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Galatians, Ephesians,
Philippians & Colossians

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New Believers Study
An Overview of the New Testament
by Pastor Ron Beckham


Sixth Study:
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians & Colossians

Galatians was addressed by Paul to a GROUP of churches ("Pros Galatas" - "To the Galatians").  The name "Galatians" had been given to this group because they were a Celtic people that had originally lived in Gaul (France) before their migration to Asia Minor.  In 189 BC, Galatia was dominated by Rome, and in 25 BC, Caesar Augustus made it a Roman Province.  There are a number of theories about the writing of this letter, including the North Galatian Theory, and another the South Galatian Theory.  You may wish to look for such theories in a "Search Engine" on the Net.  Paul wrote this letter either in Ephesus (53-56 AD) or in Macedonia (AD 56).  The Epistle to the Galatians has been called a "Little Romans" because much of the doctrinal inclusions in Romans are also found in Galatians in a reduced format.

Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians (along with Philemon) are called "Prison Epistles" ("Captivity Letters") of Paul the Apostle, because he was in prison when he wrote them.  There are two well known imprisonments of Paul.  One of them was in Caesarea, in the Roman Province of Judea (now in Israel), during the times of Governors Felix and Festus (Acts Chapters 23 through 26).  Another was in Rome while Paul awaited trial before Caesar (Acts 28).  Paul mentions "frequent imprisonments" in 2 Corinthians 11:23, but this probably refers to mostly short, perhaps overnight stays in jail (as at Philippi - Acts 16:19-40).  Most believe Paul wrote these letters while he was imprisoned in Rome.

The Letter (Epistle) to the Galatians is a protest against the legalism that was growing rapidly in the Roman Province of Asia.  Certain teachers, mostly of Jewish descent, were traveling to the churches in that region, insisting that in addition to faith in Christ, men must also be circumcised and all must obey Mosaic Law - to be saved!  Paul would agree that all must live good lives, but Paul's concern was - How are we made right with God?  The Judaizers, in response to Paul's teachings, attempted to discredit him, stating he was not a real apostle.  Paul responded in Galatians with a clear exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith, ending with a clear look at Christian liberty, which logically leads to a life of good works.

The Letter to the Ephesians was written while Paul was in prison (Ephesians 3:1, 4:1, 6:20).  The letter was entrusted to Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21-22), who also received Colossians and Philemon, to Paul's intended recipients.  All three were sent to Asia (present day Turkey).  Ephesians clearly portrays the glory of our salvation, our union with Christ.  The Letter to the  Ephesians is essentially in two parts: Chapters 1-3 and Chapters 4-6.

Philippians was the first European church established by Paul, and as such, this was a major incursion by God through Paul, into Gentile areas.  The people of the Church(es) at Philippi were monetarily poor, but they collected funds while Paul was in prison and helped him in many ways (Philippians 4:10-16).  This is a letter of thanks and its chief component is joy - the word "rejoice" is found 16-times in the letter.  The Person and work of Christ is clearly presented in the Letter to the Philippians.

The Letter to the Colossians was written in response to an error which had crept into the Colossian Church(es).  Some person or persons had been insisting to them that they must be "asecetic" (deny themselves) in order to continue to be right with God.  Angel worship was being practiced, which continued even after this letter was received - in the 4th Century AD, the Council of Laodicea condemned it, but it still continued after that time.  Paul counter-attacked by presenting Jesus Christ as the very Image of God (1:15, 1:19, etc.). 

There are excellent websites where you may visit and copy or print the writings of some truly remarkable theologians, from past centuries.  A good, simple to use “search engine” for that purpose is called “Google,” where you can enter words like “Bible Commentaries” and “Search” for some really great Bible commentaries from the past, including the following suggested locations:

bullet Bible Studies of Friday Study Ministries:
  Galatians
  Ephesians

  Philippians
  Colossians
 
bullet   A suggested address is
 
http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries
bullet   Another is
http://bible.christiansunite.com/commentary.shtml
bullet   And 
http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/

 

Matthew Henry, who wrote about 250 years ago (“Matthew Henry’s Commentary”), is strongly recommended, along with others of that time, such as John Calvin, John Wesley, and John Gill.  You will find wonderful material in those writings.  Also recommended is Dr. J. Vernon McGee (but there will be a small charge for his materials).

