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Was Timothy in Prison with Paul?

  • J. Andrew Doole (a1)


Paul and Timothy are almost inseparable. The letters to Philemon and the Philippians are addressed from both Paul and Timothy and appear to be sent from prison. This makes most sense if both are in prison, especially given the risk inherent in naming an accomplice who remains free. And when Paul is in prison, Timothy is not sent anywhere. Could it be that Timothy was in prison alongside Paul? The personal tone and content of both letters nonetheless reflect concern only for Paul, what he has done and what will happen to him. No one cares about Timothy, so Timothy is probably not in prison.



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1 Timothy is in transit during 1 Cor (1 Cor 4.17; 16.10). He is absent from Galatians. Timothy is the ostensible recipient of two independent letters written in Paul's name, another aspect which reinforces the extent of the strength of the tradition linking the two.

2 Unless Paul is placed in chains while Timothy is on one of his journeys.

3 Standhartinger, A., ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen: Die Kommunikationsstruktur des Philipperbriefs im Spiegel seiner Abfassungssituation’, NovT 55 (2013) 140–67, at 150 n. 45: ‘Das durchgängige “wir” in 2 Kor 1.8–11 spricht für eine Gruppe. Als Mitabsender wird auch hier Timotheus genannt. Wer sonst noch dazugehörte, ist fraglich.’

4 Graf, J., Der Hebräerbrief (Freiburg: Herder, 1918) 275 n. 2, and Grässer, E., An die Hebräer (EKKNT 13.3; Zürich/Neukirchen-Vluyn: Benzinger/Neukirchener, 1997) 411 n. 29, both point to instances in early Christian literature in which ἀπολύω can mean ‘send off’ (Matt 14.15; Mark 6.36 par.; Acts 19.41; 18.25).

5 The debate on the order, date and location of Paul's prison epistles knows no end. M. Gielen, ‘Paulus – Gefangener in Ephesus?’, idem, Paulus im Gespräch – Themen paulinischer Theologie (BWANT 186; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2009) 15–48, at 19–38, has called into serious question the scholarly tendency towards Ephesus. Nevertheless, Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 149–50 and ‘Letter from Prison as Hidden Transcript: What It Tells Us about the People at Philippi’, The People beside Paul: The Philippian Assembly and History from Below (ed. J. A. Marchal; Atlanta: SBL, 2015) 107–40, at 117–18, continues to argue for Ephesus. Schnelle, U., ‘Paul's Literary Activity during his Roman Trial’, The Last Years of Paul (ed. i Tàrrech, A. Puig, Barclay, J. M. G. and Frey, J.; WUNT 352; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015) 433–51, is a recent advocate for Rome as the place of imprisonment and composition. D. Gerber, ‘Paul's Literary Activity during his Roman Trial: A Response to Udo Schnelle’, The Last Years of Paul, 453–68, responds to Schnelle's proposals with a note of caution.

6 There is a (subconscious?) tendency with many who place the letters in Rome to imply that Paul is aware that the end of his life or career is approaching, to the extent that he is able to foresee his own (non-canonical!) death. The rhetoric in Philippians and Philemon cannot be read in the same way as 2 Timothy, a letter probably written after the death of Paul. In both letters Paul at least claims to hope for release (Phlm 22; Phil 1.19, 25–6; 2.24).

7 Cassidy, R., Paul in Chains: Roman Imprisonments and the Letters of St. Paul (New York: Crossroad, 2001) 55–67 suggests the accusation of treason (maiestas).

8 The unity of Philemon is surely beyond doubt! Theories on Philippians as a compilation build on the various apparent endings in the letter (Phil 3.1a; 4.4–7, 8–9, 20–3) and the unusually early placement of travel plans (Phil 2.19–30).

