The Adult Bible Study meets together after the morning worship service every Sunday. We are currently studying Paul’s Prison Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon).
A quartet of men left Rome in the year AD 62 bound for the province of Asia which was located in what was designated as Asia Minor and is currently called Turkey. These men had on their persons four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. These precious documents would be invaluable if they were in existence today. Rome did not comprehend the significance of the writings of an unknown prisoner. If she had, these men would have been apprehended and the documents seized.
When these men bade farewell to the apostle Paul, each was given an epistle to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are in the Word of God, and they are designated the “Prison Epistles of Paul,” since he wrote them while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was awaiting a hearing before Nero who was the Caesar at that time. Paul as a Roman citizen had appealed his case to the emperor, and he was waiting to be heard.
This quartet of men and their respective places of abode can be identified:
(1) Epaphroditus was from Philippi, and he had the Epistle to the Philippians (see Phil. 4:18); (2) Tychicus was from Ephesus, and he had the Epistle to the Ephesians (see Eph. 6:21); (3) Epaphras was from Colosse, and he had the Epistle to the Colossians (see Col. 4:12); and (4) Onesimus was a runaway slave from Colosse, and he had the Epistle to Philemon who was his master (see Philem. 10).
These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the Church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of them all. These different facets present the Christian life on the highest plane.
Ephesians presents the Church which is Christ’s body. This is the invisible Church of which Christ is the Head.
Colossians presents Christ as the Head of the body, the Church. The emphasis is upon Christ rather than on the Church. In Ephesians the emphasis is on the body, and in Colossians the emphasis is on the Head.
Philippians presents Christian living with Christ as the dynamic. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
Philemon presents Christian living in action in a pagan society. Paul wrote to Philemon, who was the master of Onesimus and a Christian: If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself. If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee aught, put that on mine account” (Philem. 17-18).J. Vernon McGee, “Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee” (1983), V:204