We're in our last month of reading now and by the end of the year we will have read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice! This week we finish up the last two chapters of II Corinthians before reading six other epistles (or letters) of the Apostle Paul to the churches: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians and II Thessalonians. For me it's so interesting to read Paul's letters, realizing his heart for the churches that he has planted. Hopefully the historical information below will give you fresh eyes as you read these letters and think about the issues they were addressing.
Galatians -The book of Galatians is thought to be Paul's earliest letter, corresponding with the events of Acts 11:30. Here he addresses a group of churches in a Roman province known as Galatia, now in modern-day Turkey. This letter mainly addresses the question of whether the Mosaic law is binding on Gentiles.
Ephesians - Here Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus (now Selcuk, Turkey) while he is imprisoned in Rome (about 62AD) to address the unity of the church between its many Jewish and Gentile believers. Ephesus was the second largest city in the Roman empire in Paul's day and home to one of the seven ancient wonders of the world (temple of Artemis). Paul started the church in Ephesus as recorded in Acts 18 and eventually he would send his young protege Timothy to serve as their pastor. One of my favorite passages is Paul's admonition in Ephesians 6 to put on the full armor of God.
Philippians - Philippians has a different tone than many of Paul's letters - it is written about 62AD to the church in Philippi (now Filippoi, Greece) which was one of the first church's that Paul ever started. From the tone of his letter, Philippi is often called Paul's "sweetheart" church. We also find here one of the most powerful and oft quoted pieces of Scripture: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).
Colossians - Colossians is directed to the church at Colosse (now Honaz, Turkey) and was probably written during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome. Apparently, the church had been incorporating pagan elements into their practice including the worship of elemental spirits and Paul's letter declares Christ's supremacy over the entire created universe and reminds the believers to live godly lives.
I and II Thessalonians - The last two books this week are directed at the church of Thessalonica (which still exists today in Greece) and are written probably only months apart around 52AD. Paul only stayed with this church for a few weeks after beginning it and seems to be writing the first letter to encourage them in their faith and remind them of some important doctrines of the faith. Apparently there was some misunderstanding regarding the return of Christ and the second shorter letter appears to deal solely with correcting that understanding.
Here is this week's schedule:
04, Sunday: II Corinthians 12 - Galatians 2
05, Monday: Galatians 3-6
06, Tuesday: Ephesians 1-4
07, Wednesday: Ephesians 5 - Philippians 2
08, Thursday: Philippians 3 - Colossians 2
09, Friday: Colossians 3 - I Thessalonians 2
10, Saturday: I Thessalonians 3 - II Thessalonians 2
May God add His richest blessings to the reading, the hearing and the living out of His holy word. Amen.
Have a great weekend,