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Paul's Prison Epistles

Paul's Prison Epistles cover art
Instructor: Dr. Reggie Kidd
Lessons: 5
Forums: 5
Discipline: New Testament
Course Group: Pauline Epistles

As Christians we face many challenges to our faith. False teachings and worldviews assault our loyalty to Christ. Suffering tempts us to think that God is not in control, or that he does have our best interests at heart. And our relationships with other believers are often strained to the point that we doubt the value of the church. But Paul had responses to these types of difficulties — responses that he outlined in his letters from prison.

Course Goals:

  • Explain the details and circumstances of Paul's imprisonment.
  • Describe the ministry Paul conducted from prison.
  • Summarize the structure, content, original meaning and modern application of Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon and Philippians.

84 min.

Lesson 1: Paul's Imprisonment

Surveys the circumstances that gave rise to Paul's letters to the Colossians, Philemon, the Ephesians and the Philippians.
67 min.

Forum 1: Paul's Imprisonment

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does the book of Acts contain a factual account of Paul's life?
  • Why did Paul participate in Jewish rituals in Jerusalem?
  • How should we view traditions that aren't required by Scripture?
  • Should we observe church seasons like Advent and Lent?
  • Why did Paul wait to assert his rights as a Roman citizen?
  • Why did Rome allow Paul to teach about Christ?
  • What does it mean to be all things to all people?
  • Should we engage foreign cultures or work mainly with cultures we already know?
  • When should the church require Christians to conform to its own culture?
  • Why do Christians have to suffer?
  • Why did Paul associate suffering with victory in spiritual war?
  • Did Paul write all the prison epistles attributed to him?
  • Why is Paul's personal letter to Philemon in the Bible?
  • Did Paul's imprisonment damage his respectability?
  • Which cornerstone of Paul's teaching is most lacking in the modern church?
  • What is union with Christ, and why is it important?
  • Who should benefit from our good works?
  • 67 min.

    Forum 1: Paul's Imprisonment

    A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does the book of Acts contain a factual account of Paul's life?
  • Why did Paul participate in Jewish rituals in Jerusalem?
  • How should we view traditions that aren't required by Scripture?
  • Should we observe church seasons like Advent and Lent?
  • Why did Paul wait to assert his rights as a Roman citizen?
  • Why did Rome allow Paul to teach about Christ?
  • What does it mean to be all things to all people?
  • Should we engage foreign cultures or work mainly with cultures we already know?
  • When should the church require Christians to conform to its own culture?
  • Why do Christians have to suffer?
  • Why did Paul associate suffering with victory in spiritual war?
  • Did Paul write all the prison epistles attributed to him?
  • Why is Paul's personal letter to Philemon in the Bible?
  • Did Paul's imprisonment damage his respectability?
  • Which cornerstone of Paul's teaching is most lacking in the modern church?
  • What is union with Christ, and why is it important?
  • Who should benefit from our good works?
  • A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does the book of Acts contain a factual account of Paul's life?
  • Why did Paul participate in Jewish rituals in Jerusalem?
  • How should we view traditions that aren't required by Scripture?
  • Should we observe church seasons like Advent and Lent?
  • Why did Paul wait to assert his rights as a Roman citizen?
  • Why did Rome allow Paul to teach about Christ?
  • What does it mean to be all things to all people?
  • Should we engage foreign cultures or work mainly with cultures we already know?
  • When should the church require Christians to conform to its own culture?
  • Why do Christians have to suffer?
  • Why did Paul associate suffering with victory in spiritual war?
  • Did Paul write all the prison epistles attributed to him?
  • Why is Paul's personal letter to Philemon in the Bible?
  • Did Paul's imprisonment damage his respectability?
  • Which cornerstone of Paul's teaching is most lacking in the modern church?
  • What is union with Christ, and why is it important?
  • Who should benefit from our good works?
  • 91 min.

    Lesson 2: Paul and the Colossians

    Examines Paul's response to the heretical teachings that introduced the veneration of lesser spiritual beings into Christian worship.
    76 min.

