the gifts of the Holy Spirit with the pagan system of worship from which they had come. Hence, the rules are given to them only.
  4. The Gifts ceased away. Hence, these rules are not applicable in present context (1 Cor. 13 : 8-10).
  5. Woman talking with their husband in church during worship time is forbidden. Some connects this forbiddance with gifts and some others connect this with the forbiddance of woman with pastoral ministry.  Hence, women should not become and lead the church in pastoral office.
  6. All gifts are existing even today.
  7. Every believer has atleast one gift (1 Cor. 12 : 11).  Hence,  a believer should find out his own Spiritual Gift (Gifts) and develop it to its fullness (1 Cor. 14 : 12 = to excel).
  1. The Facts of Resurrection – 15 : 1-58
This chapter fully deals with the importance of resurrection of Jesus Christ and about the manner of resurrection of believers as well.
  1. The resurrection of Jesus Christ – 15 : 1-28
15 : 1-11 – Christ died for our sins (3-4) is the core gospel message.  He rose again on the third day and more than 500 people saw him after His resurrection.  Jesus appeared to Paul (8) on the way to Damascus (Act 9).
15 : 12-19 – Some thought, there is no resurrection of the dead.  Paul wrote this chapter to explain the facts of resurrection.  He said that Resurrection of Christ is the foundation of Christian faith.
15 : 20-28 Death came to man through Adam, but the first resurrection comes to man through Christ (21, 22).  The first resurrection refers to the resurrection of believers. (Rev. 20 : 5-6)
  1. Logical argument for resurrection – 15 : 29-34
15 : 29 – The baptism for the dead referred here is not Christian baptism.  But it refers to a pagan practice of ancient people.  Some pagans thought their forefathers would get life; if they take baptism (Holy dip) on behalf of their forefathers.  This thought was completely a pagen idea.  Paul just for the sake of argument quoted this pagan practice.
Note :  Do not confuse  yourself with this “baptism for the dead” because Christians must take baptism after believing Jesus Christ as Saviour (Acts 2 : 38).
15 : 30-34 – Our suffering is for our benefit because we will have reward one day on resurrection.  If one does not believe resurrection, his habits might corrupt him (33).
  1. Manner of believers resurrection – 15 : 35-58
This portion explains the nature of resurrected body (35-49), the time of resurrection (50-52), the permanency of resurrection (53-54).  At the resurrection, every believer will get his final victory over death (55-57),  as Jesus got victory over death by His resurrection.  So Paul encourages the believers to hold fast in their faith on Christ (58, Jn. 16 : 33).
  1. The collection for the Saints – 16 : 1-4
The poor believers in Jerusalem were suffering.  So Paul encouraged the church at Corinth to the support financially the suffering believers.  Such collection should be made on the first day of the week (Sunday), when believers meet for worship.
  1. Personal Plans and Greetings – 16 : 5-24
16 : 5-12 – Paul wrote his personal plans and itinerary.  He planned to visit Corinth again.(5,6)
16 : 13-24 – Paul gave his final exhortation to them to be strong in faith (13).  He greeted them all with his love in Christ.
A.      Authorship
Apostle Paul was the author.  Almost, all scholars agree in this.  In External evidence, church fathers like Polycarp and Irenaeus support Pauline Authorship.  As internal evidence, the style of writing is similar to other Pauline writings.
B.       Place and Date of Writing
2 Corinthians was probably written from Macedonia, after meeting Titus (2 : 13 ; 7 : 5-6 ; 8 : 1 ; 9 : 2-4).  It was written in 56 AD.
C.      Occasion and Purpose
There was some opposition to Paul at Corinth.  Some questioned about his apostleship.  Primarily Paul wrote to defend his apostleship (10-13).  Secondarily he wrote it to give further instruction about the collections for saints (8 : 6-7, 10-11; 9  3-5).
  1. Greetings and Thanksgiving – 1 : 1-11
                        As in other epistles, Paul greeted the church and then thanked God for all comfort (4, 5) and deliverance from troubles (10).  God comforts us in our sufferings,  so that we may comfort others (4).
  1. Paul’s Relation with the church at Corinth – 1 : 12-7 : 16
                        In this passage of scripture, Paul explains his relationship with the church.
  1. Paul’s travel plans – 1 : 12-2 : 13
While he wrote his travel plans, he also wrote some of his principles that he used in ministry.
1 : 12 – 24 – He lived  a simple life (12).  Both he and believers were anointed by God (21) .  The Holy Spirit was given to them by sealing as a guarantee (22).
2 : 1-13 – Paul earlier wrote a severe letter about their misbehaviour.  Such misbehaviour  was painful to Paul as well as to believers.  However, there was a change in their behaviour through Paul’s severe letter.  Now he asks them to forgive and comfort the offender (7).  Since the offender had repented, Paul asked them to forgive and to readmit him (repented believer) in fellowship.  If a repented believer is not restored into church, satan might use the opportunity to destroy the church fellowship.
  1. The character of Paul’s ministry in Corinth – 2 : 14 – 6 : 10
In this entire passage, Apostle Paul describes as to how he ministered to Jesus Christ.
2 : 14-17 – He did not mix any human philosophy with the gospel message.  He preached the word of God without adulterating for gain (17).
3 : 1-6 – Every believer is an epistle of Christ.  When people see our life, they must know Jesus Christ who is living in us.  
3 : 7-18 – Moses was the law giver to Israel.  He did wonderful ministry to God by giving the law.  However ministry to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is far better than ministry to the law (9,10).  Because the Holy Spirit has freed us from the curse of law   he transforms us from glory to glory (17, 18).
4 : 1-6 – Jesus Christ is the light of the world (Jn. 12 : 46).  This light shines in us through the gospel of Christ (4).  So ministry to  the Gospel is the greatest service to God (5).
