Reta Halteman Finger

Reta Halteman Finger is the co-author of Creating a Scene in Corinth: A Simulation, taught Bible at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and writes a Bible study blog. 

Posts By This Author

Paul's Political Manifesto

by Reta Halteman Finger 09-23-2015
The apostle's prison letter to the Philippians was a challenge to the Roman Empire - and to the U.S. empire as well.
alexsol / Shutterstock

alexsol / Shutterstock

“REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS.” “Do not worry about anything.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Verse fragments such as these, in the midst of a warm, fuzzy letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the house churches in Philippi, sustained me through high school and beyond. Indeed, the entire letter is saturated with joy. Philippians has been a source of great comfort to many Christians over the centuries.

It is clear that Paul had a close friendship with the believers in Philippi. A major purpose of the letter was to thank them for sending one of their own, Epaphroditus, with a gift for Paul. Sadly, the messenger became very ill while with Paul, but now that he has recovered, Paul is returning him to Philippi, along with the letter (2:25-30; 4:15-18).

Less clear are the political assumptions and harsh realities that frame this encouraging missive. Paul lived and traveled within the mightiest empire the world had known up to that point. He carried his gospel message thousands of miles on Roman roads built for military conquest. At the same time he challenged the very foundations that supported this empire, and his activism was perceived by political authorities as a threat. Paul paid for this by suffering in a Roman prison (1:13) and did not know if he would survive his ordeal or not (1:21-24).

Stuff that happened earlier

Around 50 C.E., Paul and his companions were on a missionary journey through Asia Minor, what is now western Turkey. At Troas, Paul received a night vision of a person from Macedonia, a region now part of Greece, begging him to “come and help us” (Acts 16:9). The little group immediately set sail across the Aegean Sea to the port of Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, “a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony” (Acts 16:12).

Jonah At Sea

by Reta Halteman Finger 06-08-2015

Illustration by Rick Stromoski

The prophet who got everything wrong. 

Testing Jesus

by Reta Halteman Finger 05-07-2015

A foreign woman creates a scene in Tyre. 

On the Outskirts of Heaven

by Reta Halteman Finger 01-06-2015

Reflections of the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle B 

Bright Morning Star A-Rising

by Reta Halteman Finger 12-09-2014

Reflections of the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle B. 

To the Millennia and Beyond!

by Reta Halteman Finger 11-06-2014

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle B. 

Reta Halteman Finger responds

by Reta Halteman Finger 04-04-2014

Reta Halteman Finger in response to "Describing Paul":

'What is to prevent me from being baptized?'

by Reta Halteman Finger 03-05-2014

Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. A Bible study.

Can Paul Be Redeemed?

by Reta Halteman Finger 01-05-2014

Why some of us love Jesus and don't like Paul.

A River Runs Through It

by Reta Halteman Finger 09-30-2013

Water in the New Testament