Studying the Epistles Sunday, May 11, 2008 Epistles 1. Why are the epistles laid out in the order that they are in the NT? 2. Which epistle(s) was written earliest? 3. Who else wrote epistles other than Paul? 4. Which of Paul‘s letters was the ‗harshest‘? 5. Which of Paul‘s letters was the most gentle? Epistles Where would you find: In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Epistles Where would you find: In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Phil 2:5-7 Epistles Where would you find: If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. Epistles Where would you find: If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. I Corinthian 3:12-15 Epistles for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Epistles for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Rom 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:23 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Rom 12:3 Epistles But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Epistles But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 Epistles This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. Epistles This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another. If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18 NT Letters by Author ?, 1 Jude, 1 James, 1 Peter, 2 John, 3 Paul, 13 NT Letters by Author Paul John 1 Thessalonians 1 John Early 2 Thessalonians 2 John Romans 3 John 1 Corinthians Peter Doctrinal 2 Corinthians 1 Peter Galatians 2 Peter Ephesians James (James) Philippians Prison Jude (Jude) Colossians ? (Hebrews) Philemon 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Pastoral Titus St. Paul‘s Letters Paul‘s Letters A. Be aware of the order 1 Thessalonians they were written 2 Thessalonians B. Understand the Romans 1 Corinthians ―occasional nature‖ of 2 Corinthians his writings Galatians Ephesians C. Be aware of the Philippians structure of a letter; Colossians something of how it was Philemon 1 Timothy composed, sent, and 2 Timothy read; rhetorical styles Titus A. Order of Paul‘s Letters A.D. 45-47 ―First‖ Missionary Journey A.D. 49-52 ―Second‖ Missionary First Group (AD 50-51) Journey 1 and 2 Thess A.D. 53-58 ―Third‖ Missionary Second Group (AD 55-57) Journey 1 and 2 Cor, Gal, Romans A.D. 58 Jerusalem visit and arrest Third Group (AD 60-62) Philip, Col, Eph, Philemon, Heb A.D. 60-63? Voyage to and imprisonment in Rome Fourth Group (c. AD 64?) Titus, 1 and 2 Tim A. Chronology of Paul‘s Life 10 - 31 Paul is born (his father is a Roman citizen) Grows up in Tarsus (family may have had ties to Judea, e.g. Paul’s insistence that he is a "Hebrew" [2 Cor 11:22] and from the "tribe of Benjamin" [Phil 3:5]) Becomes a zealous member of the Pharisees 31/33 Actively persecutes members of a new Jewish sect centered in Jerusalem that claims Jesus as messiah (Gal 1:13; 1 Cor 15:9) 33/35 Is called by God to preach to the Gentiles. 35/38 Missionary activity in Arabia and Damascus (expelled under Aretas) 37/38 Two week visit to Jerusalem, meets Peter and James but not the larger church (Gal 1:22) After Missionary activity in Cilicia, Syria, from the Antioch church; 37/38 possibly also Greece 47/50 Writes I Thessalonians 50/51 Gallio episode at Corinth 49/51 Jerusalem Council 52/57 Missionary activity in Asia Minor and Greece Writes Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, 1 & 2 Corinthians 56/57 Writes Rome from Corinth 57/58 Arrives in Jerusalem with collection, is arrested and imprisoned 2 years at Caesarea 59/60 Sea journey to Rome 62 Executed after imprisonment at Rome B. Occasional Nature Thessalonians Christians obsessed with the Second Coming Galatians Gentile Christians who were being led astray by ―Judaizers‖ Explains Paul‘s discussion of faith (of Jesus Christ) versus works (of the law) Corinthians Problems with factionalism, doctrine, and behavior Romans An introduction of Paul and his theology C. Characteristics of NT Letters Comparable to Other Ancient Letters Authoritative Substitute for Presence (1 Thes. 2:13) Situational (Gal. 1:6-7) Carefully Written & Delivered Intended for Christian Community C. Characteristics of Greco-Roman Letters Letter Opening Prescript (sender, recipient, & salutation) Health Wish Thanksgiving Formula (less common) Colossians 1:1-3 (NIV): Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you… C. Characteristics of Greco-Roman Letters Letter Body Disclosure Formula (2 Corinthians 1:8)—commonly, ―I want you to know that…‖ Appeal Formula (1 Corinthians 1:10) Verb ―I appeal‖ or synonym Persons Addressed, Authority Content of Appeal Peri de Formula (―Now about‖)—introduces the next subject (1 Corinthians 7:1) Ta de loipa Formula (―Finally‖)—introduces the last subject (Philippians 4:8) C. Characteristics of Greco-Roman Letters Letter Closing Farewell Wish Health Wish Secondary Greeting Autograph 14Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. 17 Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord." 18 I, C. How Letters were Written 1. Paul did not sit alone in a quiet study writing his letters . . . 2. The role of the secretary Most ancient letters were written by professional scribes Some were directly dictated, others followed standard set forms Some scribes rewrote the ideas of the ―author‖ into more polished style Letters went through several drafts before the author applied his seal The cost of the finished letter included both the cost of the papyrus and secretarial labor 3. Paul‘s letters frequently included co-writers and missionary companions who left greetings at the end and collaborated on ideas. 