Letters From Prison


Letters From Prison

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By Stuart Allen                                                                                                                                                                        

Book Review by Robert Guenther

This book is an exposition of the apostle Paul’s prison epistles which are: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, II Timothy and Philippians. We consider these books to be addressed to us as members of the body of Christ, and therefore encourage others to understand the truths contained in these books. Mr. Allen writes in a simple verse by verse method.

Ephesians is the first viewed. We can understand its structure better by breaking it into two parts: Doctrine (1:3-3:13) and Practice (4:1-6:20). Within the doctrinal chapters we are enlightened to our hope, inheritance and calling in the heavenlies. In contrast, the practical chapters instruct us how to walk worthy as joint-heirs and joint-partakers of His calling. We can observe that four prison letters can also be paired together: Ephesians and Colossians being doctrinal. Philippians and II Timothy being practical.

Colossians is the next letter addressed. “We are complete in Him…”(2:10) is the central theme. Some were trying to bring the saints back under the law and bondage with their traditions and religion. Paul teaches us of the liberty and fulness we have in Christ (2:14). These traditions are still a stumbling block for some today, but we are admonished to rest on the finished work of Christ and not be judged of men (2:16-19).

Next is the epistle to Philemon. This is an example of the type of personal letter Paul wrote. We learn that through Paul, a runaway slave, Onesimus, is converted. This once useless slave is now a willing servant to his master.

The epistle to the Philippians is explained next. Mr. Allen suggests that this practical book has many parallels with the epistle to the Hebrews. A working out of our salvation with our prize in view for faithfulness is the goal that we should be striving for. This epistle of suffering and trials is also filled with truths of true joy and rejoicing.

The last book is II Timothy. This letter is practical also and contains much needed instructions to Timothy that can be applied to us as we try to share God’s Word with others. The question, “What does right division mean?” is addressed. Mr. Allen closes this book by admonishing us to “possess our possessions” by faith. Our hope and inheritance are in heavenly places.

Why are these prison letters so special? It is because they contain what we have come to appreciate as truth for today. May we lay claim to our promises and not what belongs to the nation Israel.