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The Gospel of Mark and the Concept of the Synoptics: for Study May 21-

This is our first unit to prepare us for our study of the gospels and to present Mark's
Gospel in its proper place in our understanding of the New Testament.
It is a genuine pleasure to welcome you to a course entitled Religion 21! "ur#ey of the
New Testament$$offered %y the Norfolk &ampus of Tidewater &ommunity &ollege. This
is a 1$week internet %ased summer course designed for people with a #ariety of
moti#ations and needs! those who are well$ac'uainted with the New Testament %ut want
a new look at it( those who know and lo#e the New Testament) %ut ha#e not taken a
careful look at *most of+ the 2, %ooks of the New Testament as a whole( those who are
unfamiliar with the New Testament %ut feel a need to ac'uaint themsel#es with its
teachings and ideas %ecause of the significance of the &hristian religion and the New
Testament in -estern culture and .merican life( those who are always looking for new
ideas and %roader understandings of the &hristian faith( those who are mem%ers of other
religious traditions %ut in'uisiti#e as to what some of the things are that &hristians
%elie#e( and those who need a humanities electi#e or to fulfill an international education
"ome may take the course %ecause they are certain it will %e easy /may%e e#en an easy
.0. 1ro%a%ly not2 3ur interests in the class may %e either religious) academic) or dri#en
%y simple curiosity. 4#eryone is welcome) and e#eryone is to %e honored %y others in the
class. 5y the way) sorry to disappoint those looking for the easy .2
The class will mo#e along at a li#ely pace %ecause there is 'uite a %it of challenging
reading to do Thus) in order to co#er all of the material) we ha#e to mo#e right along.
-hat will we sur#ey6 -e'll focus on 17 of the New Testament %ooks) %ut we will also
read the other 8 /a total of 2,0.
9our instructor %egins with the position that this course is %eing offered through a
secular) state$supported institution( conse'uently) the course needs to %e presented in an
open manner. 5y this) I mean that the course materials will not present or support a
particular &hristian theology /e.g.) Roman &atholic) 1entecostal) e#angelical)
fundamentalist) li%eral) etc.0. :a#ing said that) I will regularly refer to ;ather Raymond
5rown's super% 177, An Introduction to the New Testament. . Roman &atholic scholar)
;ather 5rown lo#ed and knew the scriptures as few e#er ha#e.
5y the way) let's get it straight from the %eginning) regardless of what anyone else has
told you! &.T:3<I&" .R4 &:RI"TI.N" .N= T:4 &.T:3<I& &:>R&: I" 59
;.R T:4 <.RG4"T &:RI"TI.N 53=9 IN T:4 -3R<=. .lso) for what it's worth)
I ha#e %een conditioned %y li%eral 1rotestant &hristianity and a so$called li%eral
education$$and I am proud of it. Thus I do not count myself as a ?conser#ati#e? thinker
or practitioner of religion. 4#en as I try) I will not %e a%le to hold my li%eral orientation
toward &hristianity in total control. 5ut I don't intend to push it either. My particular
$ism will not attempt to take control of the class or the minds of students. 3ne of our
purposes will %e to learn to understand the faith stance of other people and to know that
not e#eryone will think e@actly as any other particular one of us does. Aeep in mind!
&hristianity is a #ery di#erse religion.
&learly) this is not a ?"unday "chool &lass.? =on't always look for confirmation of what
you ha#e pre#iously thought or %elie#ed. I freely admit that my chosen translation of the
New Testament comes from a particular theological position) as do most translations.
This translation /NR"B0 has found a welcome and a home within the so$called Mainline
&hurches) which are generally percei#ed as %eing middle$of$the$road to li%eral. .lthough
I ha#e my own particular religious preferences) %iases) and theological positions) I will
attempt /simply0 to introduce the class to a particular high 'uality translation of the 5i%le
with its #ery useful introductory articles( to encourage the class to read su%stantial
portions /almost all0 of the New Testament carefully and openly$$and to %enefit from this
reading( to pro#ide study materials to clarify what is read and to prepare students for
e@aminations and 'uiCCes( and to elicit feed%ack from students in the form of 'uiCCes)
two e@aminations) reactionsDcon#ersations #ia the =iscussion 5oard) and reactions to
passages from each of the %ooks studied as you write and email me.
I assume that among us there are deeply committed and faithful &hristian people) people
from other faith traditions who want to know more a%out &hristianity in this particular
culture) people who are simply not religious %ut interested in the phenomenon of religion)
and those who think that religion is nothing %ut superstition with little rele#ance in the
contemporary world %ut who ne#ertheless want to know more a%out what others think
and %elie#e. "uch a mi@ture could make for a #ery interesting course and fascinating
interactions. It will challenge you and me to %e open to the ideas of others) e#en if some
of us are rigid or tend to %e rigid and don't want to %e open. ;or the more rigid approach)
you'll ha#e to go to some other instructor for the class.
I ha#e studied the 5i%le through the years as I ha#e listened to ministers preach) attended
church school classes) %een a part of 5i%le study settings) taken undergraduate courses in
3ld Testament /I really much prefer to say :e%rew 5i%le and generally will0 and New
Testament) and done su%stantial study of the 5i%le in graduate school. I ha#e heard my
share of interpretations that impressed me as ignorant) narrow) rigid) one$sided) pathetic)
and grossly misinformed. 3#er time) howe#er) I ha#e heard interpretations of Eewish and
&hristian "cripture that ha#e lifted me Godward) inspired me) helped me) and directed
me. I keep in mind that Eesus came to take away my sins) not my mind. The 5i%le is a
challenge to the human intellect) %ut directed toward the mind as well as the heart. In my
role as instructor of Religion 21) I can only attempt to %e fair$minded) accurate)
academically honest) and fle@i%le. I realiCe *forgi#e me for repeating myself+ that those of
us who interact together will come from #arious %ackgrounds( some will %e faithful
&hristians and well$ac'uainted with the New Testament) some will know little) some will
not %e %elie#ers /perhaps adherents of other world religions0) and some will simply %e
seeking course credit. I Fust want you to %e clear a%out the possi%le di#ersity in the class.
-hate#er your reason for coming to this course) my task will not %e persuasion or
con#ersion) %ut the sharing of ideas and information. .fter all) this is a college course and
an educational endea#or. I trust that you will respect me if I show myself to %e informed
and open$$and fair$minded( it is my intention to respect and honor you) whate#er your
reason for taking the course. "hall we agree right now that sometimes we will disagree6
In the process) let us %e friends. N3T4 .<"3 that in a secular) state$supported
institution) I am free to teach a%out religion %ut not to teach a particular form or %rand of
any religion with a #iew toward persuading anyone in my particular preferred direction.
. good 'uestion is! -hy study the 5i%le6 .nswers!
$$to disco#er the wisdom) insight) and inspiration that has guided past generations and
that can guide us today. :uston "mith has called the world's great religions ?wisdom
traditions.? I particularly like that. If religion cannot lead us to wisdom) among other
things) why ha#e it6
$$for profound insights from the ancients a%out life's meaning.
$$to #iew a central source of -estern culture) religious and otherwise.
$$to seek what 2 %illion of the world's people consider God's re#elation( a record of God's
self$re#elation to the world he created. In what ways does the New Testament tell us
a%out what God wants and e@pects of the human race$$and a%out the nature of God6
$$to discern or disco#er a way to lead life) a firm ethic %y which to li#e. This particularly
interests and moti#ates me.
$$to %uild a religious life) please God) and connect with God.
$$as a way to come to know that great religious genius Eesus of NaCareth) recogniCed %y
&hristians as Eesus &hrist /Eesus the
-hat other reasons can you add6
. few comments a%out my chosen 5i%le translation! The New Re#ised "tandard Bersion
/3@ford "tudy 5i%le$$;ourth 4dition0!
$$it is a comparati#ely new and accurate modern$speech translation in the tradition of the
Aing Eames Bersion done %y maFor scholars.
$$it honors women %y neutraliCing se@ist or patriarchal language. -hen a noun /men0 or
pronoun clearly refers to %oth males and females) this translation will read ?people? or
?human %eings.? 9ou may not %e concerned a%out ?political correctness)? %ut I certainly
.M2 This translation keeps gender fairness and the concept of Fustice in mind.
$$this edition of the 5i%le has ample footnotes and annotation. The notes at the %ottom of
the page can %e #ery helpful in understanding.
$$read pp @#$@#iii on why a new translation and on the style of this translation. &ould a
'uiC 'uestion appear from this material666 1R35.5<92
.n important concept! each New Testament %ook is important in its own right) although
some are more important than others. 4ach %ook should %e read and understood as of
#alue in itself %ut also in the conte@t of all the other %ooks. This will help a person a#oid
inaccurate and unfortunate proofte@ting.
3ur course %egins with The Gospel of Mark and the concept of the "ynoptic Gospels
/N3T with the Gospel of Matthew0. =o a #ery careful reading of the Gospel of Mark. It
is a %rief gospel and %ecause of the nature of its material) it mo#es rapidly for the reader.
It is actually 'uite e@citing) and many people ha#e found it a powerful story2 It has often
%een recited on the professional stage %ecause of its dramatic appeal. It takes a%out an
hour$and$a$half to present onstage. "tudy carefully the essay on pp 1,GH$1,GI entitled
?Introduction to the Gospels? and the one on pp 1,71$72 entitled ?The Gospel .ccording
to Mark.? Gi#e some thought to the meaning of the phrase ?The "ynoptic Gospels.?
.lso) gi#e some thought to the meaning of the word ?gospel.? -hy do you think the early
church /or early churches0 found it important to generate gospels6
9our study 5i%le from 3@ford >ni#ersity 1ress has some e@cellent maps. It is important
to locate e#ents and places as you study the New Testament te@t. Maps 11 through 1G are
particularly important. >sually) you will %e referring to Map 1G. 5e certain to know
where Eesus and his followers li#e and go and where maFor e#ents take place. <ater) many
of the places the .postle 1aul #isits) we will locate on the maps. Note that the :oly <and
/so$called0) Israel) the land of Eesus' %irth) is a tiny country and that Eesus mo#ed a%out
o#er a rather small geographic area. 1aul tra#eled a lot more2
-hy %egin with Mark6) many a person has asked. 4@cellent 'uestion. The fact is that in
all likelihood) Mark is the first of the &hristian Gospels to %e written /although a num%er
of the epistles or letters were written earlier0. 3ur edition of the 5i%le would date Mark in
the mid$Js) may%e H years or so after the deathD%urialDresurrection of Eesus. 3thers
would date Mark a few years later /may%e around , .=0.
It was long ago o%ser#ed that %oth Matthew and <uke's Gospels %orrowedDmade use of
the outline or structure of Mark's Gospel. The Gospel of Mark must ha#e %een known
'uite early in numerous churches and must ha#e %een a#aila%le to &hristian leaders. The
authors of Matthew and <uke felt free) as was the custom of the day) to %orrow without
gi#ing credit. &learly) they didn't ha#e M<. documentation style to guide them$$or get in
their way) as the case may %e. 3f course) Matthew had original material to include in his
gospel) and <uke also had original material. ;inally) it is hypothesiCed that %oth Matthew
and <uke made use of a collection of sayings of Eesus called ?K? for the German ?'uelle?
or ?source.? Thus Matthew) Mark) and <uke ha#e long %een referred to as ?The "ynoptic
Gospels)? gospels with a common point of #iew. That point of #iew is largely drawn from
Mark. /Refer to the helpful chart on p 1,GI0. Eohn's Gospel is #ery different and
therefore is not one of the "ynoptics. /Remem%er! Mark is a source for Matthew and
<uke( Matthew and <uke also ha#e materials original to each writer( and they appear to
%orrow from a source of sayings0. 9ou might want to read further on the "ynoptic
Kuestion or ;our "ource :ypothesis. 9ou may find some writers who disagree with this
analysis. &an there %e any dou%t that ?synoptics? will appear on 'uiCCes6
:ow might we characteriCe the Eesus of Mark's Gospel6 <et's call him ?Eesus the Re%el?
after Ro%in Griffith$Eones) author of T:4 ;3>R -ITN4""4" /:arper"an;rancisco)
20. :e is a strong) #igorous) acti#e) sometimes confrontational Eesus.
-ho wrote the gospel6 No one really knows) and the gospel makes no claim as to
authorship. 5ut tradition says that it was written %y a certain Eohn Mark /#irtually always
simply referred to as Mark0) a cousin of the early &hristian leader and missionary
5arna%as. Tradition also indicates that this Mark worked closely with 1eter and recorded
1eter's recollections of his years with Eesus. :e could) as a youngster) ha#e had direct
connection with Eesus /see 1G!I1) I20) and a Mark did work with his cousin 5arna%as and
with 1aul /ha#e a glance at .cts 12!12$1G0. Many ha#e thought that Mark likely wrote
from the &ity of Rome in tur%ulent times with &hristianity a new) foreign) disliked)
misunderstood faith. Mark may therefore ha#e written in the shadow of Rome's first
persecution of the church /the time of Nero0. Mark demonstrates no great lo#e for Roman
This gospel's strong and sometimes enigmatic Eesus is disclosed to those who will suffer
as Eesus did at the hands of the Eewish elite. ;or Mark) Eesus is a preacher) a teacher) an
e@orcist) a healer. :e has uncanny powers. :e can heal the sick) calm a storm) feed
thousands with one supper. :e is presented as a powerful miracle worker) interesting
in the much more scientific and rational day we li#e in. Gi#e this some thought.
.t midpoint in the gospel) 1eter declares that Eesus is the Messiah /check out the meaning
of the term ?Messiah?0) God's appointed agent. Immediately) Eesus speaks of his
impending reFection and death /see 8!27) H10. Eesus' followers) howe#er) continue to
dream of personal pri#ilege and power. Mark seems critical of Eesus' pupilsDdisciples
%ecause they misunderstand and will ultimately run away. 5ut the writer is e#en more
critical of the ?powers that %e.? The Eerusalem Eewish authorities spy on Eesus) test what
he has to say) work to trap him) and ultimately turn him o#er to the Romans. The Eewish
authorities are not presented in a positi#e light.
Mark falls naturally into two parts. Mark 1!1$8!2J focuses on Eesus' ministry of healing
and preaching in Galilee /check your maps to %e &4RT.IN as to where Galilee is
located0. Mark 8!2,$1J!8 focuses in on predictions of Eesus' coming suffering) his death
in Eerusalem) and his resurrection.
There is a fascinating passage at 8!HG where Eesus indicates that faithfulness to him will
lead to suffering and death. To ha#e gathered any followers in light of the suffering and
danger that may come) he must ha#e %een e@traordinarily appealing and authentic.
This gospel is powerful and dramatic) rapid and #igorous.
.nswering the following 'uestions as you study the gospel may help you to peg some of
the main ideas and e#ents from it. 1<4."4) :3-4B4R) =3N'T "4N= T:4
.N"-4R" T3 T:4 K>4"TI3N" T3 M4. T:4 K>4"TI3N" .R4 ;3R 93>R
54N4;IT T3 :4<1 93> AN3- T:4 G3"14< .N= T:49 M.9 :4<1 1R41.R4
93> ;3R 3>R ;IR"T K>IL.
Unit 2: Matthew and ohn--a Sa!plin" to #e Studied May 2$-%&....
This is our second unit) to %e studied May 2I$H.
Remem%er that the &hristian New Testament is a li%rary of 2, #olumes) short #olumes at
that. The longest New Testament %ook isn't a #ery long %ook and thus can %e read
relati#ely 'uickly although they are all packed with content. It's something like a
collection of essays chosen out %y someone or someones %ecause of their recogniCed
e@cellence or #alue and included in a single #olume. The Best of the Best of the Early
Christian Writers! The writers of these ?essays? or works /letters) gospels) the .cts) the
.pocalypse0 had no idea that the documents were ?good enough? to %e chosen for
inclusion in a collection of what would %e considered sacred scripture at some point. The
writers did not concei#e of themsel#es as scripture writers. They were Fust writers on
religious topics. They simply had something they felt was important to say a%out Eesus
and their particular religious faith or stance or understanding of Eesus' teachings.
-hether or not they felt they wrote under the inspiration of God) we don't know for the
most part. May%e so) may%e not.
:owe#er that may %e) at a certain point) church leaders decided /under the leading of
God or the :oly "pirit) most of us would say0 that these 2, small #olumes or essays or
letters or literary pieces would %e included in what was ?holy scripture? or the 5i%le. 5y
the way) a large num%er of %ooks with spiritual content were e@cluded from the New
Testament. It was a process of discernment and selection and %ias and preference that
%rought the New Testament into %eing. I think that it's okay to wonder if some %ooks
made it in that shouldn't ha#e and that others were e@cluded from the New Testament that
should ha#e found their way in. Many 'uestioned the inclusion of the Re#elation and of
Eude) among other %ooks. 9ou may see that as heretical thinking or 'uestioning)
-e now determine to ac'uaint oursel#es with the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of
Eohn. If time permits) please read each of these gospels in its entirety. If time does not
permit) at least read carefully the passages listed here. 5e sure to study the introductions
to the two %ooks on pp 1,GJ$1,G, and 18,7$1881 respecti#ely in your 3@ford NR"B
"tudy 5i%le.
Ro%in Griffith$Eones calls Matthew's representation of Eesus! Eesus the Ra%%i. &an you
figure out why6
Matthew 1!1$1,! the genealogy is di#ided into three sections of 1G generations each.
Eesus is descended from what great Eewish heroes of the past6 :is lineage is traced
through whom! Mary or Eoseph6 Interesting2
Matthew 1!18$2!12! the %irth of Eesus the Messiah and the #isit of the -ise Men. 3%ser#e
how Matthew's opening differs from Mark's) <uke's) and Eohn's. 4ach of the gospels
opens in 'uite a different way. Note also that the -ise Men are not Eews) %ut Gentiles.
Gentiles come to worship the %a%y) the Messiah. The -ise Men or Magi may ha#e %een
Loroastrian priests /andDor astrologers0 from 1ersia /modern day Iran0. The Loroastrian
religion continues to e@ist today) although it is a small religion /in Iran and India) %ut also
dispersed around the world0. It was and is a no%le religion with a #ery high ethic. .t one
time) it was a large and powerful religion and it #ery likely had some maFor influences on
Eudaism and thus on &hristianity and Islam. #y the way' (e sure you understood the
!eanin" of the word )"entile) in this para"raph.
Matthew I!1$,!27! the "ermon on the Mount. This is the longest passage in the New
Testament attri%uted directly to Eesus. I am certain that Eesus) when he preached)
presented <$3$N$G sermons) teaching for protracted periods of time. The "ermon on the
Mount is surely a compilation from the early church of great teachings of Eesus$$.<< 3;
T:4 54"T 3; -:.T E4">" 3; N.L.R4T: :.= T3 T4.&:2 Great teachings of
Eesus are organiCed together %y the writer of Matthew's Gospel. "T>=9 these three
chapters and %e well$ac'uainted with the nature of Eesus' teachings here. Many a lengthy
%ook has %een written discussing the meaning of this sermon. -hat do you learn of the
ethic that Eesus taught from the "ermon on the Mount6 Think of the "ermon on the
Mount as an e@tended passage of Eesus' ethical %eliefs and teachings. "ome people
would argue that the "ermon on the Mount is the :4.RT of &hristian teaching and the
&hristian Gospel. In other words) there is no more important passage of scripture in the
entire 5i%le. This I" the ethic of Eesus.
Matthew 1H!1$II! a collection of fascinating and characteristic para%les of Eesus. &heck
out the meaning of the word para%le as applied to the teachings of Eesus. These particular
para%les deal with the nature of the kingdom of God and its growth. They are
*+,+#-.S /0 T1. 234G5/M. :ow does the kingdom grow6 Note! this is
another e@ample of how Matthew organiCes Eesus' teachings into %locks of material on
specific su%Fects.
Matthew 1J!1H$2! 1eter's understanding of who Eesus is. :ow ha#e the &atholic and
1rotestant &hurches understood this passage differently6 ;or &atholics) the church has
%een %uilt on the person of the .postle 1eter) %elie#ed to %e the first 1ope( for
1rotestants) the church has %een %uilt on 1eter's confession that Eesus is the &hrist. .n
interesting 'uestion! what does the passage mean6 Eesus is T:4 M4""I.:) T:4 "3N
3; T:4 <IBING G3=. 1eter recogniCes and confesses Eesus as the Messiah) so long
looked for %y the Eewish people. This was a %ig step forward for 1eter.
Matthew 2I!1$GJ! the 1ara%le of the Ten 5ridesmaids) the 1ara%le of the Talents) and the
Eudgment of the Nations. 4ach of these three sections of the chapter is memora%le and
worth special noting.
Matthew 28!1J$2! the &ommissioning of the =isciples or T:4 GR4.T
&3MMI""I3N. The writer of Matthew's Gospel puts strong emphasis on the necessity
of spreading the new religion. &hristianity and Islam are %oth strongly e#angelistic.
There are 2 %illion people in the world /or more0 who claim to %e &hristians and perhaps
1.H %illion people /or more0 who claim Islam as their religion /each is a #ery general
figure0. 5oth religions ha#e spread so %roadly %ecause they li#e with the sense that they
must %e spread %ecause God has told adherents to share the faith. Eudaism) on the other
hand) is an ethnic religion) the religion of a particular people. Eews ha#e not %een
encouraged to ?make? new Eews outside of their own ethnic family.
Ro%in Griffith$Eones call Eohn's Eesus the Mystic. &an you figure out why6 =o you find
a deeply mystical and spiritual 'uality to this particular presentation of the life and
meaning of Eesus6
Eohn 1!1$18! the famous *,/-/GU. to Eohn's Gospel. &onsider Fust how much this
passage glorifies Eesus /the -ord) with God) -." G3=) the agent of God's creation)
light in the darkness0. "pend some time considering Fust how ele#ated the nature and role
of Eohn's Eesus is in the gospel. Note how different the %eginning of Eohn's Gospel is
from the other three.
Eohn 2!1H$22! Eesus demonstrates against corruption in the Temple. It is fascinating where
this appears in Eohn's Gospel. -here does the same or a parallel e#ent occur in the
"ynoptics6 Much later on. -here6 -hat can you disco#er a%out the setting of most of
the material in Eohn's Gospel( where does Eohn) for the most part) apparently take
place6 The setting at least appears to differ from the "ynoptic Gospels. 9ou may want to
do some research as to why the difference.
Eohn G!1$G2! Eesus among the hated "amaritans. -hy did Eews hate "amaritans so6 The
#i#id story of the "amaritan -oman /the -oman at the -ell0.
,!IH$8!11! the woman caught in adultery. This story appears to %e #ery much in the spirit
of Eesus( it sounds like something Eesus would do. &ontemporary Fudgmental &hristians
could take an e@ample from it. :owe#er) it e#idently did not originally appear in the
5i%le. It is an e@ample of . <.T4R .==ITI3N. The manuscripts we ha#e of the New
Testament are) in many cases) 'uite late and are full of careless errors and numerous
deli%erate changes. I'm currently reading 5art =. 4hrman's Misuotin! "esus# The $tory
Behind Who Chan!ed the Bi%le and Why /:arper"anfrancisco) 2I0. 4hrman is a great
scholar of the %i%lical manuscripts. :e makes it clear that there are many errors in the
manuscripts and clarifies how scholars use certain techni'ues to conclude what the
original reading /pro%a%ly0 was. :e emphasiCes the importance of using modern day
translations %ased on the %est manuscript traditions) rather than older translations like the
AEB) %ased on inferior manuscripts. I throw that in Fust to make some of you mad222
Eohn 1!1$21! Eesus is the Good "hepherd.
