Friday, March 29, 2013


The letter being a unit does not mean that Paul only had one purpose in writing the epistle. There were a number of purposes:
  1. To communicate his present situation of rejoicing in spite of suffering (1:12-26). To keep them up to date and relieve their anxiety concerning him.
  2. To inform them of the visit of Timothy (2:18-24).
  3. To communicate to them about Epaphraditus, their representative, ministered to him but had become ill, was recovering, and was a worthy servant (2:25-30). Robertson says this was the immediate purpose.[1]
  4. To inform them of the danger of seductive tactics and doctrines of the Judaizers (3:1-4:1)
  5. To communicate his affection for the Philippians (cf. 4:1). This is one of the most personal of the epistles of Paul. There is no question but that there was an intimate relationship between them and the Apostle
  6. To admonished the spiritual immaturity of Euodias and Syntyche, and to hold to the unity of the faith (4:2-3). To correct division in their ranks.
  7. To communicate his thanksgiving for their gift (4:10-20).
  8. To send his greetings to all (4:21-23).

[1]  A.T. Robertson, PAUL’S JOY IN CHRIST, Broadman Press, Nashville, 19. 


The Philippian letter is generally held to be written by Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles. This was virtually unassailed until the 19th Century. Then a German, F.C. Baur questioned the authorship. His arguments are basically twofold:
·         The opening verse of Philippians has two classes of leadership—deacons and bishops. He argues that this development was after Paul’s day. However, the New Testament indicates the existence of these offices in the time of Paul (Acts 6:1-6; 11:30; 14:23; 30:27-28; 1 Thess. 5:13).
·         Philippians 2:6-11, the kenosis passage, was not original with Paul, and caused a debate about Pauline authorship of the book of Philippians. However, if Paul did incorporate the Hymn, this does not negate him as the author of the letter. Overall, the authorship by Paul has held up, and there is no real question that he wrote the epistle.

A question of unity of the epistle has faced a bigger attack than that of authorship. This was first suggested in the 17th century and has had supporters ever since. The disagreement is over whether Philippians is a single letter or a compilation of letters.[1] The bases of their view are:
  • They argue that Chapter 3 is an abrupt shift from “Finally” in 3:1 to a sudden shift of a stern warning in 3:2. They hold that the sudden shift has the marks of a new and different situation, a change of tone, and a disjunction in the train of thought. The letter as a whole is written in a warm and joyful tone, except 3:2-21. They reinforce this idea saying that 3:1 and 4:4 fit together, and that 3:2-21 must have been interjected between the two verses.
  • The indication by Polycarp in his first letter to this church states that Paul wrote other letters (plural) to them. Some of those letters were edited into this version of the text
  • In 4:10-20 Paul offers thanks for a gift. This view questions the timing of it being late in the epistle. They say it would be more natural for Paul to have done so early in epistle. They conclude that 4:10-20 were from a separate earlier letter edited into the text.

This view has not been well accepted by most scholars.
  • First, while multiple letters may have been written by Paul to the Philippians (Phil 3:1), there is no evidence or need to see this letter as a composite. O’Brien points out that there is “no external textual evidence in its favor,” nor is there any way to “account for the redactor’s method of working.”[2] It complicates things, and does not solve anything. Besides Polycarp’s reference could be to other Pauline epistles.
  • Second, the use of the word “finally,” can be understood and translated as “in addition.” (cf. 1 Thess. 4:1).[3]
  • The tone change could be simply to add new information received during composition, or a time lapse in composition.

