Session 7: AD 60-61: Understanding the Theology of Mark, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and Philippians

➡ Average Reading Time: 39 minutes

Session 7: AD 60-61: Understanding the Theology of Mark, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and PhilippiansWhen you finish this session you should be able to:

  • Understand the general background of Mark, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and Philippians
  • Comprehend the flow of the content of Mark, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and Philippians
  • Interact with the theology of Mark, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and Philippians
  • Review the theological considerations of Mark, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Luke, Acts, and Philippians

A Brief Overview

Mark is a Gospel written as an evangelistic pamphlet. Philemon deals with the social issue of slavery. Colossians looks at overcoming false teaching. Ephesians speaks about the purpose of God and its fulfillment in his ecclesia. Luke shares that the Good News is for everyone. Acts disclose that a Jewish sect became a Christian fellowship in downtown Rome free from Jewish influence. Philippians share the need for the Christian church to have unity.

In each of these books we will follow this pattern: First, we will review the book’s background. Then, we will overview its content. Finally, we will consider its theology.

Where We Are Going

Mark
About Mark
A Quick Look at Mark
A Theological Glance at Mark
Theological Considerations
Philemon
About Philemon
A Quick Look at Philemon
A Theological Glance at Philemon
Theological Considerations
Colossians
About Colossians
A Quick Look at Colossians
A Theological Glance at Colossians
Theological Considerations
Ephesians
About Ephesians
A Quick Look at Ephesians
A Theological Glance at Ephesians
Theological Considerations
Luke
About Luke
A Quick Look at Luke
A Theological Glance at Luke
Theological Considerations
Acts
About Acts
A Quick Look at Acts
A Theological Glance at Acts
Theological Considerations
Philippians
Philippians
A Quick Look at Philippians
A Theological Glance at Philippians
Theological Considerations

Reading Assignment

  • Ladd. New Testament Theology, 143-157; 576-594; 379-393; 228-245.

End of Sesssion
 

Mark
Author: Mark
Date: AD ’Early 50-‘60s
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] From: Rome
To: Romans (Non-Jesus Followers and Jesus Followers)
Subject: The Power of Jesus


About Mark

Scholars believe that Mark was the first of the three Gospels to be written (see below). Mark is an evangelistic tract used during the first century. The telling of the story of Jesus by Mark resembles the sermons of Peter which are recorded in Acts. Mark has often been called the Gospel According to Peter[ref]N. T. Wright and Michael F. Bird. The New Testament in Its World. 557. [/ref]. The stories in Mark are presented so that the first-century Roman citizen might investigate the claim that Jesus had come into the world to bring salvation. The Roman culture loved power, so Mark presents Jesus as a powerful man doing powerful acts.[ref]James Kallas. Jesus and the Power of Satan. 1968.[/ref] The culture of Rome was rich with a history of war. Mark uses this motif to present Jesus’ ministry of words and works. The war between Jesus and Satan is played out on the battlefield of earth. Jesus is a powerful man destined to bring the rule of Satan to an end. He was so powerful that he was in control of his death. Jesus goads the religious establishment. They seek to kill him.

For the Roman citizen, the concept of buying slaves was common. Mark demonstrates that the death of Jesus was not unlike buying slaves and setting them free (Mark 10.45).

There is a pastoral concern in Mark for the converted Romans. Chapter thirteen is one example. Mark shows how Jesus brings hope in the middle of suffering.

The Synoptic Gospels

The first three Gospels are called Synoptic Gospels. The word Synoptic means to “see together.” These three Gospels are similar in order, subject, and language. About 90 percent of Mark appears in Matthew and Luke. Scholars suggest that Mark was the first of the Gospels written and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as an outline for their Gospels.[ref] Wright and Bird. The New Testament in Its World. 558 [/ref] There are three reasons for this conclusion:

When the order of the material varies, Luke agrees with Mark if Matthew and Mark differ. Matthew agrees with Mark when Luke and Mark differ.

Matthew and Luke never depart from the outline of Mark’s presentation.

From the 661 verses in Mark, 606 appear in Matthew and 380 appear in Luke without change. There are only thirty-one verses that are found in Mark which do not appear in Matthew or Luke.

Materials that are common in Matthew and Luke, but not found in Mark, are believed to originate from a document called “Q” (from the German word Quelle which means source). The “Q” document has never been discovered in a manuscript. It is a convenient way of indicating a common source for this information.

There is a third kind of material found in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark. The material in Matthew does not appear in Luke nor does the Luke material appear in Matthew. This set of materials is unique to each author and book. Matthew and Luke selected this material to tell their stories for a specific audience.

The Synoptic Gospels show the redemptive history of God. They have sometimes been called lopsided biographies, spending most of their time telling the story of the last week of the life of Jesus. Each has a different purpose. Matthew tells his audience of new Jesus followers that Jesus is the New Moses for the New Israel, the ecclesiae. Mark demonstrates how the power of Jesus is stronger than the power of Satan in an evangelistic tract form. Luke portrays the universal appeal of Jesus, a man for all times and places.

A Quick Look At Mark

Preparation of Jesus: Mark 1.1-13

These introductory sentences summarize the ministry of John the Baptist and the coming ministry of Jesus.