Eohn 1H!1$2! the story of Eesus -ashing the =isciples' ;eet. &an you figure out what this
e#ent parallels in the "ynoptics6 It is a tradition of the 1ope) as I understand it) to wash
the feet of prisoners on :oly Thursday) as well as to wash the feet of worshipers at "an
Gio#anni in <aterno in Rome the night of :oly Thursday. -hat else /other than foot
washing0 do many churches do on :oly Thursday6 :oly Thursday is also called
?Maundy Thursday.?
Eohn 1,!1$2J! Eesus prays for his disciples and for the unity of those who follow him. In
Eesus' mind and in 1aul's /see certain of the epistles0) how important was it for the
&hristian community to a%ide in unity and lo#e6 -atch for this same theme in 1aul.
This passage is central to what is referred to as ?the ecumenical mo#ement.? "ome of us
li#e in amaCement at the tendency of &hristianity to di#ide and to assume innumera%le
Eohn 18!H8$21! 2I! Eesus sentenced to death( the crucifi@ion of Eesus( his %urial( his
resurrection( post$resurrection appearances( Eesus and the %elo#ed disciple. Gi#e attention
to the purpose of Eohn's Gospel /2! H$H10 and try to figure out who the %elo#ed disciple
might %e. There is material on this in your NR"B 3@ford "tudy 5i%le and in many other
readily accessi%le sources.
"ome ha#e referred to Matthew as the Gospel of Eesus the Ra%%i /the Teacher0 or the
Gospel of Eesus the Eew. Today's church is a Gentile church) %ut it was different in the
%eginning. &hristianity's earliest growth was among Eews in the Eewish homeland. Eesus
was a Eew( so were his first disciples. Matthew has a focus on Eesus' Eewish roots. The
writer himself is undou%tedly a Eewish &hristian. :e recalls the many ways God has
%lessed the Eewish people and sets out to lead the Eewish people to %elief in Eesus as the
long$anticipated Messiah. The genealogy sets out to pro#e that Eesus was a Eew of royal
descent /through Eoseph %ack to Aing =a#id and e#en ;ather .%raham0. <ook at 2!2 and
2,!H,. Matthew does much 'uoting from the :e%rew "criptures) and Eesus is the
fulfillment of the ancient Messianic hope. In Matthew) Eesus focuses his ministry on his
own land and people. -hen he steps %eyond the %oundaries of Israel) he hesitates to
minister /1I!21$280. Gentiles are not totally disregarded) howe#er. ;or instance) -ise
Men come from the 4ast to adore the infant &hrist. This appearance of Gentiles following
Eesus' %irth is integral to our understanding of the %irth narrati#e in the gospels. The so$
called Magi may ha#e %een priests of the Loroastrian religion) as noted earlier. .lso) in
8!1$11) Eesus indicates that faithful foreigners will recei#e %lessing. In 28!17 the gospel
message is to %e carried to all nations. The church has taken this commission #ery
The only gospel that uses the word church is Matthew /see 1J!18 and 18!1,0. &learly)
Eesus spent no time organiCing a church or the church) so why do you think Matthew
introduces the concept of the church in his gospel6 There has to %e a reason.
Matthew includes much more of Eesus' teaching) his words) than Mark. The author)
unidentified in the %ook %ut Matthew the ta@ collector %y long tradition) adds to Mark's
outline many words attri%uted as 'uotes from Eesus. ;ather 5rown says) ?It is %est to
accept the common position that canonical Matthew was originally written in Greek %y a
non$eyewitness whose name is unknown to us and who depended on sources like Mark
and K. "cholarship runs a%out four to one that the author was a Eewish &hristian) not a
Gentile one.? The author groups Eesus' words %y su%Fect %y Hs) Is) and ,s. In J!1$18 /in
the "ermon on the Mount0) Eesus gi#es three e@amples of how to a#oid outward show in
religious life /almsgi#ing) fasting) and prayer0. There are three temptations in G!1$11(
three prayers in Gethsemane /2J!H7$GG0( and three denials %y 1eter /2J!J7$,I0. Matthew
includes fi#e great discourses! the "ermon on the Mount in I$,( his charge to his disciples
in 1( a num%er of para%les concerning the kingdom in 1H( teachings concerning
greatness and forgi#eness in 18( and teachings concerning the end of the age in 2G$2I.
-ithin chapter 1H) there are se#en para%les and there are se#en woes pronounced against
the scri%es and 1harisees in chapter 2H. My impression is that Matthew groups materials
as he does as an aid to instructing people in the early &hristian community or a help to
those considering following Eesus as their <ord.
-hat is your fa#orite gospel /if you ha#e read them %efore06 I dou%t that many people
would say Mark! it is too short and mo#es too 'uickly. "ome would say Matthew. Many
would say <uke. The writer of <uke is so friendly to those who are not Eews and seems to
care deeply a%out e#eryone) Eew and Greek) male and female. Many would also say Eohn.
Eohn is a ?horse of a different color.? It differs greatly from the "ynoptics. It carries us
into a different world) more mysterious) ethereal) and some would say more deeply
spiritual. .s mentioned earlier) Ro%in Griffin$Eones speaks of the Eesus of Eohn as Eesus
the Mystic.
Matthew) Mark) and <uke make it clear that most of Eesus' ministry takes place in
Galilee. In Eohn) the setting is Eudea) the southern part of the land) and particularly in and
around the &ity of Eerusalem. ,!1) howe#er) indicates) ?.fter this Eesus went a%out in
Galilee. :e did not wish to go a%out in Eudea %ecause the Eews were looking for an
opportunity to kill him.? Eesus turns %ack to the north in order to take some precautions
for his own safety) so) according to Eohn) he doesn't spend all of his ministry in the south.
5ut he appears to %e %ack in the south #ery soon. 5y the way) if you ha#en't done so) go
to map 1H /I think that's the right one0 and spend a few minutes studying the geography
of the :oly <and. <ocate Eudea and the &ity of Eerusalem. ;ind "amaria. Then find
Galilee) Eesus' hometown NaCareth) and the "ea of Galilee. Trace the Ri#er Eordan from
its %eginning in the north to its termination at the =ead "ea in the south. -hy is the
Eordan so important to the Eewish people today /as it was in ancient times06
Eohn shows Eesus as conscious of ha#ing %een pre$e@istent with God %efore he came to
earth /1,!I0. That seems 'uite important to me. Rather than para%les and miracles) Eohn
presents Eesus deli#ering lengthy discourses or engaged in e@tended dialogues. There are
no dia%olic possessions in Eohn. They /demons0 seemingly do not concern him. There are
only se#en miracles) a few uni'ue to Eohn /changing water to wine at &ana( healing a
man %orn %lind( raising <aCarus0. T:INA .53>T IT! ;4- MIR.&<4") MIR.&<4"
N3T >"4= T3 =4M3N"TR.T4 :I" 13-4R) N3 >"4 3; T4.&:ING
1.R.5<4") N3 13""4""I3N" 59 =4M3N"$$-:.T'" G3ING 3N IN E3:N6
Rather) there are a num%er of lengthy monologues and dialogues. There is less of Mark
in Eohn than in Matthew and <uke) %ut) of course) there are parallels %etween Eohn and
Mark. Eohn is a #ery original gospel$$or a peculiar one if you take Mark as the %aseline.
"tyle and theology are closely wo#en in Eohn. The material is rhythmic in the Greek( it
has a poetic ring and cadence to it. 9es2 .ll of the New Testament is written in Greek
with the e@ception of a few words in .ramaic /Eesus' nati#e tongue0. 535 3 1+**.4
T/ M.4T3/4 T1+T T1. #//2S /0 T1. 4.6 T.ST+M.4T +,. +--
6,3TT.4 34 G,..2777 Eesus' speech is often formal and solemn in Eohn. There is
an intense seriousness to what Eesus says. In Eohn) Eesus fre'uently uses metaphorical
language) which the listener misunderstands or misinterprets. Then EesusDor the writer
/Eohn) the disciple whom Eesus lo#ed60 will e@plain his thought further and unfold his
doctrine more fully /see) as e@amples) 2!17$21 and H!H$I0. Eesus often communicates
in layers of meaning in Eohn's Gospel. The writer was so awed %y the person of Eesus that
he wrote the words in 21!2I. 2!2G$27 is a key passage. The %ook is written for us and for
others who dou%t) %ut yet can say) ?My <ord and my God2?
The gospel mentions the disciple Eesus lo#ed se#eral times /17!2J( 2!2)H) G)8( 21!,)20.
&ould this %e the author6 -ho is he6 The introduction in your 3@ford "tudy 5i%le will
gi#e you insights.
Two main goals of Eohn's Gospel are &hristian con#ersion and &hristian growth. The
author had a strongly e#angelical purpose.
"ome date Eohn from 4phesus %etween 8 and 11 .. =.) pro%a%ly close to 1 .. =.
3ur translation's introduction says earlier.
It would pro%a%ly %e a genuine shame not to look at Eohn H!1J$1, %efore mo#ing on.
This is among the most popular and often 'uoted passages from the New Testament.
May%e it is the fa#orite passage in the 5i%le666
.%ility to answer the following 'uestions correctly will ha#e a positi#e effect on 'uiC and
e@amination outcomes2 =3 N3T send answers to these 'uestions to your instructor2
They are for your %enefit.
Unit %: -uke: The Gospel with the Great 1eart....for Study May %1 to une
This is our third unit) to %e studied %etween May H1 and Eune H.
Ro%in Griffith$Eones calls the author of <uke's Gospel ?the &hronicler.? =o you know
what ?&:R3NI&<4R? means6
If I ha#e a fa#orite gospel) it is the Gospel of <uke) %y a %it the longest of the four
gospels. I lo#e the early chapters which tell of the %irth of Eesus( I like <uke's use of
Isaiah's chapter J1 as Eesus %egins his ministry in NaCareth /announces the nature of his
ministry in <uke G0( I lo#e the para%les e@clusi#e to <uke /the %oy in the pigpen and the
man who falls among thie#es0( and I lo#e <uke's uni#ersal sympathies and inclusi#e
spirit. I appreciate the fact that he is so democratic when it comes to women. 5ecause I
like <uke's Gospel so much) I want you to read the entire document 'uite carefully)
hoping that you'll appreciate it Fust as much as I do. Read se#eral chapters a day in order
to a%sor% the material %etter than reading the gospel at one sitting. 5etter yet) gi#e the
gospel a skim reading and then go %ack to study it.
5y tradition) not historical record) <uke) a physician and 1aul's coworker) is the author of
this gospel) as well as .cts of the .postles. /-e don't really know for a%solute certain
who wrote a single one of the gospels2 It is fair to say that they are actually anonymous$$
%ut long tradition has attached authors to each gospel.0
<uke$.cts makes up a single work in two parts. 3f course) no one knows a%solutely who
wrote this gospel) %ut the tradition of <uke the physician as the writer is an ancient and
strong one. Tradition can %e a #ery strong indicator of fact. Many scholars date <uke
around 8I .=) and the %ook has %een connected with the churches in Rome and .ntioch.
Raymond 5rown concurs) saying) ?*The author of+ <uke is educated Greek$speaker
and skilled writer who knew the Eewish "criptures in Greek and who was not an
eyewitness of Eesus' ministry. :e drew on Mark and a collection of the sayings of the
<ord *which we refer to as K for the German word ?'uelle)? which means ?source?+) as
well as some other a#aila%le traditions) oral or written. *5e sure to ha#e an idea as to
what the hypothetical ?K =ocument? is.+<uke was pro%a%ly not raised a Eew) %ut perhaps
a con#ert to Eudaism %efore he %ecame a &hristian. Not a 1alestinian? /p. 22J0.
If 1eter stands %ehind Mark's Gospel /many scholars think so0) 1aul stands %ehind <uke's.
<ook for mention of <uke in letters of 1aul /or ascri%ed to 1aul0) including 1hilemon)
#s. 2G /1hilemon has #erses) %ut no chapters0( &olossians G!1G( and 2 Timothy G!11.
There are se#eral ?we passages? in the writings of <uke which refer to 1aul and an
unnamed companion( perhaps these were taken from <uke's tra#el diaries! .cts 1J!1$1,(
2!I$1I( 21!1$18( and 2,!1$28!1J. These so$called ?we passages? indicate that <uke /or
some other unnamed person0 was in intimate association with 1aul during a part of 1aul's
missionary work. It is clear that the author was with 1aul when the great apostle set sail
from Troas to Macedonia on the second missionary Fourney and on down to when 1aul
was taken to Rome as a prisoner. /-e will look carefully at 1aul's three missionary
Fourneys when we study .cts.0 4#idently) <uke /or whoe#er was the gospel's writer0
spent a period of at least two years in &aesarea with 1aul while 1aul was detained %y the
Go#ernor) ;eli@. "ee .cts 2G. =uring this time) <uke could ha#e engaged in gathering
materials for his gospel and in writing it. This could also ha#e %een done after 1aul's
death in the mid$to$late 'Js.
<uke looks at the diseases /wrongful or sinful %eha#iors0 which can ruin humans and he
understands that the power of sin can %e %roken %y Eesus) the Great 1hysician. <uke is
turned off %y such things as callousness to human suffering) self$righteousness and pious
pretensions) greed) ethnic pride) and hatefulness toward penitent sinners /see such stories
as the rich fool) how Eews disdain "amaritans) the Fealous older %rother) the 1harisee
%oasting proudly as he prayed in pu%lic) a priest and <e#ite passing %y a %adly inFured
man) etc.0.
<uke has a great) tender) lo#ing heart. :e
doesn't Fust lo#e Eews) %ut also gentiles
/again) uni#ersal sympathies0.
<uke's Gospel is the first half of a two$
#olume work) appropriately called <uke$
.cts. This work makes up o#er 2IM of the New Testament. The %ook claims to %e an
orderly account of the ministry of Eesus) one of many accounts that ha#e %een written) the
author claims) and is addressed to the most e@cellent Theophilus. Theophilus means
?friend of God? or ?lo#er of God.? :e may %e a specific person) or this may %e a generic
name) meaning the %ook is directed to whoe#er lo#es God and wants to know more of his
"on Eesus. It is interesting that <uke's writer indicates that ?many accounts? ha#e %een
written. Eesus was already fascinating writers and readers.
<uke departs from Mark's outline and material more often than does Matthew. Nearly
half of the material in <uke is not found elsewhere) especially the opening chapters and
7!I1$17!28. <uke's presentation offers a faith for the entire world against the %ackdrop of
the Roman 4mpire /see <uke 2!1$H and H!10.
It has often %een noted that <uke's sympathies and interests are e@pansi#e. Rather than
tracing Eesus' lineage %ack to .%raham) for instance) he traces his family %ack to the
original human) .dam /?son of God?0. <uke can %e positi#e toward the "amaritans) so
often hated %y Eews. :e demonstrates compassion for the poor and those crying for social
Fustice. ;or e@ample) look at Mary's "ong in 1!I1$IH( the content of Eohn the 5aptist's
preaching in H!11$1H( the 5eatitudes in J!2$2J( and the highly original para%le of the
Rich Man and <aCarus in 1J!17$H1. :e has a special interest in and appreciation for
women. <uke doesn't want anyone to %e a second$class citiCen) women included. <ook
for references to women in <uke's Gospel and think a%out how women are respected)
#alued) and treated /and may%e compare to how some &hristian communities treat
women today0.
<uke demonstrates) in his writing) a special compassion for the penitent sinner /,!HJ$I(
1I!11$H2( and 17!1$10. ;urther) <uke places special emphasis on Eesus' prayer life /H!21(
I!1J( J!12( 7!18 and 28( 2H!GJ0. There is more emphasis on the importance and #alue of
prayer in <uke than in the other gospels /there are 2J mentions of pray) prayer) prayers)
and praying0. :e is preoccupied with the :oly "pirit and the way the :oly "pirit directs
the life and ministry of Eesus /G!1 and 1G( 1!21( 12!120. .s I remem%er) the :oly "pirit
is mentioned GH times in the Gospel of <uke) more than anywhere else in the NT.
. simple outline of <uke would show the following di#isions!
I0 Introduction! 1!1$G!1H
II0 :is Galilean Ministry! G!1G$7!I
III0 :is Eourney to Eerusalem! 7!I1$17!28
IB0 :is <ast -eek! 17!27$2H!IJ
B0 &onclusion! 2G!I$IH
<uke includes se#eral para%les that do not appear elsewhere) and these are among the
most #i#id to %e found in the New Testament. These fa#orite para%les of <uke's Gospel
$$The Good "amaritan /1!H$H,0
$$The Rich ;ool /12!1H$210
$$The >nfruitful ;ig Tree /1H!J$70
$$The <owest "eat /1G!,$1G0
$$The Great 5an'uet /1G!1J$2G0
$$The <ost &oin /1I!8$10
$$The 1rodigal "on /or %oy in the pigpen0 /1I!11$H20
$$The Rich Man and <aCarus /1J!17$H1
$$The 1ersistent -idow /18!2$80
Notice that <uke includes some of the material of the "ermon on the Mount) %ut in a
shortened and #ery different form. This is sometimes referred to as The "ermon on the
1lain and appears in J!1,ff /ff is an a%%re#iation for ?following?0. &ompare <uke's
#ersion of the "ermon on the Mount to Matthew's. There is also a shortened #ersion of
the <ord's 1rayer at the %eginning of <uke 11. Gi#e it a look also.
&orrect answers to the following 'uestions may %e helpful in doing an e@cellent Fo% on
our 'uiC on the ;our &hristian Gospels) as well as the mid$term andDor final
The .pistle 8-etter9 to the ,o!ans....for Study une 4-:....
>nit G! The 4pistle to the Romans! 3ur =esperate Need for Eesus /read this introduction
in its entirety) the accompanying 'uestions) the introduction to Romans in your NR"B
5i%le) and the 4pistle *<etter+ to the Romans %etween Eune G and ,0. "ee your schedule
for what to read when2 It /Romans0 won't %e easy reading. The modern reader may find
the epistle a %it dense in terms of the prose itself and also find it difficult to track with the
logic at e#ery point. "o face it! to know it well) you may ha#e to read it multiple times
o#er the years) %ut let's get a general ac'uaintance with it right now2 9ou can do this$$
and do it well2
-e mo#e to Romans) rather than to .cts of the .postles. -e sa#e your study of the %ook
of .cts until the last three units.
3#er a decade ago) the e#ening of "eptem%er 7) 22) 15" showed a two$hour
presentation on the life of Martin <uther. It was outstanding) doing an e@cellent Fo% of
demonstrating how <uther changed and matured in his theological understandings as he
re%elled against certain e@cesses in the church of his day and as he studied the scriptures)
particularly Romans and Galatians. Romans had an enormous impact on <uther) the
;ather of the 1rotestant Reformation. Romans addresses se#eral significant &hristian
theological issues in depth and) at key Functures in &hristian history) has helped %elie#ers
separate out truth from falsehood) accuracy from inaccuracy. <uther found) in his
internaliCation of the message of Romans) a way to reform a wealthy and corrupt church
which was taking ad#antage of the common people in a num%er of ways. *1ersonal Note!
sometimes I wonder if &hristianity is the religion that centers around Eesus or if it is a
faith %uilt around 1aul) his ideas) his teachings) his impact on the &hristian community
through these long centuries.+
It was the concept of Fustification %y faith alone that led <uther to a thoroughgoing
reform of the church of his day) a reform that resulted in the de#elopment of 1rotestant
&hristianity as well as a reformed Roman &atholic &hurch.
.ccording to the .postle 1aul and his writing in Romans) humans ?...are now Fustified %y
his /God's0 grace as a gift) through the redemption that is in &hrist Eesus) whom God put
forward as a sacrifice of atonement %y his %lood) effecti#e through faith? /H!2I$2J0.
-hat <uther ultimately clarified for himself and the &hristian world was that sal#ation
came not as a reward for ser#ice or good works or personal piety) %ut as a free gift of God
to desperately needy) sinful people who %elie#ed in Eesus the &hrist. God sa#es us not on
the %asis of our %eha#ior and good works) %ut as a free gift to those who %elie#e in Eesus
&hrist as "a#ior and <ord. God sa#es his unworthy followers. 3f course) those who
%elie#e in &hrist will want to please God and ser#e Eesus %y %eing good people and doing
good works2 . mark of %eing a &hristian is moral %eha#ior guided %y scripture) %ut this is
secondary to relationship to Eesus the &hrist and %eliefDfaith in him. +t least' this is
what *aul tau"ht and Martin -uther concluded.
4pistles /letters0 are the church's earliest documents. In our day) we are increasingly
reliant upon instant communication /telephone) e$mail) etc.0. In 1aul's day)
communication was either face$to$face or %y letter. In the case of 1aul) some of his letters
are 'uite warm and personal) while others are more formal. There are 21 letters in the
New Testament out of 2, documents /%ooks0. The letters in the New Testament do not
appear in a chronological order. Romans was written toward the end of 1aul's ministerial
career although it is the first epistle to appear in the New Testament. Numerous scholars
think the earliest New Testament %ook is the letter of 1 Thessalonians) also a letter of
1aul. 3f the New Testament epistles) 1H are written %y 1aul or persons associated with
him in his work. These 1H claim 1auline authorship. "ee the helpful material in your te@t.
This material may make sense to you$$and it may not. It Fust points out the way that
academics understand the matter of authorship. /To recap) Romans appears first among
the New Testament letters) although it may well %e the last one written %y 1aul.0 5ecause
of its power and preeminence) we will look at Romans %efore the other epistles. It has
often %een referred to as 1aul's last will and testament. -e might also call it his magnum
opus. -hat does this foreign term mean6
1aul was %orn in Tarsus in .sia Minor) today near the Mediterranean coast of Turkey /see
Map 1G0. :e li#ed from c. 1 ..=. to c. J, ..=. :is parents were Eews) pro%a%ly
wealthy) %ecause they were Roman citiCens. -ealth could purchase Roman citiCenship
for Eews. <ittle or nothing is actually known of them.
1aul's letters were written in the Greek of a well$educated person) %ut %eyond Greek) he
spoke the common languages of Israel of his day /:e%rew and .ramaic0. 4ote: Greek
is the lan"ua"e of all of the (ooks of the 4ew Testa!ent. The 4ew Testa!ent works
are written in Greek' so!e (etter Greek' so!e worse Greek.
1aul was the product of two worlds) one Greek and one Eewish or :e%rew. :ow closely
are the words ?Eewish? and ?:e%rew? related6 :e was educated properly in Eerusalem at
the feet of a famous and a%le Ra%%i named Gamaliel. :is con#ersion to &hristianity took
place Fust outside of =amascus in modern$day "yria. :is con#ersion e@perience was a
remarka%le #isionary one %ecause 1aul understood that Eesus called him directly to
%ecome a follower and appointed him an apostle. :e understood his relationship with
Eesus to %e initiated %y Eesus and to %e warm and personal. :e was Eesus' ser#ant) called
out to do the work of the Messiah. :e de#eloped into a &hristian leader in .ntioch. :e
%ecame a great missionary to the Gentiles. :e continued to carry the church further and
further west until he finally reached Rome and may%e e#en "pain. .cts 17!21 says) ?1aul
resol#ed in the "pirit to go through Macedonia and .chaia /Greece0) and then to go on to
Eerusalem. :e said) '.fter I ha#e gone there) I must also see Rome.'? In Romans 1!1 and
1H) 1aul lets the Roman &hristians know how much he has wanted to #isit them in their
home city and to preach the &hristian message there. 4#en in great and proud Rome) 1aul
will not %e ashamed to share the gospel. If successful in Rome) 1aul could hope for
support from the church there for his proposed mission to "pain. 1aul *pro%a%ly+
writes the Roman <etter during the winter of I,$I8 .= /&40 during a three$month stay in
Greece) pro%a%ly at &orinth. :is purposes in writing the Roman &hristians include
demonstrating his good will toward &hristians in Rome) in#iting their help) and
e@plaining his mature understanding of the &hristian gospel. This is 1aul at his spiritual
and intellectual high point. This is truly the mature 1aul. This is the 1aul who has had
such an immense impact on -estern understandings of &hristianity.