4 : 7-15 – Our body (earthen vessels) receives and posses the power of God through gospel (7 ; Rom. 1 : 16).  Since the believer has the power of God, he is able to withstand all problems (8-10) and to overcome them.
4 : 16-18 – Although we suffer temporary, we would receive glory in eternity for our sufferings.  So we should not lose heart.  Although we suffer in our body (outward man), we get strength at inward man (spiritual nature) day by day.  So Paul did not lose heart in suffering.
5 : 1-8 – This passage assures about our resurrection.  When our body (Earthly house / Tent) is destroyed at death, we would receive a building (house – 5 : 1) from God.  Here building (house) refers to the resurrected glorified body.  This guarantee is given to us by God through Holy Spirit.  We live with this hope.  Although we have not seen, Christ we walk with faith (7), that we would receive the heavenly blessings (2).
5 : 9-11 – All believers must stand before the Judgement seat of Christ, where they would receive the reward for good works they have done in this life (1 Cor. 3 : 12-15).  And for bad works they would not have any reward.
5 : 12-21 – Love of God (11) motivated Paul to ministry (not money or position).  Therefore he suffered.  Sinners are reconciled to God by accepting the gospel of Christ.  So Gospel ministry is known as ministry of Reconciliation.  Gospel workers are ambassadors for Christ so that they could call sinners to be reconciled to God through Gospel.
6 : 1-10 – Paul suffered very much as a minister of God’s word.  But he never left ministry.
  1. The appeal for separation from sin – 6 : 11 – 7 : 16
6 : 11 – 7 : 1 – Since the believers are the temple of God, they should separate themselves from all kinds of sins.  We should be holy, because our heavenly Father is holy (6 : 18).
7 : 2-12 – Paul cheated none (12) but he suffered in ministry (5).  God comforted him (6).  Paul appreciated Corinthians for they have repented from their sins (9, 10).
7 : 13-16 – Titus reported to Paul about the repentance of Corinthians.  Earlier Titus was sent by Paul to Corinth.  The church at Corinth received Titus and respected him, as Paul’s representative (13).  Paul appreciated Corinthians for this as well.
  1. The collection for Christians in Jerusalem – 8 : 1-9 : 15
                        These two chapters deal with collection that was made for the suffering poor Christians in Jerusalem.  Here we get some good principles for church offering.
  1. First give yourselves to God – 5
  2. Abound yourselves in the grace of giving – 7
  3. Giving is the true test for love – 8
  4. Give it out of what you have – 11
  5. Giving maintains equality – 14
  6. Give with generosity – 9 5
  7. Give as you have purposed in heart – 9 : 7
As Macedonian churches gave, Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to give (8 : 1,2).
  1. Paul’s defense of his Apostolic Authority – 10 : 1-13 : 10
  1. Paul’s Apostolic Authority 10 : 1 – 12 : 13
10 : 1-6 – When opponents questioned apostolic authority, Paul humbled himself with meekness.  He did not fight against them physically.  But boldly he stated, that facing opisition  was a spiritual war which must be own by obedience to Christ.
10 : 7 – 11 – As Paul showed his authority through his earlier letter (10), he shows his authority by stating “we are Christ’s”. (7).
10 : 12-18 – Here he stated, that although he has authority, he would not exercise it beyond limit (14).
11 : 1-4 – Paul asked them to be faithful to the gospel they have received (4 ; 1 Cor. 15 : 1-4)
11 : 5-21 – Paul contrasted true apostle with false apostles.  True apostles suffer for Christ.  False apostles are cheaters (13).
11 : 22-33 – Paul lists here all his suffering for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
12 : 1-6 – Paul was once transported upto third heaven.  This experience was not given to any other apostles, probably except John.  “Third heaven” (2) is the place where the presence of God is seated.  It is also identified with “Paradise” (4 ; Lk. 23 : 43 ; Rev. 2 : 7).  Paul probably heard the words (language) of angels, which he could not utter.  This shows that man can not speak angel’s language.
12 : 7-10 – Paul mentions about a “Thorn in the flesh”.  It is very difficult for us to assume what is thorn in the flesh.  Thus far no scholar has given any satisfactory explanation.  However, many believe that he had some physical weakness, most probably in the eye.  He had probably poor eye sight due to the scales fallen from his eyes (Act 9 : 18 ; Gal. 4 : 13-15).  He prayed for healing but God promised His grace so that he could bear it.
12 : 11-21 – One of the signs of apostles (12) was doing instant miracles just by a command; such miracle was also done by Paul as other apostles did.  By this Paul proved his apostleship.  After proving his apostleship Paul expressed his love for Corinthian church.
  1. Paul’s plans for further ministry in Corinth – 13 : 1-10
13 : 1-10 – He planned his third visit (1) to Corinth to minister there.  He also prayed for their spiritual growth (9)
  1. Paul’s Greetings to the church at Corinth 13 : 11-14
13 : 12 – Holy Kiss.   It was a common way of greeting in the first century, especially among the Jews.  It was a sign of unity.  It was done male with male friends or female with female friend.  It was not done with opposite sex generally. 
13 : 14 – It is a special greeting which includes the three persons of Godhead.
A.    Authorship
Most of the scholars believe that Galatians was written by Paul.  Paul himself claims his authorship (1 : 1 ; 5 : 2).  Early church fathers of First and Second century support Pauline authorship of Galatians (Ex.  Ignatius – 107 AD ; Polycarp – 150 AD ; Justin Martyr – 150 AD).
B.     Date and Place of Writing
It was written in 49 AD approximately, prior to the Jerusalem council (Act 15).  It was probably written from Antioch following his first missionary journey.
  1. Occasion and Purpose
Galatian church was a gentile Christian church.  They were saved by faith on Christ.  Here, some Jews came from Jerusalem and forced Galatian believers to observe the Old Testament Jewish ceremonies, especially circumcision in order to be saved.  The Jews who forced the Jewish ceremonies on gentile Christians were called  Judaizers.  Paul condemned Judaizers and their false teaching.  He wrote this epistle to explain the doctrine of “salvation by faith” to the Galatians.  He cautioned them not to fall in the false teaching of Judaizers.
