"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Partnership in the Gospel
Philippians 1:1-18a Commentary
by Amy G. Oden
As we move from Easter to Pentecost, this is a great time to invite congregations to hear the communal character of the good news.
The gospel is no lone ranger enterprise. It’s a partnership for all the saints, the whole church.
What difference does it make that Paul is writing his letters to an entire community, the ecclesia (assembly) in Philippi? He could have addressed his letter just to the elders there. He could have written directly to the bishop, telling him what to say to his flock and what to do next. He could have exercised a “chain of command” understood both in the Roman household and the Roman Empire that recognizes authority in specific leaders who then require those beneath them to carry out the wishes of those at the top. There is efficiency and quality control in the top-down system.
But he doesn’t. Paul writes “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi” (verse 1). And this matters! Especially as we walk toward Pentecost. He and Timothy are in jail, a condition of vulnerability in the ancient that relies on friends outside for basic needs like food ...
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Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
NL319: Partnership in the Gospel
May 06, 2018
Podcast on Philippians 1:1-18a, the Narrative Lectionary reading for May 6, 2018, featuring Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Kathryn Schifferdecker, and Mark Throntveit. Podcast recorded at Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minn.