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Prison Epistles

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, & Philemon

Paul’s letters played a significant role in shaping the theology and practices of Christianity. The theme of Ephesians is the unity of the church in Christ, Philippians focuses on joy and rejoicing in Christ, even in the midst of difficult circumstances, Colossians emphasizes the importance of focusing on Christ and his sufficiency, Philemon provides a model for forgiveness.

Week One

  • Watch Video: Week 1
  • Orientation & Course Introduction
  • Download Materials:
  • Questions: 
    • Have you read these Epistles before?
    • Do you know of any theme in one of these Epistles?
  • Read:
    • Study Guide (Pages 1-8)
    • Weekly Reading

Weekly Reading

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
  • Book of Ephesians
  • Ephesians 1
  • Book of Philippians
  • Ephesians 3
  • Philippians 1
  • Book of Colossians
  • Ephesians 3
  • Philippians 2
  • Colossians 1
  • Book of Philemon
  • Ephesians 4
  • Philippians 3
  • Colossians 2
  • Book of Philemon
  • Ephesians 5
  • Philippians 4
  • Colossians 3
  • Book of Philemon
  • Ephesians 6
  • Colossians 4
  • Book of Philemon

Week Two

  • Watch Video: Week 2
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 8-12)
    • Colossians 2:12-15
    • Ephesians 2:1-10, 5:14
    • Romans 6:1-14
  • Questions: 
    1. Reflecting on the idea that we contribute nothing to our own salvation, how does this perspective reshape the way we view God’s grace? How can recognizing our limitations lead to a deeper appreciation of the cross?
    2. Considering the shift from being “dead in sin” to being “rescued by grace,” how does the concept of “dead to sin” in Romans 6 challenge us to live out our faith? How can we practically apply this understanding to our daily lives, especially when faced with temptations?
    3. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul states that salvation is a gift from God, not the result of our works. How can we avoid falling into the trap of trying to earn our salvation through our actions? How does this understanding impact our approach to spiritual growth?

Week Three

  • Watch Video: Week 3
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 12-15)
    • Ephesians 1:4-11
    • John 6:60-70
    • Philippians 1:18
  • Questions: 
    1. The Tension Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Understanding: How do you personally grapple with the concept of predestination and God’s choosing? Are there aspects of this teaching that challenge your understanding of God’s character or the nature of free will? How can we approach this tension with humility and reverence for God’s wisdom?
    2. Embracing God’s Unconditional Love and Choice: In the session, we discussed God’s deliberate choice to predestine and choose His people out of His love and mercy. How does recognizing this truth impact your perception of your own relationship with God? How can the assurance of being chosen by God inspire deeper intimacy and trust in Him?
    3. The Practical Implications of Chosenness: Ephesians 1:4b highlights that being chosen by God leads to holiness and blamelessness. How does understanding our chosenness affect our daily lives, attitudes, and actions? How does this perspective shape our pursuit of holiness and our interactions with others?

Week Four

  • Watch Video: Week 4
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 15-16)
    • Ephesians Chapters 1-3
    • Romans 3:24
    • 1 Corinthains 1:2
    • Colossians 1
    • Philippians 3:1-14
  • Questions: 
    1. How does the concept of being “In Christ” influence your understanding of your identity and purpose as a Christian? How does it differentiate from merely following Jesus?
    2. In what ways does recognizing our identity “In Christ” impact how we resist and
      navigate worldly influences? Share examples from your own experiences or observations.
    3. Consider the analogy of the vine and branches. How does remaining “In Christ” affect our ability to bear fruit in different aspects of life, such as relationships, work, and personal growth?

Week Five

  • Watch Video: Week 5
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 16-18)
    • Ephesians 1:22-23, 3:6, 4:4-6, 4:11-12, 4:16, 5:21-33
    • Colossians 1:18-26
    • John 1:14
  • Questions: 
    1. How does comprehending the dual nature of Christ as fully God and fully man impact your understanding of His work and significance for humanity’s redemption?
    2. Reflect on Ephesians 5:21-33. How does Paul’s instruction for husbands and wives also apply to the relationship between Christ and the Church? In what ways does this illuminate the nature of the Church?
    3. Consider the analogy of the Church as the body of Christ. How does this perspective change your approach to service, ministry, and unity within the Church? How does it affect your interactions with fellow believers and the world around you?

Week Six

  • Watch Video: Week 6
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 18-20)
    • Ephesians 4:1-6, 4:16, 4:25-27, 4:31-32
    • Matthew 6:14-15
    • Colossians 3:11-15
  • Questions: 
    1. Reflect on the prayer of Jesus for unity in John 17:11. How does this prayer shape your understanding of unity among believers and its significance in representing the Triune God?
    2. Explore Ephesians 4:1-6, 25-27, 31-32. How does forgiveness serve as a foundational element for unity within the Church? How does forgiving others align with the example of Christ’s forgiveness?
    3. Consider Colossians 3:11-15. How does the removal of distinctions and the practice of virtues contribute to unity in the body of Christ? How can this unity impact your interactions with fellow believers and the world?
    4. In what ways have you experienced or witnessed the practical impact of unity within a community of believers? How does unity draw people closer to God’s love and transformational power?