[1]  For more detail on this, see: I. Howard Marshall, Stephen Travis and Ian Paul, EXPLORING THE NEW TESTAMENT: A GUIDE TO THE LETTERS AND REVELATION, IVP, Grand Rapids, 139-140. Peter T. O’Brien, NIGTC: COMMENTARY ON PHILIPPIANS, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 30-18. Gerald F. Hawthorne, WBC: PHILIPPIANS, Word, Waco, xxix-xxxii.
[2]  O’Brien, 12-13.
[3]  Homer A. Kent, Jr., THE EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 97.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Book Review:
CHARTS ON THE BOOK OF HEBREWS Herbert W. Bateman IV Kregel, Grand Rapids, 2012.                        Charts on the Book of Hebrews  -     
        By: Hebert W. Bateman

I am not a fan of chart books. I have found many of them confusing, lacking clear explanation with the charts, and very general in scope.  This type of book appeals more for the academic or seminary students, more than the Pastor. However, I was interested in this book of charts because I plan to do a series of studies on Hebrews.

With that said, I must say I was somewhat surprised by this book. It’s comprehensive on the subject of the book of Hebrews, and much better than most books of charts. It is a very good place to begin research, as Bateman gives good resource information in many of the charts. The charts are understandable and will aid anyone in the study of Hebrews. I suspect that this comes from its specialization on one book of the Bible—a great idea. It does not have to take the broad approach that many chart books take. Bateman divides the charts into four areas: Introductory Considerations, Old Testament and Second Temple Influences, Theology in Hebrews, and Exegetical Matters in Hebrews. There are numerous charts in each section. My overall impression is very good. I also appreciate the section of Chart Comments, which gives insight into the charts and is helpful. Plus there is an excellent Bibliography at the end.

There are some things I consider as weaknesses however. First, some charts seem balky and the information could have been condensed; this is especially true of some of the introductory charts where the information is repetitive. Second, some of the charts start in the middle of the page, for example is I was using the Words Unique to Hebrews chart (104) I would prefer each chapter of Hebrews to have its own individual chart, rather than the whole book in one chart. It would make it easier to reproduce in one page, rather than two, if I was using the part of the chart just for Hebrews 3. I would like to see more variation of design in the charts. Third, it would have been nice if the publisher would had added a Power-point CD of the charts to be used in the classroom.  

These weaknesses do not discount the value of this book. The book consists of treasures for students of Hebrews. It will be helpful to the Bible teacher and Pastor for basic research. It puts information right at hand that might otherwise take several books. It is a gold mine of information. The charts will greatly aid the Bible teacher and will be useful in teaching this great book of Hebrews. Anyone doing a study of Hebrews will find it insightful and helpful. It would be a worthwhile addition to your library.

Kregel Academic was kind enough to provide me a review copy of this book for my unbiased opinion.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


A letter from prison, yet its hallmark is joy. That is the book of Philippians. It is part of the letters of Paul from a period when Paul was confined to prison, known as the Prison Epistles. He experience was not pleasant—suffering. His fate was the possibility of death (1:13, 17, 20-26).


The fact that Paul was in prison narrows down the possible location for the writing of this letter. Scholars are divided concerning which location he wrote the epistle. The main views are:

Ephesus. Those who favor this position give the following reasons:[1] (1) the praetorium can point to the residence of the provincial governor in Ephesians. (2) Timothy was with Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:22; Phil. 1:1). (3) The distance between these cities was minimal and eliminates the time problem required for multiple visits. (4) Evangelism went on when Paul was at Ephesus, and contention over Paul and his teaching (Acts 19:2-9, 10, 25-26; Phil. 1:12-15).  (5) Paul refers to being in prison of several occasions (2 Cor. 1:8, 11:23). While this view has some popularity, I do not hold this view. My objections are: (1) No mention of an imprisonment at Ephesus is recorded in Acts. It rests on inference; it seems the one in Ephesus was not major or serious enough for Luke to record. (2) It omits any reference to the collection, an important subject for Paul. Therefore it seems to indicate it was already picked up and delivered by this time, which was not true while Paul was in Ephesus. It certainly was not a life-death situation. (3) The tone of the text of Philippians does not seem to fit the Ephesian situation, for the location where Paul was writing indicates one of division and he writes harshly about the Christians in that location, except for Timothy (Phil 1:15-1; 2:19-21). Based on the overall picture of Philippians, this view is the weakest of choices.