Presentation of Jesus: Mark 1.14-8.30

Mark presents the story of Jesus from the call of his disciples to his transfiguration. He tells stories about the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus and his contention with religious leaders. The parables of the kingdom are told and as well as the revelation of who Jesus was is given by Peter.

Passion of Jesus: Mark 8.31-16.8

The last week of the ministry comprises almost half of the book of Mark. The story begins with the story of the Temple cleansing. Chapter thirteen is an apocalyptic presentation about the future. The last supper, arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection stories are shared.

A Theological Glance At Mark

The Kingdom of God

The central message of Mark and the Synoptics is the kingdom of God. The theology of the kingdom of God is well-rooted in the First Testament. For the prophets, the kingdom of God was a day when humankind would live together in peace. When the word kingdom is used today it often means a realm that has a King or Queen as its ruler. When the Bible uses this term, it means the rule or reign of God in the lives of its people. The beginning of Mark says that John was preaching that the rule of God was present in the ministry of Jesus. In the words and works of Jesus, God’s rule had invaded the rule of Satan. The church lives in the tension known as the now but not yet. The kingdom of God is present but we still live in the reality of the present evil age. We are in the world, but not of the world. When you read the Second Testament, it is best to understand it within the context of the kingdom of God.

The Humanity of Jesus

Mark presents the human Jesus who portrays his humanity by his refusal to give demonstrable proofs of his claims (Mark 8.11-13). He suffered and tasted the bitterness of death (Mark 8.31f.; 9.12; 10.32-34, 45). He admits to his true humanity in the limitations imposed on his humanity (Mark 6.5-6; 13.32; 15.31). It has often been said that the people in the first century had a difficult time accepting Jesus as divine. In our present century, it is often the opposite. We have a difficult time understanding the humanity of Jesus.

The Importance of Faith

Faith is the atmosphere in which the miracles of Jesus were accomplished. This appeal to faith marks him out from the pagan wonderworkers of his day (Mark 9.14-29). Faith is the decor for many of his miracles like:

  • the paralytic: Mark 2.5
  • the crossing of the sea: Mark 4.40
  • a woman with a hemorrhage: Mark 5.25
  • a lack of faith in his hometown: Mark 6.6
  • a blind man, Bartimaeus: Mark 10.52
  • the cursing of the fig tree: Mark 11.22
  • the disciples’ lack of faith: Mark 16.14

The Cost of Discipleship

To follow Jesus is to walk a road of misunderstanding and rejection. To be his disciple is not an easy vocation. It is this circumstance that causes the disciples to be at cross purposes with Jesus through the story written by Mark. This insight would have a special purpose for the church in Rome in the ‘60s of the first century and following.

Jesus’ Messiahship Is Incognito

That Jesus is the Messiah is misunderstood by official Judaism (Mark 3.20-35). It is hidden from the inattentive onlooker and unrecognized by the disciples who fill the term with a political or worldly content (Mark 2.27-9.1). However, the truth of his Messiahship is seen by unlikely characters in the drama of Mark (demons, the woman at Bethany Mark 14.3-9; a pagan centurion at the cross Mark 15.39).

The Son of Man

The often suggested meaning of the phrase “son of man” is that it refers to the humanity of Jesus, while “son of God” refers to the divinity of Jesus. This popularized meaning does not take into consideration the historical development of the phrase in Jewish history. The term has its starting point in the book of Daniel (Dan. 7.13) and blossoms in the Apocryphal book of Enoch. The middle section of the book of Enoch presents four titles that are found in the Second Testament and applied to Jesus: Messiah, the righteous one, the elect one, and the Son of Man. These are all concepts that are in keeping with a divine being. The Son of Man, the Messiah, is seen as a supernatural being, preexistent, a heavenly being who is revealed by God.

Confession

There are two parts to the Gospel of Mark. Each has a confession that concludes the section. The material of Mark 1.1-8.29 has a stress on the miracles of Jesus and leads up to the divinely inspired insight of Peter into the true nature of the man Jesus. The second ends with a Roman’s assurance that Jesus is truly the Son of God. In the first segment of the Gospel, the people did not know who Jesus was. They had various thoughts, like a prophet: John the Baptist back from the dead, Elijah, or a prophet from Isaiah’s period. The second part of the Gospel clarifies what it means to confess that Jesus is God.

The Death of Jesus

Mark told his audience that the purpose of Jesus dying was to buy the slave from the slave market. He used a Greek word, lutron, which in that day was the known currency of buying slaves and giving them their freedom. There was no catch. They purchased slaves who would turn and serve the Master who had purchased their freedom. This picture demonstrates that Jesus was in charge of his demise. No man, Roman or Jew, took his life from him. He gave it freely to produce freedom for those caught in the snares of this present evil age.

The End of Mark

Mark’s Gospel ends at 16.8. The additional verses were probably not a part of his original writings. They are absent from some of the more important early manuscripts. These concluding verses are unlike the rest of Mark in vocabulary and theology. They most likely were compiled during the second century as a teaching summary about the resurrection. This often brings some bewilderment to the followers Jesus about the validity of the Bible. But as a reader, consider these points:

  1. It was likely accepted by the ecclesiae from the second century as inspired.
  2. If compiled in the second century, it demonstrates a firm belief that the ecclesiae was still charismatic during that century.