    Forum 2: Paul and the Colossians

    A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How did Paul decide which cities to visit?
  • If we discover another letter from Paul, should we add it to the Bible?
  • How common was syncretism in the ancient world?
  • Did syncretism come just from Gentile converts, or also from Jewish Christians?
  • Why is syncretism dangerous?
  • Is syncretism still an issue in the modern church?
  • Are there real spiritual powers other than God, or are they just personified concepts?
  • How real is spiritual warfare?
  • How should Christians think about angels and demons?
  • Why did the false teachings sound wise to the Colossians?
  • Are Paul's arguments against false teaching effective against modern philosophies?
  • What did the false teachers in Colossae promote?
  • How can Christ be both God and the image of God?
  • Why is Christianity superior to other faiths?
  • How are Christian ministers superior to ministers of other religions?
  • Is our present salvation really better than the salvation other religions offer?
  • Was Paul's view of Christian liberty in Colossians consistent with his view in 1 Corinthians?
  • How can modern Christians enjoy liberty and still be sensitive to others?
  • How should we express our loyalty to Christ in discussions with other religions?
  • How should we express our loyalty to Christ when interacting with other Christians?
  • How can we focus on things above without neglecting our earthly responsibilities?
  • Is regeneration a one-time event?
  • 76 min.

    Forum 2: Paul and the Colossians

    A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How did Paul decide which cities to visit?
  • If we discover another letter from Paul, should we add it to the Bible?
  • How common was syncretism in the ancient world?
  • Did syncretism come just from Gentile converts, or also from Jewish Christians?
  • Why is syncretism dangerous?
  • Is syncretism still an issue in the modern church?
  • Are there real spiritual powers other than God, or are they just personified concepts?
  • How real is spiritual warfare?
  • How should Christians think about angels and demons?
  • Why did the false teachings sound wise to the Colossians?
  • Are Paul's arguments against false teaching effective against modern philosophies?
  • What did the false teachers in Colossae promote?
  • How can Christ be both God and the image of God?
  • Why is Christianity superior to other faiths?
  • How are Christian ministers superior to ministers of other religions?
  • Is our present salvation really better than the salvation other religions offer?
  • Was Paul's view of Christian liberty in Colossians consistent with his view in 1 Corinthians?
  • How can modern Christians enjoy liberty and still be sensitive to others?
  • How should we express our loyalty to Christ in discussions with other religions?
  • How should we express our loyalty to Christ when interacting with other Christians?
  • How can we focus on things above without neglecting our earthly responsibilities?
  • Is regeneration a one-time event?
  • A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How did Paul decide which cities to visit?
  • If we discover another letter from Paul, should we add it to the Bible?
  • How common was syncretism in the ancient world?
  • Did syncretism come just from Gentile converts, or also from Jewish Christians?
  • Why is syncretism dangerous?
  • Is syncretism still an issue in the modern church?
  • Are there real spiritual powers other than God, or are they just personified concepts?
  • How real is spiritual warfare?
  • How should Christians think about angels and demons?
  • Why did the false teachings sound wise to the Colossians?
  • Are Paul's arguments against false teaching effective against modern philosophies?
  • What did the false teachers in Colossae promote?
  • How can Christ be both God and the image of God?
  • Why is Christianity superior to other faiths?
  • How are Christian ministers superior to ministers of other religions?
  • Is our present salvation really better than the salvation other religions offer?
  • Was Paul's view of Christian liberty in Colossians consistent with his view in 1 Corinthians?
  • How can modern Christians enjoy liberty and still be sensitive to others?
  • How should we express our loyalty to Christ in discussions with other religions?
  • How should we express our loyalty to Christ when interacting with other Christians?
  • How can we focus on things above without neglecting our earthly responsibilities?
  • Is regeneration a one-time event?
  • 92 min.

    Lesson 3: Paul and the Ephesians

    Examines how Paul designed Ephesians to teach Christians how to build, maintain and thrive in God's kingdom.
    77 min.