Caesarea. This view certainly makes more sense than Ephesus. This view has certain things going for it that Ephesus does not have. (1) This was after the collection had been delivered to the saints at Jerusalem, where he was arrested and transferred to Caesarea. (2) The two year imprisonment is recorded in Acts (Acts 24:27). Thus, there was sufficient time for correspondence between the two. (3) Luke states that Paul was imprisoned in the praetorium of Herod—the residence of the Roman procurator and headquarters for the Roman army in Palestine (Acts 23:35). (4) It seems that Paul had already made his defense, and was still in prison (Phil 1:7, 16) which harmonizes with Acts 24:1-17. This is not clearly seen in the events of the Roman imprisonment. However, this view is not foolproof. Objections include:[2] (1) The outcome of the trial is life or death, which no appealed could be made, which was not true of the Caesarean trial (Phil. 1:19-26). (2) At the outcome of the trial, Paul is expecting freedom (Phil. 1:25 cf. 2:24). Freedom did not come at Caesarea (Acts 26:32), nor could Paul expect it since he appealed to Caesar. These two arguments seem to put this view in question.

Rome. This is the long held traditional view, dating back to at least the second century. Paul was brought to Rome, after Caesarea, for another two year imprisonment (Act 28:30), guarded by Roman soldiers (Acts 28:16), yet with freedom to meet with friends, write and send letters, and to minister the gospel (Acts 28:17, 30-31).  Here was the praetorium and people of Caesar’s household (Phil. 1:13). However, this view is not without problems: (1) the distance between the cities. (2) No indication Timothy was present in Rome. (3) Paul’s intent to visit Philippi (Phil 2:24) and his intent to go to Spain from Rome (Rom. 15:24-28) is a conflict. However, in the letter to Titus, written after the Roman imprisonment, indicates Paul was in the east—Nicopolis, a neighbor of Philippi. (Titus 3:12; cf. 2 Tim. 3:9-22).

None of these positions are without difficulties. The question is which view best fulfills what the text of Philippians reveals. The following indicators must be taken into account:[3]
  • Paul was in prison (1:7, 13, 14).
  • The location had a praetorium, and present at this location were members of Caesar’s household (1:13, 4:22).
  • Timothy was present (1:1)
  • The location has a conflict among the Christians (1:14-17).
  • He states he plans to visit Philippi (2:24).
  • Several communications took place between the two parties.

Considering the different positions, and their difficulties, there seems to be no reason to replace the traditional view. The basic facts best square with the Roman view of origin. Its biggest competition is the Caesarean view. However, Caesarea’s weakest and the Rome’s strength is the life and death decision of the trial. Plus, the references to the Praetorian guard and household of Caesar best fit Rome.  As Wallace says, there is “no substantial evidence against the Roman theory.”[4] 

[1]  G.F. Hawthorne, “Philippians,” DICTIONARY OF PAUL AND HIS LETTERS, 710.
[2]  Daniel B. Wallace, “Philippians: Introduction, Argument, and Outline,”  
[3]  Peter T O’Brien, NIGTC: COMMENTARY ON PHILIPPIANS, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 20.
[4]  Wallace, electronic media. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Acts 20

Observations on Acts 20.

Read Acts 20. There are some simple observations that may be overlooked:
  • The chapter begins and ends with Ephesus. Ephesus is a key location in Paul’s ministry to the Gentile world.
  • Paul’s desire was to go to Jerusalem, but he went to Europe. The reason is the offering that was for the poor saints in Jerusalem, but it is not stated in Acts 20 (cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-7).
  • Titus is not mentioned in Acts, but had a major part during this time (cf. 2 Cor. 7:5-16).
  • His long range goal was Rome, after delivering the collection to Jerusalem.
  • Paul knows that he will never see these saints this side of heaven. Therefore the words of Paul at Troas and Miletus were the last words of Paul to the saints in those locations. All the sermons and teaching in this chapter are exclusively for the saints.
  • Luke rejoins Paul at Philippi.
  • Luke is very selective in his record of the events during this time (cf. 2 Cor. 2).
  • It records the last miracle of Paul as a free man.