No one knows who founded the congregation in Rome) %ut it was esta%lished early)
perhaps %y persons who o%ser#ed the remarka%le e#ents of the :oly "pirit coming upon
the &hurch in Eerusalem on the =ay of 1entecost. -hen 1aul wrote the congregation in
Rome) it was already a strong church /?your faith is proclaimed throughout the world?0.
;or the most part) the mem%ers of the church there are strangers to 1aul) so the letter
takes a rather formal structure and tone. 1aul does know 'uite a num%er of people
associated with the &hurch in Rome) howe#er) mentioning them in chapter 1J. Rather
than a friendly letter) it is a learned treatise addressed to a congregation. It is an
instructional document. 4/T.: the first ele#en chapters are theologically oriented)
while the last fi#e are considera%ly more practical. 3ur te@tual notes refer to 12!1$1I! 1H
as 4@hortation to holy li#ing . /9ou understand! theological matters followed %y practical
matters /holy li#ing069
1aul argues se#eral times in the NT that he did not in#ent his gospel /?gospel? %eing his
name for his theological position andDor %elief system0) %ut rather that he recei#ed it
/recei#ed it directly from Eesus0) and the gospel is the power of God for sal#ation to
e#eryone who has faith /1!1J0. This gospel is what God has done for humanity through
&hrist. -e are inclined to think of the ?four Gospels.? :owe#er) there are really fi#e
gospels %ecause 1aul also presents a gospel) an interpretation of the life) death)
resurrection) and meaning of Eesus. This fifth gospel may well %e the most important of
them. It would certainly appear so to a 1rotestant &hristian.
In 1!1,) 1aul gi#es a summary of his message! The one who is righteous shall li#e %y
faith. 1aul descri%es human sinfulness and failure #i#idly /1!18$H20. Toward the end of
the passage) there is a #ice list that drills into human sinfulness. The human race is in
enormous need of God's inter#ention through Eesus the "a#ior %ecause humans deser#e to
%e Fudged and punished for their sin. -e cannot sa#e oursel#es. .s you read the letter) if
you ha#e a &hristian %ackground) you will find #erse after #erse and passage after
passage that you will remem%er. Many of you will find fa#orite passages. Read Romans
#ery carefully and take notes as you read. Gi#e particular attention to the material in H!7$
H1( I!1$21( 8!1$H7( and 12!1$1I!1H /where 1aul instructs us as to how to li#e in light of
e#erything that God has done for us0.
.nswering the following 'uestions as you read Romans will %e helpful to you at 'uiC or
test time. These 'uestions are for your consideration and %enefit$$and the answers are not
to %e sent to the instructor.
The 0ascinatin" Corinthian -etters--or--5id the .arly Church .;er -ike
to #attle<<< /ur Study Material for une =-1%....
This is our fifth unit) to %e studied %etween Eune 8$1H. Remem%er to send in your unit
assignment %y 11!I7 1M on Eune 1G. Remem%er also that there will %e a 'uiC o#er
Romans and the &orinthian letters coming up after we study this unit.
I ha#e %ecome increasingly more amaCed at how much of the material in the twenty$one
New Testament epistles /letters0 addresses itself to pro%lems) di#isions) and 'uarrels in
the early &hristian churches. "ounds a %it like today) doesn't it6 . #ery human church
composed of #ery ordinary human %eings2 There certainly were many pro%lems to %e
addressed in the &hurch at &orinth. The .postle 1aul had a lot of direct contact with
&orinthian &hristians and wrote 'uite a good %it to this church /scholars see as many as
se#en different letters wo#en together in 1 and 2 &orinthians and then edited together0.
&learly) the new &hristian community in &orinth needed a lot of attention) instruction)
and personal growth in faith and accepta%le ?&hristian? %eha#ior.
;ather 5rown says) ?the range of their pro%lems /ri#al theologians) factions) pro%lematic
se@ual practices) marital o%ligations) liturgy) church roles0 makes the correspondence
e@ceptionally instructi#e for trou%led &hristians and churches of our times. .ttempts to
li#e according to the gospel in the multiethnic and crosscultural society at &orinth raised
issues still encountered in multiethnic) multiracial) and cross$cultural societies today? /p
I110. 5rown %elie#es that 1 &orinthians may %e the %est epistle of the 21 to study) if
study time is limited) for a rewarding introduction to the letters in the New Testament.
&onse'uently) gi#e it a careful reading and some thought. 9ou should find many
interesting passages to remem%er.
The former passage /from 5rown0 makes me think of a num%er of issues that di#ide and
upset many &hristians today. &hristianity is a huge tent or um%rella. It has the a%ility to
accommodate people of different personality types and structures and widely #arying
%elief systems. &hristians range from way$out$li%eral to ultra$conser#ati#e and
fundamentalist. Take) for instance) the matter of the 5i%le) the %ooks that make up the
5i%le) the te@t which we are studying. ;or some) this is literally the word of God)
dictated directly to humans who then recorded what it was that God said. Thus the 5i%le
is perfect and inerrant( it is God speaking. This is something like the way that Muslims
look at the :oly Kuran. 3thers) at the other end) find the 5i%le to %e the work of 'uite a
num%er of men who) o#er a long period of 1I years or so) recorded their
understandings of who God was) what God was like) and how God wanted human %eings
to li#e. In this understanding) it is man's reflection on God( it is man's word. These
writers often reflect more of the culture of their times than an accurate understanding of
God and God's purpose and will. I tend to %e on this side of the theological spectrum.
Then there are people who fit in someplace along that %road continuum$$and this
continuum co#ers a #ast ground %etween fundmentalism and li%eralism. 3f course) there
are also those who are only interested in the 5i%le insofar as it has historical and cultural
interests for them( it has nothing /much0 to do with their %elief systems) if anything.
These comments are here simply to remind you that the raging disagreements that tore
the &orinthian church asunder are continued in the raging disagreements of our day.
There is little peace in the &hristian community. .nd &hristianity may well %e multiple
religions under one canopy or um%rella.
&orinth was a large city in 1aul's time. It stood on an isthmus or land %ridge %etween
northern and southern Greece. *In other words) it was a Greek city.+ It was a maFor
commercial center) and many people had reason to tra#el there. "hips were often
unloaded on one side of the isthmus) goods transported o#erland) and then reloaded onto
ships on the other side. This way) the stormy capes at the south end of Greece could %e
a#oided. "ee map 1G to locate &orinth and the isthmus. &orinth was the capital of the
Roman 1ro#ince of .chaia /.chaia was another name for Greece( so was :ellas0. .ll
sorts of people gathered in &orinth in addition to the local citiCens! for instance)
foreigners in trade) merchant seamen) and tourists out seeking a good time. The general
moral tone was not e@alted( in fact) it was rather low. "ome ancient people descri%ed
immoral %eha#ior as ?li#ing like a &orinthian.? That gi#es you a good idea of the moral
tone in &orinth. Temptation there was great.
The generally low moral tone in &orinth was) sadly) reflected in the church. <et's keep in
mind) howe#er) that this was a fledgling /new0 church filled with con#erts Fust coming
out of paganism. 5y the way! %e careful. The fact that an ancient person was non$
&hristian) a so$called ?pagan)? didn't necessarily make a person immoral. There were
pagans of the highest ethics and most decent %eha#ior.
1aul made three e@tended Fourneys which are called missionary Fourneys. -e will look
more carefully at these missionary Fourneys when we study .cts of the .postles. :e
stayed in &orinth for a long time on his second missionary Fourney. :e had %een
unsuccessful in his missionary work in .thens /.cts 1,!H2$HG0. :is e@perience with the
rationalists in .thens may ha#e %een #ery discouraging to him. :e tra#eled alone from
.thens to &orinth with misgi#ings /1 &orinthians 2!H0) %ut feeling that he was on a God$
guided mission. In &orinth) he lodged with a &hristian couple) .'uila and 1riscilla. They
play an important part in the growth of the early church. .'uila and 1riscilla had come to
&orinth from Rome. They were tentmakers. 1aul /e#idently0 followed the same
profession and supported himself as a tentmaker as he tra#eled a%out. *"ome people
think that 1aul was a leather worker.+ 1aul Foined 1riscilla and .'uila in the tentmaking
%usiness and preached part$time. "ee .cts 18!1$G. To this day) we refer to someone who
works one Fo% for support and preaches ?on the side? as a tentmaker or in#ol#ed in a
?tentmaking ministry.? *I spent part of my career in this way) teaching high school and
ser#ing as pastor of a small rural church.+ -e learn in 2 &orinthians 11!7 that at some
point Timothy and "ilas finally came from Macedonia /to the north0 to &orinth to help
1aul in his work there) after which 1aul de#oted himself full$time to working with the
church in &orinth and founding additional churches.
In &orinth) as was his ha%it) 1aul %egan his work %y preaching in the synagogue) the local
Eewish house of worship. .cts 18!J indicates that the &orinthian Eews soon came to
oppose 1aul's work) so) ironically and a %it humorously) he mo#ed his preaching from the
synagogue to the home of a man named Titius Eustus) a Gentile. :is house was ne@t door
to the synagogue. This surely further inflamed the Eewish opponents of 1aul.
Take note that almost anywhere 1aul goes) there will %e conflict with those who are
called the Eews. /Is there any wonder that) as early &hristians read the New Testament)
they de#eloped negati#e or preFudiced feelings and thoughts toward ?the Eews?60 .cts of
the .postles makes this 'uite clear. The arri#al of 1aul in town is usually followed %y
conflict with ?the Eews? in that community or with Eews who follow %ehind 1aul trying to
tear down his work and cause him difficulty /often called ?EudaiCers?0.
1aul spent a%out eighteen months in &orinth) a long time for him to remain in one place)
and he was 'uite successful in con#erting %oth Gentiles and Eews to the new religion.
This is mentioned in .cts 18!,$8. :e had much more success in the &orinthian
en#ironment than in the en#ironment of the &ity of .thens.
5y the way) one of the central de%ates in the early &hristian community was whether
&hristianity was a sect of Eudaism or a new faith) &hristianity. 1aul was the great de%ater
and %attler for the latter #iew! as 1aul understands it) in Eesus) we ha#e a new religion2 In
fact) we read that 1aul was charged with spreading an illegal religion and %rought %efore
the proconsul Gallio /.cts 18!12$1,0.
To repeat) 1aul's preaching in &orinth met with great success) resulting in the church in
&orinth) the church at the near%y seaport town of &enchreae) and in churches scattered
a%out central .chaia. "ee 2 &orinthians 1!1.
Today) there are pastors who are new congregation specialists. They go out and %uild or
de#elop new congregations) then mo#e on to do the same elsewhere. This is what 1aul
was. :e specialiCed in preaching the &hristian message) always with passion) leading
people to faith in Eesus as the &hrist /the Eewish Messiah0) de#eloping new
congregations) getting them up and going) and then mo#ing on rather 'uickly. .s soon as
the church in &orinth was organiCed and standing on its own two feet) 1aul left. ;rom
&orinth) he went to Eerusalem and .ntioch in "yria for a #isit /can you locate these
cities6 -hat map60 and then %egan his third missionary Fourney) going to 4phesus for a
long stay. -hen 1aul left &orinth) a new minister came to gi#e leadership to the
congregation in &orinth) the elo'uent .pollos /.cts 18!2G$280.
Raymond 5rown dates 1 &orinthians in late IJ or early I, .= and indicates it was
written from 4phesus. The authenticity of the %ook is hardly disputed. I say this %ecause
some scholars do dispute the authorship of a few %ooks traditionally attri%uted to 1aul. 1
&orinthians is definitely 1aul's. 5rown says) ?"ome see two or more separate letters
interwo#en) %ut unity is fa#ored %y an increasing maFority...? /p I120. .s is the case with
other 1auline letters) the letter %egins with a greeting and thanksgi#ing. The opening is
followed %y a discussion of! factions in &orinth( pro%lems of %eha#ior /incest) pro%lems
with se@ual %eha#ior) lawsuits in the church) marriage) what food can and cannot %e eaten
%y %elie#ers in Eesus) the manner in which the <ord's "upper is to %e cele%rated) and how
worship is to %e conducted0( gifts of the spirit and the gift of lo#e( the resurrection of
&hrist and &hristians( 1aul's personal acti#ities( and closing greetings written in 1aul's
own hand /p I120. .s you can see) 1aul's thought and teaching is far$ranging in 1
&orinthians( numerous characteristic 1auline su%Fects are addressed.
1aul does not %egin this epistle with a re%uke) %ut rather with positi#e words of
appreciation and commendation. :e acknowledges the &orinthians' faith and sees their
possi%ilities. Kuickly) howe#er) he launches into a pro%lem in this new church!
factionalism. There are four maFor factions in this congregation) and they tend to %e
narrow and rigid. "ome %oast of %eing followers of 1aul) others of .pollos) others yet of
&ephas /1eter0) and finally some of &hrist *perhaps in their pride haughtily scorning all
human leaders+. 1aul recogniCed) of course) that &hrist alone was head of the church.
1aul adored Eesus and had gi#en his life to him. :owe#er) 1aul recogniCed that 'uality
human leadership was as necessary in the young church as it is in today's more mature
church. The church had to ha#e a faithful shepherd. The point is that 1aul found such
di#isi#eness intolera%le. It is wrong to choose out one &hristian leader for praise) while
hating or putting other %onafide &hristian leaders down. 1aul certainly did not want to %e
head of a party within the church. 1aul asks) ?-hat is 1aul6? "ee H!I$,.
.nother maFor pro%lem has to do with se@ and family life. In &hapter I) a mem%er of the
church was li#ing with his father's wife /his stepmother) I gather0. 1aul says that e#en
pagans would not do such a thing. /.t least a good pagan60 1aul is horrified at this
particular %eha#ior and that there are such la@ standards within &hrist's church.
"ome within the church %elie#ed that %ody and spirit were disconnected so that lawless
se@ual relations /the %ody0 would not damage the spiritual life. ;urther) some %elie#ed
that marriage was not to %e entered into( the celi%ate life was purer than marriage and
family. 1aul himself %elie#ed that our world would not last much longer and that &hrist
would return soon) so that it was good to a#oid marriage and to li#e only for &hrist in the
last trou%led days of the world. 1aul himself chose this pattern. 1aul's %asic 'uestion was)
?>nder these circumstances) why get married6? 5ecause of human nature) howe#er)
1aul was willing for people to go on and marry. .s 1aul said) ?5ut %ecause of cases of
se@ual immorality) each man should ha#e his own wife and each woman her own
hus%and. The hus%and should gi#e to his wife her conFugal rights) and likewise the wife
to her hus%and. This I say %y way of concession) not of command. I wish that all were
as I myself am.? /,!2$H) J0 .t this particular point in his career as a missionary) 1aul does
not ele#ate the institution of marriage) %ut he does point out that marriage is for life and
that the marriage commitment is not to %e %roken.
1aul also addresses 'uestions of &hristians li#ing in a pagan culture. ;or instance) can a
&hristian go to court against another &hristian6 1aul felt that this %rought great shame
and harm upon the church /see &h. J0. In &h. 8) 1aul 'uestions whether or not a &hristian
can eat meat that has %een sacrificed to pagan idols and eat it in pagan homes. 4#idently)
the %est meat came from %utcher shops that sold prime cuts offered to pagan gods. 1aul
lea#es us pondering the 'uestion! what effect will the &hristian's actions ha#e on others)
especially weak sisters and %rothers in the faith6 :owe#er) 1aul does not say that the
&hristian cannot eat meat offered to idols. ;or your consideration) what determined
whether a &orinthian &hristian could or could not eat meat offered to pagan idols6 Gi#e
this some thought %ecause there is a 'uiC 'uestion on the matter that almost e#eryone gets
wrong /%ut I get right0.
.nother pro%lematic area addressed %y 1aul in this epistle is the 'uestion of propriety in
worship. :ow a%out a woman co#ering her head when praying6 =oes a woman dishonor
God if she prays with her head unco#ered6 .lso) does a man dishonor God if he prays
with his head co#ered6 "uch matters %ring us to the fact that some ideas of 1aul were
clearly culture$determined. ;ew women co#er their heads in worship today) although it
would %e a #ery peculiar man who worshiped with his %ase%all cap on /well) may%e in a
camp setting02
>nfortunately) when the community gathered at a fellowship meal to cele%rate the <ord's
"upper) confusion) selfishness) and drunkenness sometimes marred the occasion. ?-hen
you come together) it is not really to eat the <ord's supper. ;or when the time comes to
eat) each of you goes ahead with your own supper) and one goes hungry and another
%ecomes drunk.? /"ee 11!18$220 The words of institution used in the cele%ration of the
eucharist /<ord's "upper) :oly &ommunion) "acrament0 follow in 1 &orinthians 11. Gi#e
special attention to these words.
In &hapters 12$1G) 1aul Ceroes in on egotistical uses of spiritual gifts. 1aul recogniCed
spiritual gifts. -hat are they6 Too many e#idently found status and pleasure in using their
spiritual gifts for display or to gain acknowledgement in the eyes of others. 1aul
addresses two gifts most directly! speaking in tongues and prophesying. 1aul insists that
there %e control e@ercised when these gifts are present. The point is not to %e flashy or to
display these ?gifts? o#er and o#er. "ince relati#ely little is said in the entire New
Testament a%out e@ercising such gifts pu%licly) it is pro%a%ly not Fustifia%le to %uild a
church around the e@ercise of ?gifts of the spirit.?
The uni#ersally lo#ed &hapter 1H indicates that the greatest *spiritual+ gift God e@tends to
any person is the gift of lo#e. -hate#er we do) if done without lo#e) is deficient. -hat
does the word lo#e mean in the conte@t of &hapter 1H6
&hapter 1G deals most directly with 1aul's %eliefs and suggestions a%out prophecy and
tongues in the worship setting. 5e certain to %e ac'uainted with what 1aul has to say at
this point. :e is concerned that there %e dignity and self$control in the worship setting.
&hapter 1I of 1 &orinthians is our first document on the &hristian concept of the
resurrection. &ontemporary &hristians are inclined to focus on the cross and the lo#e of
God as Eesus died upon the cross. :owe#er) it may well ha#e %een the %elief of the early
&hristians in the reality of the resurrection that %rought the early church to life. 1aul says)
?I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had recei#ed! that &hrist died for
our sins in accordance with the scriptures) and that he appeared to &ephas) then to the
twel#e....<ast of all) as to one untimely %orn) he appeared also to me....If &hrist has not
%een raised) your faith is futile and you are still in your sins....5ut in fact &hrist has %een
raised from the dead....for as all die in .dam) so all will %e made ali#e in &hrist....? 1aul
argues that) e#en as Eesus rose from the dead) so will followers of &hrist rise from the
dead into new life. :e places a strong emphasis upon resurrection. Is the open tom% as
significant a &hristian sym%ol as the empty cross6
In concluding) 1aul mentions a /financial0 collection that is %eing gathered for the Mother
&hurch) the first church) the church in the city of Eerusalem. &learly) the Eerusalem
&hristians were needy) so 1aul encouraged congregations to continually take up an
offering to help the #ery first of all &hristian congregations. 9ou will find this offering
mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament.
.t the #ery end of 1 &orinthians) we find that 1aul has %een dictating the letter /Romans0
to a secretary) %ut writes a concluding greeting in his own hand. -hy do you suppose he
makes use of an amanuensis /secretary06
In preparation for 'uiC or e@amination) %e particularly knowledgea%le a%out the pro%lems
that %eset the &orinthian church in 1 &orinthians and how 1aul proposed to %ring peace
and lo#e into the life of the congregation. :ow did 1aul approach or address the church
in order to right wrongs and to make the church more fully reflect the lo#e of Eesus6
I am not asking you to read all of 2 &orinthians) although it would clearly %e a #ery good
thing to do$$and I am gi#ing you a %it o#er e@tra time this particular semester. .t least
look at passages which are referenced. The nature of the material in 2 &orinthians
indicates that the letter may %e a compilation of se#eral letters /two to fi#e) or e#en more0
or fragments of letters. "cholarly opinion leans strongly this way. The epistle is difficult
to interpret as a whole %ecause of the seemingly disFointed argument and random
organiCation. ;or instance) &hapter , is Foyful) indicating that 1aul's pro%lems with the
church are more settled) while &hapters 1$1H are ironic and argumentati#e. .n angry
letter is clearly a part of the epistle. >sually) the letter is dated late summer or early fall)
I, ..=.) written from Macedonia. 5rown di#ides the letter as follows!
a0 Greeting and thanksgi#ing) with stress on 1aul's sufferings.
%0 1aul's relations to the &orinthian &hristians with mention of his tearful letter /?;or I
wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears) not to cause
you pain) %ut to let you know the a%undant lo#e that I ha#e for you.?0 "ee 2 &orinthians
2!G. 1aul also discusses his ministry at length.
c0 There is a lengthy discussion of the collection for the church in Eerusalem.
d0 1aul defends his apostolic authority. :is position is that he is truly an apostle called
out %y God. 1aul speaks in B4R9 "TR3NG -3R=" a%out his commitment to Eesus and
his sufferings for the <ord. In &hapters 1$1H) we learn much a%out 1aul) his lo#e and
work for the church) and the many ways he has suffered in carrying out his apostolic
ministry. The %ook ends with a concluding greeting and %lessing.
The 5rown %ook does an in$depth analysis of how 2 &orinthians may ha#e %een put
together. "ee pp IG1$IGG) if interested. There should also %e many internet resources that
will address the 'uestion.
To clarify a %it) apparently 1aul %elie#ed that 1 &orinthians would correct the ugly
pro%lems in the church. :e hoped that harmony would %e re$esta%lished in the church.
There was a re%ellious spirit there) howe#er) with parties hostile to one another. &learly)
the first letter was unsuccessful in correcting the pro%lems. .rrogant Eewish teachers
claiming to %e apostles came to &orinth( proud of their Eewish %ackground and claiming
to %e apostles) they undermined 1aul's influence /refer to 2 &orinthians 11!G) I) 1H) 2)
220. "ome &orinthian &hristian had led a mo#ement to ha#e nothing more to do with
1aul( 1aul wanted the man /his enemy0 forgi#en and restored. Temporarily) at least) the
congregation disregarded 1aul's leadership. Therefore) 1aul made a 'uick trip %ack to
#isit the &orinthians) his second trip /12!1G) 1H!10. :is #isit failed to heal relationships.
:ow it happened) we don't know) %ut the attitude of the &orinthian church toward 1aul
finally changed) and 1aul's associate Titus carried the Foyful message to 1aul. "ee
&hapter ,.
=o read the introduction to 2 &orinthians on pp 27H$G. . true or false 'uestion or two
could %e drawn from this introduction.
"ome 'uestions follow that could appear in some form on a 'uiC) mid$term) or final.
These are for your consideration and N3T to %e answered in writing and sent to me.
Unit >: Galatians and .phesians..../ur Study Materials for une 14-1:....
This is our si@th unit) to %e studied %etween Eune 1G and 1,.... 5e sure to read Galatians
carefully) including the introduction on pp 2G1$2G2 in you NR"B. It is a #ery %rief
epistle. In fact) %e #ery diligent in studying Galatians in spite of its %re#ity.
;or the &hristian) all twenty$se#en of the New Testament %ooks are truly great /or at least
most of my mind) Re#elation does little to promote the faith and some of the
?catholic epistles? don't seem to make much of a contri%ution) "ude in particular0 and
worthy of careful study) %ut Galatians is one of the greatest. It is %rief) only si@ chapters
long) so it will not take long to read) although it may take decades to fully internaliCe and
appreciate. If I were you) I would read it straight through 'uickly the first time) then go
%ack) read it #ery carefully) and %oth highlight significant passages and important ideas
and take notes on the %ook. This is what we call ?critical reading?) and those of you who
are committed students always read te@t material critically2 To speak of critical reading of
the 5i%le does not suggest any effort to find fault with the te@t) %ut rather to take the
%i%lical material seriously and to read it with the care it deser#es. .fter all) for the person
of faith) God does speak through it.