    Forum 3: Paul and the Ephesians

    A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Why do some people question Paul's authorship of Ephesians?
  • In what ways is Ephesians similar to Paul's other writings?
  • Why is the authorship of Ephesians important?
  • Why would someone forge a letter in Paul's name?
  • Did Paul really write this letter to the Ephesians? If not, what difference does it make?
  • Does this letter address local problems in Ephesus, or only in the wider community?
  • Why should a Gentile be excited about a Jewish Messiah?
  • Do God's promises to Old Testament Israel apply to the church?
  • Have significant distinctions between Jews and Gentiles been eliminated?
  • In what way is the modern church one body?
  • Does God love diversity?
  • Did Paul downplay the idea of the kingdom of God for Gentile readers in Ephesians?
  • Is the idea of the kingdom of God just a metaphor? How does it affect us today?
  • What is the relationship between spiritual gifts and church offices in Ephesians 4?
  • Do all church offices mentioned in Ephesians 4 still exist?
  • Does Paul's instruction that wives submit to their husbands apply to every culture?
  • Is the armor of God entirely defensive, or does it also have an offensive quality?
  • What is the main way we engage in spiritual warfare?
  • Are praise and worship supposed to be primarily musical?
  • How does worship in the gathered church differ from other types of worship?
  • How do we reconcile the individual and corporate aspects of the gospel?
  • What is the relationship between the gospel and the kingdom of God?
  • What are some practical ways to build the kingdom of God?
  • 77 min.

    Forum 3: Paul and the Ephesians

    A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Why do some people question Paul's authorship of Ephesians?
  • In what ways is Ephesians similar to Paul's other writings?
  • Why is the authorship of Ephesians important?
  • Why would someone forge a letter in Paul's name?
  • Did Paul really write this letter to the Ephesians? If not, what difference does it make?
  • Does this letter address local problems in Ephesus, or only in the wider community?
  • Why should a Gentile be excited about a Jewish Messiah?
  • Do God's promises to Old Testament Israel apply to the church?
  • Have significant distinctions between Jews and Gentiles been eliminated?
  • In what way is the modern church one body?
  • Does God love diversity?
  • Did Paul downplay the idea of the kingdom of God for Gentile readers in Ephesians?
  • Is the idea of the kingdom of God just a metaphor? How does it affect us today?
  • What is the relationship between spiritual gifts and church offices in Ephesians 4?
  • Do all church offices mentioned in Ephesians 4 still exist?
  • Does Paul's instruction that wives submit to their husbands apply to every culture?
  • Is the armor of God entirely defensive, or does it also have an offensive quality?
  • What is the main way we engage in spiritual warfare?
  • Are praise and worship supposed to be primarily musical?
  • How does worship in the gathered church differ from other types of worship?
  • How do we reconcile the individual and corporate aspects of the gospel?
  • What is the relationship between the gospel and the kingdom of God?
  • What are some practical ways to build the kingdom of God?
  • A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Why do some people question Paul's authorship of Ephesians?
  • In what ways is Ephesians similar to Paul's other writings?
  • Why is the authorship of Ephesians important?
  • Why would someone forge a letter in Paul's name?
  • Did Paul really write this letter to the Ephesians? If not, what difference does it make?
  • Does this letter address local problems in Ephesus, or only in the wider community?
  • Why should a Gentile be excited about a Jewish Messiah?
  • Do God's promises to Old Testament Israel apply to the church?
  • Have significant distinctions between Jews and Gentiles been eliminated?
  • In what way is the modern church one body?
  • Does God love diversity?
  • Did Paul downplay the idea of the kingdom of God for Gentile readers in Ephesians?
  • Is the idea of the kingdom of God just a metaphor? How does it affect us today?
  • What is the relationship between spiritual gifts and church offices in Ephesians 4?
  • Do all church offices mentioned in Ephesians 4 still exist?
  • Does Paul's instruction that wives submit to their husbands apply to every culture?
  • Is the armor of God entirely defensive, or does it also have an offensive quality?
  • What is the main way we engage in spiritual warfare?
  • Are praise and worship supposed to be primarily musical?
  • How does worship in the gathered church differ from other types of worship?
  • How do we reconcile the individual and corporate aspects of the gospel?
  • What is the relationship between the gospel and the kingdom of God?
  • What are some practical ways to build the kingdom of God?
  • 77 min.

