"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 Michael Joseph Brown
We often speak of Philippians in terms of being a friendship or joyful letter from the apostle to one of his congregations.
What we often skip over is that this is one of his prison letters (see e.g., Philippians 1:12-14). This overlooking of the social context flattens our reading of the text, missing a crucial component necessary to its proper interpretation.
Prisons or jails in the Roman world were nothing like our modern institutions. Often no more than a glorified pit meant to keep people for a short period of time, ancient prisons forced prisoners to look outside of their place of bondage to get even their simplest needs met. Food is a great example. Without the assistance of those outside of the prison, the jailed would have starved to death. Thus, when Paul speaks indirectly of the Philippians’ assistance throughout this letter, he is referring not only to their spiritual encouragement but also to their material support.
Paul begins this letter in an interesting fashion. He begins by calling himself and Timothy douloi Christou Iesou (“slaves of Christ Jesus”). The only other place ...
| Bible Text
2019-20 Worship resources
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 133: Partnership in the Gospel
May 25, 2014
Join Profs. Eric Barreto, Cameron Howard, and Rolf Jacobson for "I Love to Tell the Story," a conversation on Year 4 of the narrative lectionary. This podcast covers the text for May 25, 2014: Philippians 1:1-18a. Accompanying reading: Luke 9:46-48.