There is no agreement as to when Galatians was written. The introduction in our 5i%le
dates Galatians late forties to early fifties. 5rown suggests that a later date) IG$II .. =.)
written from 4phesus) is more likely than I, .. =. written from Macedonia. This is Fust
an indication that there is sometimes little agreement among scholars a%out when a %ook
was written and from where /although the when and where and why can ser#e as a great
help in understanding a %ook$$a conte@t0. The content of a %i%lical %ook will always %e
more important than the when) where) why) how) and who) although such %ackground
material can %e 'uite useful. In fact) I ha#e always %een fascinated with the %ackground
material) especially when the scholarly materials 'uestion the traditional or claimed
authorship of %ooks.
I think Galatians must ha#e %een written %efore Romans %ecause it introduces some of
the same concepts) %ut in a less fully$de#eloped way. Romans is a fuller discussion and
more finely$argued presentation of certain ideas introduced in Galatians.
Galatia is a Roman pro#ince in .sia Minor. <ook it up on what map666 9ou should know
%y now. 9ou will see that Galatia co#ers a fairly e@tensi#e land mass /in what modern$
day country60.
1aul's authorship of Galatians is not seriously challenged %y the scholarly community. .s
1aul and 5arna%as tra#eled together and founded churches) they did not ha#e Gentile
con#erts adopt the comple@ities of the Eewish <aw /after all) there are J1H laws identified
in the :e%rew "criptures0) nor Eewish rituals /e.g.) circumcision0 and holidays. 1aul
indicates o#er and o#er that Eewish laws and rites ha#e nothing to do with %eing sa#ed or
coming into the right relationship with God /at least for followers of Eesus or those who
accepted 1aul's teachings0. 1aul's understanding of faith in &hrist reFects much of
Eudaism /at least the practices of the Eudaism of his day0. :e releases Gentile followers of
&hrist from the Eewish <aw. Galatians has %een called The Magna &harta of &hristian
<i%erty and The 5ook of &hristian <i%erty. It e@amines the matter of ;aith and ;reedom
#ersus the Eewish <aw.
In I!1) a key #erse) 1aul writes) ?;or freedom &hrist has set us free. "tand firm) therefore)
and do not su%mit again to a yoke of sla#ery.? The yoke of sla#ery that 1aul refers to is
clearly the Eewish <aw) particularly the e@pansion on the Fots and tittles of the law that
had grown up through the centuries. 1aul continues on %y using circumcision as an
e@ample of %eing ensla#ed to the <aw. My opinion is that) among all the other significant
ideas and teachings in Galatians) this /the <aw as sla#ery0 is the central one.
The enormous 'uestion that 1aul addresses in Galatians is M>"T G4NTI<4" ;IR"T
54&3M4 E4-" IN 3R=4R T3 54&3M4 &:RI"TI.N"6 1aul's answer is a
resounding N32 ;aith is the only prere'uisite for %ecoming a follower of Eesus. Eews may
follow &hrist and %ecome &hristians) %ut new &hristians do not %ecome Eews. This is an
enunciation that) in actuality) &:RI"TI.NIT9 I" . N4- R4<IGI3N or prelude to the
de#elopment of 1aul's understanding of Eesus and his work into what is a new faith) a
new religion. <ook for the use of the words free and freedom throughout the epistle. The
material in this particular paragraph seems particularly important to me. Do
you grasp the significance of Paul's teaching at this juncture?
In Galatians) 1aul also addresses the fact of his apostolic authority as a #indication of his
teachings /which are often 'uite original0. 1aul %egins Galatians %oldly %y saying) ?1aul
an apostle sent neither %y human commission nor from human authorities) %ut through
Eesus &hrist and God the ;ather to the churches of Galatia.?
In 1! 1H ff) the .postle tells us a %it of his %ackground as a Eewish Cealot whose life was
totally turned around %y his e@perience of God through the impact of Eesus. 9ou will
want to read this passage carefully and remem%er some of 1aul's e@citing and #i#id
e@periences. 1aul makes it patently clear that the message he preaches is one sent to him
directly from God. Not only did God speak to 1aul through Eesus) 1aul indicates) %ut he
ga#e him the &hristian message that was to %e used in e#angeliCing the entire world.
1aul was certain that he was in the hands of Eesus and guided %y the spirit and will of
God. The -estern &hurch has accepted this and followed 1aul's understandings. -e do)
in fact) speak of 1auline &hristianity$$and ?1aul's Gospel? is the fifth gospel.
-hat can we say a%out the great 1aul6 :e has incredi%ly deep faith( he is o#erflowing
with an inspiring commitment and Ceal( he is remarka%ly talented and a%le to pro#ide
e@ceptional and admira%le leadership( he is %rilliantly e'uipped and educated to con#ey
the &hristian message to a Greek$speaking) 4uropean culture( he is undaunted and
undeterred %y hardship and resistance( and he is %y far the most successful e#angelist
who e#er li#ed. "orry a%out the length of the last sentence) %ut I hope it ?hits the nail on
the head? for you in terms of appreciating 1aul's enormous a%ility. :is impact on .sia
Minor) %ut particularly on parts of 4urope) was enormous. :e planted seeds that grew
with fiery rapidity. Galatians) along with other %ooks) especially .cts of the .postles)
pro#e what I ha#e Fust said.
1aul fre'uently meets with resistance in his work /Galatians 1! J$10. 3#er and o#er
people come along who insist that &hristians must keep the Eewish <aw. "ome of these
people follow %ehind 1aul to challenge him and tear down his mission work. These
?EudaiCers? make life e@tremely difficult for the %usy and often$challenged 1aul. There
was a maFor clash with such people in Galatia) where 1aul had founded churches at
.ntioch of 1isidia) Iconium) <ystra) and =er%e. 9es) once again) refer to map 1G and read
Galatians J! 1,. .lso read J! 12$1J. These EudaiCers e#idently claimed that 1aul was not a
true .postle %ecause he had not li#ed with Eesus in Galilee nor had he gone to Eerusalem
with him for his last week. They saw 1aul as no authority and a traitor to the teaching of
the original Twel#e .postles. They %elie#ed his gospel was not true %ecause 1aul set
aside circumcision) feasts) ceremonies) and the law. G.<.TI.N" I" . ;IG:TING
R41<9 T3 ">&: &:.<<4NG4"2
I think a central passage in this #ital epistle is H!2J$27) with H!28 %eing one of the most
memora%le #erses in the New Testament. Two other central #erses are I!1 and I!J. I trust
that you will %e well$ac'uainted with these. In a discussion of li#ing %y the spirit in I!1J$
2J) you will find two lists) one of #ices and one of #irtues. 1aul) and for that matter many
other ancients) lo#ed to make lists of #alua%le 'ualities and destructi#e ones. -e call
these! #ice and #irtue lists. J!1G is another memora%le #erse. In fact) the %ook is a
treasure chest of #alua%le and helpful 'uotations.
In J! 11 we %ecome aware that 1aul's eyesight must %e dim /as a result of his %linding
e@perience on the road to =amascus60. Right at the end of the %ook) Fust %efore the final
%lessing or %enediction) 1aul says) ?;rom now on) let no one make trou%le for me( for I
carry the marks of Eesus %randed on my %ody.?
.nswers to the following 'uestions may pro#e useful in passing 'uiCCes and e@ams with
passing scores. These 'uestions are for you) not for me. If they are a help for you in
your study and in 'uiCDtest$taking) good2 =o not write these out and then send the
answers to me as though they are a re'uired assignment. 3nce again) they are for your
4phesians is another significant and memora%le epistle. <ike Galatians) it is %rief) with
only si@ chapters. 5e certain to read the introduction on pp 2I2$2IH. &learly some New
Testament %ooks are more significant than others. I must admit that 1hilemon seems 'uite
minor to me. The great <uther had little or no use for Eames /?that right strawey epistle?0
and seriously 'uestioned the importance of The Re#elation. Ironic) isn't it) that so many
people today see The Re#elation as of enormous significance) perhaps the key to the
meaning of all of history since the time of its writing6 Many people are much more
drawn to Re#elation than to the gospels or the most important epistles.
5y the way) if you call the %ook Re#elations /note the concluding $s0) educated people
may think you are ignorant) a hick fresh out of the sticks. :owe#er) ha#e it your way2
Now) %ack to the su%Fect at hand) 4phesians. . su%$title for 4phesians might %e :istory's
Goal! 3ne -orld through the &hurch >ni#ersal) or .ll ;ollowers of &hrist 5elong in 3ne
&hurch2) or 3ne Gospel for 3ne -orldwide &hurch. :ere's another title! 1aul's Bision for
&hrist's &hurch. <ook) for instance) at H!J) which reads) ?the Gentiles ha#e %ecome
fellow heirs) mem%ers of the same %ody) and sharers in the promises in &hrist Eesus
through the gospel.? .s our footnote indicates) here God's plan is the uniting of Eews and
gentiles into a single community. "ee also G!1$J) one of my fa#orite passages) a powerful
appeal for unity in the church. "uch passages ha#e had great influence on &hristian
thought and spirituality) particularly upon the concept of ecumenism. ;or moderate and
li%eral &hristians who are firmly committed to the concept of a worldwide &hristian
community) 4phesians is most important. It is a fact that for many &hristians around the
world) the oneness of the church is a maFor commitment. ;or others) nothing much
%eyond the local congregation matters. In light of the di#isi#eness in the church today) I
ha#e no dou%t that Eesus the &hrist and 1aul the .postle to the Gentiles would %oth %e
horrified and grief$stricken %y the lack of unity in the worldwide &hristian community.
4phesians screams for &hristian unity and is harsh toward those who would undermine
the oneness of the 5ody of &hrist /the church0.
Now this will trou%le some of you greatly) %ut we are .&.=4MI& students) after all) in
pursuit of a %road general education) and thus at least must %e open to understanding
what the scholarly community thinks to %e truthful and accurate$$in other words) what
research and reflection ha#e indicated. "o hold on to your seat so you don't fall off and
don't get too angry or upset. I'm not near%y to gi#e you first aid or mouth$to$mouth
resuscitation. The editor of our 5i%le) in the introduction to the letter) indicates that there
are significant contrasts %etween 4phesians and other letters that can %e confidently
ascri%ed to 1aul. Thus the 'uestion %ecomes) -ho really wrote the epistle6 There are
terms in 4phesians not used %y 1aul elsewhere) and characteristic terminology of 1aul is
a%sent. The style is #er%ose with long) comple@ sentences) not like 1aul's usual style.
There are other suggestions in the introduction as to how 4phesians seems unlike a
1auline work. Go %ack and reread that introduction2 Raymond 5rown indicates that
eighty percent of critical scholarship %elie#es the %ook to %e pseudonymous. More
conser#ati#e editors will) o%#iously) take the position that 1aul is the writer. "ee an
introduction) for instance) in a study copy of the New International Bersion of the 5i%le
for a different take on the matter. If written %y 1aul) 4phesians comes toward the end of
his career. -hoe#er wrote it) it pro%a%ly mo#ed from church to church as a circular letter.
1. ". If %y a student or de#otee of 1aul) 4phesians is clearly written in the spirit of the
great .postle to the Gentiles2
4phesus was a maFor city on the west coast of .sia Minor( see map 1G for its location.
1aul had %een there. 3ur introduction says) ?"ome early manuscripts and early &hristian
writers make no reference to 4phesus in 1!1 and 4phesians does not address pro%lems
specific to a single congregation.? -hate#er the church or churches actually addressed in
this epistle /let's Fust act like it is 4phesus) whether it was or wasn't0) 1aul /or the author0
is particularly appreciati#e. 1aul writes) in 1!1I$1J) ?I ha#e heard of your faith in the
<ord Eesus and your lo#e toward all the saints) and for this reason I do not cease to gi#e
thanks for you as I remem%er you in my prayers.?
In 1!1,$2H) the author speaks of the role and power that God has gi#en to Eesus! ?...the
immeasura%le greatness of his power for us who %elie#e) according to the working of his
great power. God put this power to work in &hrist when he raised him from the dead and
seated him at his right hand in the hea#enly places) far a%o#e all rule and authority and
power and dominion) and a%o#e e#ery name that is named) not only in this age %ut also in
the age to come. .nd he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head o#er
all things for the church) which is his %ody) the fullness of him who fills all in all.? 9ou
see and hear the ?inflated? language as Eesus is glorified. In 2!1$1) 1aul contrasts life
%efore &hrist with what we refer to as the new life in &hrist. 9ou will hear reflections of
great teachings from Romans and Galatians here. This passage is an e@cellent %rief
re#iew of what it means to li#e under the grace and mercy of God. .s you read the
epistle) particularly chapters 2 and G) look carefully at how 1aulDor the author yearns for
and thinks a%out the importance of the oneness of the &hurch of Eesus &hrist.
The last two chapters deal with #ery practical matters. ;or instance) 1aul discusses the
relationship of hus%ands and wi#es late in chapter I. In our politically correct day) many
take offense at this passage. Gi#e some thought as to how ad#anced the passage was in its
day) howe#er) when men were often tyrants o#er their wi#es. :ow a%out the impact of
I!2I) 28) and HH6 1aul carries the relationship %etween wi#es and hus%ands forward in a
#ery positi#e way. &ompare with what we studied earlier! where 1aul thought all were
%etter off not to marry and agreed to marriage of &hristians %ecause humans are weak and
often inflamed with passion. -here did that material appear6
&hapter J discusses the relationship %etween parents and children and %etween sla#es and
masters. The New Testament takes for granted the ugly and dehumaniCing condition of
sla#ery. :as the 5i%le %een a perfect document in e#ery age6 No2 &an it %e followed in
a literal way at e#ery point6 No2 Is it generally a great guide to life for people who are
thoughtful) prayerful) and reasona%le6 9es2 "la#emasters are at least encouraged to treat
sla#es decently and to recogniCe that all &hristians are sla#es /ser#ants0 of God.
. famous and %elo#ed passage on spiritual %attle follows) couched in the imagery of
warfare. The &hristian is portrayed as locked in %attle against the de#il and his minions.
Militaristic imagery is not o#erly popular today2 I know many people who will not read
this passage aloud %ecause of its warlike tone( others adore it and pull it out whene#er
possi%le. This Fust shows us the huge range of %elief and application in the worldwide
&hristian community. It is also indicati#e that &hristianity and other religious traditions
are not static. They make adFustments and shifts as cultures shift and #alues change.
:ow do &hristian people adFust to large num%ers of %irths out of wedlock6 &ouples
li#ing together %efore marriage6 1eople coha%iting without %enefit of marriage6
=i#orcing6 =i#orced people remarrying6 :omose@uality6 &i#il unions and marriages
for gays and les%ians6 -e shift as cultural #alues change and the &hristian New
Testament is fle@i%le enough to make it possi%le to change our practices) ideas) ideals)
and #alues.
1aul speaks of himself as an am%assador in chains in J!2. -hat may this suggest a%out
authorship and timing) if written %y 1aul6 .t the end) 1aul mentions Tychicus) a co$
worker. :e is also mentioned in .cts 2!G( &olossians G!,( and 2 Timothy G!12. 9ou
might choose to check these references.
*hilippians and Colossians..../ur Study Unit for une 1=-21....
This is our seventh unit, to be studied between June 18 and 21. Again,
as with the last unit's letters, these are very short books (letters).
The &ity of 1hilippi) a maFor city of /the Roman 1ro#ince of0 Macedonia) is the first
place in which 1aul worked in 4urope. <ocate it on map 1G. -hen you read .cts 1J) you
will learn of 1aul's Macedonian &all /summons to 4urope0) and that his first con#ert in
4urope was a woman %y the name of <ydia /from Thyratira0. "he had gathered on the
"a%%ath with other God fearers /you may want to figure out what ?a God fearer? is$$
may%e your NR"B "tudy 5i%le will help0 %eside the Ri#er Gangites /not to %e confused
with India's Ganges Ri#er0 in a place of prayer. 1aul leads her to %ecome a follower of
1aul shows a #ery warm affection for his %rothers and sisters /terms for fellow
&hristians0 in this) his first 4uropean church. ;ather 5rown prefers dating 1hilippians
around IJ .= from 4phesus. The introduction in our 5i%le) howe#er) indicates that the
traditional place of writing is Rome %etween J1$JH .=. The authenticity of the letter /that
is) its 1auline authorship0 is not seriously challenged) %ut it is often thought that our
present edition of 1hilippians may %e composed of two or three letters written %y 1aul /a
compilation0. The introduction on pp 2J1$2J2 will %e 'uite helpful to you in
understanding the %ackgrounds and range of teachings in 1hilippians.
1hilippians has only four chapters. 9ou'll feel like you are really a%le to take it easy this
In the opening address) %oth 1aul and Timothy /one of 1aul's most helpful co$workers0
send greetings to the saints) %ishops) and deacons /mem%ers and leaders of the church0 in
1hilippi. &hapter 1!H$11 is a #ery gracious) appreciati#e prayer for the 1hilippian church.
This church gi#es 1aul Foy %ecause of their sharing in the gospel. 1aul knows that this
congregation holds him in its heart of lo#e while he is in prison. In 1!12ff) we find out
that 1aul is %eing held in some Roman prison or ?administrati#e center?) %ut that while
imprisoned) he is a%le to preach and his preaching is resulting in con#erts. :e discusses
how he yearns for death) in order to depart and Foin &hrist) %ut how he yearns to li#e in
order to engage in fruitful la%or /spreading the &hristian faith0. ;rom 1!2,) 1aul
encourages the 1hilippians to stand firm in their faith %ecause opponents ha#e in some
way challenged them or caused them to suffer.
There is a grand passage in 2!1$G) an appeal to unity within the &hristian fellowship. 1aul
says) ?<et each of you look not to your own interests) %ut to the interests of others. <et
the same mind %e in you that was in &hrist Eesus.? 1aul then goes on in 2!J$11 to tell his
readers a%out the mind of &hrist) the nature and character of Eesus. This is one of my #ery
fa#orite passages in the &hristian 5i%le. This may %e a #ery early &hristian creed or
hymn. Read it se#eral times and know intimately what it says. I think) as well as any New
Testament passage) it defines the nature of the early &hristian community's understanding
of Eesus' %eing. :e was God or in the form of God. In human likeness) howe#er) he
hum%led himself and %ecame a sla#e %oth to the will of God and the needs of the human
race. :e went to his death on the cross to sa#e humanity. Therefore) God has e@alted him)
and li#ing and dead now fall %efore him) recogniCing Eesus &hrist as <ord. 2!12$1H is
often 'uoted. 5ecause of what God has done for us in Eesus &hrist) humans need to open
their li#es so that God can work in them for sal#ation's sake.
In 2!17$2G) we learn that 1aul wants to send Timothy to 1hilippi) and we learn of the
#alue of Timothy to 1aul as a co$worker. -e will hear more of that #alue in 1 and 2
Timothy and in .cts of the .postles. 1aul indicates that as soon as possi%le /when he is
free0) he intends to tra#el to 1hilippi. In the meantime) he will send 4paphroditus) a
1hilippian who %rought 1aul a gift from 4phesus) %ack to them /see G!180. 4paphroditus
almost died for the work of &hrist.
There is something of a surprising digression in H!1$H. .n old issue arises once again.
-hat is the issue6 1aul addresses the matter of the dogs) the e#il workers) those who
mutilate the flesh. -hat does your footnote say a%out these persons6 The EudaiCers are
always challenging the work of 1aul2 In H!G$11) in light of the challenge of EudaiCers
once again) 1aul speaks of his Eewishness. -hat are the proofs that he is truly a Eew6
-hate#er %enefits 1aul had as a Eew) howe#er) were nothing as compared to his
knowledge of &hrist. Nothing compares with knowing &hrist Eesus as <ord. H!7 reminds
us of the central teaching of Romans) along with similar passages in Galatians and
4phesians. H!1$11 are memora%le! ?I want to know &hrist and the power of his
resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings %y %ecoming like him in his death) if
somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.? 1aul presses on for the priCe) not
resting on his reputation or laurels /imagery drawn from sporting competitions0.
In &hapter G) 1aul offers some e@hortations /warnings) strong suggestions as to what
people should do0 and a list to meditate upon. Berses 2 and H introduce us to two female
leaders of the church) 4uodia and "yntyche /"in$T44$key0. They are engaged in an ugly
struggle that is negati#ely influencing the congregation. They are to %ecome of the same
mind) and others are to encourage them to do so. ?These two women ha#e struggled
%eside me *1aul+ in the work of the gospel.? 1aul makes it clear here that women did
ha#e a significant role in the life and work of the early church. Much scholarly work has
%een done o#er the last couple of decades$$and continues$$to clarify the role of women in
the life of the early church. 3f course) in many churches today) women ser#e in e#ery
leadership role. I ha#e to admit that I would not participate in a congregation in which all
people were not considered e'ual and all were not gi#en e#ery opportunity to ser#e and
lead within the limits of their a%ilities222
The %eautiful list in #erses 8$7 indicates that &hristians are to spend their hours focusing
not on the ugly) %ut on what is lo#ely and true. 1aul has learned to %e content in whate#er
circumstance he finds himself) and he has %een in some terri%le circumstances. :e
reFoices) howe#er) in the fact that the 1hilippians ha#e re#i#ed their concern for him and
ha#e shared a time of distress. ;re'uently in the past) the 1hilippian church has supported
1aul financially) and 1aul sends 4paphroditus %ack to 1hilippi after he %rings 1aul a gift.
&olossians is another %rief epistle /letter0) with only four chapters.
The theme of &olossians might %e called ?The <ordship of &hrist o#er .ll.? The epistle
offers a great #ision of the mystery of God) a great #ision of &hrist) and a great #ision of
&hrist's church. Aey #erses may %e 1!1I$2) a %eautiful hymn of praise to the supremacy
of &hrist! ?:e *he %eing Eesus+ is the image of the in#isi%le God) the first%orn of all
creation( for in him all things in hea#en and earth were created) things #isi%le and
in#isi%le) whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers$$all things ha#e %een created
through him and for him. :e himself is %efore all things) and in him all things hold
together. :e is the head of the %ody) the church( he is the %eginning) the first%orn from
the dead) so that he might come to ha#e first place in e#erything. ;or in him all the
fullness of God was pleased to dwell) and through him God was pleased to reconcile to
himself all things) whether on earth or in hea#en) %y making peace through the %lood of
his cross.? This may %e an adaptation of an early hymn) according to 5rown. :owe#er
that may %e) e#en this early the process of deifying Eesus had mo#ed right along.
&ertainly) the &hristology /the estimation of the status of Eesus0 of &olossians is #ery
high. The concepts are truly ele#ated.
3ur scholarly e@pert) Raymond 5rown /we need scholarly direction and e@pertise2220)
indicates that if &olossians is %y 1aul) it is to %e dated J1$JH .= from Rome) or IG$IJ
.= from 4phesus. If the %ook is pseudonymous /a%out J percent of critical
scholarship0) it is to %e dated in the '8s from 4phesus. Gi#e a careful reading to the
introduction on pp 2J,$2J8 of our 5i%le. There is no clear agreement on the authorship
matter. The %ook is addressed to &hristians in &olossae) a town in 1hrygia in the pro#ince
of .sia /you're going to ha#e to work hard to find it) %ut it is on map 1G0. This church had
%een e#angeliCed or %egun %y a man named 4paphras /see 1!,0) and he has told 1aul
a%out the church) its positi#e 'ualities) and its pro%lems /challenges from false teachers0.
