Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Prison Epistles: Philemon

Dr. Paul Manuel—2017

 (This is one of four posts, each studying one of the four epistles the apostle wrote while in prison in Rome.) 

I. Paul addresses a good friend (Philemon 1-7).
A. He extends a greeting (vv. 1-3).
B. He expresses his thanks (vv. 4-7).
Application: If you want to benefit from God's good impressions, it is important to recall and to heed the advice He has left you (Ps 103:17-18).
II. Paul intercedes for a slave (Philemon 8-21).
A. He attests Onesimus' industry (vv. 8-16).
B. He requests Philemon's indulgence (vv. 17-21).
Application: Keeping your relationships with others in good order may be more important than completing a religious obligation (Matt 5:23-24).
III. Paul gives some closing remarks (Philemon 22-25).
A. He anticipates a visit (v. 22).
B. He greets some individuals (vv. 23-24).
C. He appends a benediction (v. 25).
Application: The challenge for you is to find your particular role in the church and then to fulfill it (Rom 12:4-5).

Paul's letter to Philemon (62) was one of four epistles he composed (with Timothy) from a Roman prison after his third missionary journey to Asia Minor.1 The missive was in response to a visit from Onesimus, who then returned to Philemon with this letter from Paul:2
I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. (v. 12)
Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good. (v. 15)
The moral imperative for the letter is to repair the estranged relationship between Philemon and Onesimus.

I. Paul addresses a good friend (Philemon 1-7).
A. He extends a greeting (vv. 1-3).
Phlmn 1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,3 to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker, 2 to Apphia our sister [Philemon's wife/sister?], to Archippus [Philemon's son?] our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in your home:4 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the letter's prescript, Paul directs his missive to a small group of Christians. Some early believers were part of established synagogues, while other early believers, such as this group, were so few in number that they met in private homes.5 The leader of this group was Philemon, a man of some financial means and social standing, having a house with a dedicated "guest room" (v. 22) and at least one servant.
B. He expresses his thanks (vv. 4-7).
Phlmn 4 I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear6 about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.7 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
As was his custom, Paul begins this letter with an expression of gratitude for the recipients' faith and love.8 The apostle's practice of prayer is evident here in its consistency ("always" v. 4) and content ("thank...God" and "remember you" v. 4).

Application: Making a good impression, as Philemon did on Paul, is not necessarily easy, and only God leaves consistently good impressions. Moreover, His are not merely good feelings but influences that can benefit you. So calls to remember something He did or something He said span generations and have a lasting impact:9

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Prison Epistles: Colossians

Dr. Paul Manuel—2017

 (This is one of four posts, each studying one of the four epistles the apostle wrote while in prison in Rome.)

I. Paul addresses the Colossian church (Colossians 1:1-14).
A. He extends his greeting (vv. 1-8).
B. He offers a prayer (vv. 9-14).
Application: As you evaluate your life, you must have a realistic view of your own relevance.... God will commend you if you are commendable (Jms 4:10).
II. Paul describes a new relationship (Colossians 1:15-29).
A. He recognizes Christ's supremacy (vv. 15-20).
B. He reviews their reconciliation (vv. 21-23).
C. He introduces God's mystery (vv. 24-29).
Application: God has revealed some future events, not all you might like to know but all you need to know to make good choices now (Matt 24:13).
III. Paul extols the Savior's preeminence (Colossians 2:1-23).
A. He explains God's plan (vv. 1-5).
B. He minimizes sin's corruption (vv. 6-23).
  1. A circumcised nature is now controlling (vv. 6-12).
  2. A restricted lifestyle is now free (vv. 13-23).
Application: The challenge in your adopting any extra-biblical practice is to do so without your attributing to it the authority of scripture (1 Cor 4:6).
IV. Paul advocates a radical change (Colossians 3:1-4:1).
A. He counsels a new viewpoint (vv. 1-11).
B. He recommends a new attire (vv. 12-17).
C. He teaches about various relationships (vv. 18-25; 4:1).
Application: You determine how others view your savior by the way you treat your brethren (John 13:35; Gal 6:10).
V. Paul gives some closing remarks (Colossians 4:2-18).
A. He solicits their prayers (vv. 2-6).
B. He commends several individuals (vv. 7-18).
Application: Your commitment to God...should be manifest in your communion with God... (Luke 18:1).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Prison Epistles: Philippians

Dr. Paul Manuel—2017

(This is one of four posts, each studying one of the four epistles the apostle wrote while in prison in Rome.)  