Study Notes on the Galatians
  1. Introduction – 1 : 1-9
  1. Introductory Greetings – 1 : 1-5
In the early centuries, the writer used to mention his name at the beginning of the epistle.
  1. Purpose of epistle – 1 : 6-9
Judaizers forced the gentile Christians to observe the law of Moses, including Sabbath and circumcision.  This concept is against the gospel of Christ (7).  According to the gospel, we are saved by faith in Christ. (Rom. 1 : 17 ; 1 Cor. 15 : 3-4) not by works (Eph. 2 : 8,9).
  1. Paul’s Apostolic Authority Defended – 1 : 10-2 : 21
  1. Paul’s call 1 : 10-17
God called and saved Paul through the gospel (11).  Paul also called preached the same gospel that Jesus Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15 : 3-4).  He received further illumination in Arabia.  He had fellowship with Arabian church (Act. 2 : 11) when he stayed in Arabia.
  1. Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem after conversion – 1 : 18-24
After staying in Arabia for three years, he went to Jerusalem and stayed for 15 days.
  1. Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem – 2 : 1-10
Barnabas took Paul and a gentile Titus (Greek convert) to Jerusalem.  This was Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem (1).  There, Judaizer forcefully circumcised Titus.  This forced circumcision was against the teaching of gospel (3-5).  Peter preached the gospel mainly to the Jews but Paul to the gentiles (uncircumcised – 8).  But their message is the same that salvation is by faith in Christ (Act 15 : 7-11).
  1. Paul’s argument with Peter – 2 : 11-21
Peter acted against God’s plan showed to him in a vision (Act 10 : 9-16).  He ate with gentiles in Antioch.  But he did not eat with them  when Judaizers came from Jerusalem.  Paul opposed this double act of Peter (11) and his hypocrisy.
  1. Doctrine of Justification Explained 3 : 1-4:31
All are sinners before the Holy God (Rom. 3 : 9-18, 23)  Since all are sinners, how a person can be saved.  This portion answers the question and explains that salvation and justification is by faith alone.
  1. Failure of Galatians 3 : 1-9
The Galatians received the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ.  Having forgotten this truth, they were confused and began to practice the law of Moses.  Going back to the law was a failure.  So Paul called them fools.  However he showed the example of Abraham.  Abraham was justified by faith before his circumcision (Gen. 15 : 4-6).  Every one will be justified by faith as well.
  1. Failure of law – 3 : 10-14
The law of Moses will not save a sinner unless he keeps the whole law.  If he fails to observe one part of law, he will be cursed.  But Christ has redeemed us from the curse of law.
  1. The blessing through the promised seed – 3 : 15-18
 God gave Abraham the promise of seed by which the whole world will be blessed.  This seed is Jesus Christ (16).
  1. The purpose of the law – 3 : 19-25
The law was given by God through Moses to guide the people of Israel till the Redeemer comes (19).  Jesus came and fulfilled the law.  With the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the law came to the end.  The law as a tutor had to guide the people to the promised seed Jesus Christ.  After having faith in Christ, we are not under the law (Tutor).
  1. The Christians are children of God – 3 : 26 – 4 : 7
By faith in Christ, one becomes a child of God (Jn. 1 : 12).  We are not slaves to the law of Moses.  We are sons of God by faith in Christ.  Since we are His children, He has given us the Holy Spirit to call Him, “Abba, Father”.
  1. The folly of returning to the law of Moses – 4 : 8-20
Paul expressed his fear that the church might fall from faith.  Paul reminded How they loved him.  They were ready to help him for his eye problem (15  Act 9 : 18 ; 2 Cor. 12 : 7-10).  But Paul has doubt about their love now.
  1. Distinguishing two covenants 4 : 21-31
Paul compared Isaac and Ishmael, the two sons of Abraham, one born to Sarah, (free woman) and other born to a slave (Hagar).  Those who trust Jesus Christ, as their saviour are sons of God like Isaac, the promised son.
  1. Christian Life – 5 : 1 – 6 : 10
Upto chapter four, the doctrine is explained.  In chapter 5 and 6, Christian life and practice is exhorted.
5 : 1-6 –  We are not slaves of Old Testament laws but we are freed by Jesus Christ.  This freedom is available to us by faith in Jesus Christ.
5 : 7-15 – Although we are freed from the law, we are not without law.  We have a new law.  That New Law is LOVE.  By loving one another, a Christian fulfills the law.
5 : 16 – 26 –  This portion contrasts the Spirit from flesh.  When a Christian walk according to God’s word, he indeed “walks in the Spirit”.  Because the word of God is given by the Holy Spirit.  When a person lives according to his own thinking and ideas (Jud. 21 : 25), he walks in flesh and fulfills the lust of the flesh (16).  When a Christian submits his life to the guidance of Holy Spirit according to the word of God, he will bear the fruits of Spirit (22 – 23).
6 : 1 – 5 – Spiritually strong Christians must encourage the weak Christians by bearing their burdens; such as praying, counseling, helping, sharing God’s word etc.
6 : 6-10 –  The best principle of helping others is explained here.  Every Christian must help other Christians (10)  Primarily.  If possible, he can help non-Christians.  However preference must be given to fellow Christians.
  1. Final Exhortations and Blessings – 6 : 11-18
Paul exhorted Galatian believers, that circumcision is not necessary for those who becomes New Creation in Christ (15 ; 2 Cor. 5 : 17).  He concluded it with a blessing note. (18).
                        Paul wrote this epistle from prison during his imprisonment in Rome.  Paul wrote Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians from prison.  Hence these epistles are also known as Prison Epistles.