1!1 indicates that this is another %ook from 1aul and Timothy. 1aul says that he is the
ser#ant of the church through a commission of God to make the word of God fully known
. The church is encouraged and challenged to %e faithful to Eesus &hrist as <ord ?Fust as
you were taught.? This means to %e firm in the &hristian faith as taught %y 1aul and his
associates in ministry. The church is to %e #ery careful of those who come among them as
teachers lest they fall for decepti#e theology and philosophy. Their faith is to %e anchored
in Eesus &hrist) ?;or in him the whole fullness of deity dwells %odily.? &ertainly there is a
connection to the church's doctrine of the trinity here. 2!1J$2H continues the warning
against accepting the instruction of false and decepti#e teachers. 1aul is clear in opposing
certain ascetic practices) Eewish ritual practices) and speculati#e philosophies$$teachings
that threaten right or correct faith /emerging orthodo@y or what 1aul taught and thus
&hapter H presents a list of teachings or rules for righteous li#ing. ;irst there are things to
surrender or put to death) followed %y those 'ualities with which &hristians should clothe
themsel#es. 5e certain to take note of H!11 /?In that renewal there is no longer Greek and
Eew) circumcised and uncircumcised) %ar%arian) "cythian) sla#e and free( %ut &hrist is all
and in all2?0 Now is that among the handfull of greatest #erses in the New Testament or
what66666 1aul again addresses such matters as the relationship of hus%ands and wi#es)
parents and children) and sla#es and their masters. -here did we see this pre#iously6
In &hapter G) 1aul speaks of Tychicus again and also 3nesimus) who is the focus of the
little 4pistle of 1hilemon. Greetings are e@tended from .ristarchus and Mark /cousin of
5arna%as0) Eesus Eustus) 4paphras) <uke) and =emas. 1aul has 'uite a num%er of
associates engaged in his ministry. .t the end) 1aul writes the conclusion of the original
copy in his own hand and asks the church to remem%er his chains.
Anowledge of the following 'uestions will put you in good stead at test or 'uiC time2
Unit =: The Thessalonian -etters....for une 22-2$....
This is our eighth unit) to %e studied %etween Eune 22 and 2I. This period parallels the
time that students are to take the Midterm 3%Fecti#e 4@am.

Thessalonica was
/and is0 a city in Macedonia) located not far from 1hilippi. "urely you will check the
appropriate map in your 5i%le. In 1aul's time) it was capital of the Roman pro#ince of
Macedonia. ;ather 5rown indicates that 1 Thessalonians is the oldest preser#ed &hristian
document) dating from I or I1 .= during 1aul's second missionary Fourney. This seems
important to me$$and it might generate a 'uestion at some point. 34 0+CT' 3
GU+,+4T.. T1+T 3T 3S 3M*/,T+4T +45 63--
T1US GU+,+4T.. ?/U + @U.ST3/4< This is the first
material written that is included in the New Testament) the &hristian scriptures. It
appears around 2 years %efore Mark's Gospel is a#aila%le. 1auline authorship is seldom
'uestioned. Note! This %ookDletter is an early look at the nature of #ery early
In 2!2) 1aul says ?we had already suffered and %een shamefully mistreated at 1hilippi.?
5e certain to read the incredi%le story of what happened to 1aul and "ilas /also called
"il#anus0 in 1hilippi after 1aul healed a possessed sla#e girl( the story is found in .cts
1J!1J$G and relates a fascinating prison miracle. -hy did 1aul and "ilas lea#e town
/1hilippi0 so 'uickly6
The letter /I Thessalonians0 was written from &orinth within a few months of 1aul's
preaching at Thessalonica. The letter is %rief) only fi#e chapters. Read the introduction to
1 Thessalonians on pp 2,G$2,I. 3ur editors note the friendly tone and affectionate
praise directed toward the &hristians in Thessalonica %ecause of their steadfast hope and
consistent %eha#ior /in a place where it was clearly not easy to %e a &hristian0. 1aul also
refers to the community's affection for him. 9et 1aul also offers much e@hortation and
numerous imperati#es /what does this mean60.
1aul) Timothy) and "il#anus /"ilas0 go to Thessalonica after %eing asked to lea#e 1hilippi)
where they had created 'uite a maFor stir and %een imprisoned after %eing %eaten. "ee
.cts 1,!1$H ff. .fter 1aul and "ilas had passed through .mphipolis and .pollonia) they
came to Thessalonica) where there was a synagogue of the Eews. .nd 1aul went in) as
was his custom) and on three "a%%ath days argued with them from the scriptures)
e@plaining and pro#ing that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the
dead) and saying) ?This is the Messiah) Eesus whom I am proclaiming to you.? . num%er
of de#out Greeks along with synagogue mem%ers were persuaded %y 1aul and "ilas) that
is) %ecame followers of Eesus. The new church included Eewish &hristians and Gentile
con#erts. Eealous Eews formed a mo%) set the city in an uproar) and forced 1aul and "ilas
to lea#e town 'uickly. It was indeed a short stay in Thessalonica) %ut not too unusual in
the emotional climate in which the early &hristian e#angelists worked.
1!2$G tells why 1aul so appreciates this congregation. In spite of persecution) the new
&hristians in Thessalonica modeled their li#es after 1aul) Timothy) and "ilas) and
especially after the <ord. The Thessalonian &hristians) 1aul says) %ecame e@amples to
other new &hristians in Macedonia and Greece. &learly) in this epistle) the &hristian
gospel is shown to %e spreading effecti#ely. In 2!I$8) 1aul discusses how he and his
companions ha#e worked in this community and how they want to continue to share their
li#es among them. 2!7 is instructi#e. 1aul and his companions did not recei#e a salary or
gifts while in Thessalonica( this separated them) as genuine &hristian workers) from
charlatans. ?-e worked night and day) so that we might not %urden any of you while we
proclaimed to you the gospel of God.? Tradition indicates that 1aul was a tentmaker.
Note) howe#er) that in other material attri%uted to 1aul) compensation for leaders of the
church was accepted as the norm.
2!1G$1J speaks of sufferings %orne %y the Thessalonian &hristians from people in their
area which parallel sufferings %orne %y the early church in Eudea /faith under opposition0.
1lease do not read this passage incorrectly as a %lanket condemnation of the Eews. :ad
Eesus %een %orn on another continent in another religious conte@t and the church founded
on another continent) there would ha#e %een those who would ha#e killed Eesus and
persecuted the church. These #erses ha#e often %een misused2 In many hostile cultures)
&hristian faith has %een opposed) yet it has ne#ertheless thri#ed.
;or whate#er reason) 1aul has %een una%le to reFoin the church at Thessalonica. :e
stayed %ehind in .thens and sent Timothy %ack to Thessalonica ?to strengthen and
encourage you for the sake of your faith) so that no one would %e shaken %y these
persecutions.? /H!2$H0 Notice how useful Timothy is to 1aul in his ministry. Timothy goes
to reassure 1aul that the faith of the Thessalonian &hristians remains steadfast. :e is a%le
to carry a #ery positi#e report to 1aul.
&hapter G!1$12 in#ol#es a num%er of ethical inFunctions /statements a%out how &hristians
should li#e) what they should and should not do0. G!1H$18 goes a new direction. They are
an encouraging statement a%out those who ha#e died) who should not %e grie#ed o#er
%ecause Eesus will come for them. Think a%out 1aul's #ision of &hrist's return offered
here. There is a strong &hristian %elief in the return of &hrist to %ring to completion this
time and place in which we li#e and to esta%lish the glorious kingdom of God fore#er.
&hapter I addresses the return of &hrist! ?the day of the <ord will come like a thief in the
night.? ;ollowers of &hrist are called children of light and children of the day. &hristians
are to a#oid falling asleep) %ut are to keep awake and so%er /waiting for and anticipating
the <ord's return0. I!12$22 offers further teachings a%out how &hristians need to li#e
together in lo#e within the church.
The following 'uestions may %e helpful in 'uiC and e@am preparation!
2 Thessalonians! Not et Ti!e "or the #eturn o" $hrist
Raymond 5rown indicates that scholars are a%out e#enly di#ided as to whether 1aul
wrote 2 Thessalonians) although the #iew that he did not is gaining ground. If 1aul wrote
it) we date it ca. I1$I2 .. =.) shortly after 1 Thessalonians. If pseudonymous) it pro%a%ly
was written late in the first century. "ee the second paragraph of the introduction in your
5i%le on pp 28$281. .mong other things) the author of 2 Thessalonians seeks to refute
the idea that &hrist's return is near and to inform the church of the e#ents that must
precede &hrist's return. This is an interesting new direction in 1aul's early thought$$or in
the thought of someone writing near the end of the first century and realiCing that Eesus'
return was not imminent2 I guess we ha#e to admit that &hristians ha#e %een in a %ig
hurry for Eesus to come %ack for many centuries2 4#eryhone who has #entured a date so
far has %een wrong) howe#er.
.gain) this short letter /three chapters0 is addressed from 1aul) Timothy) and "il#anus
/"ilas0. The Thessalonians' steadfastness in persecution and affliction is immediately
mentioned. There is much apocalypticDeschatological material in the remainder of
&hapter 1. .mong other things) the conse'uences of causing suffering to the &hristian
community is discussed. God will repay) with dreadful afflictions) those who cause
affliction to his faithful and those who do not o%ey the gospel of Eesus. In 2!2) 1aul)
Timothy) and "il#anus /or the writer0 undertake to correct apocalyptic enthusiasm. 1aul
/or the writer0l refutes inaccurate #iews a%out the return of &hrist. The day of the <ord is
N3T already here. Get the point666 Note the footnote to 2!H a%out the identity of the
lawless one. 9ou can %e certain that many different ideas are floating a%out as to the
specific identity. The church is e@horted to ?stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that
you were taught %y us) either %y word of mouth or %y our letter.? This is a call to
.postolic faith.
In &hapter H) #erses Jff) idleness among &hristians is addressed. This is a #i#id passage)
especially #erses 1$12! ?;or e#en when we were with you) we ga#e you this command!
.nyone unwilling to work should not eat. ;or we hear that some of you are li#ing in
idleness) mere %usy%odies) not doing any work. Now such persons we command and
e@hort in the <ord Eesus &hrist to do their work 'uietly and to earn their own li#ing.?
-hy might idleness ha#e %ecome a pro%lem at this time6 "ome ha#e thought that many
&hristians %elie#ed that &hrist would return immediately) any moment) so that there was
no reason to work. The writer says) ?Get %ack to work.? -e don't know when &hrist will
return. It may %e 'uite awhile. 1aul closes the letter in his own hand) as is his custom.
The fascination with the return of Eesus and when it will %e has %een) from the %eginning)
characteristic of large num%ers of &hristian churches and people. There are &hristian
groups who would do anything to hasten the return of Eesus) including pulling the nations
of the world into nuclear war in order to kill off e#eryone. 3ther &hristians ha#e
%elie#ed that as long as life on the earth e@ists) it is the duty of all &hristians to ser#e the
needs of human %eings and to raise them from misery and into the light of Eesus.
.n a%ility to address the following 'uestions will %e of decided %enefit on 'uiCCes and
The *astoral .pistles.../ur Study Materials for une 2>-2A....
This is our ninth unit) to %e studied %etween une 2> and 2A.
These three New Testament 4pistles /1 and 2 Timothy and Titus0 are fa#orites of many
people /although 1aul pro%a%ly didn't write them0. 4ach of the letters is %rief) J) G) and H
chapters respecti#ely. .ll three %ooks can %e read together in one ?sitting.? .mong other
matters) the letters address the pro%lems in and organiCation of the early church and
e@tend good ad#ice) ostensi%ly from the .postle 1aul) to two outstanding young leaders
/ministers0 of the growing and de#eloping early church. Timothy and Titus are #alua%le
associates of 1aul) and 1aul refers to them with such e@pressions as ?loyal child? and
?%elo#ed child.? :e has great affection and appreciation for his young associates or
These three epistles form a specific su%section within the New Testament called the
*astoral .pistles. They are called ?pastoral? %ecause 1aul /or the writer0 stands as a
pastoral and fatherly figure) trying to help guide and direct these young ministers to offer
e@cellent leadership and ministry /pastoral care0 to their congregations. 1aul /or the
person who writes in the name of 1aul0 is also directly concerned for the pastoral welfare
of the congregations.
Raymond 5rown writes that the pastorals are concerned with the well$%eing and pastoral
care of congregations more than the missionary e@pansion that dominated the first years
of &hristianity /p JH80. -e learn a good %it a%out the organiCation of the early church
from these three epistles. Much is said in these letters a%out the administration of the
&hristian community) and those who administer are often referred to as pastors. =o read
the Introduction to the 1astoral 4pistles on p 28G plus the short indi#idual introduction
to each %ook. .n earlier edition of our 5i%le says) ?"cholars ha#e long de%ated whether
these letters were written %y the apostle 1aul himself) or %y a loyal disciple who sought to
pro#ide 1auline answers for new times and places. -hile most scholars today regard
them as pseudepigraphal /that is) ascri%ed to the authority of a maFor figure) %ut not
actually written %y him) a custom well attested %oth in ancient Eewish literature and in
Greco$Roman philosophical and other te@ts)0 there is not complete unanimity on the
'uestion.? 5art 4hrman) a truly great manuscript scholar) simply calls the three %ooks
for"eries. That may %low your mind if you are a literalist. 5rown indicates that if written
%y 1aul) these letters date from around JI .= /right at the time of his death0. If
pseudonymous) they are to %e dated toward the end of the first century or early in the
second. /&onser#ati#e scholars will work diligently to esta%lish 1aul as the author.0
5rown indicates that the %ulk of critical scholars see the letters as pseudonymous /I
realiCe that I ha#e already said this) %ut think that it is worth repeating0.
-hether or not ultimately the production of 1aul) these epistles are certainly in the spirit
of the great .postle to the Gentiles and pro#ide a #ast amount of helpful material for the
life of the church throughout its history and up to our day. The letters emphasiCe
godliness) sound teaching) good order within the church) and rules of appropriate
conduct( they also include fragments from worship occasions and #ice and #irtue lists.
-e ha#e seen #ice and #irtue lists elsewhere.
*I come from a church %ackground where the 1astorals are e@tremely important and used
as a %asic model for the life and structure of the local congregation. There was no end to
sermons taken from the 1astorals.+
1 Timothy is the longest of the three and perhaps the most #alua%le for the life of the
church. The letter focuses on the 'uestions! :3- ":3><= . 93>NG MINI"T4R
.=MINI"T4R T:4 &:>R&: and :3- ":3><= T:4 &:>R&: 3113"4 ;.<"4
T4.&:4R". Raymond 5rown dates the %ook from the end of 1aul's life) ca. JI .=.) if
%y 1aul. If not) the %ook must come from early in the second century) according to
5rown. The %ook is addressed to Timothy) who is in 4phesus and encouraged to remain
there. Refresh yourself on the location of the city of 4phesus. . num%er of issues are
taken up in the letter. .mong the more important are warnings against false teachers /that
is) warnings against heresy0) instructions for %ishops and deacons) and encouragement of
Timothy. 9ou will ha#e pleasure in reading the %ook.
The warnings against false teachers pro%a%ly address) once again) Eewish elements in the
church /1!J$110) Gnostic teachings /1!G) J!20) and ascetic elements /G!H0 which ha#e
de#eloped in the church. 1aul does not encourage ascetic practices. 5e sure you know
what we mean %y ?ascetic practices.? "uch matters are also addressed in the other two
1astoral 4pistles. In 1!H) the writer encourages Timothy to remain in 4phesus ?so that you
may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine) and not to occupy
themsel#es with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the
di#ine training that is known %y faith.? These people /known as EudaiCers0 desire to %e
teachers of the law . They stand in the legal tradition of the Eewish people and thus are
clearly Eewish &hristians. 1aul indicates that the law is laid down for the lawless /while
&hristians li#e under grace0.
In 1!12$1,) 1aul discusses the mercy that God has e@tended to him. .fter all) he was
formerly a %lasphemer) a persecutor of &hristians) and a man of #iolence. ?5ut I recei#ed
mercy %ecause I had acted ignorantly in un%elief) and the grace of our <ord o#erflowed
for me with the faith and lo#e that are in &hrist Eesus. The saying is sure and worthy of
full acceptance) that &hrist Eesus came into the world to sa#e sinners of whom I am the
1aul goes on to tell Timothy why he is sending him these instructions and then mentions
men who ha#e suffered shipwreck in their faith! :ymenaeus and .le@ander) who are
%lasphemers. -hat is a %lasphemer6
&hapter 2 %egins with an e@hortation for prayer for e#eryone) including kings and those
in high positions. 1erhaps this reflects an effort to help the church li#e peacea%ly in a
culture that is dominated %y tyrants /Roman 4mperors0. Berse I is pro%a%ly a liturgical
/worship ser#ice0 fragment) a reformulation of the "hema /?hear? from =euteronomy J!G
ff0. =own to the end of the chapter) proper %eha#ior for faithful women %ecomes the
focus of concern. -hy do you think the writer is so concerned a%out this issue6 <ook at
your footnote.
&hapter H addresses leadership in the local congregation. :ow is the church to %e led and
administered6 5y the time this letter is circulating) there are already esta%lished offices
and officers of the church. I take the word %ishop to refer to the minister of the local
church) rather than to an administrator of a larger area. The footnote indicates the word
may also %e correctly translated o#erseer. Kualifications of those who would %e %ishops
are listed. =eacons were ser#ants of the congregation and may ha#e helped in ser#ing the
<ord's "upper in worship) as well as looking after those with special needs in the church.
H!11 suggests to me that women) as well as men) were ser#ing as deacons %y the time the
letter was written. Married only once may suggest that church leaders were not to %e
polygamous) rather than not to ha#e %een di#orced. This is not perfectly clear. Berses 1G
and 1I say that the writer is concerned that &hristians know how they should %eha#e in
the church. &hristians certainly struggle in our day to li#e together in peace) lo#e) and
mutual harmony in the church. In fact) some churches ha#e reputations for %eing
%attlegrounds( many are ?tough on ministers.? Berse 1J is another liturgical fragment) as
our footnote suggests) perhaps a 'uotation from an early &hristian hymn.
&hapter G again addresses heretics) those who hold the wrong understanding of the
&hristian faith /the apostolic faith or &hristianity as 1aul understands it0. These heretics
engage in ascetic practices) insisting on celi%acy and demanding a%stinence from certain
foods. .s 1aul says) ?;or e#erything created %y God is good) and nothing is to %e
reFected) pro#ided it is recei#ed with thanksgi#ing( for it is sanctified %y God's word and
%y prayer.?
1aul then turns to Timothy's task as a minister of Eesus &hrist within the church /at
4phesus0 /G!11$1J0. I!H$1J offers instructions in how to relate to and take care of widows
in the church. -ho is a real widow6 I!1,$2 speaks of a salaried ministry. "ee also 1
&orinthians 7!7 and 1G. In spite of the fact that 1aul had e#ery right to %e compensated %y
the church for his work) it was his general custom to %e %i$#ocational and to make his
own way as a tentmaker. :e may ha#e recei#ed compensation at points) %ut this is not
J!H$1 warns against false teachers and the lo#e of money. J!1 is often mis'uoted) %ut in
its correct form) is well worth knowing. 1aul gi#es a charge to Timothy in J!11$1J) again
warns against wealth) and finally encourages Timothy to %e the guardian of the true
2 Timothy might %e called -3R=" 3; -I"=3M ;3R . 93>NG MINI"T4R .N=
;3R .N 4;;4&TIB4 &:>R&:. .ccording to 5rown) if actually a 1auline letter) it was
written close to the time of 1aul's death( if pseudonymous) it was written shortly after
1aul's death %y someone who knew 1aul well and who had worked closely with him$$or
se#eral decades later. In other words) 5rown doesn't know for sure) and neither do we222
The introduction in our 5i%le says) ?<ess concerned with general church order and roles)
here 1aul is portrayed as near death) in testamentary fashion handing on to his spiritual
heir) Timothy) the wisdom and truth he has accumulated through a life of mission)
ministry and) a%o#e all) suffering for the gospel. The letter is set within a carefully
scripted historical circumstance marked %y 1aul's imminent death and Timothy's
%erea#ement) at a time of distortions to the 'sound doctrine' or 'healthy teaching' recei#ed
from the apostle? /p HI,0.
. key #erse is 1!8) which says) ?=o not %e ashamed) then) of the testimony a%out our
<ord or of me his prisoner) %ut Foin with me in suffering for the gospel) relying on the
power of God....? The epistle actually %egins with words of thanks for the sincere faith of
Timothy and his family) his mother 4unice and his grandmother <ois. 1aul emphasiCes
orthodo@y or correct teaching) saying in 1!1H) ?:old to the standard of sound teaching
that you ha#e heard from me) in the faith and lo#e that are in &hrist Eesus.? This is a
prelude to the fact that some are turning away from the sound teaching deli#ered %y 1aul
/e.g.) 1hygelus and :ermogenes in .sia0.
;rom #ery early in the life of the church) there has %een pressure to conform to a
relati#ely rigid orthodo@y. =on't you sometimes wonder if no one %ut 1aul can esta%lish
?orthodo@ %elief and practice? for the early &hristian community6 =id no one else
understand clearly and speak truthfully for God6 This is Fust an honest 'uestion and not a
smart remark. 1aul really carried the day2 :e calls the shots2
In chapter 2 Timothy is encouraged to suffer for the gospel and to focus his life on the
ministry of Eesus &hrist /a#oid getting entangled in e#eryday affairs0. Timothy is to gi#e
of his all to %ring the sal#ation of &hrist to ?the elect.? 2!1Gff presents strategies for
proper com%at with false teachers. :ymenaeus and 1hiletus are offered as e@amples of
such teachers. &ontro#ersy and false teaching dogged the early church) didn't it6
&hapter H addresses godlessness in the ?last days? or end time. 1eople representati#e of
the end times are presented in a #ice list. Note! the ?last days? appear to %e N3- as well
as in the future.
1ay particular attention to H!1$G!I) where Timothy is strongly urged toward faithfulness
in his ministry. The scriptures are mentioned) and here scripture means the :e%rew
"criptures on which Timothy /and 1aul0 ha#e %een instructed. There was no New
Testament for some time yet. The four gospels and 1aul's writings /letters0 had yet to %e
canoniCed as scripture) although they must ha#e %een gaining respect and ha#e %een
increasingly seen as %earing some authority.
1aul speaks of his imminent death in G!J$8 and presents himself as deserted in following
#erses. 3nly <uke remains with him. :e urges Timothy to come and to %ring Mark along.
The little epistle of Titus is addressed to another young associate or co$minister of 1aul)
Titus. 5y the time you ha#e read the letter) you will see that the <etter to Titus is #ery
much like the letters addressed to Timothy. Titus was a Gentile and had tra#eled to
Eerusalem with 1aul and 5arna%as /see Galatians 2!1$H0. 4#idently 1aul wanted to
demonstrate what a good &hristian an uncircumcised Gentile could %e. :e appears
elsewhere in the writings of 1aul /2 &orinthians 2!1( ,!J$1J( and 8!J) 1J) 2H0.
1aul says at the %eginning of the letter) ?I left you %ehind in &rete for this reason) so that
you should put in order what remained to %e done) and should appoint elders in e#ery
town) as I directed you? /1!I0. 1aul had e#angeliCed &rete and left the island without the
de#elopment of an effecti#e administrati#e structure within the churches. 5rown says)
?the church situation en#isioned in Titus is less esta%lished and detailed than that
en#isioned in 1 Tim( and since the letters claim to %e addressed to different geographical
destinations /&rete and 4phesus respecti#ely0) perhaps the churches in the eastern
Mediterranean were not all at the same stage of de#elopment? /p JG0. Titus may ha#e
%een the earliest of the three pastoral epistles( their arrangement seems to ha#e %een done
%y length) not date of writing.
Three su%Fects are addressed in the epistle!