4. Letters were delivered by private carriers Paul frequently used missionary companions The carrier usually read the letter aloud to the audience and would be able to clarify meaning and add nuance Performance (facial expression, tone, gesture, and voice) were part of the reading process D. Putting it all together - Interpreting Letters What did the text mean to the biblical audience Survey (A Survey of the New Testament, Gundry) Introduction (New Testament Introduction, Guthrie) Commentary Other (Dictionary of New Testament Background) What are the differences between the biblical audience and us? What are the theological principles of the text? How should Christians today apply the principles in their lives? D. Putting it all together - Interpreting Letters 1. The Occasion Because all letters are written because of an occasion or a special circumstance, one of the major task is to reconstruct the occasion. We have the answer that was given by Paul but we don‘t have the original letter with the questions written by the church. TASK – find the historical context through commentaries and dictionaries. Eg. Church in Corinth wrote to Paul about certain issues and questions. Stages of Paul’s Relationship with the Corinthian Church 1. Paul arrives in Corinth. After 18 months, he has founded a church of Jewish and Greek Christians. Acts 18. 2. Paul writes a letter to Corinthian church (a previous letter which we do not have a record of but was mentioned in 1 Cor 5:9-11). 3. The Corinthians respond with a letter of questions brought to Paul by Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (1 Cor 7:1). As well, Paul hears verbal reports from the messengers (1 Cor 1:11, 11:18). 4. Paul responds to the letter from the church and the news he has heard by writing 1 Corinthians and sends delegation back. 5. Still concerned about Corinthian church, Paul sends Timothy to Corinth (1 Cr 4:17-19, 16:10-11). 6. A discouraged Timothy reports back to Paul, his visit has had little effect. 7. Paul travels from Ephesus to Corinth to settle matters himself. Disappointing visit and leaves with matters unresolved (2 Cor 2:1) 8. Paul sends a severe letter with Titus (2 Cor 2:3-4). The letter produces a change of heart, repentance (2 Cor 7:8-13). 9. Paul writes 2 Corinthians. 10. Paul plans a third visit to Corinth (2 Cor 12:14) D. Putting it all together - Interpreting Letters 2. Structure of letter Context of passages is important to the overall logic or flow of argument. Look for transitions for natural parts, sequences, and next section. Internal evidence that reveals something about the recipients, timing, situation or author. Written with the intent of it being read publicly in its entirety. There is an oral nature to the Epistles. TASK – read the letter in its entirety. Eg. Structure of 1 Corinthians Outline of 1 Corinthians 1. How many different problems does Paul respond to in chapter 1-6? What were they? Division in the church Improper sexual relationships – incest Problem of lawsuits Problem of sexual immorality 2. What issues did Paul address in 7-15? Singleness and marriage Meat sacrificed to idols Head covering for women Abuse at the Lord‘s Table Spiritual gifts Bodily resurrection of believers D. Putting it all together - Interpreting Letters 3. Understand the literary context Think in paragraphs and learn to summarize each paragraph in short phrases or one sentence. Collection of these summation statements will give you concise summary of chapters. TASK – Outlining paragraphs and sections. Eg. 1 Cor 1-3 Structure of Chapter 1-3 1.10-17 – Factions and Divisions • 1.18-25, Wisdom of God is foolishness to men • 1.26-31, God chose you (weak, foolish, & powerless) to be His chosen people. Therefore, do not boast. • 2.1-5, I, Paul did not use the power of rhetoric to convince you. ―I came in weakness, timidity, and trembling. I only preach the cross.‖ • 2.6-16, The power of the Holy Spirit enables us to understand the wisdom of God. • 3.1-9 – Factions and Divisions • 3.10-23 – Summary: Paul laid the foundation. We, collectively form the temple of God. Do not think you are wise, do not boast. Do away with pride. We are all part of Christ. D. Putting it all together - Interpreting Letters 4. Application Once you‘ve done the work to understand the historical context and the literary point/argument then you are ready to make applications. What situation may be similar today and what situation is not? TASK – think critically about our modern day situation Corinth 1. Commercial and Economic Center. 2. Center of travel. 3. Diversity of Faith and Religions. 4. Liberal lifestyle. Entertainment. For consideration: What might be some of the challenges living out the Christian faith in a place like this? Factions and Divisions in the Corinthian Church 1:10-17 Reconstructing the Problem and the issue: 1. Itinerant philosophers in Paul‘s day were common. They commanded or produced a following. 2. Paul started the church then he left. Apollos came to minister then he left. Peter came at one point and he left. 3. Factions developed as a result of the Corinthian believers following different leaders. 4. The Corinthian church was treating people like Paul, Apollos, and Peter as pagans treat their itinerant celebrity philosophers. They viewed Christian leaders in secular ways namely, identifying themselves with certain leaders. Analyzing Factions and Divisions in Churches What might the message of 1 Corinthians say to us today? 1. In what ways, do we see leadership from a secular point of view? 2. How do factions and divisions form today? 3. Are factions the result of people willingly give their allegiance to a person? Or, is it the responsibility of the so called ‗leader‘ of the faction somehow commanding a celebrity status or following? Analyzing Factions and Divisions in Churches For us to consider: In our church, what might be some lines along which divisions and factions may develop? What happens when a church is fractured along these lines? What lessons can we learn from the life of our church? What are potential ways that our church can end up like the Corinthian church? How might we move toward greater unity?