9 Phil A (Phil 4.10–20) is a formal receipt and note of thanks for financial support. Phil B (Phil 1.1–3.1) is a post-trial, pre-verdict letter from prison. Phil C (Phil 3.2–4.1) is an attack on opponents and a defence of Paul's mission. The assignment of Phil 4.2–9, 21–3 is still a matter of some debate. See e.g. Rahtjen, B. D., ‘The Three Letters of Paul to the Philippians’, NTS 6 (1959/60) 167–73. The evidence from the Epistle of the Laodiceans – which draws on Phil 1.1–3.1; 4.8–9, 20–3 – is treated by Sellew, P., ‘Laodiceans and the Philippians Fragments Hypothesis’, HThR 87 (1994) 1728. Bormann, L., Philippi: Stadt und Christengemeinde zur Zeit des Paulus (NovTSup 78; Leiden: Brill, 1995) 115, provides a table of researchers’ views on these verses.

10 For views which maintain the unity of the canonical letter, see e.g. Pollard, T. E., ‘The Integrity of Philippians’, NTS 13 (1966/1967) 5766 and Garland, D., ‘The Composition and Unity of Philippians’, NovT 27 (1985) 141–73. Holloway, P., Consolation in Philippians: Philosophical Sources and Rhetorical Strategy (SNTS.MS 112; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) 733, provides a detailed survey of the arguments for unity.

11 Bormann, L., ‘Reflexionen über Sterben und Tod bei Paulus’, Das Ende des Paulus: Historische, theologische und literaturgeschichtliche Aspekte (ed. Horn, F. W.; BZNW 106; Berlin: de Gruyter, 2001) 307–30, at 319: ‘Phil A is ein knappes Dankschreiben für eine Unterstützung, die Paulus von den Philippern in der Bedrängnis (4,14 θῖλψις) erhält.’

12 Bormann, ‘Reflexionen’, 319: ‘Phil B reflektiert noch deutlicher die Situation der Haft (Phil 1,7.12–17). Es muß Verhöre und einen regelrechten Prozeß gegeben haben, denn Paulus spricht von “der Verteidigung des Evangeliums” (1,7.16).’

13 Standhartinger, A., ‘“Join in imitating me” (Philippians 3.17): Towards an Interpretation of Philippians 3’, NTS 54 (2008) 417–35, at 420, objects to the term ‘Kampfbrief’ or ‘polemical letter’, as it ‘does not sufficiently determine the purpose of writing letter C’. She proposes, at 427–32, reading Phil 3 within the context of early Jewish testament literature.

14 Porter, S., The Apostle Paul: His Life, Thought, and Letters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016) 275, has recently highlighted the inconsistency in claims that early Christians were at once expanding Paul's thoughts with interpolations and excising much of his correspondence in order to allow compilation: ‘There seems to be an inherent contradiction between retentions of Paul's writings as valuable and instructive, and expunging some portions. By today's standards we may think that openings and closings (and other portions now unknown to us?) are not as important, but this merely begs the question: can we say that they were not important for the early church, especially with the innovative Pauline opening, the occasionally theologically expanded description of the sender or addressee, and the benedictions and grace formulas? This is doubtful.’

15 While it would, for example, be possible to imagine Timothy in prison with Paul in Phil B but not in Phil A or C, or indeed any combination of these, a more comprehensive and less speculative proposal would treat the status of Timothy across all three. In this way, if the argument convinces, it can apply to all of Philippians.

16 Winter, S., ‘Paul's Letter to Philemon’, NTS 33 (1987) 115, argues for Onesimus as an emissary from the church, rather than as a runaway slave.

17 In Colossians, a probably pseudepigraphical prison epistle (‘I am bound’/δέδεμαι, Col 4.3) which names Timothy as co-sender (1.1), the thanksgiving proceeds in the first person plural (1.3–14). The only fellow prisoner named is Aristarchus: Ἀρίσταρχος ὁ συναιχμάλωτός μου (Col 4.10).

18 Wansink, C., Chained in Christ: The Experience and Rhetoric of Paul's Imprisonment (JSNTSup 130; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1996) 12.