    Lesson 4: Paul and Philemon

    Paul wrote Philemon for a favor, asking Philemon to reconcile himself to Onesimus.
    83 min.

    Forum 4: Paul and Philemon

    A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does Paul's letter to Philemon have any doctrinal authority over modern Christians?
  • Would Paul's letter to Philemon have been read to the entire church?
  • How often did Paul describe the gospel's implications for a specific person?
  • Do all forms of slavery compromise human dignity?
  • How should the church respond to modern forms of slavery?
  • Is understanding Roman slavery important to understanding Paul's letter to Philemon?
  • Why did Paul try to persuade rather than command Philemon to free Onesimus?
  • Should we adopt the same strategies of persuasion that Paul used with Philemon?
  • What gave Paul the confidence to use such a risky strategy with Philemon?
  • Did Onesimus have the responsibility to make reparations to Philemon?
  • Do we always have to show mercy when we are wronged?
  • How does Paul bring the gospel to bear on Onesimus?
  • Do Paul's teachings on slaves and masters apply to other types of relationships?
  • Do the principles explained in Philemon apply to our relationships with unbelievers?
  • How does Paul's message apply to Christians who are mistreated by unbelievers?
  • What does the book of Philemon have to say about guilt and shame?
  • How does our identity in Christ motivate us to reconcile?
  • Should we limit our pursuit of reconciliation with unbelievers?
  • Should we limit our pursuit of reconciliation with believers?
  • How can we rightly interpret God's providence?
  • 83 min.

    Forum 4: Paul and Philemon

    A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does Paul's letter to Philemon have any doctrinal authority over modern Christians?
  • Would Paul's letter to Philemon have been read to the entire church?
  • How often did Paul describe the gospel's implications for a specific person?
  • Do all forms of slavery compromise human dignity?
  • How should the church respond to modern forms of slavery?
  • Is understanding Roman slavery important to understanding Paul's letter to Philemon?
  • Why did Paul try to persuade rather than command Philemon to free Onesimus?
  • Should we adopt the same strategies of persuasion that Paul used with Philemon?
  • What gave Paul the confidence to use such a risky strategy with Philemon?
  • Did Onesimus have the responsibility to make reparations to Philemon?
  • Do we always have to show mercy when we are wronged?
  • How does Paul bring the gospel to bear on Onesimus?
  • Do Paul's teachings on slaves and masters apply to other types of relationships?
  • Do the principles explained in Philemon apply to our relationships with unbelievers?
  • How does Paul's message apply to Christians who are mistreated by unbelievers?
  • What does the book of Philemon have to say about guilt and shame?
  • How does our identity in Christ motivate us to reconcile?
  • Should we limit our pursuit of reconciliation with unbelievers?
  • Should we limit our pursuit of reconciliation with believers?
  • How can we rightly interpret God's providence?
  • A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does Paul's letter to Philemon have any doctrinal authority over modern Christians?
  • Would Paul's letter to Philemon have been read to the entire church?
  • How often did Paul describe the gospel's implications for a specific person?
  • Do all forms of slavery compromise human dignity?
  • How should the church respond to modern forms of slavery?
  • Is understanding Roman slavery important to understanding Paul's letter to Philemon?
  • Why did Paul try to persuade rather than command Philemon to free Onesimus?
  • Should we adopt the same strategies of persuasion that Paul used with Philemon?
  • What gave Paul the confidence to use such a risky strategy with Philemon?
  • Did Onesimus have the responsibility to make reparations to Philemon?
  • Do we always have to show mercy when we are wronged?
  • How does Paul bring the gospel to bear on Onesimus?
  • Do Paul's teachings on slaves and masters apply to other types of relationships?
  • Do the principles explained in Philemon apply to our relationships with unbelievers?
  • How does Paul's message apply to Christians who are mistreated by unbelievers?
  • What does the book of Philemon have to say about guilt and shame?
  • How does our identity in Christ motivate us to reconcile?
  • Should we limit our pursuit of reconciliation with unbelievers?
  • Should we limit our pursuit of reconciliation with believers?
  • How can we rightly interpret God's providence?
  • 92 min.