This study operates from the perspective that you, the student of the Bible, already have some understanding, or at least an awareness of the Books of the New Testament.  In the “Synoptic Gospels”, we will take a solid look at the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The following are questions you might ask yourself when reading the Gospels themselves, along with the supporting materials in relation to them (such as Bible commentaries).  In writing your answers to some or all of these questions, defend your answers with Scriptures in every instance, and commit those Scriptures to memory, whenever possible.


Questions

  1. In the light of Galatians Chapter 1, what kind of man was the Apostle Paul?
  2. What was Paul's relationship with Peter?  Do you find mention of their relationship elsewhere in the New Testament?
  3. Gal. 2: How are we "crucified" with Christ?
  4. Gal. 3: Who are the Sons of Abraham?  How do we become those sons?
  5. Gal. 4: What does Paul mean that we are "slaves?" How can we be free?
  6. Discuss Christian Liberty as expressed in Gal. 5.
  7. What does it mean to "Walk in the Spirit?
  8. Discuss the "Works of the flesh" and the "Fruit of the Spirit" as expressed by Paul.  How are these characteristics manifested in YOUR life?
  9. Gal. 6: How do we "Bear one another's burdens?
  10. In Ephesians 1, what does it mean, "He chose us"?  When did this happen?  How is it expressed?
  11. What is the "mystery" of God?
  12. What is "redemption"?  What is "forgiveness"?
  13. How are we "predestined"?
  14. In Ephesians 2, how were we "dead"?
  15. How are we in "heavenly places" in Christ?
  16. Compare "faith", "grace" and "good works" in Ephesians 2:8,9,10.
  17. What is "peace" in relation to Ephesians 2:14?
  18. What are "apostles"? What are "prophets"?
  19. How are we a "holy temple" in the Lord?
  20. Discuss the "mystery" of Christ in relation to Eph. 3.
  21. How does Christ "dwell in your hearts"?
  22. How are we to be in unity? (Ephesians 4)
  23. What is the purpose of the spiritual "gifts"?
  24. How do we "be angry and do not sin"? (4:26)
  25. How do we express love to one another?
  26. How should we live (Ephesians 5)
  27. Discuss the relationship of husbands & wives (Eph. 5)
  28. Discuss children and parents (Ephesians 6).
  29. Slaves and masters (discuss).
  30. What is our battle?
  31. How often should we pray (Ephesians 6:18)
  32. What happens when we die? (Philippians 1)
  33. How can suffering be good (Phil. 1:29)
  34. Discuss the leader-servant of Philippians 2.
  35. What is valuable in life? (Philippians 3)
  36. What does it mean to follow Paul's example? (3:17)
  37. How can we "rejoice always"? (Philippians 4)
  38. What is the antidote for anxiety? (Phil. 4:6-7)
  39. What should our thoughts be like? (Phil. 4:8-9)
  40. How can we do "all things"? (Philippians 4:13)
  41. Where do we look for our needs? (Phil. 4:19)
  42. How is Christ the image of God?  What does "firstborn" mean? (Col. 1:15)
  43. How does Christ hold all things together?  Was He still doing this while on the cross? Discuss. (Col. 1:17)
  44. How does Paul "fill up" what is "lacking" in the afflictions of Christ? (Colossians 1:24)
  45. What is your hope? (Colossians 1:27)
  46. Where do we find wisdom & knowledge? (Col. 2:3)
  47. Discuss philosophy in relation to Colossians 2:8-10.
  48. What is circumcision?  What is baptism? (Col. 2:11&f.)
  49. Discuss Colossians 2:20-23.
  50. How is your life hidden with Christ in God? (Col. 3:3)
  51. What is the "old man"? "New man? (Col. 3:5 & fwd.)

As stated before the Questions section, the preceding are some of the questions you might consider in relation to this preliminary study of the first three Gospels.  You should always ask questions and not simply agree with everything you hear from people.  If you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God is speaking to your heart and mind constantly.  By learning to ask, you are learning to ask HIM.  You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) just as you are, and the questions you ask honestly will be answered, for that is His plan for you.

Your assignment in The Letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians is to read each of those Letters with the above Questions in mind.  Go into the Internet at the places cited, and read the theologians offered, especially Matthew Henry-and you can find his excellent writings as “freeware” on the Internet.

The next New Believers Study will address the the following Letters: 1 & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Read the Word of God.

Study Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Pray about what you are studying

Write with any questions:
Pastor Ron Beckham 
Ron@FridayStudy.org

 

 

 
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