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BIBL 102 (Su '18) T14 - NT Letters

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Hartmut Scherer

on 12 June 2018

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Transcript of BIBL 102 (Su '18) T14 - NT Letters

3) Situational – written to address specific
situations or problems in
the churches

NT - Letters
1) Comparable to other ancient letters
Paul’s letters are quite long by ancient standards, averaging 2,495 words. (R. Richards)
http://www.icscanada.edu/events/20070915wc/scroll.jpg
NT includes more informal, personal letters (like Philemon) as well as more formal letters (like Romans)
As in the ancient world, letters (written documents) play an important role in our lives today
Business Personal

Medical Legal
2) Authoritative substitutes for
the author's personal presence

Authoritative substitute
(Christ’s representatives)
To confront the ethical behavior of readers (James)
Introduction
5 Characteristics of NT Letters
Reconstruct the original situation that called for the letter in the first place
E.g., Galatians – freedom
1 Corinthians – obedience
Implications of the occasional nature of letters
Reading a NT letter is a lot like listening to one end of a phone conversation.
4) Carefully written and delivered
The actual job of writing down a letter was normally assigned to a trained scribe or secretary (amanuensis).
Customary for the author to add a final greeting in his own handwriting
“I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.” (Rom. 16:22)
“I Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.” (1 Cor. 16:21)
Cosenders played a significant role
“Paul, Silas and Timothy, …” (1 Thess. 1:1)
Delivery depended on trusted letter carriers
“Tychichus will tell you all the news about me.” (Col. 4:7)
http://dryicons.com/images/icon_sets/coquette_part_6_icons_set/png/128x128/telephone.png
http://www.epd86.org/epweb/specserv/images/DistMailPerson.gif
5) Intended for the Christian community
Meant to be read aloud again and again to the church
Meant to be exchanged with other churches
“Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” — Revelation 1:3
“After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” —Colossians 4:16
Form of NT letters
Standard form of a contemporary letter
Standard form of a NT letter
Date

Name
Address

Greeting,

Body of the letter

Closing & signature
Introduction

Writer Recipients
Greeting

Body of the letter (largest
section focusing on the
specific situation)

Conclusion (a variety of
elements normally ending
in a grace benediction)
Provide a window into the struggles
and victories of the early church
Meant to be read from beginning to end, the same way you would read a personal letter today
The Interpretive Journey
How to interpret a NT letter
Read
the letter
from

beginning to end
, the way letters are meant to be read. This will give you a sense of the big picture.
1. Grasp the text in their town
Reconstruct the historical-cultural context
of the biblical writer and his audience.
Identify the
literary context
of your particular passage.
Discover the
meaning
of the text for the
biblical audience
(observe, observe, observe!)
2. Measure the width of the river
For NT letters the river is usually not very wide, but there are exceptions.
3. Cross the principlizing bridge
Look for the broader theological message reflected in the text. To find theological principles in letters ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the author state a principle?
- Do you see a principle in the surrounding context?
- Do you see a reason behind a particular command or instruction?
Does your theological principle satisfy the following criteria:
- It should be
reflected
in the biblical text
- It should be
timeless
and not tied to a specific situation
- It should
not
be
culturally bound
- It should be
consistent with the teaching of the rest of Scripture
- It should be
relevant
to both the
biblical audience
and the

contemporary audience
4. Consult the biblical map
How does the theological principle fit with the rest of the Bible?
Are there more passages in the Bible that support what I am about to say?
Are there passages in the Bible that sound contrary to what I am about to say?
5. Grasping the text in our town
a) Observe how the theological principles
address the original situation.
b) Search for a situation in our lives that
contains ALL the key elements
c) Make your applications specific
Real-world scenarios need to be faithful to the text AND relevant to the contemporary audience.
Served as authoritative substitutes for
church leaders who could not
always minister in person
Written to address specific situations and
meet the practical needs of believers
Use the Interpretive Journey to help you hear God speak to you through NT letters.
Conclusion
Why did Paul need the extra space?
Substitute for personal presence
To clarify an issue (Thessalonians)
To address a doctrinal problem (Colossians)
Never meant to be read as exhaustive dictionaries of doctrine
Be careful not to conclude too much from any one letter
Look for the broader theological message reflected in the text.
To find theological principles in letters ask yourself the following questions:
Class Exercise - Finding Theological Principles
What is/are the theological principle/s of
- Phil 2:1-11
- Eph. 5:15-33
- Romans 8:26-27
- Romans 12:14-21
- Galatians 5:16-18
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Hebrews 4:12-13
- 1 Peter 5:6-7
Class Exercise - Finding Theological Principles
- Does the author state a principle?
- Do you see a principle in the surrounding context?
- Do you see a reason behind a particular command or instruction?
What is/are the theological principle/s of Col 3:1-4?
Having been raised with Christ (new life), Christians are called to live with new goals and a new attitude, all governed by a heavenly perspective.
- Phil 2:1-11
- Eph. 5:15-33
- Romans 8:26-27
- Romans 12:14-21
- Galatians 5:16-18
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Hebrews 4:12-13
- 1 Peter 5:6-7
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