Theological Considerations

  • The kingdom of God arrived in the words and works of Jesus.
  • Suffering is a present part of participating in the kingdom of God.
  • Confession is important.

The Question Mark Answers

  • Who is Jesus?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • How does the kingdom of God concept help you in reading and understanding the Second Testament?
  • In what way is it difficult for you to believe that Jesus lived in a human body?
  • Who has the responsibility of having faith when one is being prayed over for healing? Why?
  • In what way have you been misunderstood or rejected because you are a follower of Jesus?
  • Does this misunderstanding still happen to you today? How? Where?
  • How will the historical understanding of the kingdom of God help you explain the term better to those trapped with only the popularized meaning?
  • Do you believe that it is necessary to have a confession about Jesus? Why? or Why not?
  • In what slave market were you found when Jesus bought you and set you free?

Meditations

  • Mark is an evangelistic pamphlet which demonstrates the power of Jesus to change lives.
  • He died to buy you from the slave market of your sin and give you freedom.
  • While his ministry may be incognito to those who are religious, it can be seen daily in the lives of his followers who are looking for it.

Thoughts To Contemplate

  • The power of Jesus is still available to convert and change our lives.
  • What spiritual wilderness have you been in recently and how did God supply your needs? (Forty days in the wilderness)
  • Have you been treated as an untouchable? Do you treat others as untouchable? (The leper story)
  • What do you think Jesus would call you if he gave you a new name? (Peter: the rock story)
  • Sometimes being with Jesus is being in a quiet place and resting. (Feeding of 5,000 story)
  • How would you proclaim Jesus? (The Confession of Peter)
  • Jesus has purchased you from slavery. (Mark 10.45)

End of Sesssion
 

Philemon
Author: Mark
Date: AD ’Early 50-‘60s
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] From: Rome
To: Philemon and the Ecclesia in his House
Subject: Handling Societal Dilemmas


About Philemon

Philemon was Paul’s friend. His letter to Philemon was written in a warm friendly manner. It is a one-of-a-kind letter in the Second Testament. Philemon was a Jesus follower and a slave owner. One of Philemon’s choice slaves, Onesimus, had decided to stay in Rome while there doing business for his owner Philemon. Paul and Onesimus have an encounter while in Rome and Onesimus becomes a follower of Jesus just like his owner Philemon. Paul knew of his status as a run-away-slave. He had the right to return him to his rightful owner, who had an absolute right over Onesimus. The letter from Paul to his old friend suggested that Philemon redeem Onesimus as a visible model of the redemption of Jesus in his own life. Paul asked Philemon to restore Onesimus and treat him as a brother.

A Brief Look At Philemon

Introduction: Philemon 1-3

Approval of Philemon: Philemon 4-7

Paul offers a prayer of thanks for his friend, Philemon.

Appeal to Philemon: Philemon 4-78-14

Based on the fact that Onesimus has become a follower of Jesus, Paul encouraged Philemon to accept him back.

Assurance for Philemon: Philemon 4-7 15-22

Philemon is assured that the action Paul is asking him to participate in will be beneficial for Philemon and his Christian faith. Paul assures Philemon that the actions he is asking him to perform will work to the benefit of Philemon and his Christian faith.

Conclusion: Philemon 23-25

A Theological Glance At Philemon

Christianity and Slavery

The Second Testament is almost completely silent on the social issue of slavery in the Roman Empire. Jesus never condemned it. Paul and Peter actually encouraged Christian converts who were slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6.5-8; 1 Pet. 2.18-21). The Greco-Roman world had a long history of slavery. Recorded history suggests that Rome gave freedom to a great many slaves. Humanitarian reasons were not at the forefront for this apparent graceful action. You were born a slave or purchased as a slave. Often a slave’s freedom occurred at the death of the owner. Slavery in the ancient world was not like slavery in the modern era.

A Roman slave had the same rights as those who were free. Many slaves had better living conditions than some of their counterparts who were free. Their food and clothing were the same as those who were free. Economic hardship often found the slave with better security than those who were free. These may be some of the reasons that the Second Testament views slavery from a different perspective than the modern person would. Paul had a rare opportunity to condemn his Christian friend for owning slaves. He could have told Philemon about the degradation of slavery. He did not! Instead, he took a different position. To show forgiveness to a criminal slave who had escaped was a revolutionary thought. Punishment was often brutal: imprisonment, flogging, sometimes even crucifixion. Runaway slaves sometimes had a bounty on their heads. Against this background, it is a bold request for Philemon to restore Onesimus. The atmosphere which Paul invited Philemon to enter was the very foundation on which the institution of slavery could die. When a person’s heart changes, his attitudes and lifestyle will change. This change is not necessarily an overnight change but an incremental one. Treatment of individuals as humans is based on a heart value not on a legal value. We might look to this biblical example of Paul and Philemon as a way of dealing with social issues that face the church today. A militant resolution which is often a frequent one might be based on a wrongheaded model.

Theological Considerations

  • Treating a person with human dignity is the essence of Christianity.
  • The ecclesia was to resolve social issues without resorting to militant attacks or from the world’s point of view.
  • God holds all Christian leaders accountable for how they treat those who are in their care.

The Question Philemon Answers

  • How do you bring about social reform?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

• How can you use the theological point presented in Philemon to deal with the social issues of today?

