Paul's Prison Letters Essay

2493 words - 10 pages

1. How were the churches in the Lycus Valley founded? (Polhill pp. 330-331)

The churches appear to have been established by Paul’s coworker Epaphras, who was a native Colossian. Luke indicated that during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Paul followed his usual missionary strategy of establishing himself in a major city with his coworkers fanning out into the countryside to establish churches in the wider region. The Lycus Valley churches were a product of Paul’s Ephesian ministry. Epaphras served as Paul’s coworker, establishing the churches there. Paul did consider them his churches, as they were the ...view middle of the document...

There is evidence that mystery cults were established in this region in the Roman Period. Inscriptions found in the area attest the presence of the Egyptian cult Seapis. Though the area was settled and venerated from an ancient period, the city was even newer than Laodicea, being founded by a king of Pergamum Eumenes II in the early second century B.C. It was a prosperous city also and was a Christian center. It was the seat of a bishop.

Colosse was not illustrious during Paul’s time. In the first century B.C., Strabo listed it among the small towns of the regions. The site has never been excavated and the visible ruins of the city are meager consisting mainly of some ruins of the acropolis and a few seat of the amphitheater. Lightfoot described it as “without doubt the least important church to which any epistle St Paul addressed.”

It was located in the southwest corner of Phrygia, on the southern bank of the Lycus, ten miles east of Laodicea. Its cemetery was positioned on the northern bank of the river. Very little is known of the city, since it has not been excavated and the ancient writers scarcely mention it. Unlike Laodicea and Hierapolis, it had no prominence as a subsequent Christian center.

3. Polhill describes six possible theories as to the Colossian heresy. Briefly describe EACH one in separate paragraphs. (Polhill pp. 336-338)

1. The Hellenistic mysteries - Scholars in the early twentieth century indicate that the Colossian teaching was influenced by Greek mystery religions. This view was particularly associated with Martin Dibelius, who suggest that the Colossians were embracing a native Phrygian cult of the elements, based in the stoicheia who were seen as the spiritual powers that control the earthly elements. Dibelius argued that in 2:18 Paul used a technical term for entering upon the initiatory rites of a mystery religion. There is little evidence that the word has such technical meaning and few today would argue for a mystery background to the Colossian problem.

2. Gnosticism - Many see the Colossian problem as being influenced by some developing from Gnosticism. J.B. Lightfoot argued that the Colossian teaching was a combination of Hellenistic Gnostic ideas with Jewish Essenism. Gunther Bornkamm took Colossians back to the roots of Gnosticism in the Iranian myth of primal heavenly man whose body composed all the elements of the earth and he argued that the Colossian errorists sought assimilation to this by reverence of the spirit powers. Paul responded that they were already complete in the body of Christ. Most contemporary scholars who use the term Gnostic to refer to the Colossian teaching do so with a small “g” seeing it as being an early form, which had a Gnostic like cosmology but without the full metaphysical dualism and the docetic.

3. Hellenistic philosophy – Several interpreters literally observe to Paul’s warning against fine sounding arguments and...

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