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N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study: Colossians & Philemon
About this Series
The widely respected pastor and New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright, walks you book by book through the entire New Testament in this series. Perfect for group use or daily personal reflection, these studies use the popular inductive method combined with Wright's thoughtful insights to bring contemporary application of Scripture to life.
About this Volume
Paul must have often felt like a mother duck guiding her ducklings to safety. He had no idea of the dangers they would face. Longing for them to continue growing in the faith, Paul--now stuck in prison--wrote to his young flock, affirming them, warning them of hazards, and pointing them to King Jesus, the supreme one who is with them, and at work in them. These eight studies on Colossians and Philemon will similarly guide us toward maturity in King Jesus, who is still at work in his people today.
This volume also available as part of a money-saving bundle.
- Includes suggestions for individual and group study (with leader's guide)
- Features the popular inductive Bible study method with notes and comments from a world-renowned New Testament scholar
- Designed specifically for lay people to facilitate contemporary application of Scripture
From the Preface
We watched, holding our breath, as the mother duck left the pond at the head of her brood.
There were seven ducklings in all: four black ones and three yellow ones. They were lively and squeaky, scuttling to and fro. For days they had swum about with their mother in the little pond. Now it was time for her to take them to the nearby lake.
This meant danger. To get there they had to cross a main road and make their way through a park where dogs, cats, larger birds and several other predators would be watching. Fortunately, in this city at least, local residents are prepared for this moment and make sure that traffic comes to a stop to let the little procession pass through. They reached their destination safely. But we were left marveling at the mother's apparent calm confidence as she led her little family through potential hazards and on to the larger world where she would then bring them up to maturity.
Paul must often have felt like a mother duck. Here he was writing to a little church in Colossae, a town about a hundred miles inland on the banks of the river Lycus in the southeast of what is now Turkey. The church was just starting up, full of energy and enthusiasm but hardly yet aware of the great dangers and problems that were to be faced.
Now as he writes this letter to the Colossians, he is in prison, most likely in Ephesus, and he can't even be with them in person to guide them and teach them. The mother duck has to rely on instinct--her own, and that of her recently born babies--to see them through. But ordinary human instinct alone won't get the young church through to maturity. Human instincts are important, but they remain earthbound. When people become Christians, God implants into them a new sense of his presence and love, his guiding and strengthening. This sense needs nurturing and developing. New Christians need to understand what's happening to them, and how they must cooperate with the divine life that's gently begun to work in them.
It's probable that the short letter to Philemon was on its way to Colossae at the same time, since we note that the letter to the Colossians includes a mention of Philemon's slave, Onesiumus (Col 4:9). Onesimus was going back to Colossae, and to Philemon's household, along with Tychicus, to whom Paul is entrusting the letter we are now reading.
Paul's own personal circumstances make this letter especially poignant, and give us a portrait of a man facing huge difficulties and hardships and coming through with his faith and hope unscathed. But what he has to say to the young church is even more impressive. Already, within thirty years of Jesus' death and resurrection, Paul has worked out a wonderful, many-colored picture of what Jesus achieved, of God's worldwide plan, and of how it all works out in the lives of ordinary people--people like you and me.
About the Author(s)
N. T. Wright, formerly bishop of Durham in England, is research professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He was formerly canon theologian of Westminster Abbey and dean of Lichfield Cathedral. He also taught New Testament studies for twenty years at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities. Wright's full-scale works The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God and The Resurrection of the Son of God are part of a projected six-volume series titled Christian Origins and the Question of God. Among his many other published works are Surprised by Hope and Simply Christian.
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