19 Wansink, Chained in Christ, 14.

20 Gielen, ‘Paulus – Gefangener in Ephesus?’, 38: ‘Nirgendwo in seinen Briefen nennt Paulus den Namen eines Haftorts.’ Gerber, ‘Paul's Literary Activity’, 468, opines with some humour: ‘If he had only thought of dating his letters!’ Ignatius differs from Paul in always giving his location in his letters, both those from Smyrna (Eph. 21.1; Magn. 15; Trall. 12.1; Rom. 10.10) and those from Troas (Phld. 11.2; Smyrn. 12.1; Pol. 8.1). This may be because he is in transit, which could suggest that Paul was not.

21 Cf. Rom 16.7, in which Paul describes Andronicus and Junia/Julia as having been fellow-prisoners. It is unclear whether Mark, Aristarchus, Demas or Luke were also imprisoned; see, e.g. Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 155 n. 71.

22 Krause, J.-U., Gefängnisse im Römischen Reich (HABES 23; Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1996) 64.

23 Krause, Gefängnisse, 67, 72.

24 Krause, Gefängnisse, 74 (cf. John 19.10).

25 Krause, Gefängnisse, 67.

26 Krause, Gefängnisse, 72: ‘Ein Angehöriger der Unterschichten, und selbst ein Sklave, konnte der Untersuchungshaft sehr wohl entgehen, wenn er nur den Schutz eines mächtigen Patrons genoß.’

27 Krause, Gefängnisse, 69: ‘Bürgenstellung war auch den Angehörigen der einfachen Bevölkerungsschichten möglich, um der Inhaftierung zu entgehen. Es wäre also irrig, die Inhaftierungspraxis in der römischen Kaiserzeit allein auf die Frage der Zugehörigkeit zu den Oben- bzw. den Unterschichten zu reduzieren.’ See ibid. n. 31 for a list of examples from papyri. Arzt-Grabner, P., Philemon (Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament 1; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003) 75 n. 21, gives P.Oxy. ii.354 (23 ce) as an example.

28 P.Mich. i.87 (8–9): εἰ δέ τι σωι φαίνεται, καταλίψω τὴν γυναῖκα ἐν τῶι δεσμωτηρίωι περὶ ἐμοῦ, ἕως ἂν ἐπισκέψῃ περὶ ὧν μωι ἐνκαλοῦσι.

29 Krause, Gefängnisse, 68.

30 Krause, Gefängnisse, 68: ‘Die Strafverfahren wurden in aller Regel auf private Anklagen hin eingeleitet … Nur durch die Bürgenstellung konnte verhindert werden, daß sich die Gefängnisse mit Opfern unbegründeter Anklagen füllten.’

31 Krause, Gefängnisse, 67.

32 Krause, Gefängnisse, 71.

33 Krause, Gefängnisse, 72.

34 Arzt-Grabner, Philemon, 74: ‘Wie antike Quellen zeigen, waren die Präfekten, denen in den Provinzen im Rahmen ihrer Coercitionsgewalt das Recht zustand, Unruhestifter inhaftieren zu lassen, bei der Ausübung dieses Rechtes keineswegs wählerisch. Angeklagte wurden häufig gefoltert, bei Schuldspruch drohte Zwangsarbeit, Verbannung oder gar die Todesstrafe. Auch die städtischen Organe waren ermächtigt, (potentielle) Unruhestifter zumindest für eine gewisse Zeit in Haft zu nehmen.’

35 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 72; Arzt-Grabner, Philemon, 76. Cf. Acts 16.24, which describes imprisonment in an innermost room with the prisoners’ feet bound in wooden stocks (ἔβαλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν ἐσωτέραν φυλακὴν καὶ τοὺς πόδας ἠσφαλίσατο αὐτῶν εἰς τὸ ξύλον).

36 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 148 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 115.

37 Arzt-Grabner, Philemon, 75: ‘Zwar stand den Insassen offiziell eine Gefängniskost zu, die aber so kärglich war, dass sie zum Überleben kaum ausreichte. Wer nicht von Verwandten oder Freunden versorgt wurde, musste hungern.’ See for example P.Petr. ii.19.2 (3rd cent. bce), P.Cair.Zen. iii.59520 (263–229 bce), SB xiv.11639 (248 bce), P.Vind.Eirene 3 (post-250 bce), SB xvi.12468 fr. 1 (post-250 bce), P.Polit.Jud. 2 (ca. 135 bce), BGU viii.1847 (50 bce (?)). Cf. Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 43–51.