Meditations

  • All kinds of leaders—employers, political, corporate, executive, parent— could follow the spirit of Paul’s instruction on how to obtain reform, social or otherwise.
  • Christian leaders should treat their Christian brothers and sisters with respect and graciousness.

Thought To Contemplate

  • Instead of condemning people for their social misbehavior, influence them toward a decision to become a follower of Jesus.

End of Sesssion
 

Colossians
Author: Paul
Date: AD 61– 62
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] From: Rome
To: Ecclesia at Colosse
Subject: The Supremacy of Christ


About Colossians

During his ministry in Ephesus, Paul started the ecclesia in Ephesus (Acts 19.10). This new ecclesia had become involved in some perilous syncretistic teaching to which Paul was responding. The new converts to this ecclesia brought with them other ideas and philosophies, presenting them as equal with the truth of Christianity. Each group, Jew and Gentile, wanted their former beliefs to somehow fit into their new faith. As an example, it was important for the Jewish person to want to retain things like circumcision, food laws, and festivals. The Greeks, on the other hand, wanted to retain their dualism, which was later seen in a developed Gnosticism.

Gnosticism

A fully blown Gnostic belief system did not occur until the close of the second century. However, it had its roots during the ‘60s of the first century. There was a tremendous influx of Gentiles into the first-century ecclesia. With the inflow came various elements of a Greek philosophical mindset. Dualism was the basic presupposition of this Greek philosophical system. Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge. The followers of an incipient Gnostic belief system believed that they had superior knowledge which allowed them to understand the Christian faith. Their dualism was played out in the philosophy of humans. They believed that the spirit of a human being was basically good while the body was totally evil. Therefore, one could use his or her body in any fashion desired, because it was evil to the core. The spirit must be kept pure. This idea is refuted by Paul in Colossians.

A Quick Look At Colossians

Introduction: Colossians 1.1-14

True Christian Doctrine: Colossians 1.15-2.23

The Colossians are instructed about Jesus’ relationship to God, creation, and the ecclesia.

True Christian Deportment: Colossians 3.1-4.6

Based on the theological information given to the reader in the previous chapters, Paul now turns to instructions for marriage, children, parents, slaves, and masters.

Conclusion: Colossians 4.7-18

A Theological Glance At Colossians

Elemental Spirits and The Supremacy of Jesus

The teaching of the false teachers in Colosse claimed, for those following it, that there was a special knowledge of spiritual reality, which was thought to be deeper and more perfect than could be found in the simple Gospel of Jesus (Col. 2.4, 8, 18). The Colossians were being taught to exalt the elemental spirits or planetary lords who were thought of as necessary intermediaries between people in the material world and the transcendent God (Col. 1.16, 20; 2.15). The view denied the deity and the humanity of Jesus. The solution to this problem is demonstrated in Paul’s teaching about the supremacy of Jesus. There is no chasm between God and the material world because Jesus himself is the image (eikon, the exact expression) of God. He is the creator of the material and the spiritual dimensions of the universe. All angelic powers are subject to him (Col. 1.15-17). God’s fullness dwells in the human Jesus. In Christ God brings the earthly and heavenly into full harmony (Col. 1.19-20). God worked through the material world to accomplish spiritual ends. He reconciled us “by Christ’s physical body through death” (Col. 1.22). Paul further stated that “In Christ, all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form and you have been given fullness in Christ” (Col. 2.9-20). To approach God through angelic intermediaries would be foolish and wrong, a denial of Jesus, and a movement away from the Christian faith.

Being Spiritual

This Colossians error emphasized ascetic and liturgical practices that were believed to produce spirituality (Col. 2.11, 16-23). The ascetic believed that by denying the physical or material needs, that they would develop a spiritual nature. This belief was attached to legalistic demands in Colosse. Paul wrote, “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom…but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Col. 2.23). Their approach to spirituality stimulated an unspiritual pride (Col. 2.18-19). How then should spirituality be understood? By looking to Christ who took on human form and did God’s will in this physical world. In the same way, the Christian who wishes to be spiritual does the will of God here and now in the physical world. Paul’s prayer in Col. 1.9-12 suggests this view. To exercise spiritual wisdom and insight, the follower of Jesus must apply God’s revealed will as a guide for daily life (Col. 1.9). She or he must live a life worthy of Jesus, which is seen in all kinds of good works (Col. 1.10). The believer is to “put on the new person” which is being renewed in knowledge and in the image of the Creator (Col. 3.10). When clothed with the new person, the followers Jesus can live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3.12). It is this kind of life, and not one of ascetic self-denial, that brings true spirituality.

Rules for the Household

In Colossians 3.18-4.1, Paul wrote about household codes that had been developed by Aristotle. These codes define how a male of a house would rule his wives, children, and slaves. Paul put a different trajectory on these codes making them move against the flow of the dominant paradigm of the patriarchal culture. As much was required of the male as the others in the household. Paul reframed these codes within the message of Christianity. New humanity simply required a different way of living.

Theological Considerations

  • Jesus is supreme and sufficient.
  • Christian spirituality comes with putting on a new person.
  • The Christian life expresses itself in loving service to others.

Questions Colossians Answers

  • Who is Jesus?
  • What is Christian spirituality?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • What obstacle do you have that stands between you and direct access to God?