A.                Authorship of Ephesians
Paul claims his authorship (1 : 1 ; 3 : 1).  Some early church fathers also support Paul’s authorship.  Ex. Ignatius (107), Polycarp (150), Irenaeus (Ca. 200).  Pauline authorship was never questioned in the early church.
B.                 Background of Ephecian church
Ephesus city was a leading commercial center of Asia Minor.  It was located at the mouth of Cayster river.  It was the capital of Asia.  This city was noted for the worship of Artemis (Latin –Diana).  Her temple was one of the seven wonders of ancient world.  People celebrated her festival for one month.
There were a few Christian brothers when Paul arrived here at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18 : 19-21, 27).  Paul helped the church to grow strong (Acts 19).
C.                Place and Date of writing
Paul was in prison at the time of writing (3 : 1 ; 4 : 1 ; 6 : 20).  Tychicus was the bearer of this epistle (6 : 7, 8) along with Colossians (4 : 7, 8).  Hence, it was written during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment about 61 AD.
D.                Occasion and Purpose
Tychicus was preparing to go to Asia Minor.  Other than this, exact occasion is not known to us from this epistle.  Likewise, it is very difficult to know the purpose of writing this epistle.  However, Paul would have written with a purpose of edification of the church.
  1. Introduction 1 : 1-2
While introducing his epistle to the church, Apostle Paul addresses the believers as Saints.  All who have accepted Jesus Christ as saviour are washed by His precious blood.  Thus all become saints in Christ.
  1. Teaching concerning the church – 1 : 3-3 : 21
In this three chapters, Apostle explained the special characters of church along with his two prayers for the church.
  1. Praising Triune God for Redemption – 1 : 3-14
                        God according to His counsel (11) has redeemed us in Jesus Christ (5) and sealed us with Holy Spirit, while they believed the gospel (13).  Thus the Triune God has involved in our salvation.  He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings (3).
  1. Apostle’s first prayer for believers – 1 : 15-23
                        In this epistle, two prayers are mentioned.  This is the first prayer of Paul.  Paul prayed that the believers might get wisdom (17) understanding of their hope (18) and of God’s power.
  1. Salvation by Grace through Faith in Jesus – 2 : 1-10
All were dead in sins (1, Rom. 3 : 23).  But God loved us (4, Jn. 3 : 16).  So he saved us by His grace through faith in Christ (8).  Our salvation is a gift of God (8).  Since it is a free gift, we can not boast (9).  God has saved us so that we should do good works (10).
  1. Church, the union of believing Jews and Gentiles – 2 : 11-22
                        The gentiles were away from Israel and God’s plan of redemption.  However the Lord Jesus through His death brought together both the Jews and the gentiles (13).  By this union, the church has become one New Man (15). So every believer is now the citizen of heaven (19).  The cornerstone of the church is Jesus Christ, the foundation is the apostles and prophets (Apostolic teaching of Acts 2 : 41-42), and   each believer is a living stone (1 Pet. 2 : 4-5).  A strong church can be built based on this building principle (20-22) so that the Holy Spirit of God may dwell in it.
  1. God’s special Revelation of Mystery to Paul – 3 : 1-13
                        God had a secret plan to unite both the Jews and the Gentiles in the church.  However, He kept this plan in secret without revealing even to the prophets of Old Testament (5a, 9).  But He revealed this secret plan (Mystery) to Paul in New Testament (3).  So Paul was bold enough to preach the gospel to gentiles.
  1. Apostle’s second prayer for believers – 3 : 14-21
                        In this prayer, Apostle prayed that the believers must  be strong in the inner man (Spiritual nature) and   grow in the love of Christ. (16, 19).
  1. Responsibilities of the Church – 4 : 1-6 : 20
Apostle dealt about the characteristics of church upto chapter three.  In the second part (ch. 4 – 6), he deals the duties of Christian in the church, family, society and in personal life.
  1. Walking in Unity – 4 : 1-16
                        Believers should walk in unity, because of unity of the Spirit (3) and of unity of the faith (13).  God has given the spiritual gifts to each believer (7) so that believrs might use those gifts to equip the saints, to do ministry and to edify the body of Christ (12).
  1. Social life of a believer – 4 : 17-5 : 14
Every believer is born as the child of God by faith in Christ (Jn. 1 : 12).  So he is a new man (24, 2 Cor. 5 : 17).    Apostle exhorts the believer to have an exemplary life before the public,  so that the name of Christ will be glorified.
  1. Personal life of a believer 5 : 15-21
                        Every believer must understand God’s will in his life (17) and must be filled with the Holy Spirit (controlled by the Holy Spirit according to God’s word – 18).  The Spirit filled Christian must do the things, mentioned in verses 19-21.
  1. Family life of a Christian – 5 : 22 – 6 : 4
                        Husband and wife relationship is explained in this passage after the pattern of relationship between Christ and church (5 : 22-33).  Parents must bring the children up in the training of the Lord.  i.e. Parents must teach God’s word to children.
  1. Work Ethics of Master and servant – 6 : 5-9
                        Work ethics which is suitable for all ages is beautifully explained by Paul.  Servants should be obedient to their masters.  The masters should respect the workers without showing partiality because they have to give accounts to Heavenly Master (9).
  1. Spiritual life of a Christian – 6 : 10 – 20
                        In this passage, a Roman soldier is pictured.  Every Christian must behave like a soldier to win the spiritual battle against the devil. We can win the devil by the sword of the spirit (word of God – 17).  Jesus Christ defeated satan at temptation by quoting the Bible verses (Mt. 4 : 4).  We can defeat satan through the word of God.  So we must study God’s word thoroughly ( 2 Tim. 2 : 15).
  1. Final Greetings – 6 : 21-24
Paul ends his epistle by greeting the believers with peace and grace.
