Webteam: June 2019
Bible Month invites churches and groups to engage deeply with Scripture through focusing on a single biblical book over a calendar month. Bible Month can involve preachers, small group leaders, and children and youth workers, who can all take part in running Bible Month within the church. The Bible Month resources are designed to work within both group settings — such as a church, a group of churches or a home group — and to be useful for individual study.
Focusing on a single biblical book allows participants to gain a greater sense of the importance of context, both literary and historical. It encourages readers to explore how a book develops, and to identify links between different passages. As well as enjoying favourite passages within one book, Bible Month encourages readers to engage with the whole of it.
With roots in the Methodist Church, Bible Month is now run as a partnership with the Leaders of Worship and Preachers' Trust (LWPT). Further information and resources on Bible Month are available at www.preachweb.org/biblemonth.
It is quite hard to get a clear picture of Christianity's beginnings in Colossae, not least because Colossae is mentioned only once in the NT — in Col. 1:2. So we do not know if Paul himself ever visited Colossae, though in his journeys through the southern part of Asia (western Turkey) recorded in Acts 18:23 and 19:1 he must have been not very far away — Colossae lying on or close to one of the main east-west routes through the region, through the Lycus valley. Alternatively, it is easy to imagine that during his two years in Ephesus (Acts 19:10) he himself or mission teams from Ephesus spread the gospel further inland. This is one of the likely explanations of the growth of the churches written to in Rev. 2-3, though (somewhat surprisingly?) the church in Colossae is not mentioned in Rev. 2-3.
The church in Colossae was founded probably in the second half of the 50s CE and probably by Epaphras (Col. 1:6-7), who was himself a native of Colossae (4:12). He could have been converted by Paul during the latter's time in Ephesus. The parallels between Col. 4:9-14 and Philemon 23-24 strongly suggest that Philemon also lived in Colossae, and that the two letters were written about the same time.
We know that Colossae was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 60 or 61. And the lack of any reference to the earthquake strongly suggests a letter written prior to that. Since the letter was written from prison or house arrest (4:10) the suggestion that the letter was written early in the period of Paul's house arrest in Rome (60-62) makes best sense.
There will be a weekly discussion group at the Whitchurch Methodist Church, following up from the previous Sunday's worship — details of the dates can be found here.
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St James Road Methodist Church, Southampton