Meditations

  • Jesus is central to all true life.
  • Extreme individualism will destroy the life of the church community.
  • Knowing Jesus better will help you live out his life through you.

Thought To Contemplate

  • If the supremacy of Christ is devalued, be aware!

Questions Philippians Answers

  • How do I become a servant?
  • What are good models?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • How does the worship music you sing regularly teach you the fundamentals of the faith? What can you do about it?
  • In what areas of life do you find anxiety creeping up?
  • Make a list of the things Paul says that you should think about and make a conscious effort to spend time thinking about them daily!

Meditations

  • The joy of the Lord is a true mark of a maturing believer.
  • Joy is contagious. It conquers circumstances, communicates contentment, and comes directly from God. Joy is abiding confidence in God, not superficial happiness or a slurpy sentimental feeling.

Thoughts To Contemplate

  • Finding a good Christian model to imitate is a good thing to accomplish.
  • Joy only comes when unity abides.

End of Sesssion
 

Ephesians
Author: Paul
Date: AD 61– 62
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] To: Gentile Ecclesiae around Ephesus
Subject: The Responsibilities Body of Christ


About Ephesians

Ephesians is one of the greatest books written by Paul. Some suggestion has been made that the recipients of this letter were Gentile converts who had found their way into the church after Paul’s departure.[ref] Andy Rau. Letters to the Church: The Epistle to the Ephesians. Also: Elwell, Walter A. “Entry for ‘Ephesians, Theology of.” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 1997.  accessed 1.12.2020.[/ref] Others think that Ephesians was written to both Jews and Gentiles[ref] Gary Edward Weedman. “Reading Ephesians from the New Perspective on Paul.” accessed 1.12.2020. [/ref]

The video below is a 15-minute overview of Ephesians by Tom Wright.

It is a tremendous document that gives a theology of the ecclesia and is closely aligned with Colossians. It was likely a circular letter that began at the ecclesia in Ephesus and made a round-trip to other ecclesiae, forming a circle beginning and ending with Ephesus. The primary purpose of Paul was to instruct these Jesus followers about what was involved in their commitment to Christ and his ecclesia. Christianity was not something that one could achieve; it was something that God had done.

A Quick Look At Ephesians

Introduction: Ephesians 1.1-3

Purpose and Plan of God. Ephesians 1.4-23

The purpose of God (to create a “new” humanity) is accomplished by the Son and applied by the Spirit. Paul prays for the ecclesiae.

Purpose Demonstrated in the Ecclesiae: Ephesians 2.1-22

The ecclesia is shown from a theological and historical position with a portrait of before and after God’s decisive act in Jesus.

Purpose Demonstrated in Paul: Ephesians 3.1-21

Paul used himself to demonstrate how God creates newness.

Purpose Lived Out in Community: Ephesians 4.1-6.20

The new community—the ecclesiae—is the focal point for where the purpose of God is lived out. Paul gives instructions about marriage, parents, slaves, and masters. He also talks about warfare and the armor the believer has, to use in defense, as well as in taking an offensive stand.

Conclusion: Ephesians 6.21.24

A Theological Glance At Ephesians
The Ecclesia

The ecclesiae is called by various names in the Second Testament. Here are some of them:

  • The Body of Christ: Colossians 1.18; Ephesians 1.22
  • The Temple of the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 3.16
  • The New Israel: Galatians 3.29
  • The Household of God: Galatians 6.10
  • The Bride of Christ: Revelation 19.7

Also, some other metaphors are used:

  • The sect of the Nazarenes: Acts 24.5
  • The Way: Acts 9.2
  • Saints: Romans 1.7
  • Fellow citizens: Ephesians 2.19
  • Soldiers of Jesus Christ: 2 Timothy 2.3
  • A Chosen Race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s people: 1 Peter 2.9

The word that is used in Greek for the ecclesia usually meant “an assembly place for citizens.” A modern concept that is not supported by the Second Testament is that the ecclesiae is a building or place. Rather, the ecclesia/ecclesiae is always the people who make up the community of Christ—local and universal. The strength of the ecclesiae will determine the strength of the members within it whether single or married. As an illustration, strong ecclesiae build strong marriages, not strong marriages build strong ecclesiae.

Paul uses the word ekklesia in a way that is peculiar to himself. The ecclesia is the body of which Christ is the head (Eph. 1.22f; Col. 1.18, 24). It is the instrument through which God’s wisdom and eternal purpose are to be made known to all of humankind and to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph. 3:9-11). The ecclesiae is the bride of whom Jesus is the heavenly bridegroom. The bride for whom he gave himself to die, that he cleansed and sanctified her and presented her to himself a glorious ecclesiae, an ecclesiae without imperfection, without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5.25ff.). This ecclesiae is clearly the ecclesiae of the age to come, living during this present evil age with its divisions, blemishes, shortcomings in faith and love, and obedience.

