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Best Resources on Philemon

When Paul was in prison, he shared the gospel with a runaway slave named Onesimus. Sometime after Onesimus had become a Christian and a friend, Paul sent him back to his master, Philemon, asking that Philemon welcome him back as a brother in Christ. This letter illustrates how the good news about Jesus breaks down barriers, transforms relationships, and unites all believers into the family of God.

Faithlife Study Bible, Lexham Press

Best Commentaries on Philemon

N. T. Wright, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC), InterVarsity Press, 1986, 199 pp.

Colossians presents a picture of Christ who is "the firstborn over all creation" and has disarmed and triumphed over the powers and authorities. The letter also appeals to its readers to seek humble maturity, a maturity not possible apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ. N. T Wright's stated goal is to "to give the text back to the reader uncluttered by a mass of glosses."

  • Level: Basic
  • Type: Devotional

F. F. Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT), Eerdmans, 1984, 470 pp.

According to Bruce, there are important reasons for linking Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians together in one work. The study of both Ephesians and Colossians, says Bruce, confirms his belief that Ephesians continues the line of thought followed in Colossians—in particular because it draws out the implications of Christ’s cosmic role (set forth in Colossians) for the Church, which is his body.

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Type: Expository

David E. Garland, NIV Application Commentary (NIVAC), Zondervan, 1998, 400 pp.

This volume in the NIV Application Commentary series discusses the meaning of Colossians and Philemon in its biblical context and then applies it to contemporary situations. Discover how Colossians and Philemon can have the same powerful impact today that they did when Paul first wrote them.

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Type: Devotional

James D. G. Dunn, New Internation Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC), Eerdmans, 1996, 405 pp.

Dunn examines Colossians and Philemon within the context of the Jewish and Hellenistic cultures in the first century and discusses the place of Colossians and Philemon in the relationship between the Pauline mission and the early churches that received these letters. Particular stress is also placed on the role of faith in Jesus Christ within and over against Judaism and on the counsel of these two important letters regarding the shaping of human relationships in the community of faith.

  • Level: Advanced
  • Type: Technical

Douglas J. Moo, Pillar New Testament Commentary, Eerdmans, 2008, 480 pp.

Exhibiting the same brilliant exegesis and sound practical insight found in his previous works, noted commentator Douglas J. Moo, in this new volume, not only explains accurately the meaning of the letters to the Colossians and to Philemon but also applies that meaning powerfully to twenty-first-century readers. Moo attentively interacts with the Greek text of these letters and clearly explains the English text to a contemporary audience.

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Type: Expository

Best Books on Philemon

Lexham Research Commentary: Philemon
Lexham Research Commentary: Philemon

The call of the letter to Philemon is for Christians to let the theology of the gospel—justification by faith for all who believe, both Jew and gentile—to radically reshape how they relate to other people. In the case of Philemon, this means taking Onesimus back not as a slave to be punished but as a brother in Christ and, possibly, as one freed from slavery.

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Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ
Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ

Murray J. Harris sets out to uncover what it means to be a slave of Christ. He begins by assessing the nature of actual slavery in the Greco-Roman world and the New Testament’s attitude toward it. Drawing insights from this, he goes on to unfold the metaphor of slavery to Christ. Among the topics discussed are slavery and spiritual freedom, lordship, ownership, and privilege.

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Onesimus Our Brother: Reading Religion, Race, and Culture in Philemon
Onesimus Our Brother: Reading Religion, Race, and Culture in Philemon

In Onesimus Our Brother, leading African American biblical scholars tease out the often unconscious assumptions about religion, race, and culture that permeate contemporary interpretation of the New Testament and of Paul in particular. The editors argue that Philemon is as important a letter from an African American perspective as Romans or Galatians have proven to be in Eurocentric interpretation. The essays gathered here continue to trouble scholarly waters, interacting with the legacies of Hegel, Freud, Habermas, Ricoeur, and James C. Scott, as well as the historical experience of African American communities.

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Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation
Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation

The Bible appears to give mixed and even conflicting signals on four contentious issues: slavery, the Sabbath, war, and God’s charge for women. In Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women, New Testament scholar Willard Swartley seeks, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, to clarify the interpretive difficulties surrounding these topics. A predecessor to his 2003 publication Homosexuality, this book presents a thorough, spirit-filled discussion of some of the most nuanced and sensitive issues facing the Church today.

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T&T Clark Study Guides: Colossians and Philemon
T&T Clark Study Guides: Colossians and Philemon

Barclay brings to light the literary and historical connections between Colossians and Philemon—Paul’s theology and the early influence of Gnosticism—and he reexamines the Colossian hymn. Barclay also outlines Paul’s Christology in relation to the doctrine of creation, doctrine of God, doctrine of salvation, other-worldly powers, and the Church. Regarding Philemon, Barclay concerns himself with the story behind the letter, its strategy and its outcome.

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Best courses on Philemon

Mobile Ed: NT348 Book Study: Paul's Letters to the Colossians and Philemon (5 hour course)
Mobile Ed: NT348 Book Study: Paul's Letters to the Colossians and Philemon (5 hour course)

Join Dr. Constantine Campbell as he explores the theology and themes of Colossians and Philemon. Discover the implications of the Christ hymn in Colossians 1:15–20, which Dr. Campbell calls “the most profound Christological statement in the New Testament.” See how Paul addresses the “Colossian heresy,” as well as social and ethical issues like slavery and reconciliation. Through Dr. Campbell’s verse-by-verse commentary and engaging exposition, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how Christians are called to live and what spiritual maturity looks like.

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Mobile Ed: NT101 Introducing New Testament: Its Structure and Story (6 hour course)
Mobile Ed: NT101 Introducing New Testament: Its Structure and Story (6 hour course)

Gain a better understanding of the New Testament's structure and themes with New Testament scholar Dr. Lynn Cohick. You'll examine elements such as historical context, writing techniques of the Gospels' authors, developments in the early Church, the settings of the Epistles, the genre of the book of Revelation, and the life of Jesus.

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Mobile Ed: NT222 Introducing the Epistles and Revelation: Their Setting and Message (12 hour course)
Mobile Ed: NT222 Introducing the Epistles and Revelation: Their Setting and Message (12 hour course)

This course explores the books of Romans through Revelation with particular attention to their historical setting and culture. In addition to providing an overview of each book, topics such as authorship, audience, theology, major themes, presenting problems and pastoral strategies are discussed in depth.

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Mobile Ed: NT276 Pauline Theology (11 hour course)
Mobile Ed: NT276 Pauline Theology (11 hour course)

In NT276 Pauline Theology, Dr. Douglas J. Moo organizes Paul’s theology within the new realm of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the lives of Jesus’ followers. After comparing the new realm to the old realm of the law, Dr. Moo takes you on a journey from the inauguration of the new realm to its culmination, stopping to discuss the people of the new realm and how Jesus’ followers enter into, live within, and enjoy this new realm. This course provides you with a foundation to read, study, teach, and preach the message of the apostle Paul.

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