I. Paul addresses the Philippian church (Philippians 1:1-30).
A. He extends a greeting (vv. 1-1 1).
B. He describes his situation (vv. 12-26).
C. He recognizes their struggle (vv. 27-30).
Application: You should be able to keep from becoming discouraged by considering what God will do for you ultimately (2 Cor 4:17).
II. Paul advocates a worthy lifestyle (Philippians 2:1-30).
A. He extols Christ's humility (vv. 1-1 1).
B. He encourages their progress (vv. 12-18).
C. He commends his companions (vv. 19-30).
Application: Although you must consider the needs of others, you must recognize that there is a hierarchy to meeting others' needs (Gal 6:10).
III. Paul cautions them against overconfidence (Philippians 3:1-21).
A. He reviews his lineage (vv. 1-11).
B. He presses toward the goal (vv. 12-16).
C. He awaits the glorious return (vv. 17-21).
Application: God calls you to be involved with His program, but He will not force you to play a particular role (Matt 22:14).
IV. Paul gives some closing remarks (Philippians 4:1-23).
A. He offers his encouragement (vv. 1-9).
B. He extols their generosity (vv. 10-20).
C. He extends a benediction (vv. 21-23).
Application: Wherever possible it is best to simplify your life, whether your expectations or your expenditures (1 Tim 6:8).
Addendum: The Value of Rejoicing

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Prison Epistles: Ephesians

Dr. Paul Manuel—2017

(This is one of four posts, each studying one of the four epistles the apostle wrote while in prison in Rome.)

I. Paul addresses the Ephesian church (Ephesians 1:1-23).
A. He extends a greeting (vv. 1-2).
B. He voices some praise (vv. 3-10).
C. He acknowledges their election (vv. 11-14).
D. He reveals his prayer (vv. 15-23).
Application: Although salvation is free, it is not automatic, and obtaining it takes initiative on your part (Rom 10:13).
II. Paul recounts the believers' redemption (Ephesians 2:1-22).
A. He describes their reconciliation to God (vv. 1-10).
B. He describes their reconciliation to others (vv. 11-22). 
Application: The joining of believing Jews and gentiles is part of God's plan, so you should become familiar with it (Gal 3:26, 28).
III. Paul reveals the gentile inclusion (Ephesians 3:1-21).
A. He presents the gospel's expansion (vv. 1-13).
  1. It is his message (vv. 1-6).
  2. It is his mission (vv. 7-13).
B. He prays for their comprehension (vv. 14-2 1).
Application: The redemption Christ has accomplished means that you, as a gentile, are immediately part of God's people (Rom 10:12).
IV. Paul reflects on their progress (Ephesians 4:1-32).
A. He contrasts their situation (vv. 1-13).
B. He recognizes their growth (vv. 14-19).
C. He advocates their change (vv. 20-28).
Application: Because sin starts inside you then spreads outside you, it is important to nip it quickly, even before it occurs (Eph 4:27).
V. Paul instructs about being moral (Ephesians 5:1-6:9).
A. He applies it to general interactions (vv. 1-7).
B. He applies it to confronting evil (vv. 8-14).
C. He applies it to spirit-filled living (vv. 15-20).
D. He applies it to close relationships (5:21-6:9).
  1. The married must relate properly to their spouses (vv. 21-23).
  2. The children must relate properly to their parents (vv. 1-4).
  3. The slaves must relate properly to their masters (vv. 5-9). 
Application: As you have opportunity to "contend for the faith" (Jude 3), you are not left to your own devices.... Are you availing yourself of what God provides?
VI. Paul gives some closing remarks (6:10-24).
A. He prepares for battle (vv. 10-18).
B. He solicits their prayers (vv. 19-20).
C. He commends an individual (vv. 21-22).
D. He extends a benediction (v. 23).
Application: By using the equipment God provides you will be able to withstand the devil's onslaught and move forward to advance God's agenda (2 Cor 10:4).
Addendum: The Mystery of the Gospel

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day (Luke 10:38-42)

 Choosing What is Better (Luke 10:38-42)
Dr. Paul Manuel—2015

Children often have different ideas about how things should be, and the challenge is to find a useful way of illustrating that difference.
When Jack was still quite young, his mother read to him the Nativity story. Jack asked her what a stable was. She thought for a moment how to explain it to him in terms he could understand, then said, "It's something like your sister's room...but no stereo or computer."
Children often have different ideas about how things should be. Martha and Mary had different ideas about how they should respond to Jesus' visit, Choosing What Is Better.

Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus, live in Bethany, a town "less than two miles from Jerusalem" (John 11:18). We do not know how they first had contact with Jesus, only that they became model disciples and good friends. John records that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (John 11:5), a distinction unique to that family. As their home was along the route to Jerusalem, the capital, Jesus probably visited them whenever he came to the city.1

On this occasion, Jesus arrives, perhaps with the disciples in tow, so Martha and Mary may have a house full of guests. How large a group is uncertain.2 It was evidently enough to require extensive preparation. Martha is probably the older of the two sisters. Luke says it is "her home," so the chief responsibility for the household, such as entertaining out of town guests, falls to her.3 Nevertheless, she naturally expects her sister to help. When Mary does not, Martha is a bit annoyed. Please turn to Luke 10 where as the story opens in v. 38...