When Paul writes a good book, it is decent and interesting at parts. It is enough to keep one turning the pages, in other words. However, when Paul writes a bad book, he writes one that could reduce a man to tears. Tears of boredom, frustration, despair… Ephesians was one of those books. It was so boring and non-sensical that the best thing about it was another of Paul’s descents into sexism.
Once again I find myself apprehensive of the next book in the New Testament. What does Philippians hold in store for me?
The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians
Whoa, talk about some major developments: Paul is writing this letter from prison! Thanks to Acts of the Apostles, we already knew that Paul spent time in jail. This is the first first-hand account of Paul’s time in prison. Or at least it is the first one that I remember. Did another sneak in that I have forgotten about? Hmmm… no, I don’t think so. But I digress.
Paul is in prison but he wants to put forward a brave face to keep his followers confident. Paul does this by suggesting suicide would be a good option.
Wait, what was that?
Paul sated that he wished he were dead, so he could be reunited with Christ. But he also knows that it’d be best for his followers if he were alive and continued teaching and leading everyone to Christ. And so, as much as he wishes otherwise, he will cling to life for the good of the church.
Of course, there is one other thing that keeps Paul going: The Others. In Paul’s case, these are the Jewish elders who plague him in his travels. Because of these, Paul will choose to hang on to life. And the Philippians should rest assured that The Others will be destroyed.
Ummmm…. okay… Paul goes off a little weird here at the end of this chapter. Apparently one of the Philippians, Epaphroditus, had been staying with Paul. Epa got sick, and almost died. Epa recovered, but news of his grave illness spread back to Philippi. Both Epa and Paul heard that the Philippians assumed the worse, and were grieving because of it. So Paul sent Epa back to Philippi, to reassure everyone there.
The rest of the chapter is Paul preparing the Philippians for his death. At this point, it isn’t certain whether Paul will live or be killed. Paul realizes that his followers may have to carry on without his leadership.
A couple of things here. First, we must beware of dogs, evil workers, and mutilators. Thanks, Paul! I’ll make a mental note of it now. I must especially be careful of dogs. Looks like my kiddos won’t be getting a puppy any time soon. Sorry kids, but it is in the bible!
Second, Paul likes to recount the story of his past, including being a Pharisee who loved to persecute Christians. (Paul also gives himself props for being circumcised. Ouchie!) In Paul’s own words, he was perfect! But he gladly gave up all of those things so that he could follow Christ. He doesn’t ask this of his followers, but says that god will do their thinking for them, and they will then know the right thing to do. Or something. I kinda gave up on this chapter somewhere along here.
Oh, wow, we are to the end of this book! I didn’t realize it, ’til I got to verse 20 or so. I thought that it sounded like Paul was wrapping things up, and then suddenly *poof* there was the “may the grace of the Lord…” Talk about great news! It is over. OVER!!!! As for the chapter itself? Paul says he is thankful for the Philippians, since they stood by him at the beginning when no one else would. The Philippians also apparently gave Paul room and board when he needed it, so Pal is forever indebted to them.
Well, at least it was short!
Up next: New Testament Drinking Game!
New installments of The New Testament In Review will be posted each Monday and Thursday. The new posts will always be on my blog, http://biffster.org. The entire series is accessible via http://biffster.org/ntir. If you are one of my Facebook friends, you can get an advance preview on my Facebook page. You can also follow me (@biffster) on Twitter to be alerted to new posts.