38 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 154 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 122–3: prisoners needed the support of family and friends for food, and there was often bribing of prison guards; the community in Philippi supported Paul, possibly leading to the imprisonment of Epaphroditus (cf. Epaphras in Phlm 23).

39 Is Paul also receiving support from a local Christian community? Is it particularly significant that the community in Philippi is supporting Paul? Bormann, Philippi, 161–205, examines the relationship between Paul and the Philippian community in regard to ancient social conventions.

40 Winter, ‘Paul's Letter to Philemon’. Arzt-Grabner, P., ‘Analyse der Paulusbriefe auf dem Hintergrund dokumentarischer Papyri’, PzB 3.2 (1994) 99114, at 111, however, points to the vocabulary linked with property: ‘Für eine Sklaven wird also hier [P.Heid. ii.212 = SB vi.9532] jener Begriff verwendet, der besonders häufig das Zurückschicken geschuldeten Geldes oder die Übersendung bestellter Waren beschreibt. Dieses verdinglichte und besitzmäßige Verständnis eines Sklaven kennt und verwendet auch Paulus!’ Förster, H., ‘Die Bitte des Paulus für den Sklaven Onesimus: Semantische und syntaktische Überlegungen zum Philemonbrief’, NovT 60 (2018) 268–89, understands the letter to Philemon as an ‘I.O.U.’ for the services of Onesimus.

41 Standhartinger, ‘Letter from Prison’, 108–9.

42 Standhartinger, ‘Letter from Prison’, 110. Pervo, R., Acts (Hermeneia; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2009) 678, refers to text D of Acts, in which the centurion makes the decision to allow Paul to remain with one soldier: ‘This is clearly fictitious.’ He, ibid. n. 80, suggests that Josephus’ account of Agrippa (A.J. 18.188–237) ‘may have inspired Luke’.

43 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 37–43, describes various possibilities.

44 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, Abstract, 140 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 113.

45 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 145: ‘… dass die Abfassungssituation in einem römischen Gefängnis eine Vieldeutigkeit des Redens und Schreibens bedingt, die die Auslegung des Philipperbriefs seit jeher beschwert.’

46 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 146: ‘Es gibt im Text des Philipperbriefs … Signale, die auf Inhalte und Botschaften jenseits des offen Gesagten verweisen.’

47 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 155–6 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 124.

48 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 156 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 124.

49 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 156 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 124.

50 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 160. As examples she gives the references to ‘my loyal companion’ (Phil 4.3) and ‘the emperor's household’ (Phil 4.22). She also interprets the ἐπίσκοποι and διάκονοι as references to those who have been asking after and supporting Paul and Timothy (162). The ἡμέρα Χριστοῦ (Phil 2.16) a reference to the trial (164).

51 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 166, argues that terms such as gospel, prayer, joy and the day of Christ are encoded messages which need not be explained to the community in Philippi.

52 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 161 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 130.

53 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 165–6. She concludes, 166: ‘Daher bleiben alle Aussagen über die Situation des Paulus, seinen Prozess, den Haftort, das Verhältnis zur dortigen Gemeinde und seine Zukunftspläne vage. Und ebenso undeutlich bleibt zumindest an der Oberfläche, welche Botschaft Paulus der Gemeinde in Philippi eigentlich mitteilen will.’

54 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 166–7, raised the question of censorship but then asked (apparently rhetorically), ‘Did Paul's letter pass uncensored because Epaphroditus … carried it past Paul's guards?’

55 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 179.

56 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 181.