A.      Authorship
The language and style fit with other Pauline epistles.  Paul himself claims his authorship (1 : 1).  Early church fathers support Pauline authorship (Ex. Polycarp (150), Irenaeus and Origen). Thus we could certainly believe that this epistle was written by Paul.
B.       Church Background
Phillippi city was established by Philip, the father of Alexander, the Great.  This city had a small Jewish population.  In this city, Paul and his team (Silas, Timothy and Luke) established a church on his second missionary journey (Acts 16).
C.      Place and Date of writing
When Paul wrote this epistle, he was in prison (1 : 7, 13, 14) at Rome.  (Acts 28 : 30).  It was written about 63 AD.
D.      Occasion and Purpose
Phillippian church sent Epaphroditus to take care of Paul’s needs in prison(2 : 25).  But Epaphroditus had fallen sick and almost died.  The Philippians had known about this.  However God healed him.  After he got well, Paul sent Epaphroditus with this epistle to Philippian church.  Paul wrote with a purpose that he thanked the Philippian church for sending generous gift which they had sent through Epaphroditus (1 : 5 ; 4 : 10-20).  In this epistle, he also warned the church about the false teachers (ch. 3).
Study Notes on the Philippians
  1. Introduction – 1 : 1-11
  1. Greetings – 1 : 1-2 (As usual, he greeted believers)
  1. Thanksgiving and Prayer – 1 : 3-11
Paul thanked God for the help they sent (3-8).  Then he prayed for the believers so that they might grow in love (9).
  1. Paul’s situation 1 : 12-26
  1. Paul’s Prison Life – 1 : 12-18
Paul was in prison.  He believed  that it happened to him for spreading the gospel.  He preached the gospel to the Roman soldiers (13).  Although he was a prisoner, he never ceased to preach the gospel.
  1. Paul’s attitude of his prison life / suffering – 1 : 19—26
Paul took  his prison life in a positive manner.  He rejoiced in his suffering.  He hoped that  to die is gain, because he can be with Jesus Christ permanently (21).
  1. Christian Life – 1 : 27 – 2 : 30
  1. Christian striving for the gospel – 1 : 27-30
Apostle encouraged the believers to stand fast in the faith of the gospel (27) even at the time of suffering (29).
  1. Christian unity and Inter-Personal Relationship – 2 : 1-4
While having one mind in Christ, the believers must esteem others (3,4).  It is the best principle for inter-personal relationship.  If one maintains good interpersonal relationship with fellow beings  there will be no conflict in the church, family and society.
  1. Christian Humility – 2 : 5-11
Christ is the best example for our humility.  Being in the form of God, (6) He humbled himself to become a man and even to the cross (8).  Such was the humility of Christ.  So He was exalted above all the names (9).  One day, all will confess that Jesus is Lord. (11).  The Lord may here refer to Jehovah.
  1. Christian Obedience – 2 : 12-18
Our obedience to God’s word shows out our salvation to others.  By showing obedience we shine as lights in the world.
  1. Christian Model of Ministers – 2 : 19-30
Timothy and Epaphroditus were ministers of the gospel with Paul.  They were good model for other Christian workers.  Timothy served with Paul “as a son with his father” (22).  Epaphroditus helped Paul “as a brother and fellow worker” (25).
  1. Warning against False Teachers – 3 : 1-4 : 1
            In this passage, Paul warns about false teachers and their teaching.
  1. False Teachers – 3 : 1-11
“Beware of dogs” – Dogs refer to the false teachers (Judaizers who taught Moses’ law).  Jewish circumcision has no effect, but faith in Christ results in salvation (9).
  1. True Practical Theology of Christians – 3 : 12-4 : 1
Paul encouraged the believers to press toward the goal to get the reward (3 : 14 ; 4 : 1).  He, himself showed his example (17).  He lived an exemplary life for us.  All the saved ones have their citizenship in heaven (3 : 20, 21).  But the false teachers (the enemies of the cross of Christ – 3 : 18, 19) will be destroyed in hell.
  1. Exhortation to have Joyful Christian Life – 4 : 2-9
In order to be joyful in Christian life, the believer should depend on God and His word. This joyful life is explained here.  While maintaining peace with fellow Christians (2) we should maintain good fellowship with God through prayer (6).  Having fellowship with God in prayer will give us peace of mind (7).  Moreover, we have to think good things always through the help of God’s word (8).  So maintaining fellowship with God and Meditating God’s word will make us joyful Christians.
  1. Thanksgiving for help and Greetings – 4 : 10-23
Philippian church sent gifts to Paul who was in prison.  Paul thanked them for their generosity and blessed them (19).  After blessing them, he closed the epistle with his greetings (23).
A.                Church Background
Colosse was a town on the south bank of the Lycus River in the Roman province of Asia.  It was on the main east-west trade route about 160 km. East from Ephesus.  The population of this town was made up of local tribes (Phrygians) with Greek and Jewish settlers.
We do not know when Paul visited this town and established the church.  Perhaps, he might have passed through this town on his way to Ephesus on his third missionary journey. (Act 19 : 1)
B.                 Authorship
Most of the scholars agree on Pauline authorship of Colossians (1 : 1).  All early church fathers ascribe the authorship to Paul (1 : 1, 23 ; 4 : 18).
C.                Place and Date of Writing
Paul wrote this epistle when he was in Roman imprisonment.  The period of Roman imprisonment was about AD 61-63.  So the epistle of Colossians was written about 61 AD.
D.                Occasion
Paul sent this epistle with Tychicus (4 : 7-9).  Onesimus was also sent with him.  Paul wrote this epistle when he heard about some problems in the church.
E.                 Purpose
There was a problem of heresy in the church.  The heretics taught false teaching about Jesus Christ and His deity.  So Paul wrote this epistle to explain about the truth concerning the deity of Jesus Christ .  He wrote Jesus Christ is the Divine Being in whom the fullness of Godhead dwells bodily.
