Study Guide

Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon Allusions

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Literary and Philosophical References

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Jane alludes to Philippians 4:7 when she says that the cold-hearted missionary, St. John Rivers, "had not yet found that peace of God which passeth all understanding." Maybe he should try taking a big ol' chill pill.
  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens
    The titles of the three sections in this novel—"Sowing," "Reaping," and Garnering"—are a shout-out to Galatians 6:7—"For you reap whatever you sow." Yup. Hard times, indeed.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
    Mr. Wilson strongly advises George, a slave, not to run away from his master. For one, it's illegal. And, of course, "the apostle sent back Onesimus to his master," so slavery must be cool, right? George isn't very convinced by this speech for some reason.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
    Miss Prism isn't a big fan of this Ernest character and dismisses him with this quote from Galatians 6:7—"As a man sows, so shall he reap."
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    Franklin isn't much for attending church, so his preacher comes to him. The two discuss Philippians—"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue, or any praise, think on these things"—and Franklin is less than thrilled with the interpretation he's given. Basically, the preacher wants him to just start coming to church already.
  • A Prayer for Own Meany by John Irving
    Like Paul, Owen is an inspiration. One of the characters says of him, "How can I not think of Owen when I read Paul's letter to the Galatians, that part where Paul says, 'And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they only heard it said, "He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me.' How well I know that feeling! I trust in God because of Owen Meany." Amen.
  • Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister by Robert Browning
    The speaker of this poem refers to "a great text in Galatians [which] entails twenty-nine distinct damnations." If you're wondering how you skipped over this, don't. It's all made up. Silly, Robert Browning! Everyone knows there's only 14 ways to reach damnation in Galatians. (Kidding!)
  • The Church that Was at Antioch by Rudyard Kipling
    The author reimagines the events that Paul discusses in Galatians 2 as the dust-up over kosher laws becomes brutal. Literally.
  • Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard
    The title of this famous philosophical work comes from Philippians 2:12: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." We'd give you a quick summary, but it's really tough to give a quick summary of anything Kierkegaard wrote.
  • Prayer of St. John Gabriel Perboyre
    This prayer ends with the words, "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me," in a shout out to Galatians 2:20. Quoting Paul makes any prayer at least ten times more holy.

Pop Culture References

  • The Colbert Report
    Stephen Colbert interviews Vince Gilligan (the creator of Breaking Bad) and quotes effortlessly from Paul. "In Philippians, St. Paul says, 'Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatever things are righteous, now I set my mind upon these things' and you sort of move towards the mind of God. But you've spent years now thinking about the worst, the wrong choices. Have you been moving into to a dark space yourself?" Sorry, Vince. Paul and Stephen have a point.
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose
    In the 2005 film, the grave of Emily Rose bears a quote from Philippians 2:12: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Actually, it's movies about exorcisms that usually fill us with fear and trembling.
  • Tim Tebow
    Athletes really love Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Here's Tim Tebow on the cover of Sports Illustrated showing off the chapter and verse in his eye black.
  • Spiritual Warfare
    This video game, released in 1992, put players in the role of a young Christian who's fighting off a demonic invasion. You convert the sinners in town by throwing the fruit of the Spirit at them per Galatians 5:22-23. In this case, it's literal fruits. Apples are for self-control, we guess.

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