    Lesson 5: Paul and the Philippians

    Examines Paul's letter of hope and encouragement for the times of persecution and distress he and the Philippians faced.
    83 min.

    Forum 5: Paul and the Philippians

    A companion video to lesson 5 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does Philippians address all types of suffering, or only suffering for the gospel?
  • Is Paul's joy related to his suffering, or to his relationship with the Philippians?
  • Was it sinful for Paul to want to die?
  • Is the joy Paul described more a recognition of Christ than an emotive experience?
  • How could Paul be both depressed and joyful at the same time?
  • Did Christian or secular virtues motivate the Philippians to care for Paul?
  • Why did Paul feel such strong affection for the Philippians?
  • Was it normal for very diverse groups to be involved in the same local congregation?
  • Should we focus on both Paul and Timothy as joint authors of Philippians?
  • What can we learn from the way that Paul exhorted Euodia and Syntyche?
  • What did Paul mean when he said that Jesus made himself nothing?
  • What is the difference between perseverance and preservation?
  • Do our good works contribute to our salvation?
  • Does God ever use the outwardly good works of unbelievers to bring them to faith?
  • How can good things come from preaching the gospel with wicked motives?
  • How should we respond to those who preach the gospel with wicked motives?
  • Who are the "true circumcision"?
  • What are the central concepts of the gospel?
  • How can we identify and deal with false teachers?
  • 83 min.

    Forum 5: Paul and the Philippians

    A companion video to lesson 5 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does Philippians address all types of suffering, or only suffering for the gospel?
  • Is Paul's joy related to his suffering, or to his relationship with the Philippians?
  • Was it sinful for Paul to want to die?
  • Is the joy Paul described more a recognition of Christ than an emotive experience?
  • How could Paul be both depressed and joyful at the same time?
  • Did Christian or secular virtues motivate the Philippians to care for Paul?
  • Why did Paul feel such strong affection for the Philippians?
  • Was it normal for very diverse groups to be involved in the same local congregation?
  • Should we focus on both Paul and Timothy as joint authors of Philippians?
  • What can we learn from the way that Paul exhorted Euodia and Syntyche?
  • What did Paul mean when he said that Jesus made himself nothing?
  • What is the difference between perseverance and preservation?
  • Do our good works contribute to our salvation?
  • Does God ever use the outwardly good works of unbelievers to bring them to faith?
  • How can good things come from preaching the gospel with wicked motives?
  • How should we respond to those who preach the gospel with wicked motives?
  • Who are the "true circumcision"?
  • What are the central concepts of the gospel?
  • How can we identify and deal with false teachers?
  • A companion video to lesson 5 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Does Philippians address all types of suffering, or only suffering for the gospel?
  • Is Paul's joy related to his suffering, or to his relationship with the Philippians?
  • Was it sinful for Paul to want to die?
  • Is the joy Paul described more a recognition of Christ than an emotive experience?
  • How could Paul be both depressed and joyful at the same time?
  • Did Christian or secular virtues motivate the Philippians to care for Paul?
  • Why did Paul feel such strong affection for the Philippians?
  • Was it normal for very diverse groups to be involved in the same local congregation?
  • Should we focus on both Paul and Timothy as joint authors of Philippians?
  • What can we learn from the way that Paul exhorted Euodia and Syntyche?
  • What did Paul mean when he said that Jesus made himself nothing?
  • What is the difference between perseverance and preservation?
  • Do our good works contribute to our salvation?
  • Does God ever use the outwardly good works of unbelievers to bring them to faith?
  • How can good things come from preaching the gospel with wicked motives?
  • How should we respond to those who preach the gospel with wicked motives?
  • Who are the "true circumcision"?
  • What are the central concepts of the gospel?
  • How can we identify and deal with false teachers?