10 :ow is the church to %e organiCed6
20 -hat should %e done a%out false teachers6
H0 :ow are people to li#e together within the &hristian community6
1arallels with 1 Timothy will %e immediately o%#ious. Kualities of and 'ualifications for
ser#ing as elders and %ishops are gi#en /1!I$70. The writer then turns to false teachers
/re%ellious people) idle talkers and decei#ers) especially those of the circumcision0. They
/once again) Eewish &hristians0 must %e silenced) according to the writer. Notice the le#el
of the rhetoric! re%uke them sharply( their #ery minds and consciences are corrupted( they
are detesta%le) diso%edient) unfit for any good work. /"ee 1!1$1J0 Bery strong words
directed at &hristians who stood in opposition to 1aul or had differing understandings.
1aul /or the person who wrote in 1aul's spirit0 really knew how to heap the in#ecti#e onto
Then %rief instructions are gi#en as to how older men and women are to %eha#e in the
&hristian community. This is followed %y instructions for younger women and men and
for sla#es as they relate to their masters. &hristians are reminded to %e su%Fect to rulers
and authorities . .imed at those whose teaching is false) 1aul says) ?a#oid stupid
contro#ersies) genealogies) dissensions) and 'uarrels a%out the law) for they are
unprofita%le and worthless. .fter a first and second admonition) ha#e nothing more to do
with anyone who causes di#isions) since you know that such a person is per#erted and
sinful) %eing self$condemned.? .gain) the feeling and rhetorical le#el is high2 Today)
generally) the usage of language %y sensiti#e and well$educated people is more highly
Today) the pastoral epistles are fre'uently looked to as a %asis for a rudimentary structure
for the organiCation of the church and for sage ad#ice for the %eha#ior and attitudes of
those who would ser#e in the ministry of the church.
:a#ing ready answers to the following 'uestions will %e helpful in a 'uiC or e@am$$or
Unit 1&: The -etter to the 1e(rews: ,e!ain 0aithful to Christ' 6ho 3s
Superior to +ll...Study Materials for uly 1-$....
The !aterial in this unit (%1&) is to be
'o!(leted between July 1 and ). *e sure to
take a break on the +ourth o" July. ,ebrews is
a signi"i'ant $hristian book.
Raymond 5rown writes) ?5y all standards this is one of the most impressi#e works in the
NT. &onsciously rhetorical) carefully constructed) a%ly written in 'uality Greek) and
passionately appreciati#e of &hrist) :e% offers an e@ceptional num%er of unforgetta%le
insights that ha#e shaped su%se'uent &hristianity? /p J8H0. This is a #ery high e#aluation
of the %ook.
:e%rews is a truly fascinating letter or treatise. . %it longer than many of the New
Testament epistles) I ha#e the feeling that) no matter its glory and insights) it is not read)
preached from) or taught from as often as se#eral other letters. 1erhaps it is the name that
gets in the way /:e%rews60 or the way that the letter is reasoned! logically from
paragraph to paragraph. 3ne has to read a good little way to understand where the author
is headed or has %een. There are great thoughts de#eloped at some length) %ut perhaps
fewer of those memora%le #erses many like to memoriCe and li#e %y.
5y the way) no one knows who wrote it) e#en though we wish we did. 5y the middle of
the second century) .le@andrian interpreters of scripture had placed :e%rews among the
letters of 1aul) although they also realiCed that it was much different in language and
style from other writings they attri%uted to 1aul. The title ?The 4pistle of 1aul to the
:e%rews? /incorrect0 was attached to the letter for a #ery long time. 3ur translation)
howe#er) entitles it ?The 4pistle to the :e%rews.? ;ew today would attri%ute the %ook to
1aul. In the past) some ha#e thought that <uke translated it from a 1auline letter written
in the :e%rew language. 3thers ha#e attri%uted it to an unknown disciple of 1aul. ;urther
suggestions for the author ha#e %een 5arna%as) .pollos) "ilas) <uke) 1riscilla) and
.'uila. These are all G>4""4". Remem%er) no one knows for certain2 5rown thinks a
date in the '8s of the first century is more likely than in the 'Js) and %ecause of content
attracti#e to Eewish &hristians) the letter was sent either to Eerusalem or Rome. "ee the
introduction in our translation on p 21H for an e@cellent look at the %ackground and
themes of the letter.
This epistle takes Eesus the &hrist #ery seriously. It ele#ates him to the highest le#el and
reFoices in his glory. The people addressed in the letter had formerly %een su%Fects /or
#ictims0 of persecution) imprisonment) and loss of property as a result of their faith. It did
or could cost a lot to %e a follower of Eesus in New Testament days. Misguided or truly
e#il persons had %eheaded Eohn the 5aptist) crucified Eesus) stoned "tephen /1aul was
there watching and in agreement0) and ?killed Eames the %rother of Eohn with the sword.?
5oth 1eter and 1aul are said to ha#e died in Rome as martyrs. It was not unusual for a
&hristian leader to %e %eaten) denounced) thrown in prison) or dri#en from a synagogue
or a city /1aul) among others) had such e@periences in a%undance0. <ocal and more
general persecutions of the church flared from time to time under certain rulers. The
:e%rews /those addressed in this letter0 had met their earlier trials with Foy) %ut continued
trial was pro#ing a strain. The writer asks them to ?...recall those earlier days when) after
you had %een enlightened) you endured a hard struggle with sufferings) sometimes %eing
pu%licly e@posed to a%use and persecution) and sometimes %eing partners with those so
treated....=o not) therefore) a%andon that confidence of yours( it %rings you great reward.
;or you need endurance...? /1!H2$HJ0.
In their wa#ering) the writer tells them to! ?...lift up your drooping hands and strengthen
your weak knees) and make straight paths for your feet) so that what is lame may not %e
put out of Foint) %ut rather healed? /12!12$1H0. 4arlier in the chapter) the writer says) ?<et
us run with perse#erance the race that is set %efore us) looking to Eesus the pioneer and
perfecter of our faith) who for the sake of the Foy that was set %efore him endured the
cross) disregarding its shame) and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of
God.? Eesus is the great model for the church under trial to emulate. ;or the sake of their
sal#ation) they /those to whom the letter is written0 must continue in faith and good
works until the <ord's return /1!H2$H70. The letter's purpose is to urge) encourage) and
e@hort them to steadfastness during times that are difficult for the church /1H!220.
The introduction /1!1$G0 makes it clear that &hrist is ?superior? to e#eryone and
e#erything among the Eewish religious heroes who ha#e gone %efore him. The &hristian
gospel is the true message of full and final sal#ation. The readers cannot surrender their
faith without immeasura%le loss /the tragic loss of their sal#ation0. God once spoke
through the prophets) %ut now he has spoken through &hrist his "on) T:4 &4NTR.<
;IG>R4 3; .<< :I"T3R9. God has re#ealed himself most fully in the &hrist. Eesus is
the full re#elation of the nature and e@pectation of God. 1!H glorifies the &hrist in these
words! ?:e is the reflection of God's glory and the e@act imprint of God's #ery %eing) and
he sustains all things %y his powerful word.? Eesus has redeemed %elie#ers from their sin
%y his perfect sacrifice. God has met human need in Eesus.
This anonymous treatise /we ha#e agreed that we don't know who wrote it) %ut does it
matter o#erly much60 makes a powerful) e@tended theological argument on the finality of
the sal#ation achie#ed %yDinDthrough Eesus &hrist. Eesus is the perfect sacrifice and the
great high priest. Eesus is also the mediator %etween God and humanity) the one who
%rings forgi#eness once and for all. 3#er and o#er) the %ook e@horts those whose faith
and &hristian practice are weakening not to forsake their sal#ation /2!1( 1!H2$2J( 1H!220.
The author mo#es through a carefully$planned analysis of why &hrist is supreme and
must %e faithfully honored. ;irst) &hrist is superior to the prophets. :e is also superior to
angels /1!G$2!180. No angel can ri#al or challenge the supreme place of &hrist. Moses
was the great hero) religious leader) and prophet of the Eewish people) who led them out
of %ondage in 4gypt through his faith in God. 9et Eesus is superior to Moses /H!1$J0.
Eesus offers a true home and place of spiritual rest to those who follow him. :e is also
superior to the <e#itical priesthood /G!1G$,!280. The priest was #ery important to the
Eews for he carried out the sacrifices on %ehalf of the people. The priest presided o#er the
system that %ound the Eewish people to their God) 9ahweh. The high priest was central on
the =ay of .tonement. 3n that day) he went alone into the Most :oly 1lace. ;irst he
made sacrifice to co#er his own sins. Then he was fit and ready to return and offer the
%lood sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. Eesus' priesthood is much more
powerful and useful than that of the <e#ites and their high priest.
Eesus is also compared to MelchiCedek) ancient king of "alem /Eerusalem0) concei#ed to
%e without father) mother) %irth) or death. Eesus' priesthood is not like the priesthood of
.aron /Moses' %rother0) %ut like MelchiCedek's priesthood) which sym%oliCes an eternal)
ine@hausti%le priesthood. ?9ou are a priest fore#er) according to the order of
MelchiCedek? /,!1,0. -hen the sinless son of God offers himself on the cross on
humanity's %ehalf) it is the perfect and accepta%le offering. :ea#en is the ta%ernacle of his
offering /7!2G0) and he offers himself once and for all. >nlike the priest's sacrifice) Eesus'
sacrifice does not need to %e repeated /?...he has appeared once for all at the end of the
age to remo#e sin %y the sacrifice of himself?0.
If a person willingly persists in sin after recei#ing knowledge of this truth /that Eesus
came to sa#e human %eings from their sins0) it is the sure way to Fudgment and disaster.
<et the &hristian %eware lest heDshe fall away and e@perience a ruinous %ut deser#ed
Fudgment. &hrist and &hrist alone is the ade'uate source of help and hope222
:e%rews emphasiCes the #alue of faith and traces the faithful endurance of a num%er of
the great heroes of Eewish scripture. These include .%el) 4noch) Noah) .%raham) Moses)
Raha%) and others. .ll of these had commenda%le faith) ?...%ut God had pro#ided
something %etter....? Their faith comes to fruition in the sacrifice of Eesus &hrist upon the
:e%rews also makes reference to past leaders who faithfully spoke the &hristian message
to the church. The suffering &hristians in the community are to ?...consider the outcome
of their way of life) and imitate their faith? /1H!,0. The people are asked in 1H!1H$1, to
su%mit to their present leaders) who are responsi%le for their souls.
1H!2$2I sounds something like a letter of 1aul) with tra#el plans) a %enediction) appeal
and greetings) and farewell.
To recapitulate) :e%rews focuses on Eesus' superiority) as God's "on) o#er angels and
Moses( the superiority of his priesthood o#er the <e#itical priesthood( the superiority of
Eesus' sacrifice o#er the Eewish sacrificial system( and the necessity of taking ad#antage
of Eesus' priestly work on humanity's %ehalf. It is a great message$$and an inspiring one
to the modern &hristian.
Remem%er your unit assignment) due %y 11!I7 1M on Euly ,. The 'uiC co#ering the
1astoral 4pistles) :e%rews) and Re#elation will %e a#aila%le Euly 11$1H.
The ,e;elation: /ur uly >-1& Study Material.....
This is our eleventh unit, to be studied between
July - and 1&. The .nit 11 #es(onse is due no
later than 11/)0 12 on July 11.
.lthough a difficult and challenging %ook) The &e'elation is also fascinating. Make e#ery
effort to read it from %eginning to end. Reading it will %e a challenge for most of us. .nd
remem%er ne#er to put an $s on the end of the word Re#elation. The name of the %ook is
The Re#elation. If you don't %elie#e me) look in your 5i%le and see2
M. 4ugene 5oring) in his commentary on The Re#elation in the commentary series
entitled Interpretation) writes! ?1. The last %ook of the 5i%le is a pastoral letter to
&hristians in .sia *a pro#ince in .sia Minor) see map 1G+ in the late first century who
were confronted with a critical religio$political situation) from a &hristian prophet who
wrote in apocalyptic language and imagery. 2. <ike the 5i%le in general) there is some
difficulty in understanding Re#elation) %ut it can and should %e understood) for it has had
enormous influence in religion) history) and culture and has an urgently needed message
for the contemporary church? /p 10.
My understanding of The Re#elation parallels 5oring's. In other words) it is a %ook that
was written for its own day and directs itself to the situation that e@isted in the 1ro#ince
of .sia in the late first century .=. That doesnBt !ean that it doesnBt
ha;e !eanin" for today' (ut it is particularly applica(le
to its own day and the situations that challen"ed the
early church. +nd it should not (e carelessly applied to
our day without deep thou"ht and a "enuinely Christian
spirit. 3t is often too carelessly interpreted. Too often it
has (een approached fro! an uncritical le;el of
thinkin" and with a !ean spirit. 5onBt fall for
e;erythin" you hear a(out it. #e warned: (e careful in
interpretin" and )usin") the (ook.
Many &hristians a#oid reading The Re#elation to Eohn. 3thers can't stay away from it2 It
is 'uite different from other New Testament %ooks and hurls readers into a strange)
mysterious) comple@) and sometimes frightening world. The great 5ritish 5i%le
commentator -illiam 5arclay simply refers to Re#elation as T:4 "TR.NG4 533A.
The difficulty of reading and interpreting the %ook is well known. 3ne could de#ote a
lifetime to understanding all the ins and outs of Re#elation) particularly as it applied to its
day and situation. "till) it might not %e fully understood. It is full of e@traordinary scenes)
#oices and #isions from a%o#e) and hea#enly choruses. In our day) it is a %ook that either
seems to ha#e %een stolen %y fanatical sects with wild) %iCarre) unsupporta%le) or
e@aggerated interpretations or to %e neglected %y groups who are puCCled %y it. It is
cloaked in hidden language. The %ook is different from any other New Testament %ook)
although certain parallel materials may %e found elsewhere in the New Testament and in
what we call e@tra$%i%lical literature.
"ome &hristians would say that Re#elation is the most important of all &hristian
documents) gi#ing us the prophetic key to all that will come) while others would say that
it is among the least important of all New Testament %ooks %ecause of what it says and
the confusion and disagreement it generates. In other words) it is highly contro#ersial and
hotly de%ated2 No less a &hristian great than Martin <uther would not ha#e gi#en The
&e'elation to "ohn a place in the New Testament canon. :e was trou%led %y the peculiar
images and #isions of the %ook and felt that &hrist was not taught and the inspiration of
the :oly "pirit was a%sent from the writing. 3f course) <uther also had 'uestions a%out
the status and importance of "ames( "ude( ) *eter( and +e%rews, Many other theological
e@perts can %e found to take a much more positi#e position toward The Re#elation. 9ou
may want to look for commentaries from those who uphold the %ook as the key to
prophecy and world history and to e@plore a couple of them. 9ou might enFoy an hour or
two on the internet sur#eying what people %elie#e a%out The Re#elation. +ll 3 can say is
that youBll find an enor!ous a!ount of speculati;e !aterials' so!e wild and
)craCy.) 4o offense if you interpret or understand it rather ;i;idly<
;rom time to time) persecution andDor the attempts of the state to use the church for
political ends ha#e threatened the &hristian cause and made life hard for &hristians. This
was 'uite true in the early centuries of &hristianity. In such times) 'uestions arise such as!
=oes the church face defeat6 =oes God face defeat6 -ill the work of &hrist fail in the
end6 -ill e#il ultimately win the %attle6 -ill good %e crushed6 -ill the gospel message
pro#e to %e only a cruel deception6
4arly on) the &hurch in the Roman 1ro#ince of .sia in .sia Minor faced a serious test of
its faith in God's ultimate #ictory. Toward the end of the first century) a maFor crisis
confronted &hristians. 1eople li#ing in the Roman 4mpire were asked) socialiCed) e#en
commanded to worship the emperor. 1articularly in .sia Minor) this emperor worship
was Cealously promoted as a strong e@pression of patriotism) %ut %eyond that) the
emperor was presented as di#ine( therefore) he must %e worshiped as a god. 9ou can
readily imagine how this went o#er with de#oted &hristians and Eews.
;or some time) Roman emperors had %een proclaimed di#ine. &aligula) who ruled H,$G1
.=) insisted that he was a god during his lifetime and almost caused a great slaughter in
Eerusalem when he ordered his statue set up in the Temple and that the Eews worship him.
Many Eews were ready to die first. &aligula died %efore his statue was set up) so the crisis
was a#erted.
4#idently there was a localiCed persecution in Rome during the reign of Nero /middle
'Js) the great fire) etc.0. >ntil =omitian) no other emperor made such an e@treme claim
to %e di#ine. =omitian /81$7J ..=.0 seems to ha#e encouraged the worship of his person
as di#ine. Many scholars see The Re#elation as a response to =omitian's demand /upon
&hristians0 that he %e worshiped as <ord and God. The clima@ of the Gospel of Eohn)
pro%a%ly written during =omitian's reign) may %e a deli%erate contradiction of the claims
of the emperor. In Eohn 2!28) Thomas e@claims to the risen &hrist) ?My <ord and my
God2? &hristians reser#e this honor for &hrist and &hrist alone2
Many Roman su%Fects had no difficulty with this state religion. They were) to %egin with)
polytheists. They did not generally seem to ha#e taken religion #ery seriously. It was)
howe#er) good for the spirit of the state to acknowledge the old gods. 1erhaps the reason
that &hristianity so swiftly swept the Roman 4mpire was that traditional Roman religion
was so lukewarm. Many did not take the claims of the emperors #ery seriously) %ut for
the sake of peace) did o%eisance to him. It was a mere form or social duty.
5ut &hristians were in a %ind. They could not worship emperors or pagan gods) nor could
they e#en go through the polite show. They knew to respect the ruling powers and pray
for them /Romans 1H!1$,( I Tim. 2! 1$G0. 5ut for them) as 1 &or. 8!J indicates) there was
%ut one God. Thus faithful early &hristians were uncompromising and for this reason)
they were open to attack and suspicion /see .cts. 1J!2) 210. In a pagan world of idols)
&hristians were called to a higher de#otion /see I Thessalonians 1!70. Re#elation /not
Re#elations0 warns the &hristians of se#en churches in .sia Minor against falling away
from their faith in &hrist. It assures them of ultimate #ictory if they are faithful to God
through &hrist.
The result of &hristian refusal to worship the emperor was) in all likelihood) open
persecution. ;rom the earliest days of the &hurch) local out%ursts of hostility occurred)
%ut these were not the result of official action. In a two$hour special on . O 4 &a%le the
e#ening of .pril 2H) 2) it was indicated that Nero persecuted &hristians in JG ..=.)
soaking some of them in oil %efore %urning them as human torches. They likely were
made scapegoats) accused of causing the great fire that destroyed fully one$third of Rome
in that year. Many think that Nero himself set the fire. 1eter and 1aul may ha#e died in
this persecution. 5ut this was a localiCed persecution) rather than a general one. 5ut
under =omitian) the persecution may ha#e %een) and pro%a%ly was) a wider one. The
Re#elation is generally dated late in the reign of this =omitian. This persecution was
most acute in .sia Minor. 3ne .ntipas) a faithful &hristian) was put to death at
1ergamum) for instance /see Re#elation 2!H0. Refer also to Re#elation J!7.
The 5ook of Re#elation was written) then) at a time when the &hurch was likely
threatened with or in the midst of a serious persecution and to warn the &hristian
community against compromise with the religious) social) and economic #alues of a
world heading for self$destruction %ecause of its idolatry. It was also written to encourage
these &hristians in their witness to God and in continuing their purity of life.
Generally) the %ook is attri%uted to /a0 Eohn) who had himself suffered for his faith. ?I)
Eohn share with you in Eesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance?
/see 1!70. Bery likely) he had %een e@iled to the Isle of 1atmos from his home in .sia
Minor. ;rom there) a%out 7I ..=.) he wrote a great message of hope to trou%led and
challenged churches in .sia Minor. .n ancient tradition says this Eohn was the apostle) so
%elo#ed of Eesus and the author of The Gospel of Eohn. The NIB Kuest "tudy 5i%le takes
this position. .s early as the third century) it was concluded %y some 5i%le scholars)
howe#er) that the writer of the Gospel of Eohn could not ha#e written The Re#elation) if
for no other reason than that the Greek of the documents is so different. -illiam 5arclay
says that although the language of The Re#elation's Greek is #i#id) powerful) and
pictorial) it is the worst Greek of the New Testament) with dreadful mistakes in grammar.
The writer is) according to 5arclay) thinking in :e%rew and trying to translate into Greek
/not #ery successfully0 /The =aily "tudy 5i%le! The Re#elation of Eohn) Bolume 1) p 110.
5arclay concludes that Eohn the .postle was not the writer. Raymond 5rown's conclusion
is that The Re#elation dates %etween 72$7J .. =. at the end of =omitian's reign. It was
not written %y Eohn son of Le%edee) the writer of the Gospel of Eohn) or the writer of the
three 4pistles of Eohn) according to 5rown) %ut %y a different writer /p ,,G0.
-hoe#er he was) this prophetic Eohn writes to gi#e comfort and encouragement to his
&hristian %rothers and sisters during persecution. The message he communicates /as he
understands it0 comes to him directly from God( he is only God's mouthpiece or channel.
?The re#elation of Eesus &hrist) which God ga#e him to show his ser#ants what must
soon take place( he made it known %y sending his angel to his ser#ant Eohn? /1!10. The
time is near. This indicates that the fulfillment of God's purposes will come soon and that
&hrist will return. Those who hear and respond to this message of Eohn will %e %lessed.
&hapter G presents God in all his hea#enly glory /read carefully and e@pect a 'uestion on
the final a%out this scene0. Notice how fantastic) imaginati#e) magnificent) and
e@traordinary the imagery is. . God so great and glorious clearly has the capacity to help
men and women in their human needs. The maFesty and power of God are in %ack of and
supporting the faithful &hristians of the early &hurch. God will keep them in his care) and
no one can thwart his intention to sa#e them. God is the .lmighty. .lmighty is used only
once in all the rest of the NT) %ut it occurs nine times in The Re#elation. The reader can
feel safe in the hands of the unchallengea%le God. This must ha#e pro#ided great comfort
and hope to the people The Re#elation was addressed to.
Eesus &hrist is presented as the central figure in God's work. In &hapter I) Eesus) the
<am%) stands in the center and recei#es the re#erence of the angels. :e has died for
humanity. :e has power to rule the churches. :e will defeat all e#il forces and care for
those who are suffering. 3nly Eesus can enlighten Eohn as to things to come.
The entire %ook is full of fantastic) #i#id pictures and sym%ols. In this way of e@pressing
things) it follows a pattern known from some of the latest 3T %ooks and other late Eewish
writings. "uch %ooks appeared in times of hardship and persecution. =ramatic and
sym%olic language was used as a way of re#ealing God's purpose for his people. These
%ooks were known as apocalypses. 9ou may want to e@plore the concept of apocalyptic a
%it further) either now or in the future. This specialiCed genre of literature unco#ered or
re#ealed things hidden from ordinary human knowledge. 5e certain that you understand
this2 There was much literature of this kind in the first centuries after &hrist. The
language would seem harmless and e#en nonsensical to any go#ernment official or
enemy who might come across it$$yet ha#e meaning for those who understood the
sym%ols /those in the know0. The 5ook of =aniel is full of apocalyptic elements. The
Re#elation is so full of apocalyptic material that many people refer to it simply as The
.pocalypse. The Re#elation undertakes to inspire and guide oppressed readers) %ut) at the
same time) political powers and authorities could not find in the mysterious and
%ewildering words a clear %asis for condemning andDor seiCing the author or the readers.
T:4 TR>4 M4"".G4 I" :I==4N ;R3M .<< 5>T T:3"4 IN T:4 AN3-.
To see how The Re#elation makes use of sym%olic language) look at the way that Eesus is
presented. ;irst) he is an impressi#e human figure in a long ro%e) walking among the
se#en golden lampstands that represent the churches( later) he is descri%ed as a lion) a
root) and a lam%( he also rides forth from hea#en as a warrior on a white horse /1! 1H( I!