Ephesians teaches us what the people of the ecclesiae ought to be, rather than what they actually are. The ecclesiae is the historic witness of God’s renewing purpose for humankind. It is the direct result of the reconciliation between God and humankind. Remember, the ecclesiae is not a Jewish ecclesiae which took in Gentiles, nor a Gentile ecclesiae which embraced Jews. It was a new people of God, the true Israel, the remnant forecast in the First Testament. The salvation history (heilsgeschichtlich) of the First Testament found its fulfillment and realization in the ecclesiae with Christ as the head. Not Christ and the ecclesiae, but Christ the head, and we the ecclesiae, the body. Jesus as the head and we as the body are inseparable. The head and the body are inextricably united and interdependent (Eph. 1.22f.; 4.15f.; 5.30). The message of Ephesians is that the ancient plan of God to have one-people is made good in the ecclesiae.

Adoption

Adoption was a Roman Law. The father in Roman Law had absolute power over his children as long as they lived, even over their life and death. Children never possessed anything. All possessions were the property of the father. To be adopted was to take a serious step.

The ceremony included trading the person to be adopted two times between the two parties and taking the adopted person back two times. On the third time, the trade was completed.

At that point, the person adopted had all the rights and privileges of the new family and lost all the rights and privileges of the old family. This included all the debts, connection with the previous family, etc. The old family was abolished as if it had never existed.

This position came by grace, not by right. The adopted son was heir just the same as the natural son. Adoption occurred because of the love of a parent for a child, love which brought him into the family as a full-fledged member with all rights and privileges.

Sonship/Daughtership implied responsibility, also. It is inconceivable that we should enjoy a relationship with God as his child without accepting the obligation to imitate the Father and cultivate the family likeness.

Heavenly Places

The term heavenly places (Eph. 1.3; 1.20; 2.6; 3.10; 6.12) is not the same as heaven. In one instance Paul spoke of “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Heavenly places imply the unseen spiritual world beyond our physical senses. It is the region where the most difficult, and yet authentic, Christian discipleship is lived out. It is the world of decisions, attitudes, temptations, and commitments. It is the battleground of good and evil (Eph. 6:12). Christ has raised his followers to the heavenly places with the assurance that the one in whom we hope is more powerful, real, and eternal than the forces of chaos and destruction which threaten our physical world.

Theological Considerations

  • God has a purpose for the ecclesiae, to be the witness of his reconciliation.
  • Jesus activated the plan by giving his life.
  • The Spirit actualized the purpose so that we can become who we were made to be in Christ.
  • The purpose of God is to be lived out in the ecclesiae, in our family, and in our vocational lives, as a model for the world to see and desire.

Questions Ephesians Answers

  • Who are we in Christ?
  • How do I work out who we are in Christ?
  • What is the arena in which we work out who we are in Christ?
  • How does this work out in our daily life?

Community Discussion Questions

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  • What weakness that you know to be in you can be seen in the ecclesia you attend?
  • Can you explain who you are in Christ and what your responsibilities are as a member of the local ecclesia?
  • What parts of your old life, which were purchased in your adoption, do you try to hang on to?

Meditations

  • Knowing who Jesus is will help me grow toward maturity.
  • I am a new person in Christ, God’s workmanship, created in Jesus to do good works.
  • Family and vocational life are spiritual issues.

Thought To Contemplate

  • The strength of the ecclesia determines the strength of the families and other relationships within it.

End of Sesssion
 

Luke
Author: Luke
Date: AD 62
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] From: Rome
To: Non-Christian Romans – An Apologetic
Subject: The Universal Love of God


About Luke

Luke was converted during Paul’s Second Missionary Trip. When Paul went to Jerusalem the last time, imprisoned, and sent to Caesarea, Luke was with him. While Paul was in prison, Luke wrote the first of his two-part work, now titled the Gospel of Luke. He wrote it as an apologetic, a defense of the Gospel. There were three major areas that Luke referenced in his apologetic.

  1. Cultural: The presentation by Luke in his Gospel was designed to defend the Gospel as being classless. The good news about Jesus was for everyone, regardless of race, color, or creed. The special stories that Luke tells, like the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, display that the Gospel of Jesus is for everyone.
  2. Political: Luke demonstrates that Jesus alone was the founder of the Christian faith.
  3. Practical: Luke’s Gospel illustrates that the Gospel is a bridge between cultural and racial differences.

Luke’s Literary Richness

Luke is the longest of the Second Testament books. When combined with his second volume, Acts, it comprises about twenty-eight percent of the Second Testament. Luke’s vocabulary is that of an educated man in the first century. His Greek is refined, which adds a breadth of expression to his work. He records for his readers four hymns. They all receive their names from the first translated word in the Latin Vulgate. They are:

  1. The Magnificat of Mary (Luke 1:46-55): Magnificent means glorifies. It is much like the song of Hannah in the First Testament book of 1 Samuel (1 Sam. 2.1-10).
  2. The Benedictus of Zacharias (Luke 1.67-79): This hymn is much more like a prophecy than a psalm. Benedictus means praise be.
  3. The Gloria in Excelsis Deo of the heavenly host (Luke 2.14): The Latin phrase means Glory to God in the highest. The Angelic choir recognized the glory and majesty of God by giving praise to him. In the highest is most likely a reference to the place where God dwells.
  4. The Numc Dimittis (nuke DE mit tis) of Simeon (Luke 2.28-32): The phrase means You now dismiss.

A Quick Look At Luke

Introduction: Luke 1.1-4

Luke shares that he has written this book to be an orderly account of the ministry of Jesus.