Study Notes on the Colossians
  1. Introduction 1 : 1-8 (Apostle introduces and greets the believers)
  1. Explanation of the Deity of Christ 1 : 9-29
This chapter deals the preeminence of Christ.
  1. Apostle’s Prayer for believers – 1 : 9-14
Apostle prayed for the believers so that they may grow in Christ.
  1. Pre eminence of Jesus Christ – 1 : 15-20
Some False teachers questioned about the deity of Jesus Christ.  So the apostle explained that Jesus is the greatest of all – ‘the image of the invisible God’ (15).  This means Jesus Christ is God.  The term “The First born” does not mean Jesus was created, but the term “the First born” refers to His preeminence that He was the first of all – To say more clearly “He was before all things” (17) – He self – existed before all creation.  Only God could be before all creation.  Jesus was before all creation. Hence Jesus is God, who came in the world (Jn. 1 : 14, 18).
  1. The work of Incarnated Jesus for sinners – 1 : 21-23
By sins, Man became enemy to the Holy God.  A sinful man can not go to God or Heaven.  Hence Jesus Christ (visible God) came to the earth and died on the cross.  Through His death, he made peace so that sinner can come to God for forgiveness (20).  As a sinner comes to God for forgiveness, Christ reconciles that sinner with the Holy God (21).  So the repented sinner receives forgiveness from God.
  1. The work of Resurrected Jesus in Believer – 1 : 24-29
Jesus suffered and died for the church.  So also, Apostle suffered for the church (24).  We might suffer for the church and its growth.  The strength for suffering is given by Jesus Christ who is in us.  Yes!  Christ is living in you and me (27).  He is our hope too!  The Great God, living in man, is a mystery (26 – 27). Unsaved man can not understand this truth (1 Cor. 2 : 14).
  1. Explanation concerning human Philosophies – 2 : 1-23
In this chapter, Apostle first explained the importance of Jesus, then he warned about false philosophies.
  1. The Greatness of Jesus Christ – 2 : 1-5
Apostle wanted that the believers must know the greatness of Jesus (1).  Because all wisdom and knowledge is “hidden in Him”.  This means “knowing Jesus Christ is equal to knowing God”.
  1. The fullness of Godhead in Jesus Christ – 2 : 6 – 15
We should be strong (established) in faith that Jesus Christ is the Lord (7).  If there is any philosophy (teaching) against Jesus Christ, we should be aware and reject it (8).  Because the fullness of Godhead dwells (exists) bodily in Jesus Christ. (10).  The phrase “dwells bodily in Jesus Christ” means “Jesus Christ is fully God bodily” (Godhead permanently dwells in His body).
  1. The false philosophy (Teaching) of man – 2 : 16 – 23
Jesus Christ is God (Invisible God visibly manifested through the body of Christ – Jn. 1 : 14, 18 ; Heb. 10 : 5).  But many false philosophers and teachers deny this truth.  Such false philosophers worship angels instead of God, (18) and practice asceticism instead of faith (20 – 23).  These are false humility (15).  True humility is manifested through Faith in Christ. (Phil. 2 : 5-11).
  1. Exhortations to Daily Christian Life – 3 : 1-4 : 6
Every Christian has to live for Christ because he is united with Jesus Christ.  Apostle exhorts how a Christian must live in his day-to-day life.  He exhorts about Christian’s personal life (3 : 5-17), husband, wife relationship (18-19), parents – children relationship (20 – 21), employer – Employee relationship (3 : 22 – 4 : 1).  If we live good Christian life in earth, God will reward (24 – 25) for it.  Paul encourages the believers to pray and to be prepared to answer the questions concerning faith in Christ. (4 : 2-6).
  1. Conclusion – 4 : 7-18
            Apostle greeted the believers whom he knew by name and  concluded the epistle with common greeting to all.
  1. City and Church Background
This city was located in Thermaic Gulf where was many warm mineral springs.  This city was founded in315 BC by the Macedonian general Cassander.  It was a seaport.  (Modern Salonika).  This city had mixed population of Greeks (majority), Romans, orientals and the Jews.  Paul founded a church in this city in A.D. 50 on his Second missionary journey (Act 17 : 1-9).  This church had the members of both the Jews and the gentiles (Act 17 : 4-9; 1 Thes. 1 : 9).
  1. Authorship
Internal evidence supports Paul’s authorship (1Thes. 1 : 1 ; 2 : 18 ; 2 Thes. 1 : 1).  Historical information fit Paul’s life as accounted in Acts and his epistles (1  Thes. 2 : 14-16 compare Acts 17 : 5-10 ; And compare 1 Thes. 3 : 6 with Acts 18 : 5).  In external evidence, some early church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian) of 2nd century AD support Paul’s authorship.
  1. Place and Date of writing
Both epistles (1 & 2 Thes.) were written from Corinth.  Paul arrived in Corinth about 50 AD.  So these (Thessalonians) epistles were written between 50 – 51 AD.
  1. Occasion and Purpose
Timothy brought a report about the church to Paul (1 Thes. 3 : 6).  Paul understood that some had misunderstood about him and his associates (2 : 1-3 : 13).  So Paul wrote to remove their misunderstanding, to thank God for the church (1 : 2-10), and to encourage proper Christian conduct. (4 : 1-5 : 24).
Study Notes on the First Thessalonians
  1. Personal salutation and Greetings 1 : 1
  1. Reminiscing Apostle’s Relation to the Thessalonians 1 : 2-3 : 13
In this passage (1 : 2-3 : 13), Apostle recollected his ministry, life, as well as their conversion experience.
  1. Thanking God for Thessalonians 1 : 2-10
Apostle thanked God for the faith (3), their reception of the gospel with much affliction (6, 9)   the exemplary life of believers (7) and growth in faith (8).
