BIB506: Paul’s Prison Epistles

(3 credits)

Course Description

Paul’s Prison Epistles examines the letters that Paul wrote after his arrest in Jerusalem and appeal to Caesar to have his case heard in Rome. These letters to house churches in Philippi, Ephesus, and Colossae, including the church that met in the home of Philemon, engage issues of faithfulness to Christ as Lord in places where Caesar claimed supremacy. The household codes of the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, as well as the particular matter about the household slave, turned Christian, Onesimus, provide an important window on interpersonal and social ethics at a time when economic pressures in the Roman patronage system threatened to deform Christian identity. The epistle to the Philippians addresses true citizenship in the kingdom of God in a city that held a unique status as a Roman colony.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. To articulate Paul’s primary purposes for writing each one of his Prison Epistles, and to outline their particular structures and main themes in significant detail.
  2. To illustrate Paul’s uses of various sub-genres like public praise/thanksgiving, hymns, household codes and pastoral prayers to shape Christian identity and practice in Roman cities, as well as to apply them as tools of discipleship in their own contexts.
  3. To analyze the “Christ hymns” of Colossians 1:15-20 and Philippians 2:6-11, synthesize their contribution to Pauline Christology, and apply their significance to Christian worship in their context.
  4. To analyze Paul’s multi-pronged engagement with the Roman patronage system, including Roman slavery; synthesize the pattern of life he calls for in the household codes of Eph 5:21-6:9; Col 3:18-4:1 and Philemon; and apply their significance to Christian social ethics in their context.

Moodle Login and Syllabus
Course Materials & Tuition

Michael J. Gorman, Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters, Second Edition, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2017) ISBN: 978-0-8028-7428-3 $32.25 (paperback)

$27.99 (kindle)

N. T. Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Louisville, KY: John Knox Westminster, 2004) ISBN: 978-0-6642-2788-3 $11.98 (paperback)


Tuition $375.00
Total Cost of Course $410.99