57 Standhartinger, ‘Letter from Prison’, 128–9.

58 Polycarp names ‘Crescens’ (Phil. 14). Ignatius names ‘Polycarp’ (Eph. 21.1 and Poly.), ‘Polybius’ (Trall. 1.1), ‘Crocus’ (Rom. 10.1), ‘Burrhus’ (Phld. 11.2), ‘Philo’, ‘Gavia’, ‘Alce’, ‘Daphnus’ and ‘Eutecnus’ (Smyrn. 13.1–2), ‘Attalus’ and ‘Alce’ (Pol. 8.2–3).

59 As Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 159 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 128, accepts.

60 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 69.

61 Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 75–6.

62 Arzt-Grabner, Philemon, 71: ‘Das Besondere am Paulustext ist sicher, dass hier δέσμιος als Selbstbezeichnung begegnet. Paulus spielt damit auf seine reale und aktuelle Gefangenschaftssituation an. Durch die Attribution Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ wird darüber hinaus deutlich, dass Paulus darin sogar ein besonderes Prädikat sieht. Am Beginn einiger seiner anderen Briefe bezeichnet er sich an vergleichbarer Stelle als ἀπόστολος … Für seine Leserinnen und Leser muss es zweifellos eigenartig gewesen sein, dass sich jemand als “Gefangener” vorstellt.’

63 Porter, S., ‘Is Critical Discourse Analysis Critical? An Evaluation Using Philemon as a Test Case’, Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results (ed. Porter, S. and Reed, J.; JSNTSup 170, StNTG 4; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1999) 4770, at 57: ‘[A]lthough the letter prescript includes two people, only the first-person singular, not the first-person plural, is used from Philemon 4 on. It is clear that Paul is the primary speaker and writer of the letter, referring to himself by name (Phlm. 9, 19), and as an old man/elder (Phlm. 9).’ He continues, ibid.: ‘Noteworthy also is that, though three people are addressed in the adscript, reference is to the second-person singular from Philemon 2 on.’ While Archippus is a possible though unlikely candidate, the masculine form ἀδελφέ (Phlm 7, 20) appears to rule out Apphia.

64 In Phlm 25, for ‘our’ Lord: A C D Ψ 0150, Byz and Lect, among others. For ‘the’ Lord: א P 075 and Jerome, among others.

65 Apphia is ‘the sister’ and thus does not require an FPP pronoun. However, the anonymous ‘brother’ of 2 Cor 8.22 (but not the anonymous ‘brother’ of 2 Cor 8.18!) and Timothy in 1 Thess 3.2 both receive the designation ‘ἡμῶν’. Cf. also Timothy in Heb 13.23.

66 Gnilka, J., Der Philipperbrief (HThKNT 10.3; Frieburg: Herder, 1968) 15: ‘Als “unser Mitarbeiter” wird [Philemon] in die Gruppe der Missionare ehrend eingereiht und in das Verhältnis Paulus/Timotheus aufgenommen.’ J. Fitzmyer, The Letter to Philemon (AB 34C; New York: Doubleday, 2000) 87: ‘Paul uses the plural “our”, meaning that Philemon was a collaborator of Timothy and himself.’ For Fitzmyer (88), the same also applies to Archippus.

67 For ἡμῖν: A C D Ψ 048 0150, Byz, Lect, among others. For ὑμῖν: 61 א F G P 075, among others. A minority of texts have no pronoun.

68 Lohmeyer, E., Die Briefe an die Philipper, an die Kolosser und an Philemon (KEKNT 9; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1964 13) 176 n. 2, argues for ὑμῖν, as Paul does not write in the FPP of himself and his addressees in the thanksgiving of his letters. Fitzmyer, Philemon, 98, opts for ἡμῖν, pointing out that the second person plural ‘is questionable at this point in the letter, where the second singular otherwise predominates’. Lohse, E., Die Briefe an die Kolosser und an Philemon (KEKNT 9.2; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1968) 272 n. 1, and subsequently Stuhlmacher, P., Der Brief an Philemon (EKKNT; Zürich: Benzinger, 1975) 33, had also read ἡμῖν as original, with cross-reference to Rom 8.4.