  1. Apostle’s life and ministry to them – 2 : 1-16
Apostle ministered at Thessalonica with much hardship (2 : 2), without deceit (3,4), and covetousness (5) and blamelessness.  He ministered as parents to their children (7 –8, 11).  He also again thanked God because Thessalonicans continued in the faith during persecution and suffering (14).
  1. Apostle’s Desire – 2 : 17 – 3 : 13
Apostle is now away from Thessalonica.  So he writes his desire to see them again (2 : 17 – 20 ; 3 : 10).  Apostle also desired for their spiritual growth (3 : 2, 12-13).  Since Paul could not visit them at that time, he sent Timothy to look after their spiritual growth.
  1. Explaining the Doctrine for Daily Christian Life – 4 : 1-5 : 24
In this passage, Apostle explained how a Christian must live in his daily life.  He also encouraged them about the second coming of Christ.
  1. Exhortation concerning Christian Life 4 : 1-12
Christians must have desire for sanctified life according to God’s will (God’s word – 4 : 3-5) for holy life (4 : 6-8).  The believers must love fellow bretheren (4 : 9-10), and must lead an orderly life (4 : 11-12).  Then only believers can be witnesses for Jesus Christ to those who are  outside (unbelievers – 4 : 12).
  1. Explaining about the dead in Christ – 4 : 13-18
Background of this passage
Thessalonian believers thought the believers who had died before the second coming of Christ will not have resurrection.  They had confusion about believers resurrection.  In order to remove confusion, Apostle explained about the order of resurrection in this passage.
      4 : 13 – Apostle encouraged the believers, not to be sorrowful about those believers dead in Christ as unbelievers are sorrowful about their dead relatives.
      4 : 14 – Believers should not be sorrowful and confused about the resurrection of those who are dead in Christ because Jesus will bring them with Him at His coming on the cloud.
       4 : 15 – The living believers will join with the Lord only after the dead in Christ join with the Lord at His second coming (1 Cor. 15 : 15-52).
      4 : 16-17 – The order of resurrection is mentioned in these two verses (Compare 1 Cor. 15 : 52).  The Lord Jesus will come on the clouds from heaven.  As he descends from heaven, the believers-dead in Christ-will raise first (16).  This will happen in a second (in a moment, in the twinkling of an eyes – 1 Cor. 15 : 52).  Immediately, the living believers will be transformed and caught up on the clouds (17) to meet the Lord.  Then all believers will be with the Lord for ever. (17b).  This resurrection of Christian believers will occur before the beginning of Tribulation.  Since the believers are taken to heaven before tribulation, they will not suffer in tribulation.
   4 : 18 – So Apostle encourages and asks them to comfort one another because Christian believers have the hope of resurrection.
  1. Exhortation to be watchful – 5 : 1-11
Since Jesus Christ may come at any moment (second), Apostle exhorts the believers to be watchful in their faith (8).  Christian believers are not appointed to wrath but to receive the perfect salvation at the coming of the Lord (9).  So we have to be watchful daily for this coming (4).
  1. Exhortation concerning church fellowship – 5 : 12-15
         Apostle exhorted the believers to respect those who do minister to them.
  1. Additional Exhortation for Christian Holy Life – 5 : 16-24
   Apostle gave many instruction for holy life.  “Prophecy” probably refers to God’s word here. Christians must reject the false prophecies (21) but they must believe the true prophecy, revealed in God’s word.  We must believe the prophecy of God’s word, because God is faithful (24).
  1. Conclusion (5 : 25-28)
Apostle requested their prayer for him and ministry and closed his epistle with blessing (28).
Note :  Please read the introduction part of First Thessalonians for Church Background, Authorship, Date and Place of writing.
         Occasion and Purpose
The believers at Thessalonica faced severe persecution.  By facing the persecution, they thought that the end of the world has come.  So many had given up their responsibilities.  Many did not go for work.  So Apostle wrote to explain that this persecution is not the sign of the end of the world.  He explained when the end would come.  Since this persecution is not the end, he encouraged the believers to continue in their faith.  Hence He wrote this epistle to encourage their faith (1 :3-10) to explain the Day of the Lord (2 : 1-17), and to exhort proper Christian conduct (3 : 1-18).
Study Notes on the Second Thessalonians
  1. General Introduction of Author and Greetings – 1 : 1-2
  1. Comforting in their Affliction – 1 : 3-12
  1. Thanksgiving for the growth of Thessalonian believers 1 : 3-4
            The believers at Thessalonica underwent severe persecution.  But they were strong in Christian faith.  So Apostle thanked God for their faith, love and patience.
  1. Encouraging them of Christ’s Return – 1 : 5-10
            Apostle encouraged them to continue in faith because God will revenge at his coming to those who persecute the believers (6,8).  He will reward for the believers (7, 10).
  1. Praying for the Thessalonican believers – 1 : 11-12
            Apostle prayed for the believers that God would count (bless) their calling (11) and that the name of Jesus would be glorified through their suffering (12).
  1. Events that precede the Day of the Lord – 2 : 1-12
  1. Apostle corrected their erroneous view – 2 : 1-5
            Since the Thessalonian believers underwent severe persecution, they thought that they were in Tribulation period (persecution Period of Antichrist).  So Apostle explained this persecution was nothing related with Tribulation period.  Tribulation period will come only after the man of sin (Antichrist) is manifested (3).  He said not to be worried by any other contradicting views (2).  First the Apostasy will come.  Apostasy means “the falling away from Christian faith” (3).  After apostasy, the Antichrist (son of perdition) will reveal himself as the ruler (36).  He will demand worship, sitting in the Temple of Jerusalem (4).  After Antichrist has done these things, the Day of the Lord will come (3a).  So Paul corrected their view about the Day of the Lord.
   Note :  “Day of the Lord” in this passage refer to Tribulation Period. Tribulation Period will begin after the rapture of Church.