Life of Jesus: – Early Accounts: Luke 1.5-4.13

Luke recounts the childhood of John the Baptist and Jesus. He tells about the ministry of John in the wilderness. The story of the baptism and wilderness temptation of Jesus is also recorded.

Upper Galilean Ministry. Luke 4.14-9.50

In this section of his book, Luke describes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He includes stories about the calling of his first disciples; the various conflicts he had with the religious establishment of the day. He points to the words and works of Jesus by telling miracle stories and sharing the teaching ministry of Jesus. This section ends with Peter’s confession of Jesus being the Christ and the story of the transfiguration.

Keen Determination of Jesus. Luke 9.51-19.28

Luke shows how determined Jesus is to go to Jerusalem. He sends seventy disciples on a mission after providing them with instruction. He tells more miracle stories and shares more of the teaching ministry of Jesus.

Execution of Jesus. Luke 19.29-24.53

The final section tells the story of the final week in the earthly life of Jesus. He enters Jerusalem in what is often called the Triumphal Entry. He cleanses the Temple. He takes his disciples aside and teaches them about the future in an apocryphal discourse often called the Olivet Discourse. He eats the Passover meal with them. He is arrested, tried, crucified, dies, and is resurrected.

A Theological Glance At Luke

The Birth Story

It is most likely that this story comes from the lips of Mary via Luke. He shares with his readers that he is sharing eyewitness accounts. Many scholars believe that he might have interviewed Mary for this story. The details therein are not recorded by the other Gospel writers which give weight to this belief.

Special Interests

Special groups are of special interest to Luke. Here is a sample:

Social Outcasts

He tells three stories that demonstrate that Jesus had a heart for the social outcast of the day. They are the stories of immoral women, the transformation of Zacchaeus, the repentance of the robber on the cross. Like Jesus, the ecclesia today should be involved in redeeming social outcasts.

Women

Women were on the lower end of the spectrum in the ancient world. Luke confirms that Jesus views women differently than the culture did. He mentions or tells stories in which thirteen women whose stories or characters in one of his parables are part of a parable.

  1. Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) This is also in Luke 1:68-79).
  2. Anna praising God (Luke 2:36-38).
  3. During His sermon in Nazareth, Jesus spoke about widows (Luke 4:25-26).
  4. Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39).
  5. Jesus forgave the woman who was a sinner who wept over his feet (Luke 7:36-50).
  6. The raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17).
  7. The raising of Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-42a,49-56)
  8. The healing of the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:42b-48).
  9. The Queen of the South (Luke 11:31).
  10. The Parables of the Mustard Seed and Leaven are paired; the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which a woman took (Luke 13:20-21).
  11. The healing of the woman on a Sabbath bent link a horseshoe with a spirit of infirmity (Luke 13:10-17).
  12. The parable of the woman with the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10).
  13. Two women grinding together, one will be taken and the other left (Luke 17:35).

Children

Children were also important to Luke. Only he recounts the childhood of John and Jesus.

Social Relations

Jesus loved to be in the presence of sinners. Often the place to discover them was at parties. Luke presents this side of Jesus to show that Jesus makes no social barriers when it comes to sharing the good news. He socialized with all kinds of people. Three stories in Luke about his social gatherings with the Pharisees point to this side of his character.

Prayer

Jesus found prayer a necessity. Luke wants those who are reading his book to understand that it should be as necessary for them to pray as it was for Jesus to pray. Therefore, we must consider the model of Jesus in prayer. He is the greatest example for followers who want to learn to pray. The writers of the Gospels record twenty-one instances of Jesus praying, along with twenty-one passages that report his teaching on the subject of prayer. Some of these are the same. But, it seems to justify the conclusion that prayer was important for Jesus and for the writers of the Gospels.

Luke gave prominence to the prayer life of Jesus. While he never stated that Jesus prayed so that his followers would have a model for prayer, he has provided several clues that make this conclusion unavoidable.

Luke recorded ten occasions when Jesus prayed. Seven of these passages do not record the prayers. In addition to these ten times, Luke recorded two parables that only appear in his Gospel which are about prayer (Luke 11.5-8; 18.1-8). The prayers in the life of Jesus are all associated with important events in the ministry of Jesus. [ref]See “When and How to Pray” on AskDrwinn.com [/ref]

At His Baptism (Luke 3.21-22)

While or as Jesus was being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on him. The actual prayer that he prayed was not recorded by Luke. It may be useful to ask if the words of the Father which are recorded by Luke are not in some way a response to whatever Jesus may have been praying.

After A Day Of Miracles (Luke 5.15-16)

“…He withdrew to the wilderness to pray.’’ We are not told exactly by Luke what Jesus prayed. He does tell us where he prayed and possibly why he prayed. Luke 4.42f. tells us that Jesus may have been unwilling to stay in a given place after he had ministered, lest he might become a popular idol. His communion with his Father was the mainspring of his life. He must have found strength and guidance when he prayed.

There are several things we might learn from this story.

  • It is just as important to pray after an event as it is to pray before an event. Could it be more important?
  • Being secluded would provide the one praying unobstructed access to God.
  • Prayer, after we minister, will no doubt refocus our attention on God as the source of ministry.

Before Choosing The Disciples (Luke 6.12)

Luke recorded that Jesus prayed all night on this occasion before he made this momentous decision. He does not record what Jesus said, only that he prayed.

