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New Testament. BCM 103 Dr. Dave Mathewson Gordon College/Denver Seminary. Colossians. Why did Paul write this letter? Strong asceticism, mysticism attraction Strong Jewish element Mystical element: worship of angels, and visionary, syncretism

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New testament

New Testament

BCM 103Dr. Dave MathewsonGordon College/Denver Seminary



  • Why did Paul write this letter?

    • Strong asceticism, mysticism attraction

    • Strong Jewish element

    • Mystical element: worship of angels, and visionary, syncretism

    • Judaism: apocalyptic Judaism or similar to Essenes/DSS community

  • Christ is firstborn of creation so no need of being attacted to this asceticism …



  • False teaching primary problem: 2:18f

    • Qumran document has mystical person going to heaven and coming back boasting

  • Teaching has cut off from Christ who inaugurated a new creation

  • 2:21ff: why submit to these regulations…human commands, they are of no value…

  • It cuts itself off from Christ  no value for overcoming sin

Paul s solution

Paul’s solution

  • Colossians 3-4

    3:1-4– seek the things above [thesis]

    3.5-4.1: what it means to seek the things above

The old self vs new self col 3 9 10

The “Old Self” vs. “New Self”Col. 3:9-10

Adam Christ






Holy Spirit

Colossians 3

Colossians 3

  • Indicative: “for you have died with Christ” (v. 3)

  • Imperative: “Therefore, put to death…” (v. 5)

  • Indicative: “You have put on the new self” (v. 10)

  • Imperative: “Therefore, put on…” (v. 12)

Colossians big idea

Colossians’ “Big Idea”

  • The way to combat false teaching is to teach the supremacy of Christ and a life of unqualified obedience to him.



  • Why putting Philemon after Colossians?

  • Onesimus is found in both

  • Philemon was addressed to one house church, Colossians to whole church

  • Why did Paul write Philemon?

Reasons for writing philemon

Reasons for Writing Philemon

  • Mirror reading--looking at the letter and reconstructing the original setting of the letter

  • Philemon was wealth slavery owner; Onesimus his slave and cause of interaction between Paul & Philemon

Reasons for writing philemon1

Reasons for Writing Philemon

  • 3 Reconstructions

    • Onesimus was a run away fugitive slave; in jail with Paul in prison and then converted

    • Onesimus didn’t do anything wrong, but Onesimus sent by Colossian church to aid Paul who is in prison

    • *Amicus domini: friend of the master in Roman law, if slave had a dispute the slave could seek out a arbitrator to help in his case. Onesimus /Philemon dispute  Paul

New testament

  • Paul will write a letter to get Philemon to accept Onesimus back not as a slave but as a fellow believer

  • What was Paul asking Philemon to do?

    • Just accept Onesimus back

    • Let Onesimus go to come help Paul

    • Tactful persuasion

What kind of letter is philemon

What kind of letter is Philemon?

  • Many types of letters as today and different conventions

  • Philemon resembles: letter of recommendation [cover letter to recommend to recipient of the letter]



  • Philemon is the shortest and most personal letter that Paul wrote (that we know of).—So specific why is it in the canon? Bereft of theological themes…

  • Philemon emphasizes love and forgiveness in a society that draws social distinctions. Christian love transcends social barriers.

  • Gospel transcends social distinctions contra Greco-Roman culture –verse 6

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