Class on the Prison Epistles

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon

Hillcrest Church of Christ, Utica, Ohio

Class Assignments

Lesson 2 (Ephesians 1:1-14)        November 6

Try reading Ephesians 1:3-14 without any verse divisions and see if it helps you understand this section better. After doing that, consider whether phrases like “in Him” might introduce a new subject in the text.

Lesson 3 (Ephesians 1:15-2:10)        November 13-20

Study each time Paul mentions Christians or the church in this section. When is Paul speaking primarily of the Christians in Ephesus and when is he speaking of all Christians everywhere (the universal church)?

Lesson 4 (Topic: Grace)        November 27

Look for references to grace in the rest of Ephesians and all of Colossians. You should find a few in each letter. Read Philippians 1:7 in its context as well. Is the word “grace” used in different ways in different verses?

Lesson 5 (Colossians 1:1-20)        December 4

Read Colossians 1:13-14 and note that Paul and others with him had already been transferred into the kingdom, showing that the kingdom was already in existence around AD 60, not something to be established in a time yet future. Find other New Testament passages that show that the kingdom was established shortly after Jesus' crucifixion and is a reality today..

Lesson 6 (Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 1:21-2:3)        December 11

Paul describes both the Ephesians and Colossians as having been “aliens” (“foreigners” in some translations) in Ephesians 2:19 and “alienated” in Colossians 1:21.

What other words can you find in next week's texts (especially Ephesians 2) that also describe that condition?

Which group is being described?

Lesson 7 (Ephesians 3:1-21)        December 18

The word “mystery” is used five times in 1 Corinthians in each of the translations I have checked. For each of the five references (look in Chapters 2, 4, 13-15) tell me one thing that we learn about what the word means.

Lesson 8 (Colossians 2:4-23)        December 25

Colossians 2:16-17 calls certain regulations under the Law a shadow of what was to come. The idea of a shadow is mentioned at least twice in Hebrews 8-10. How is the use of “shadow” in those passages similar to this passage in Colossians?

Lesson 9 (Topic: The Gentiles)        January 8

We have seen many references to the Gentiles in the first half of the letters of EPhesians and Colossians. Looking through the second half of each letter (Ephesians 4-6 and Colossians 3-4), can you find at least two more references?

Lesson 10 (Ephesians 4:1-16)        January 15

Read Ephesians 4:11-16 and find another New Testament passage that compares all Christians to the human body.

Read Ephesians 4:14 and find another New Testament passage that compares spiritual weakness to being carried away or tossed back and forth.

Lesson 11 (Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-7)        January 22

Read Ephesians 4:22-23 and find another New Testament passage that speaks of being renewed or made new again.

Read Ephesians 4:24 and find another New Testament passage that speaks of becoming a new man or the new self.

Lesson 12 (Ephesians 4:25-5:6; Colossians 3:8-15)        January 29

Paul not only tells his readers what not to do in Ephesians 4:25-5:6; he also tells them to counteract positively the temptations he describes. Write the solution to each temptation described below.

(4:25a)        Falsehood                        Solution (4:25b):

(4:28a)        Stealing                        Solution (4:28b):

(4:29a)        Evil Speech                        Solution (4:29b):

(4:31)                Bitterness … Malice                Solution (4:32):

(5:4a)                Filthy Speech                        Solution (5:4b):

Lesson 13 (Ephesians 5:7-21; Colossians 3:16-17)        February 5

Both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 contain the command to sing. There are at least five other references to singing outside the gospels (Acts – Revelation). How many can you find?

Lesson 14 (Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-19)        February 12

In Ephesians 5:23-32, the relationship between a husband and a wife is compared to that between Christ and the church. Where else is the New Testament can we find references to the church's being married to Christ?

Lesson 15 (Ephesians 6:1-9; Colossians 3:20-4:1)        February 19

Ephesians 6:4 speaks of the responsibility that fathers have to teach their children about the Lord. Find at least two other Bible passages that contain similar commandments.

Ephesians 6:6 speaks of the responsibility that slaves have to demonstrate their faith through their work for their masters. Find at least one other Bible passage that describes the duty of slaves.

Lesson 16 (Ephesians 6:10-24)                                February 26

Ephesians 6:11-17 describes the Christian's spiritual armor. In a less detailed account, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 also uses pieces of armor to describe what Christians should have. Do the descriptions match exactly? How are they alike or different?

Lesson 17 (Colossians 4:2-18; Philemon 1-7)                March 4

In Colossians 4:3 Paul speaks of praying that God would open a door for preaching the word. Find at least two other passages in which the picture of an open door for teaching is used.

In Colossians 4:6 Paul refers to speech filled with grace as being seasoned with salt. Find a passage in which Jesus used salt in an illustration and compare it to this passage.

Lesson 18 (Philemon 8-25)                                        March 11

Find some similarities between Onesimus the slave in Philemon and the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.

In Philemon 20 Paul asks Philemon to refresh his heart by treating Onesimus well; earlier he has said that Philemon had refreshed the hearts of other Christians (Philemon 7). Find at least one other passage that speaks of being refreshed or given rest by Christ or His people.

Lesson 19 (Topic: Life)                                        March 18

Colossians 3:4 speaks of Christ as our life. Find at least one other New Testament passage in which Christ is described in a similar way.

Lesson 20 (Philippians 1:1-14)                                March 25

Philippians 1:4 is the first verse in this joyful letter to speak of joy. Find all of the references to joy or rejoicing in Philippians. There are at least ten more.

Lesson 21 (Philippians 1:15-30)                                April 1

In Philippians 1:21-24 Paul speaks of being torn between the desire to die and be with Christ and the desire to stay and help the Philippians and other Christians. Where in 2 Corinthians 4-6 does Paul express a preference for leaving this earthly life and being at home in Heaven?

Lesson 22 (Philippians 2:1-13)                                April 8

In Philippians 2:6-8 Paul speaks of Jesus' humbling Himself in coming to earth as a man and dying on the cross. Find at least one other passage that speaks of Jesus' choice to live a humble life.

Lesson 23 (Philippians 2:14-30)                                April 15

In Philippians 2:15 Paul calls the Philippians lights in the world. Find at least one other Bible passage that compares Christians to light in a sinful world.

In Philippians 2:17 Paul speaks of being poured out as a sacrifice. Find another passage that speaks of someone being offered as a sacrifice in a similar way.

Lesson 24 (Philippians 3:1-16)                                April 29

Philippians 3:10 Paul speaks of knowing the fellowship, or sharing, of Christ's sufferings. Find at least two other passages in the New Testament that speak of sharing in Christ's suffering or death. (Hint: Start looking in Romans 8 and 1 Peter 4.)

Lesson 25 (Philippians 3:17-4:7)                                May 6

In Philippians 3:17 Paul tells the Philippians to follow his example and make sure that they were following the pattern they had seen in him. Find at least one other passage in Paul's letters that speak about being an example or following patterns.

Lesson 26 (Topic: Joy)                                        May 13

Philippians has the overwhelming majority of references to joy or rejoicing in these letters Paul wrote from prison. Find the three references to joy or rejoicing in the first two chapters of Colossians and write what was giving Paul joy in each instance.

Lesson 27 (Philippians 4:8-23)                                May 20

In Philippians 4:9 Paul tells the Philippians to practice the things that they have heard and seen in him. Which other place in Philippians contains an instruction to follow his example?

How is Paul's statement in Philippians 4:13 related to the negative answer about his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10?