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Philippians & Colossians
|Philippians & Colossians
|Year of Publication
|Welch, John W., and John F. Hall
|Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
|Epistle to the Colossians; Epistle to the Philippians; Pauline Epistles; Study Helps
The following charts give an overview of each of the epistles in the New Testament. These twenty-one letters, among the most important ever written in the history of the world, were sent by Peter, James, John, Paul, and Jude to some of the earliest Christians.
Each chart divides the letter into thematic blocks with subheadings that outline the main contents of each block. By reading through the outline of each letter, readers can get a quick overview of each text. Used as a guide, each chart should help modern readers find their way through these letters, many of which are fairly complicated and sometimes obscure. A main purpose of these charts is to bring the messages of these letters to life by making the dominant purpose and underlying structure of each letter clear.
Most of these letters follow the pattern typically found in ancient letters. First, they begin with an introduction of greetings, salutations, or well-wishes. The New Testament letters, however, are unusually personal and religious. Next, they take time to reinforce the bonds of friendship, familiarity, loyalty, and personal concern. The body of each letter then deals with various topics: some are doctrinal; some are practical; others are filled with information or encouragement. Finally, they each conclude with farewell statements and extended greetings in accordance with standard epistolary practice.
Beyond formal similarities, however, it is important to note that each letter is addressed to a particular audience. Some congregations, such as in Corinth, were struggling with dissension; others, such as the community in Philippi, were thriving; some, like the church in Thessalonica, were new, while others, as at Rome, were well established. Thus, different levels of instruction are found in each of these letter. in addition, Paul knew some of his audiences better than others, and thus his degree of familiarity and friendship is much higher when he wrote to the Saints in Ephesus, for example, than when he expounded more abstract teachings to the Galatians. Likewise, Paul’s close working relationship with his convert Timothy explains the tone of paternal guidance found in his letters to Timothy, in contrast, for example, to the sterner tone of Jude’s letter of warning.
Under the name of each letter is a subtitle profiling and highlighting its dominant point or purpose. Hopefully, these subtitles and outlines will orient readers and students to the key characteristics of each letter. The charts are grouped approximately in chronological order.
Among Paul’s closest friends were his followers in Philippi, whom he loved deeply. Here he had made his first converts on European soil. Here he had been loved and supported. Here he had been miraculously delivered from prison. Here he has nothing but praise and love to share with his yoke-fellows, as the top of chart 14-6 indicates.
Colossians is the most philosophical of Paul’s letters, perhaps because the region around this small town was deeply involved with science and philosophy. The scroll on the bottom of chart 14-6 details various elements of Paul’s proclamation of the Christian worldview, including such topics as cosmology, the creation of the world, true wisdom, powers and principalities, and offering a new order of moral or social duties, all of which were topics of lively philosophical interest in the Hellenistic world.
Items in the BMC Archive are made publicly available for non-commercial, private use. Inclusion within the BMC Archive does not imply endorsement. Items do not represent the official views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of Book of Mormon Central.
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