  1. Restraint upon the lawlessness – 2 : 6-7
   “Mystery of lawlessness” simply means to the evil systems of the world.  This lawlessness (evil system) is now restricted by the work of the Holy Spirit and of the church.  “He who now restrains” (7) refers either to the Holy Spirit or to the church (or to the both?) When the Restrainer (Holy Spirit / Church) is taken away from the world (7b), the Antichrist will manifest himself (8).  Then only the tribulation will begin.  Lawlessness will increase.
         Note :  “The lawless one” (8) refers to Antichrist.
  1. Activities of the Lawless one – 2 : 8-12
   Antichrist will be empowered by satan (9a).  Hee will do many signs and false wonders (9b).  Many people will believe his lie (10a, 11b), because they do not believe the truth (12).  Those who do not believe the Truth (Jesus Christ) will be punished.  They believe false miracles, lie, and do unrighteousness (9,11,12).  They will be judged because they do not believe the love of truth (Love of God revealed in Jesus Jn. 3 : 16).  Antichrist will be judged as well, when Jesus Christ comes (8).
  1. Apostle’s second prayer for Thessalonians 2 : 13-17
While thanking God (13), Apostle again prayed for them.  He also encouraged them to stand fast in   faith according to his epistles.  Because his epistles were written by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3 : 16-17 ; 2 Pet. 3 : 15-16).
  1. Exhortation concerning Practical Christian Life – 3 : 1-15
As his other epistles, Apostle exhorts about daily Christian life in this epistle too.
  1. Apostles request for prayer 3 : 1-2
As Jesus asked the disciples to pray for Him (Mt. 26 : 40), the apostle requested the prayer of Thessalonian believers (3  1).
  1. Apostles confidence about Thessalonian’s growth- 3 : 3-5
            God is faithful.  God will help them to grow spiritually according to God’s word.  Paul had such confidence about their growth. 
  1. Discipline of the busy bodies – 3 : 6 – 15
            There were some people in the church did not go for work.  They thought Jesus will come at their time.  So, they thought that  doing work is unnecessary.  They became lazy.  These lazy people were called busybodies (11)
            Apostle asked them to work.  If they do not work, they should not eat (10).  Apostle showed his own example how he worked and ministered (7,8).  He advised them to work and to eat (12).  The lazy should be kept away from the Christian friendship (14).  However we have to encourage one another to work (15).
Note :  Hard worker will be blessed by God abundantly, because God is faithful. (3 : 3).
  1. Conclusion (3 : 16 – 18)
According to the ancient customs, Apostle ends his epistle with greetings and blessing.
  1. Authorship
Paul is the author of this epistle, as he claims it (1 : 1,9,19).  Tertullian (c.200 AD), an early church father also supports Pauline authorship.
  1. Receiver of Epistle
Philemon is the receiver of this epistle.  However it is addressed to the church which met in Philemon’s house (2).  Philemon was a convert through Paul’s ministry at Colosse (Phil. 2, 10, 19, Col. 4 : 9,17).  He was a rich man.  There was a church in his house.
  1. Place and Date of writing
Paul sent this epistle through Tychicus, who brought the epistle of Colossian.  Since this epistle was sent through Tychicus along with the epistle of Colossian, it must have been written at the same time when Colossian was written.  Based on this consideration, it was written about 61 AD.
  1. Background
Onesimus was a slave of Philemon.  He absconded from Philemon ‘s house with some money or valuable things (vv : 15-16 ; 18-19).  He escaped to Rome.  Unexpectedly, he met Paul in the prison of Rome, where Paul was imprisoned.  At conversion time, Paul shared the gospel and led Onesimus to faith in Christ (10).  After that Onesimus became good.  He regretted for his wrong doing that he committed against his master.  So Paul wanted to sent him again to Philemon.  Paul thought Philemon might punish Onesimus for stealing money,  in order to deliver Onesimus from punishment, Paul wrote about onesimus’ conversion and advised Philemon to forgive Onesimus.
   After  writing this epistle, Paul sent it through Tychicus.  He sent Onesimus with Tychicus as well.  Tychicus brought both Onesimus and Paul’s epistle to Philemon.
  1. Introduction (1-3)
            Paul  greeted Philemon, his friends, and the church in Philemon’s house.  This verse (2) shows that early church worshiped the Lord in houses. 
  1. Apostle’s Prayer (4-7)
Paul acknowledged Philemon’s faith and thanked God for it.  He regularly prayed for Philemon (always – 4).
  1. Apostle’s Plea (8-22).
In this passage, Paul explained about conversion of Onesimus.  He also wrote the need for forgiving Onesimus and accepting him as a brother in Christ (16).  From this we understand every saved person is brother / sister spiritually to each other in faith.
  1. Final greetings (23 – 25)
As other epistles, Paul concluded his epistle with greetings.
Result of this Epistle
            As the result of this epistle, Philemon forgave and accepted Onesimus as his worker.  In the church, Philemon treated him as one of his brother in Christ, spiritually as Paul had confidence (21).
Historical Benefit
            Based on the principles this epistle, a strong movement rose against slavery.  No Christian should practice slavery against others.  Christian Nations made law to abolish slavery.
Assignment for Students
  1. What are the works of Holy Spirit in believer’s life according to Roman 8 : 1-39?
  2. How must a strong believer behave with a spiritually weak believer?  (Rom. 14 : 1-15 : 13) Explain.
  3. Explain the facts of Resurrection (1 Cor. 15 : 1-58)
  4. Write the occasion and purpose of 2 Corinthians.
  5. What was the purpose of Mosaic Law? (Gal. 3 : 19-25)
  6. Write the background of Ephesians.
  7. How does Paul exhort for joyful Christian life in Philippians?
  8. Write the Preeminence of Christ based on teaching in Colossians.
  9. Explain the passage 1 Thessalonians 4 : 13-18.
  10. What are the activities of the Lawless one as in 2 Thessalonians?
Note : Write the answers for these questions and send them to CALS.  Please mention your Register Number without fail.