Week Seven

  • Watch Video: Week 7
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 20-22)
    • James 4:14b
    • Colossians 3:1-17
    • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • Questions: 
    1. Reflect on James 4:14b. How does the fleeting nature of life challenge your perspective on its purpose and meaning? How can this realization inspire you to live more intentionally?
    2. Explore Colossians 3:1-17. How does Paul emphasize the importance of transforming one’s life through Christ-like virtues? Which virtues resonate most with you, and how can you cultivate them in your daily life?
    3. Consider the concept of taking up your cross daily, as discussed in the session. How does this concept shape your understanding of following Christ and living as His example?
    4. How does Colossians 3:12-17 provide guidance for fostering unity within the body of Christ? How can you actively contribute to creating an atmosphere of harmony and peace among fellow believers?
    5. Reflect on the idea that your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3-4). How does this perspective influence your understanding of your life’s purpose and your identity in Christ? How can you live more fully in this truth?
    6. In what ways can you emulate Christ’s selflessness and humility in your interactions with others, as exemplified in Philippians 2:1-11?
    7. How does trusting God’s sovereignty and goodness impact your ability to pour out your life in service to others? How can you cultivate a deeper trust in God’s provision and guidance in your life?

Week Eight

  • Watch Video: Week 8
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 22-24)
    • Ephesians 1:17, 2:18-19, 3:14-19
    • Matthew 12:46-50
    • Luke 14:26
    • Galatians 4:6-7
  • Questions: 
    1. Reflect on Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 12:46-50 and Luke 14:26. How does prioritizing God’s will above earthly relationships challenge your understanding of spiritual kinship?
    2. Explore the passages from Ephesians (1:17, 2:18-19, 3:14-19) and Galatians 4:6-7. How do these verses reveal the depth of God’s love and the unity of believers as members of God’s family?
    3. Consider the imagery of husband and wife used to describe the church’s relationship with Christ. How does this metaphor influence your perception of the church and your role within it?
    4. Examine Ephesians 4:11-15. How does the equipping of believers for ministry contribute to the growth and unity of the church family?
    5. Reflect on your attitude toward the church. Do you approach it as a consumer seeking services or as a member of a spiritual family? How can you shift your perspective to embrace the church as a family and actively contribute to its growth?
    6. Imagine if your church had no programs. How would your commitment to Christ and service be impacted? How can you ensure that your dedication to Christ remains steadfast regardless of external programs?

Week Nine

  • Watch Video: Week 9
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 24-26)
    • Acts 19:1-41, 20:13-38
    • Revelation 2:1-7
    • Philippians 4:10-20
    • 1 Timothy 6:1-21
    • Pages 290-294 from the recommended book
  • Questions: 
    1. Reflect on the historical parallels between Ephesus’ culture and challenges and those faced by the modern church. How can we guard against similar temptations today?
    2. Explore the correlation between the Ephesian church’s devotion and their susceptibility to the love of money. How might the pursuit of wealth hinder our spiritual growth?
    3. Analyze Paul’s emphasis on generosity and contentment. How can these principles counteract the negative effects of materialism and greed in our lives?
    4. Consider the concept of finding satisfaction in God, as exemplified by Paul. How can a deepened reliance on God’s provision lead to contentment and spiritual growth?
    5. Reflect on the balanced approach of work and faith. How can we align our work ethic with the teachings of Scripture while avoiding the pitfalls of covetousness and discontentment?
    6. Think about the broader implications of Paul’s warnings to the Ephesian church. How can the lessons from Ephesus shape our understanding of church dynamics and priorities today?
    7. Reflect on how the lessons from the Ephesian church’s challenges with money and devotion are relevant to your life and your local church context. How can you actively apply the principles of generosity, contentment, and reliance on God’s strength to strengthen your spiritual journey and your church community?

Week Ten

  • Watch Video: Week 10
  • Read: 
    • Study Guide (Pages 26-33)
    • Colossians 2:12-15
    • Ephesians 2:1-10, 5:14
    • Romans 6:1-14
  • Questions: 
    1. Reflect on the historical context of modernism and postmodernism. How can these philosophical perspectives influence the church’s perception of truth and its message?
    2. Consider the danger of Gnosticism and the addition of rules to the Gospel. How can the church today be susceptible to similar tendencies?
    3. Explore the significance of identity in Christ. How does understanding our standing in Christ protect us from falling into works-based salvation?
    4. Reflect on Galatians 2:21. How can attaching human merit to salvation nullify Christ’s work? Why is this warning still relevant today?
    5. Discuss the concept of heresy infiltrating the church. How can these false teachings impact the church’s unity and spiritual health?
    6. Consider practical strategies for guarding against the erosion of Gospel purity within the church. How can believers and church leaders actively prevent false doctrines from taking root?

Week Eleven

  • Watch Video: Week 11
  • Read:
    • Study Guide (Pages 33-34)
    • Book of Philemon
    • Matthew 18:15-19
  • Questions: 
    1. Discuss the different approaches to conflict mentioned (loving conflict, avoiding it, engaging with it, enjoying others’ conflict). Which type do you identify with, and how might you grow in conflict resolution?
    2. Reflect on the concept of partnership and fellowship among believers. How does the depth of your relationships impact your commitment to conflict resolution?
    3. Consider the self-sacrificial nature of Paul’s appeal and its application to conflict resolution. How can humility and selflessness transform the outcome of conflicts?
    4. Explore the practical steps outlined in Matthew 18:15-19 for resolving conflicts within the church. How can this process promote unity and restoration?
    5. Share personal experiences of conflicts within the church and evaluate the outcomes based on the principles discussed. What could have been done differently to achieve restoration?
    6. Reflect on the statement “Conflict resolution is not about winning but restoring.” How does this perspective align with Christ’s teachings and examples?

Week Twelve

  • Review of Final Assignment

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