69 Interpretations vary. Winter, ‘Paul's Letter to Philemon’, 4, understands Paul and Timothy (and the others with Paul): ‘[This] refers to the specific event of Onesimus being sent to “us”. (The first person plural means Paul, Timothy, and the others mentioned in vv. 23–24.)’ On the other hand, Fitzmyer, Philemon, 98, reads a Christian plural: ‘[I]t clearly refers to Christians in general who have put their faith in the risen Christ.’ Lohse Briefe, 272 n. 1, suggests Paul is connecting with his addressees (you and I). Gnilka, Philipperbrief, 37 n. 21, comments: ‘Der Wechsel zur 1. Ps. Plur. kennzeichnet wiederum die persönliche Note des Schreibens.’

70 Byrskog, S., ‘Co-Senders, Co-Authors and Paul's Use of the First Person Plural’, ZNW 87 (1996) 230–50, at 246.

71 Schnelle, ‘Paul's Literary Activity’, 434: ‘A trial has already taken place (Phil 1.7), and Paul counts on a quick decision (Phil 2.23), considers either acquittal or the death sentence to be possible (Phil 1.19–24), but hopes for a positive verdict (Phil 1.25).’

72 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 149 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 117, argues that the praetorium is the location of his trial, not his imprisonment.

73 Byrskog, ‘Co-Senders’, 247 (emphasis added).

74 Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 147 and ‘Letter from Prison’, 114.

75 Standhartinger, ‘Letter from Prison’, 124, is less speculative, observing rather: ‘Whether [being sent] is an actual possibility for Timothy as long as Paul is imprisoned …, we again do not know.’

76 Bormann, Philippi, 136–60, stresses the centrality of this letter/section in understanding the relationship between Paul and the Philippian Christians.

77 This will be taken up below.

78 Reumann, J., Philippians (AB 33B; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008) 563, points out that the occurrences of the FPP in Philippians are ‘all in Letter C; otherwise only in stock formulas at 1.2 and 4.20 (“God our Father”)’.

79 Lohmeyer, Briefe, 127: ‘[V]or der Stärke dieses “Wir” behält das Wort “Beschneidung” nur einen Nebenton.’ Cf. also Gnilka, Philipperbrief, 187; Schenk, W., Die Philipperbriefe des Paulus: Kommentar (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1984) 254; Thurston, B. and Ryan, J., Philippians & Philemon (Sacra Pagina 10; Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2005) 113.

80 Proposals have included apostles (Koester, H., ‘The Purpose of the Polemic of a Pauline Fragment (Philippians iii)’, NTS 8 (1962) 317–32, at 320–1, with cross-reference to Rom 1.9), or Jewish Christians (Robinson, D. W. B., ‘“We Are the Circumcision”’, AusBR 15 (1967) 28–35), or an authorial plural of Paul himself (Thurston and Ryan, Philippians & Philemon, 113), or a general Christian plural (Fee, G., Paul's Letter to the Philippians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 298), or ‘you (pl.) and I’ (Lohmeyer, Briefe, 127). Reumann, Philippians, 568–9, asks the question but does not offer an answer.

81 Schenk, Philipperbriefe, 254–5, also rejects the idea, because he reads the verse in parallel to Phil 3.20.

82 Holloway, Consolation, 142.

83 Gnilka, Philipperbrief, 203.

84 Here, there is no way to read the FPP as referring to Paul and his addressees together (‘you (pl.) and I’), as the addressees are encouraged to follow the example. Again, there are those who argue for an authorial plural (e.g. Schenk, Philipperbriefe, 256 n. 26), but Paul is quite capable of identifying himself as an example (e.g. Phil 4.9: ἃ καὶ ἐμάθετε καὶ παρελάβετε καὶ ἠκούσατε καὶ εἴδετε ἐν ἐμοί, ταῦτα πράσσετε) and he has just now commanded them to become συμμιμηταί of himself. Lohmeyer, Briefe, 152, speaks of Philippian martyrs as the τέλειοι, yet this is by no means explicit in the text.

