Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Paul and the Philippians - Week 3

The contrast between Paul, on the one hand, and Jesus, Peter, and the other Galileans, on the other could hardly have been greater. Jesus was from a very small village; . . . he seems never to have traveled enough to have had the opportunity to compare different cultures and experience different societies and their values. Paul, on the other hand, was an urbanite and a cosmopolitan, moving easily throughout the Graeco-Roman world.
E. P. Sanders, Paul: A Very Short Introduction

Yes, it's already the third week of our study, so let's spend some time this lesson on Paul, the man. What clues does Paul give us about himself? Both in preparation and the textual study, look for evidence from Paul's own hand about his life and how it shaped his mission.

Look up the following passages and compile a resume on Paul. Use any other passages about Paul that you find helpful to the assignment. Think about being on a church Search Committee. What information would you present to the congregation about this prospective new minister? Here is another electronic bible research tool to help, the Bible Gateway.
  • Galatians 1:12-24
  • 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • 1 Corinthians 14:18-19
  • 2 Corinthians 10:9-11
  • 2 Corinthians 11:22-33
  • 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Here are the next two sections for our study.
Enemies and Autobiography - Philippians 3:1-11
1. What autobiographical information does Paul share in this passage?
2. Who are the “dogs” and who are they contrasted with?
3. What was the personal cost to Paul of wanting to know Christ?
4. What do you think Paul meant by “knowing Christ”?
5. What are two views on righteousness that Paul identifies?
The Prize - Philippians 3:12 - 4:1
6. What is the “prize” that Paul strives to achieve?
7. What constitutes good citizenship according to Paul? How could this understanding cause problems for the Philippians in their community?
8. Why would Paul suggest they imitate him? Shouldn't he have suggested they imitate Christ?
9. Paul eagerly awaited the return of Jesus from heaven. What does he believe will happen at the return of Christ?
10. Based on the belief in the return of Christ, imperative does Paul give the Philippians?

Don't be bashful. Share a comment. Here's the discussion question for this week: What aspects of Paul's personality served him well in his mission work? What characteristics might have limited his success?

Other Resources

The PBS site from Jesus to Christ is much more that a site that looks at the historical Jesus. It is also a great resource on Paul and early Christan origins. Explore the sections on The First Christians by clicking here. While you're there, take a look at the online video resources and watch #9, Paul's Mission in the Aegean.


Judy H. said...

John, did you recognize the columns of the Ephesian agora in this video? It's the same view as your blog banner!

revJohn said...

Yes, it immediately caught my attention. I believe that video shot was taken from almost the same spot and angle as that of the marvelous photographer who took the picture used here on revJohn.

Bill G said...

Hello John. The notion of being on a search committee with Paul as an applicant is an interesting idea. But somebody once said the church needs many different types of people. I'm not sure I'm voting to extend a contract to Paul for my mainline congregation as senior pastor! Here's my report on the applicant.

Background check:

Trained as a tent maker or leather worker, the applicant entered the Christian ministry as a second career. Before recognizing his call to the Christian ministry he served as a zealous opponent of the Christian movement, even using violence to discourage Christians from participating in church work. But since his entry into the Christian ministry he has become the recipient of corporal punishment from the authorities, including multiple floggings, beatings, and a stoning. He does, however, show some respect for the civil institutions. When incarcerated at Philippi he had the opportunity with an assistant to escape the facility but chose to remain in an opened jail cell. This behavior may not be entirely consistent as he also admits being a fugitive from authorities in at least one city in which he worked. He appears to not be connected to a family, thus leaving him to easily travel.

Call to the ministry:

Strong belief that he was set aside by God for the Christian ministry.

Preparation for the Christian ministry:

Although prepared in Jewish affairs, has engaged in no specific study of Christianity, relying on his own perceptions of what he believes has been revealed to him by God. His written work has been described in the writings of at least one church leader as hard to understand.

Ministry style:

Works alone or with few assistants. Has few connections with leadership in the larger church. Previous work does not seem to be the product of any long-term plan. He has not stayed at any single place for any significant period of time, preferring to begin ministries but apparently not to stay to do the heaving lifting of growing a congregation. He does seem to care about the congregations he leaves but with maybe only one close personal affinity, that to the Philippians. He is confident in his work and views his position as equally exalted as the original followers. He is not easily discouraged. He uses follow up techniques to his advantage, primarily communicating through letters with congregations. However, he speaks in tongues which may be problematic for some members of the congregation.

Interpersonal skills:

Does not make a good impression due to an unhealthy appearance and what he says people witnessing his personal presentations call contemptible speech. The health issue is attributable by him to God’s desire that he maintain a humble presence. Maybe the many physical punishments and hardships he's endured have taken a toll.