Details for The Prison Epistles

The letters of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon were written from prison and yet deal with some of the most liberating concepts imaginable. We know Ephesians from its famous spiritual warfare passage, but what exactly did Paul picture as the greatest of all battles? Philippians is a letter of instruction, providing models to follow. In it we will find Paul, Jesus, Timothy and Epaphroditus offered as those whom we should seek to copy. Colossians is an enigma in which one needs to play detectives trying to recover from the clues what Paul was likely confronting. Finally, Philemon is gigantic in its implications contrary to its miniature word length. Time spent with these letters will be richly rewarded and equip us for life in multiple dimensions: spiritual, relational, personal, and corporate. Specifically, these four letters from captivity will release any of us from unconscious imprisoning ideas.

Quick Info

  • Currently offered by Alphacrucis: Yes
  • Course code: BIB552
  • Credit points: 10
  • Subject coordinator: Adam White


The following courses are prerequisites:

Awards offering The Prison Epistles

This unit is offered as a part of the following awards:

Unit Content

Curriculum Objective

To examine the so-called Prison or Captivity letters ascribed to Paul; Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. The issues of pseudonymity, literary dependency and the various world-views developed from the text(s) are examined.


  1. Elucidate concepts of ecclesiology through critical evaluation of the Prison Epistles;
  2. Appraise and explain the role and function of Christians as portrayed in the Prison Epistles, as members of the body of Christ and the broader community;
  3. Assess and describe the literary and theological structure of a Prison epistle through critical exegesis and engagement with a wide variety of sources;
  4. Assess and describe the biblical and theological context of each Prison epistle and detail the content unique to each;
  5. Reconstruct the historical background and social context of the local churches at Ephesus, Philippi and Colossae.

Subject Content

  • Explore the background of Roman imprisonment in general and Paul’s imprisonment specifically
  • An exegetical study on the letter to the Philippians
  • An examination of the Asian churches and Paul’s church planting there
  • An exegetical and thematic study on the letter to the Ephesians
  • An exegetical study on the church in Colossae in general and the letter to the Colossians and Philemon specifically

This course may be offered in the following formats

  • Face to Face (onsite)
  • Distance/E-learning (online)
  • Intensive (One week: 7 hours per day for 5 days = 35 class hours + approx 85 hours out of class time for research, writing, exam preparation and execution, ancillary activities associated with completion of assigned tasks)

Please consult your course prospectus or enquire about how and when this course will be offered next at Alphacrucis University College.

Assessment Methods

  • Reading Responses (20%) 
  • Contemporary Presentation (30%) 
  • Major Exegesis (50%) 

Prescribed Text

  • Primary readings provided