85 Koester, ‘Purpose’, 330: ‘Not these people, but we ourselves are citizens of heaven.’ Cf. ibid. n. 4: ‘The accentuated position of ἡμῶν also becomes clear now.’ Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 172, notes that this implies that the adversaries to whom Paul refers cannot be Christians. Cf. Schenk, Philipperbriefe, 254; Reumann, Philippians, 575.

86 Schenk, Philipperbriefe, 254–5.

87 The term σωτήρ appears only here in the undisputed letters of Paul. Koester, ‘Purpose’, 330, suggests: ‘Apparently Paul is quoting an apocalyptic tradition in which the title σωτήρ had a strictly apocalyptic meaning.’

88 Reumann, Philippians, 579.

89 Byrskog, ‘Co-Senders’, 246: ‘[T]he plural [in Philippians is] used to associate with the addressees (3,3.15f.20f.; 4,20). The plural may refer to Timothy (and other co-workers) only in 3,17b, if this is not a literary plural.’

90 Byrskog, ‘Co-Senders’, 246: ‘While Timothy is co-sender, he is nowhere in this letter co-author.’

91 Porter, ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, 58. Porter argues, ibid., that this is also the case with the listing of surplus addressees at the beginning and greetings from other Christians at the end of his letter. Paul is also making a statement in taking the pen in hand and writing by himself. This act is ‘a move of power’, as ‘[t]he author is not dependent upon others, even upon a scribe’.

92 Porter, ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, 60.

93 Porter, ‘Critical Discourse Analysis’, 64: ‘Paul's thanksgiving is uniquely his.’ Ibid.: ‘In Philemon, Paul uses the thanksgiving to serve his linguistic discursive purposes, by separating his egalitarian words of greeting from the body of the letter, where he utilizes a set of variegated hierarchical words, beginning with bold words of authority and position.’

94 Cf. Aristarchus (ὁ συναιχμάλωτός μου) in Col 4.10.

95 Byrskog, ‘Co-Senders’, 246: ‘In contrast especially to 1 Thessalonians, where the senders are also presented as on the same level, the thanksgiving shifts immediately into the first person singular.’

96 Wansink, Chained in Christ, 146: ‘Paul emphasizes that his imprisonment has served them in promoting the spread of the gospel.’

97 Bormann, ‘Reflexionen’, 320.

98 The same of course may be said concerning Epaphroditus (Phil 2.25–30).

99 See Cassidy, Paul in Chains, 185.

100 Michaelis, W., ‘Die Gefangenschaftsbriefe des Paulus und antike Gefangenschaftsbriefe’, NKZ 36 (1925) 586–95, at 591: ‘Fast alle antiken Gefangenenbriefe, die uns erhalten sind, erstreben die Freilassung des Schreibers.’ Cf. Arzt-Grabner, P., ‘Bitte um Hilfe für einen Inhaftierten (ein Ptolemäisches Brieffragment aus der Wiener Papyrussammlung)’, Eirene 34 (1998) 3140, at 32–3 and 38, who cites P.Enteux. 84 (285–222 bce), P.Petr. ii.19 (300–200 bce), P.Cair.Zen. iii.59369 (240 bce).

101 Schnelle, ‘Paul's Literary Activity’, 451: ‘Like no other of Paul's letters, Philippians gives an insight into the apostle's personality. We see his fundamental convictions and his confidence, but also his anxieties and fears.’ Standhartinger, ‘Aus der Welt eines Gefangenen’, 140–1, notes that imprisonment becomes an important motif in pseudepigraphical letters in Paul's name, with reference to Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Timothy and 3 Corinthians. Pseudo-Linus’ account of the martyrdom of Paul (CANT 212/BHL 6570) refers to his chains as a common aspect of the apostle: et Paulus, consuetudinarias sibi pro Christi nomine gestans cathenas; see Eastman, D., The Ancient Marytrdom Accounts of Peter and Paul (Writings from the Greco-Roman World 39; Atlanta: SBL, 2015) 150–1.


Was Timothy in Prison with Paul?

  • J. Andrew Doole (a1)


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