The apostle Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books included in the New Testament. Four of those books–Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon–are often grouped together and called The Prison Epistles. They were written during the first two years of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:30).
It’s likely that Tychicus carried Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon with him when he accompanied Onesimus back to Colosse. (See Ephesians 6:21 and Colossians 4:7-9.) Philippians was probably sent with Ephraphroditus, who had been sent to Rome from Philippi with a monetary gift for Paul. (See Philippians 2:25-30 and 4:14-18.)
The Prison Epistles are filled with doctrine, but they also evidence Paul’s passion for evangelism, for godly living, and for purity within the Church. Although he mentions his imprisonment in each of the letters, he does not complain about his circumstances. He is confident that his hardships will bring glory to God and growth to the Church.
We can learn much about what it means to be God’s servant from studying these letters and modeling Paul’s example.