I)J( 17! 110. 4ach picture re#eals something special a%out the nature of the &hrist.
&learly) the ro%ed figure represents the dignity) authority) and splendor of the risen &hrist)
who has the right to command the writer and the churches. The lion represents his kingly
power. The root refers to his =a#idic descent. The fre'uently used image of the lam%
recalls his sacrificial death for humankind. The warrior figure suggests his final) complete
defeat of e#il forces. 4ach of the pictures represents something truthful a%out &hrist.
Now here comes my hum%le opinion. 9ou may disagree. 3thers who know more than I
do may disagree. Many will) howe#er) %e in agreement. The #isions or pictures presented
in Re#elation are not meant to tell the story of all stages of human history. The %ook is
not a cryptic history %ook or di#ine timeline. The li#ely and e@traordinary scenes were
written for God's people in a specific time and place to comfort them in their trials. The
writer is saying! &hristians of the churches of .sia) God's power will keep you and
finally sa#e you) if you remain faithful. God will %ring you through) in &hrist) to the
eternal kingdom. -e may %e a%le to apply the teachings to our day( indeed we can and
should( %ut the message was first and foremost a message for its day and situation.
In truth) misguided &hristians ha#e used Re#elation to support and pro#e their own pet
ideas for centuries. They ha#e attacked their enemies through the words of Re#elation.
-hat pope has not at one time or another %een proclaimed as anti$&hrist6 -hat great
1rotestant reformer6 -hat powerful political leader has not %een attacked %y someone
through a peculiar understanding of the Re#elation. -rong minded people ha#e often
used the %ook in wrong ways. 5e careful in your interpretation and %e careful a%out
accepting e@treme claims) often made in support of ugly %iases and unreasona%le hatreds.
Too many people are making an e@cellent li#ing out of spouting strange notions from
Re#elation. 9ou can see and hear them on tele#ision fre'uently.
:ow do you respond to what I ha#e Fust said6
The writer wants #ery much to help and encourage hard$pressed &hristians to hold fast to
their faith) no matter what the cost. The apocalypse) therefore) emphasiCes remaining true
and faithful to &hrist. :e addresses se#en churches $perhaps those under great threat or
those most in need of instruction. 1erhaps) also) they are churches that Eohn knows well
and has ministered to himself. These churches are not in danger only from the outside)
%ut also from the inside. Inner weakness is a deadly peril. "o Re#elation 2 and H speak of
the strength and weakness of each of the se#en churches. Three types of churches
emerge! some are strong and ready to suffer for their faith( others ha#e a good record) %ut
are losing some of their earnestness or are tolerating mem%ers that teach and practice
immorality( still others are simply weak. The latter need sharp re%uke and immediate
reform if they are to sur#i#e trial. These letters to the se#en churches are the most
practical part of the %ook. In a sense) the se#en churches of .sia represent all
congregations in e#ery time and place. "o there are lessons to %e drawn for contemporary
churches. These se#en churches often form the %asis for a sermon series.
.fter telling of the di#ine command for him to write( of his #ision of &hrist) once
crucified) %ut now the risen <ord of the &hurch( and re%uking and encouraging the se#en
churches! he then turns to -:.T I" T3 T.A4 1<.&4 :4R4.;T4R. The writer
always looks to the future in the light of the hea#enly reign of God and &hrist /chapters G
and I0. In chapter J) a series of #isions that picture disaster for e#il and promise hope and
good for the faithful %egins. There are three prominent series of se#en plagues! se#en
seals /J!1$8!I0) se#en trumpets /8!J$11!170) and se#en %owls /1I!1$1J!210. 3ther scenes
are inserted along the way. -hat do these plagues and %lessings mean6 They suggest that
God's Fudgment on the e#il and wa#ering is to come soon. Good and e#il are locked in
warfare. 5ut the power to win is with God) and &hrist) who is acting for God) will defeat
and %anish e#il. 21!8 indicates that the cowardly and faithless are condemned) as well as
the #icious and egregiously e#il. 4ternal %lessing and glory may %e lost not only %y
outrageous wickedness) %ut also %y cowardly fear for physical safety. ;ear and
discomfort must not separate the &hristian from loyalty to God. .long with these pictures
of Fudgment) there are glimpses of the Foy and pri#ilege to come to the faithful. &hrist
himself was faithful /see H!1G0) not sidestepping danger or running from the cross. :e
stood fast) suffered) and triumphed. 5y the power of God) the &hristian can do likewise.
The Foys of the faithful are found in ,!7$1,( 1G!1$I( and 2!G.
There is no easy way out of tri%ulation( one cannot %e loyal to &aesar and to Eesus at the
same time. In &h. 1H) e#ery person must recei#e either the mark of the %east or the mark
of the <am%. 3ne either worships Eesus or the %east. -ho is the %east6 1H!1$1 presents
the %east from the sea! the Roman 4mpire. The %east from the land /1H!11$1,0 may %e the
priesthood that promotes emperor worship. The e#il woman of Re#. 1,!7 is sitting on
se#en hills) like Rome) the city on se#en hills. This is confirmation that Rome is the %east
from the sea. The &hristian must make a decision for "atan or God( for Rome or the
hea#enly kingdom( for the %east or &hrist( for e#il or for the right. The &hristian's
controlling loyalty is to God through &hrist. The &hristian cannot disown the Aing of
kings and <ord of lords /Re#. 17!1J0. ;or the &hristian knows that Eesus the &hrist will
defeat the %east and that God's cause will reign.
Those &hristians in .sia 17 years ago understood the cryptic) apocalyptic language of
Eohn's writing in a way that we do not and pro%a%ly can not today. The sym%olism was
discussed and understood within the group of persecuted &hristians in its own day. Much
of its e@act meaning has %een lost o#er the centuries /thus often leading us to speculate
and often to speculate in an unwarranted manner0. That %eing said) scholars ha#e a good
%it of clarity on the original meaning.
Re#. 2!1$J speaks of a special period of 1 years! ?an angel seiCed the dragon) that
ancient serpent) who is the =e#il and "atan) and %ound him for a thousand years) and
threw him into the pit) and locked and sealed it o#er him) so that he would decei#e the
nations no more) until the thousand years were ended.? The passage also promises a
special pri#ilege for martyrs who gi#e their li#es for their faith in &hrist. This passage
speaks of a thousand years of safety and %lessing. It has generated endless de%ate in the
church. If this gra%s your interest) you may want to consult a few commentaries and see
what the writers think a%out what we call the millennium. There will %e considera%le
#ariation in what &hristian writers take the significance of the thousand years to %e. This
de%ate is ;.R from %eing settled and The Re#elation) after all) is apocalyptic /#i#id
sym%olic0 literature.
-hen will the end come6 It will come 'uickly /H!11( 22!,)1)12)20. &hrist will %e
coming unless an erring church changes it ways /2!I)1J( H!H0. The e@act date is in the
hands of God. Refer to Mark 1H!H2( .cts 1!,. 4#en &hrist does not know when the
fulfillment of God's purposes will happen. This) howe#er) does not satisfy some
&hristians) who predict Fust when &hrist will come and the age will end. "o far) all who
ha#e speculated ha#e pro#ed wrong. >ntil the end) it is well to heed 1aul's ad#ice in 1
&or. G!2. This is the purpose of the writer of The Re#elation.
9ou will agree that reading The Re#elation is a challenge. =rawing meaning from it
re'uires study) study aids) and for the &hristian) prayer. In %eginning study of the %ook) it
is #ery helpful to in#estigate it as a hidden message for &hristians in ancient .sia who
were %eing persecuted %y the Roman authority. .fter all) this was the %ook's purpose. 5e
careful a%out silly and fantastic interpretations. They usually pro#e unsupporta%le. .t the
same time) remem%er that parallel conditions can and do e@ist in our age and therefore)
The Re#elation also speaks to our time. .nd finally) please do not call the %ook
Re#elations. That is not its name. Anowledgea%le people may look at us as though we are
ignorant hicks if we say Re#elations. The name of the %ook is Re#elation$$no $s on the
.ny 'uestions a%out Re#elation on the final will %e drawn from the printed material you
ha#e Fust completed reading. I realiCe that this is Fust a taste of the %ook and that many of
you will ha#e %een instructed %y preacher and teacher in church to read it 'uite
differently from the way I suggest. <et's face it! whate#er understanding one now holds)
continued study of Re#elation o#er the years may lead to a new and richer understanding.
Indeed) though) imaginati#e interpretations may not do Fustice to the %ook's original
message. My feeling is that) %ecause of the %ook's #ery nature) we need to e@ercise
wisdom and discernment in our interpretations. Not e#erything we imagine or think is
right. Not e#erything we read or hear is correct. Remem%er) Eesus came to take away our
sins and not our minds. "o carefully measure your understandings of Re#elation against
reason and against other materials in the &hristian scriptures. :a#e a mind and heart of
N3T4! the 'uiC on the 1astoral 4pistles) :e%rews) and the Re#elation will %e a#aila%le
to you from , .M on Euly 11 through 11!I7 1M on Euly 1H. =on't fail to take it in a
timely manner. .lso) %e sure to su%mit your unit assignment. The one the The
Re#elation should %e an interesting and challenging one$$and due Euly 11.
Unit 12: +cts of the +postles' Chapters 1-=....for uly 11-1%....
The materials in >nit 12 co#er .cts) &hapters 1$8. >nit assignment is due %y 11!I7 1M
Euly 1G.....
I will di#ide .cts into three sections for the sake of con#enience and as an aid to learning.
-isdom says to study a few chapters each day so that you don't fall %ehind or further
%ehind as we draw near to final time.
In preparation for our study of The .cts of the .postles) I ha#e made use of four sources
%eyond our 5i%le /The NR"B 3@ford "tudy 5i%le0. 3ne is -illiam 5arclay's popular
The =aily "tudy 5i%le "eries! The .cts of the .postles /Re#ised 4dition) -estminster
1ress) 17,J0. -estminister is the 1res%yterian pu%lishing house. 5arclay's commentary
on the New Testament is a#aila%le in small #olumes on indi#idual %ooks or a few short
letters. It has %een particularly appealing to mainline &hristians /people who practice
their communal religious life within the confines of the traditional denominational
churches$$like me0. .nother is The New Interpreter's 5i%le) Bolume P /which includes
.cts0. It was pu%lished %y .%ingdon 1ress in 22. This is a monumental commentary in
12 #ery large #olumes /at QJ or more a pop0. It is an e@cellent general commentary on
%oth the 3ld and New Testaments. .%ingdon is the >nited Methodist pu%lishing house.
These commentaries make use of modern scholarship. 9et another source consulted is
Ronald E. .llen's 1reaching <uke$.cts /&halice 1ress) 20. ;inally) of course) I ha#e
looked %ack at Raymond 5rown's Introduction to the New Testament. ;ather 5rown was
a Roman &atholic scholar with a great &hristian heart /as indicated elsewhere0. In terms
of additional information a%out The .cts of the .postles) there are many different
commentaries and analyses a#aila%le in the 4nglish language. 9ou may want to a#ail
yoursel#es of some.
-hat I want you to do as we approach the end of the semester is to read the entire %ook
of .cts) looking as you read for the maFor e#ents in the growth and de#elopment of the
church in its earliest years. I will suggest) along the way) stories and e#ents that you
should remem%er at final e@amination time.
I do hope that you will appreciate the remarka%le energy) #itality) and spiritual power that
infused the leaders of the early church2 Take your time as you read .cts and keep some
notes. 9ou only need to read an a#erage of a%out four chapters a day$$and to su%mit H
unit assignments$$yes a unit assignment for each unit.
The .cts of the .postles is a fascinating) rapid) stimulating) and e@citing %ook. It co#ers
the period from ca. H .. =. /roughly the date of the death) %urial) and resurrection of
Eesus the &hrist0 until the time that the .postle 1aul arri#es in Rome /%y tradition toward
the end of his life in the early to middle 'Js0. It is filled with great and memora%le stories
and miraculous e#ents) as well as the incredi%ly rapid e@pansion of the church) especially
under the leadership of the .postle 1aul /earlier known as "aul of Tarsus0. Aeep in mind
that the word ?apostle? is a title. =ou%le$check your sources in order to know what ?an
apostle? is. :ow did 1aul come to %e one of the apostles6 That's an important 'uestion
which 1aul and .cts answer for us.
.s usual) The 3@ford "tudy 5i%le has a solid) reada%le) and scholarly introduction to
.cts. 5e certain to read it thoroughly. . good student will read this 'uickly the first time
around) followed %y highlighting and annotating during a second reading. In narrati#e
/story0 form) similar to the structure of the story form of the Gospels) .cts presents the
aftermath of Eesus' deathD%urialDresurrectionDascension.
The author himself did not name the %ook .cts of the .postles) nor did he name <uke's
Gospel. <ater &hristians named it .cts of the .postles /perhaps deeds of great) famous
early &hristian leaders0. 3nly two apostles play a central role! 1eter) who appears in 7 or
1 chapters) and 1aul) who is prominent in 1, chapters. "ome ha#e suggested a %etter
title would ha#e %een ?.cts of 1eter and 1aul?.
The author has %een identified as 1aul's associate and ?%elo#ed physician? <uke. There is
certain internal e#idence in .cts to support this) although the %ook itself does not name
an author. -hen he wrote .cts) <uke /or the writer0 had already produced the gospel
%earing his name) and he chose to continue to tell the story) the story of the e@pansion of
the church. It is common to refer to the 2 %ooks as <uke$.cts) a single) unified work in 2
#olumes. The introduction in our 5i%le is on pp 1717$1721. The introduction in the
Third 4dition says) ?The account was intended to im%ue &hristians of his *<uke's+ day
with an unshaka%le confidence in their future through a didactic sur#ey of their past?.
:ow could the church fail when it made such enormous strides under the guidance of the
"pirit of God in such a short time6 The %ook shows a church %eginning in a Eewish
setting and 'uickly mo#ing on into the Roman 4mpire) which the church in a real sense
ultimately con'uers %it %y %it.
The centrality of 1aul's apostolic mission /what does ?apostolic mission? suggest to you60
is emphasiCed through much of .cts. *aul is S.4T 8(y esus' as he understood it9 to
interpret the Christian !essa"e to a Greek-speakin" ,o!an world. 1aul) o#er three
e@citing and challenging missionary Fournies) carries the message e#er westward) at least
as far west as the imperial capital Rome) and perhaps e#en as far west as "pain. 5arclay
says that .cts is) in a sense) ?...the most important %ook in the New Testament...? %ecause
it informs us so successfully a%out the early church.? .cts) according to 5arclay) ?...opens
a series of windows and gi#es us #i#id glimpses of the great moments and
personalities...? re#ealed in its pages /p 10.
5rown dates <uke$.cts around 8I . =. /plus or minus I years0. This is a common dating.
The author is ?.n educated Greek$speaker and skilled writer who knew the Eewish
scriptures in Greek and who was not an eyewitness of Eesus' ministry? /5rown 22J0. In
all likelihood) the author was a Gentile con#ert to Eudaism %efore %ecoming a &hristian.
There are only three references to the man known as <uke in the New Testament!
&olossians G!1G) 1hilemon 2G) and 2 Timothy G!11. ;rom these passages) we learn <uke's
profession /medical doctor0 and his closeness to 1aul /as his personal physician and
companion during 1aul's last imprisonment0. If a Gentile) <uke would %e the only Gentile
author of the New Testament.
=o you remem%er that the Gospel of <uke is addressed to Theophilus6 "o is .cts. -e
considered who Theophilus might ha#e %een while studying <uke. <uke writes ?the most
e@cellent Theophilus? to gi#e him a narrati#e of the life of Eesus and the growth and
e@pansion of the church. It may %e that ?Theophilus? or ?friend of God? may %e a cle#er
way of pro#iding authoritati#e information a%out Eesus and the church to anyone who is
interested or intrigued.
5arclay sets forth H reasons that <uke wrote .cts. ;irst) he wanted to commend
&hristianity to mighty Rome. ?<uke was pointing out that in the years %efore he wrote)
Roman officials had often %een well$disposed and always Fust to &hristianity? /p H0.
<uke indicates that &hristians are good citiCens of the 4mpire. Ne@t) <uke sets out to
show &hristianity is to %e a uni#ersal religion for all of the world's people. God's concern
goes well %eyond the Eewish people /p G0. 5ut <uke's third and maFor purpose) according
to 5arclay) is an e#angelical one as seen in the words of the Risen &hrist in 1!8! ?5ut you
will recei#e power when the :oly "pirit has come upon you( and you will %e my
witnesses in Eerusalem) and in all Eudea and "amaria) and to the ends of the earth.? The
religion that %egan in Eewish 1alestine$$in a H year period reached Rome /p G0.
5arclay refers to &. :. Turner's simple outline of .cts. Turner sees .cts falling into J
panels or %locks) each ending with a summary or ?progress report?!
$$1!1$J!,! The Eerusalem &hurch and 1eter's preaching. &heck out J!, for a progress
$$J!8$7!H1! &hristianity's spread through 1alestine and "tephen's death. &heck 7!H1.
$$7!H2$12!2G! 1aul's con#ersion) spread of the church to .ntioch in "yria) and 1eter's
acceptance of the Gentile &ornelius into the church. "ee 12!2G.
$$12!2I$1J!I! The spread of the church through .sia Minor /modern$day .siatic Turkey0
and a preaching mission in Galatia. "ee 1J!I.
$$1J!J$17!2! The e@tension of the church into 4urope. &heck 17!2.
$$17!21$28!H1! 1aul mo#es toward his imprisonment in Rome. &heck 28!H1 /5arclay p I0.
I find this a #ery simple %ut helpful analysis of .cts.
<uke has personal knowledge of much of the material in chapters 1J$28 and e#en) at
times) writes in the first person plural! ?we?. These ?we? passages$$<uke was there$$are
found in 1J!1$1,( 2!I$1J( 21!1$18( and 2,!1$28!1J. &ertainly <uke's long and intimate
association with 1aul %rought <uke much fascinating historical material from the life of
the early church. "peculate on the impact that 1aul might ha#e hadDmust ha#e had on
<uke's thought and understandings /if we accept the common attri%ution of authorship0.
I ha#e di#ided .cts into three sections of appro@imately the same length or num%er of
chapters. There is much material to co#er) enough to keep one %usy for many weeks if
studied minutely. 9our task is to specialiCe in the sections or passages listed %elow. 5ut
%e certain to read the entire %ook to get the sweep of the e#ents of the %irth and growth of
the early &hristian church.
$$1!1$11! Eesus instructs his disciples and then ascends into hea#en. Note #ss G and I)
which tell us the apostles are to await the coming of the :oly "pirit. <uke fre'uently
mentions and emphasiCes the :oly "pirit in .cts. 9ou might want to keep a record of
how many times the :oly "pirit appears or is mentioned. .lso notice #s 8) an important
one) which emphasiCes the uni#ersal nature of God's word and the apostles as witnesses
to the word /Eesus %eing the li#ing word0.
$$2!1$1H! The story of the %irth of the church on the =ay of 1entecost. &heck the notes in
your 5i%le on the meaning and significance of 1entecost. 3%ser#e that this e@traordinary
e#ent takes place in a house or assem%ly room where may%e the 12 persons of 1!1I were
gathered waiting /re#iew 1!G0 for the :oly "pirit to appear. &ould this %e the >pper
Room of the Gospels6 Eews from many places %eyond 1alestine were gathered in
Eerusalem at the time. Thus) the word of this e#ent must ha#e tra#eled 'uickly and far.
$$2!1G$H7! 1eter preaches the new church's first sermon on 1entecost. Read it carefully
for the content of the earliest &hristian message. In #ss G$G2) what are the results of the
spirit$filled 1eter's preaching /and of the miraculous descent of the :oly "pirit upon the
$$2!GH$G,! This discusses the communal life shared %y the earliest Eerusalem &hristians.
Many of the new &hristians in Eerusalem must ha#e %een #ery poor and thus in need of
the help of those with resources. "ee #s GI in particular) and also check out G!H2$H,. This
was not the most popular community of religious people in the city of Eerusalem.
$$H!1$1! 1eter's healing /in the temple yet0 of a man lame from %irth. .cts has numerous
miracle stories( look for more of them. Notice the opposition that follows from temple
officials. Eesus met constant opposition. "o did 1eter) 1aul) and other &hristian leaders. In
fact) the early church faced constant opposition from those who would destroy it. G!18 is
instructi#e) where 1eter and Eohn are charged not to teach of Eesus or in his name.
3%#iously) they ha#e offended the Eewish leaders with their words. Their response is)
?...we cannot keep from speaking a%out what we ha#e seen and heard.?
$$I!1$11! The story of .nanias and "apphira presents a negati#e message of what could
happen to those who were dishonest with God and #iolated the purity e@pectations of the
early &hristian community /which was) of course) the Mother &hurch in Eerusalem0.
&ontast .nanias and "apphira with Eoseph /usually known as 5arna%as0 in G!HJ$H,. 5y
the way) 5arna%as was a Eew from &yprus) Mark's uncle) for awhile an associate of 1aul)
and a great &hristian e#angelist in his own right.
$$I!12$1J! :ow powerful were the apostles at working miracles6 1eter's shadow...6
$$I!1,$G2! -hen the apostles are again %rought %efore the council) their response /#s 270
is) ?-e must o%ey God rather than any human authority.? The %roader passage can %e
inappropriately used to condemn ?the Eews? as the murderers of Eesus and stir up
preFudice and hatred toward Eews. The &hristian community has sometimes %een guilty2
$$J!1$,! "e#en men are chosen to help the apostles with certain types of tasks or duties.
"tephen is among them /#s. I0. Anow who "tephen is and the story of his faith) no%ility)
and martyrdom.
$$J!8$8!1! The story of "tephen's faith) courage) and passion for his <ord Eesus. -hat is
"tephen's fate6 -ho looks on and appro#es of the killing of "tephen6 -hat is "aul's
other name6 -here does 1aul come from6
$$8!1$H! "aul /1aul0 gi#es himself to the task of destroying the church and) in the process)
resulting in the spread of the church all o#er Eudea and "amaria. God does work in
wonderful ways2
$$8!G$G! 1hilip preaches in "amaria and to the 4thiopian eunuch. "imon /the magician or
?"imon Magus?0 tries to %uy the power in the apostles' hands. -hat does the word
?simony? mean6
7!1$H1 /mo#e ahead if you wish0! The fa%ulous story of 1aul's con#ersion on the way to
=amascus) his first preaching in =amascus) and his return to Eerusalem as a man made
new. Reread the passage.
7!H2$GH! 1eter heals Ta%itha /=orcas0 in Eoppa. -ho was Ta%itha6 &hurch women's
groups ha#e often called their circles /which do good works0 the =orcas &ircle.
U43T 1%: +cts' Chs. 1&-1=....for uly 14-1$....
Now 1aul steps forward to #ery much dominate the picture. "tudy him carefully o#er
this short summertime two$day period.
$$1!1$G8! This is a #ery important chapter from .cts where 1eter recei#es a re#elation
which is to change the way he looks at the world and human %eings and the o#erall way
he understands things. It will %e helpful to check out where &aesarea is located and who
&ornelius is. -hat is &ornelius' professional position6 &ornelius has a #ision. -hat is
it6 -hat are we to learn from 1!1I) 1!28$27) and 1!HG$HI6 In this particular passage)
the ?gift of the :oly "pirit? comes upon the Gentiles /see footnote on p 2I0. -hy is this
important and what does it parallel earlier in the .cts of the .postles6 Gi#e thought to
the enormous significance$$meaning$$of this chapter) e#en though it has to do with 1eter
rather than 1aul.
11!1$2J! 1eter is #ery positi#e in reporting to the church in Eerusalem a%out what
happened in &aesarea in ch. 1. .t this point) clearly he sees no reason for a Gentile to
%ecome a Eew in order to %e a follower of Eesus /a &hristian0. "ee the summary in 11!18.
5arna%as and "aulD1aul %ecome partners in .ntioch for a year and then work together
during the ?first missionary Fourney.? -here did the term ?&hristian? first appear6 The
relationship of 1aul and 5arna%as is an interesting one as Mark comes into the picture to
complicate the partnership. -hat was a ?missionary Fourney6?
1H!1$1G!28! 5arna%as and 1aul are commissioned /set apart0 %y the church as
missionaries and go forth on T:4 ;IR"T MI""I3N.R9 E3>RN49. This is the first of
three great preaching missions carried out %y the .postle 1aul) the .potle to the
Gentiles. &arefully trace where they go on the map on p 27. Aeep referring %ack to the
map. 5y now) the focus of .cts is increasingly on 1aul. 54 ">R4 T3 54 .-.R4
T:.T N3- 1.>< I" T:4 &4NTR.< &:.R.&T4R. In 1H!I) 5arna%as' nephew Eohn
Mark /traditional author of the Gospel of Mark$$%ut we don't know for sure) as you
remem%er0 Foins 1aul and 5arna%as$$e#idently not a good decision. <ook at 1H!7.
<ater) Mark gets in the way of 1aul and 5arna%as working together. Note that 1aul
customarily speaks in a synagogue on the "a%%ath. . characteristic sermon appears in
1H!1J$G1 /%ecause of its %re#ity) only an e@cerpt or %rief sample0. -hat does 1aul preach
a%out6 -hat happened the ne@t "a%%ath /1H!GI) G8) G7$I106 .s in the epistles) ?the
Eews? continue to stir up trou%le for 1aul. ;or instance) how a%out 1G!176 ?The Eews?
are EudaiCers who look upon the Eesus sect as a sect of Eudaism.
$$1I!1$HI! T:4 GR4.T E4R>".<4M &3>N&I<. I can hardly emphasiCe how
important this is in the de#elopment of the nature of the early church. ;or sure) AN3-
what was decided at this meeting and who was in#ol#ed in it. 9our footnotes should %e
helpful. . hint! from now on) there can %e N3 =3>5T that &hristianity is a N4-
R4<IGI3N. It is not M4R4<9 a sect of Eudaism. Think through this carefully. &h. 1I
in .cts is decisi#e in the early de#elopment of &hristianity.
$$1I!HI$G1! -hy is it that 1aul and 5arna%as discontinue working together) %ut rather
ha#e a parting of the ways6
$$1J!1$I! 1aul's new associates are Timothy from <ystra and "ilas /see 1I!G0) also
known as "il#anus. "ilas and "yl#anus! the #ery same person. 1aul works carefully and
for a good %it of time with his new associates) training them for ministry and using their
talents in the process of spreading the &hristian faith. &hristian work is growing and 1aul
needs help.
$$1J!J$1! 1aul's #ision) fre'uently called ?1aul's Macedonian &all.? This is a call from
God to 1aul to %egin his missionary work in 4urope. "o far) he has worked only in .sia
/.sia Minor and the :oly <and are in .sia0. ;rom this point) he continues to push e;er
westward /toward Rome and he hopes "pain0. Now the second missionary Fourney
%egins /so check out your map on p 21I0.
$$1J!11$1I! 1aul's first con#ert in 4urope occurs in 1hilippi and happens to %e a
/prosperous0 woman. <ydia and her household %ecome &hristians. -here was <ydia
worshiping when 1aul met her6 -hat else do you know a%out <ydia6 -hat was a
?worshiper of God)? translated sometimes as ?a God$fearer6? "ee your footnote on
$$1J!1J$G! This is a fascinating miracle story. -ho ends up in Fail in 1hilippi %ecause of
a sla#e girl with a ?spirit of di#ination? and why6 -ho is in#ol#ed in a midnight hymn
sing6 :ow do 1aul and "ilas get out of Fail6 -hat %ecomes of the Failer6
$$1, and 18! The second missionary Fourney continues in Thessalonica) 5eroea) .thens)
and &orinth. -e ha#e epistles to two of these churches. =o ?Eews? continue to harass
and get in 1aul's way6 :ow successful is 1aul in .thens when he preaches and reasons
on the .reopagus /also translated Mars :ill$$e#idently a hill in .thens where people
gather) may%e to listen to challenging speakers06 May%e some of 1aul's hostility toward
the mind and reason is connected to his painful reFection %y the rationalistic .thenians. I
wonder666 .'uila and 1riscilla appear in ch. 18. 1aul Foins them) and they work
together as tentmakers /some think they worked with animal skins) %ut most say
tentmakers0) as well as in ministry. 1riscilla seems to ha#e %een an important &hristian
worker. .fter 1aul has %een in &orinth for some time) he sails to 4phesus) then on to
&aesarea and goes o#erland to Eerusalem) ending the second missionary Fourney.
Unit 14: the Co!pletion of +cts...for uly 1> and 1:....
>nit 1G is our final ?regular? unit. Then we will spend a couple of weeks looking at what
are called ?The &atholic 4pistles.?
$$17!1$2! :ere 1aul's T:IR= MI""I3N.R9 E3>RN49 %egins. The map is on p 222
in your 5i%le. 3n this Fourney) 1aul tra#els through .sia Minor again and then mo#es
%ack o#er into 4urope /Macedonia and Greece0. .long the way) he stops o#er in
4phesus) where he stays for at least two years /17!10. This is 'uite a long ministry for
him. ;or the restless) e#er$mo#ing 1aul) it had toa %e a real commitment to remain for
such a period of time. Bss. 11 and 12 are interesting in our rational and scientific day. In
17!21$22) 1aul set his mind on and toward Rome. &learly) he wants #ery %adly to go to
the imperial &apiRtal /the &ity of Rome0 and %ring the impact of the &hristian message to
the #ery center of power.
$$17!21$G1! The riot in 4phesus is %egun %y =emetrius the "il#ersmith) who made
images of .rtemis) goddess of the 4phesians. -hy do you think the riot occurred6 /"ee
$$21!2,$HJ! 5y now) 1aul has returned to Eerusalem. .t some point) 1aul is dragged out
of the temple and %eaten. :e is rescued %y the tri%une /with soldiers and centurions0.
Taken to the %arracks) 1aul makes a defense of himself) including in what he has to say
much personal information. :e emphasiCes his Roman citiCenship. . Roman could not
%e treated Fust any way. /"ee 22!2I$280
$$2H!2H$HI! 1aul is sent %efore the Roman Go#ernor ;eli@ in &aesarea.
$$2G!1$2,! 1aul defends himself %efore ;eli@ /and =rusilla0. 1aul is imprisoned for
some time.
$$2I!1$12! 5efore ;estus) the successor of ;eli@) 1aul appeals for Fustice from Rome. :e
is now on his way to the Imperial &apital /Rome0.
$$2I!1H$2J!H2! 1aul appears %efore Aing .grippa and his wife 5ernice and defends
himself) telling of his con#ersion to &hristianity and of his work.
$$2,!1$28!,! 1aul sails for Rome) e@periencing a great storm at sea. -hat are some of
the ad#entures he has at sea and on the island of Malta6 -hat an e@traordinarily e@citing
$$28!1J$H1! 1aul spends two years in Rome under house arrest. Many come to his home)
and there he continually preaches) sharing the message that &hrist has put in his mind and
=on't you wonder why the %ook ends as it does6 It would %e a great gift to the church to
know what occurred right down to the last day of 1aul's life. :ow did he actually die6
/-e do ha#e a strong tradition.0 I don't mean to complain) howe#er( .cts is a great gift to
us in its presentation of the growth of the early church through the power of the :oly
"pirit and the enormous faith and commitment of many men and women) led) of course)
%y the .postles) especially 1eter and 1aul.
Get your >nit .ssignment to me no later than 11!I7 1M on Euly 18. Now get ready for a
sur#ey through the so$called &atholic or General 4pistles.

Unit 1$: 0inishin" up the Se!ester....uly 1= until Se!esterBs .nd....
This is a work in process and !ay (e added onto
(etween now and se!esterBs end. 3n other words' 3 !ay
write !ore. 4o Unit +ssi"n!ent here: Dust readin" the
!aterials carefully. 3f new !aterial appears'
announce!entsEe!ails will alert you.The (ooks we will
finish the se!ester up with are ;ariously called
)Catholic .pistles) or )General .pistles). So!e' in
their anti-Catholic position' will prefer )General
.pistles.) 3 like )Catholic .pistles) and 3 also like
!uch of Catholicis!.
These epistles ha;e this na!e (ecause' unlike the
.pistles of *aul' they are not directed to a particular
church' (ut rather are directed to a (roader or !ore
"eneral church audience. Such a letter is so!eti!es
referred to as an encyclical 8a docu!ent !ade for wide
circulation9. The *ope occasionally sends out an
encyclical today for Christians of Catholic (ack"round.
These Catholic .pistles include James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1
John, and Jude. +nd !ay(e 2 and 3 John.
The Letter of James 8hereafter James9:
The "reat Martin -uther had little use for James,
referrin" to it as a )ri"ht strawy epistle). This is
understanda(le. 0or years' -uther had tried to win
sal;ation (y what he did' (y his own efforts. This effort
had not worked for hi!. 1e was tor!ented (y failin"
to feel secure in winnin" his own sal;ation. 1e finally
ca!e to understand that God "ranted sal;ation not on
the (asis of "ood works' (ut rather to anyone who
(elie;ed in esus as -ord and Sa;ior. 3n other words'
-uther was fully i!!ersed in *auline Christianity.
+s -uther percei;ed it' James' references to "ood works
!i"ht cause so!e to (elie;e they could "ain sal;ation (y
dili"ently keepin" the law. +fter all' a!es does say'
)?ou see that a person is Dustified (y works and not (y
faith alone) 8James 2:249. +nyway' -uther would not
ha;e included James in the 4ew Testa!ent canon if it
had (een up to hi!. 3t was not worthy of inclusion
(ecause not properly orthodoF' as -uther understood
orthodoFy. #y the way' !ay(e -uther was ri"ht and
!ay(e -uther was wron". *rotestantis! decided he
was dead-on ri"ht<
+ part of what !ay run throu"h your !ind while
studyin" James is whether it is a letter a(out how a!es
and *aul disa"ree or whether there is (asic a"ree!ent
(etween the two writers. +fter all' we !ust ad!it that
*aul is always supporti;e of a hi"h ethic and hi"h !oral
(eha;ior de;oted to God 8and esus9 as eFpressed in
doin" the ri"ht thin" 8"ood works9. ?ou can draw your
own conclusions at this point. The )3ntroduction to
James) in your 4,SG has so!e co!!ents that !ay
pro;e helpful to you.
0ather #rown 8a Catholic Christian9 indicates that
James is )the !ost socially conscious writin" in the
4T). ThatBs a ;ery hi"h e;aluation. 3 deeply (elie;e in
the i!portance of social consciousness and the Tanak
and 4ew Testa!ent dri;e !e to ha;e a deep reser;oir of
social concern and co!!it!ent. 0ather #rown !ust
"enuinely appreciate the (ook' (ut' then' Catholic
Christianity does put !ore e!phasis on "ood works
than does *rotestant Christianity. /f course' Catholics
also (elie;e deeply in the i!portance of faith in esus as
the Christ. Catholics !ay (e on the ri"ht track. Gast
nu!(ers of hi"hly rational Christians find the central
;alue of the faith in social consciousness or' shall we say'
in the na!e of esus (uildin" a (etter world in our own
ti!e. This is the Social Gospel.
#rown says that James' whether written (y the (rother
of esus or not' reflects )traditional ewish (elief and
piety). 3t is in the thou"ht world of the ewish
Christian !ore than the "entile Christian 8or *auline
Christian9. #rown indicates that !ost scholars )think
it was written (y so!eone 8a disciple79 who ad!ired the
i!a"e of a!es as the Christian authority !ost loyal to
6as a!es written as a reaction to *aulBs
8eFa""erated79 e!phasis on faith and (elief7 *erhaps
so< 3t would (e easy to Dust pass o;er this sentence' (ut
3 hope you will "i;e it so!e thou"ht. +re *rotestants
cau"ht up on only side of what God eFpects of the!7
+ few other ideas fro! 0ather ,ay!ond #rown:
Most likely written in the B=&s or B
A&sH )!ost think it was written (y so!eone 8a disciple79
who ad!ired the i!a"e of a!es as the Christian
authority !ost loyal to erusale!) 8:2>9.
a!es is )the !ost socially conscious writin" in the 4T)
6hether written (y a!es the (rother of esus or not'
)the 4T letter that (ears his na!e echoes in !any ways
traditional ewish (elief and piety) 8:2:9.
)as spends little ti!e on christolo"ical reflection: so!e
ha;e e;en thou"ht of it as a ewish writin" only sli"htly
adapted for Christian use) 8:2=9.
)0ew would contend that *aul shaped his position in
reaction to as' and so it would see! that the writer of
as is correctin" a *auline for!ula) 8:%%9.
4ow a few words on the First Epistle to Peter (1 Peter).
The 3ntroduction to 1 Peter in your 4,SG Study #i(le
is ;ery well written and certainly challen"es the idea
that the epistle 8letter9 was actually written (y the
+postle *eter.
0ather #rown o(ser;es that the Catholic .pistles
8General .pistles9 )...ha;e the air of presentin" the
witness to esus of those who had seen hi! in his
earthly career' na!ely' two !e!(ers of his fa!ily
8a!es and ude9 and two of the !ost i!portant of the
Twel;e 8*eter and ohn9. +t ti!es these writin"s
confir! pro!inent ele!ents in *aulBs !essa"e 83 *et9H
at ti!es they co!e close to indirect confrontation with
*aul 8asH 33 *et9. +l!ost e;ery feature a(out these
Catholic .pistlesE-etters is de(ated in scholarship: the
"enre 8truly letters79' their addressees 8so!e specific'
so!e not9' and the actual writer.) 0ather #rown' an
eFcellent #i(le scholar' indicates that the (ook is
possi(ly (y *eter usin" a secretary 8who knew the
Greek lan"ua"e !uch (etter than the Galilean *eter9
(ut !ore likely (y a disciple carryin" on the herita"e of
*eter at ,o!e. #rown dates the (ook fro! co!in"'
!ost likely' fro! :&-A& +5 8after the death of *eter (y a
few to a "ood nu!(er of years9. 4ote that in the years
(etween esusB crucifiFion and *eterBs !artyrdo!
8which you can check out further' if you wish9' *eter
had had !any years to "row and de;elop in !aturity
and sophistication. May(e his Greek e;en i!pro;ed.
#rown states that *eter was !artyred in ,o!e
so!ewhere (etween >4 and >= +5 in the persecutions of
2eep in !ind that the !ind and heart of *eter can (e
con;eyed (y one of his followers so!e years after
*eterBs death.
The letter takes ;ery !uch the for! of a *auline epistle
8letter of *aul9. The writer addresses his !essa"e to the
)eFiles of the 5ispersion in *ontus' Galatia'
Cappadocia' +sia' and #ithynia 8to ewish Christians in
,o!an *ro;inces in +sia Minor9.
3 suspect that the epistleBs !ost !e!ora(le ;erse is
found in 2:A: )#ut you are a chosen race' a royal
priesthood' a holy nation' GodBs own people' in order
that you !ay proclai! the !i"hty acts of hi! who
called you out of darkness into his !ar;elous li"ht.)
There are' howe;er' plenty of other !e!ora(le ;erses
and passa"es. Much is said of the )fiery ordeal) that is
facin" the Christian co!!unity. +n opportunity had
presented itself so that Christians could share in the
sufferin" of esus.
The letter ran"es far and wide o;er a nu!(er of
su(Dects and offers hope to the Christian co!!unity
8church9 in trou(led ti!es. Christian identity and
di"nity recei;e affir!ationH the correct (eha;ior for
offerin" a "ood witness to esus in a pa"an culture is
addressedH and proper Christian (eha;ior in the face of
hostility is discussed.
+ll in all' 1 *eter is a lo;ely' inspirin"' and helpful (ook
for the Christian co!!unity. 2 *eter !ay (e a different
story. 3t is' in and of itself' a ;ery interestin" (ook. 3t is
pro(a(ly the last (ook written in the 4ew Testa!ent
and has o;er the centuries (een the focus of a
considera(le a!ount of acri!onious de(ate. 3t
stru""led to !ake it into the canon.
The (ook wraps itself in the thou"ht of *aul and *eter.
6hen the writer says' in %:1$: )So also our (elo;ed
(rother *aul wrote to you accordin" to the wisdo!
"i;en hi!...)' he is identifyin" his !essa"e as parallel to
that of *aul. Thus *aulBs ene!ies were this authorBs
6hat !ay (e !ost interestin" in the (ook is the
authorBs success in hurlin" in;ecti;e at those he sees as
ene!ies 8those not understandin" esus and the
Christian faith as he and *aul did9. 3t is widely
reco"niCed that at the (e"innin" of chapter 2 and into
chapter %' the author (orrows the lan"ua"e of ude
8with considera(le !odification9. See p 21%2 in your
4,SG where there is a chart showin" the parallels 8;ery
helpful9. 3n fact' 1A of udeBs 2$ ;erses are
The .pistle of ude stays (usy throu"hout hurlin"
in;ecti;e at the authorBs ene!ies. So does the .pistle of
2 *eter. This hurlin" of in;ecti;e results in a docu!ent
that is called a pole!ic 8an attack on an ene!y9. The
pole!ical nature of 2 *eter and ude reflects' also' the
tendency of *aul to en"a"e in ;ery stron" lan"ua"e
when he encounters those who understand esus and
Christian responsi(ilities differently fro! the way he
does. 84ote: 3 think' in our day' usin" stron" and
)a(usi;e) lan"ua"e is often the tactic of the s!all
!ind. ..".' look at !odern political de(ate and the
lan"ua"e of so!e in the church who think fire and
thunder will "et one further than reason and honey.
This is to say that *aul and the writers of 2 *eter and
ude are not at their (est when usin" a(usi;e and
eFtre!e lan"ua"e applied to those who see thin"s
so!ewhat differently fro! the!.9 Sorry for the side
trip and !inor ra!pa"e<
0ro! our perspecti;e' we ha;e li!ited knowled"e of
what these )false prophets) referred to in 2 *eter
tau"ht or stood for' (ut %:4 is our (est hint. 3t !ust
ha;e to do with a disa"ree!ent a(out when esus will
return. #ut the lan"ua"e directed at the! 8false
prophets or ene!ies9 includes: (rin" swift destruction
on the!sel;esH follow their licentious waysH in their
"reed they will eFploit you with decepti;e wordsH
conde!nation and destructionH lawless deedsH indul"e
their flesh in destructi;e lustH despise authorityH (old
and willfulH slander8ers9H irrational ani!alsH !ere
creatures of instinctH (orn to (e cau"ht and killedH
doin" wron"H (lots and (le!ishesH re;elin" in their
dissipationH eyes full of adultery insatia(le for sinH
entice unsteady soulsH hearts trained in "reedH left the
strai"ht roadH "one astrayH speak (o!(astic nonsenseH
sla;es of corruption.
*ole!ic was not an unco!!on reaction to others in
ancient ti!es when there was a disa"ree!ent
8philosophically or reli"iously9.
#rown concludes his fascinatin" chapter on 2 *eter with
these words: )3n !any ways 33 *et rese!(les 33 Ti!.
.ach is a last testa!ent of a fa!ous apostleH and each
appeals to the witness of the apostle' respecti;ely *eter
and *aul. .ach is concerned a(out the intrusion of false
teachers upon who! oppro(riu! Idisappro;alJ is
heaped. 0or "uidance each assu!es a deposit of
faith...) 8::19.
1ereBs !y idea. 3n the process of seekin" those (ooks in
the 4ew Testa!ent that !ost (enefit us' the top are the
four "ospels' ,o!ans' Galatians' a pick of the other
*auline .pistles' and +cts of the +postles. a!es is
included for those who e!phasiCe the )social "ospel)
and for the Catholic co!!unity' the lar"est (ody of
Christians in the world (y far. 5ependin" on oneBs
theolo"ical stance' The ,e;elation is or is not hi"h on
the list. 2 *eter and ude are definitely not at the top of
the list (ecause they ha;e a li!ited a!ount to say that is
upliftin" and inspirin" and !uch in;ecti;e. 3Bd put
the! as the least inspirin" and !eanin"ful of 4ew
Testa!ent docu!ents. 3 wonder what you think7
More will pro(a(ly follow. ust stay on your readin"
schedule. The end is in si"ht.
The 0inal .Fa! will (e a;ail(le uly 2:-2A 8Sunday
throu"h Tuesday9. There are a(out 1&& o(Decti;e
Kuestions' !any of which are concerned with +cts of the
+postles. 1owe;er' there are re;iew Kuestions fro!
throu"hout the se!ester.
?es' a few last !inute notes on the ohannine .pistles
81' 2' and % ohn9. The introductions to these three
epistles in our 4,SG are all written (y a scholar whose
na!e is *he!e *erkins' and she does an eFcellent Do( of
introducin" us to the three letters. Clearly' she thinks
e;idence indicates that these letters were written (y a
!an known as the .lder ohn' rather than the writer of
the Gospel of ohn' the 5isciple 8+postle9 ohn. These
little )Catholic) .pistles 8eFcept % ohn is addressed to
a !an na!ed Gaius and thus a personal letter9 appear
to arise out of a schis!' a church fi"ht' a disa"ree!ent'
a situation wherein so!e people do not a"ree totally
with the authorBs stance 8the +postolic position9 on the
nature of the hu!anity of esus.
So here we "o a"ain: three (ooks with a certain focus
on infi"htin" and disa"ree!ent in the early church
8here the church of c. 1&& C.9.
/f course' the .lder ohn and !ost Christians throu"h
the a"es would see i!!ense pro(le!s with departin"
fro! )+postolic Christianity) or Christian orthodoFy.
?ou ha;e pro(a(ly fi"ured out that Christianity is the
!ost orthodoF of the worldBs !aDor reli"ions. ..".' (oth
3sla! and udais! place central e!phasis on
orthopraFy 8doin" the ri"ht thin"9 rather than
orthodoFy 8(elie;in" the ri"ht thin"9. 3n li"ht of this
disa"ree!ent in churches connected to the writer ohn'
a schis! 8pronounced BsiC-!9' you can understand the
on"oin" e!phasis on lo;in" one another. Those who
depart fro! the churches which are )ri"ht) 8the
churches which follow the epistlesB author9 are called to
task for not lo;in" the sisters and (rothers. To lo;e'
a!on" other thin"s' clearly !eans (ein" a part of the
non-schis!atic co!!unity. Thus )!any antichrists
ha;e co!e. 0ro! this we know that it is the last hour)
81 ohn 1:1=9. #eyond (ein" identified with the
antichrist' those who disa"ree with the author o;er the
full hu!anity of esus are referred to as )liars) and of
(ein" "uilty of !ortal sin. 3n other words' ;ery stron"
e!phasis is placed on a ri"id and a(solute orthodoFy.
There is little or no roo! for ;aryin" fro! the
theolo"ical position of early )apostolic Christianity).
3n the interplay of deter!inin" what )true
Christianity) was' there were !any disa"ree!ents and
separations. The stren"th of these letters' particularly 1
ohn' is the !aterial that can (e "enerally applied
outside of di;ision and disa"ree!ent' such thin"s as )we
should lo;e one another)' )we know lo;e (y this' that
he laid down his life for us)' )little children' let us lo;e'
not in word or speech' (ut in truth and action)' and
)e;ery spirit that confesses that esus Christ has co!e
in the flesh is fro! God).
3f you keep focused on these little letters as epistles
warnin" Christians to re!ain faithful to the ohannine
"ospel' to a;oid those Christians who (elie;ed
differently' and to !aintain a deep lo;e for the (rothers
and sisters' youBll ha;e the !ain the!e in !ind. --2#