Before Instructing (Luke 9.18-22)

Jesus models prayer for his disciples. While the words are not recorded, it may be possible that Jesus was asking God for guidance before he shared the revelation about his suffering. It was a risk to share this information. He might have wanted to know if it was the right time.

At The Transfiguration (Luke 9.28-29)

Jesus went to a secluded place with three close friends to pray. While he is praying, his friends receive a revelation of who Jesus is. Luke does not record what the prayer is, but he does record what the result of the prayer is. While he was praying, Jesus was transformed before their very eyes. They had not seen Jesus in this way before. It must have caused great anxiety among them. They saw in Jesus the very presence of the glory of God. Supernatural events and prayer are often inseparable.

On The Return Of The Seventy-Two (Luke 10.17-21)

Jesus was full of joy at the return of the seventy-two disciples (10.21). His prayer was a thanksgiving psalm in which Jesus gave praise to God for something he had accomplished. Jesus gave God praise for making his words and works obscure in their significance to one group, while at the same time being revealed to his disciples.

One can almost hear the excitement in the voice of Jesus: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Before Teaching To Pray (Luke 11.1)

Jesus prayed. Afterward, his disciples asked him to teach them to pray. It may very well be that the reason they asked was that they had seen the results of the prayers of Jesus. We have called this prayer the Lord’s Prayer. It is really a model for prayer for his disciples to follow. This is not a prayer to pray; it is a model to follow.

For Peter And The Disciples (Luke 22.31-32)

Satan entered Judas, a believer and one of the twelve (22.1ff.). In the story of the Last Supper Jesus told Peter that Satan had asked to sift all the disciples. Luke’s choice of words implies that Satan demanded the surrender of the disciples (asked equals demand the surrender of). The background thought is surely Job 1.6ff. When sifting occurred, it was to determine which wheat was good and which wheat was bad. Satan wanted to sift Peter and the disciples so that he could discover their weakest point, their point of surrender. He wanted to find an access point. Jesus prayed that the fall of Peter would not be fatal. The throbbing heart of Jesus as a functioning pastor can be seen in this story. He knew his disciples and he knew their weaknesses. This knowledge no doubt enabled him to pray with some specifics.

At The Point Of Suffering (Luke 22.39-46)

We are most familiar with this prayer of Jesus. Jesus gave his disciples instructions on how they should pray. He left and went a few steps away to pray. Luke helps his reader encounter Jesus in the agony of the moment, understanding that death on the cross was just a few moments away. Jesus, the human man, knelt to pray. He struggled to find some other way to accomplish God’s will. He was faced with the human desire to avoid the difficult path of suffering. However, he accepted God’s will and direction for his life despite his desire that it might be otherwise carried out.

Amid the struggle when the will of Jesus and God was aligned, God sent an angel to minister and strengthen Jesus. The result of this heavenly angelic visitation was that Jesus was able to pray more earnestly. He was not removed from the battle of prayer. The attack of the enemy to find another way was overcome by more prayer. When the intensity of the battle is at its most heated point, it will often be won or lost by prayer. The most powerful spiritual battle in all history was occurring in prayer. What was won in the garden in prayer would soon be played out on the stage of the physical world? The intensity of the battle is seen by Luke’s record that the sweat of Jesus appeared like drops of blood falling on the ground. This is a metaphorical expression. Jesus was not bleeding while he was praying. This would have undermined the crucifixion. His blood would be spilled in the violent death he would suffer on the cross.

On The Cross (Luke 23.34, 46)

On the cross, Jesus prayed two prayers. First, he prayed for his enemies (v. 34). Then he prayed for God to receive him back at his side.
From the beginning to the close of the ministry of Jesus, from his baptism to the cross, prayer was a central part of the life of Jesus.

Suggestion

After reading the above situations in which Luke recorded that Jesus prayed, pick a similar situation in your life and see what happens when you pray.

Universal Love

For Luke, an outsider himself, the Gospel reaches past the social and cultural boundaries often drawn by humankind. He establishes the concept of the universal love of God through Jesus by telling the stories of the Good Samaritan, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Prodigal Son.

Holy Spirit

While we often think of Paul as speaking about the Holy Spirit, it appears that Luke also had a healthy interest in the third part of the Trinity. He is often called the theologian of the Holy Spirit. The first chapters in his Gospel demonstrate his strong belief in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Theological Considerations

  • The work of Jesus was intended for all people.
  • Jesus was a man of prayer.

Questions Luke Answers

  • Is Jesus for everyone or only the Jews?
  • What is the life mission of Jesus?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • Who are the social outcasts today and what is your responsibility or your community of faith to them?
  • Why do you believe that women are still looked at as second-class citizens in many in the ecclesia?
  • Whose responsibility is it to raise children to faith in Jesus? What responsibility does the ecclesia have, if any?
  • What social occasion are you attending this year that you can share the light of the Gospel?
  • Do you find it difficult to pray? Why? or Why not?

Meditations

  • Luke was not a gullible historian (Luke 1.3).
  • Jesus died for everyone.

Thoughts To Contemplate

  • The Gospel is for everyone regardless of race, color, or religious background.
  • The social outcasts in your community are as important to God as socially acceptable.
  • Mixing with sinners should be a ministry you consider.

End of Sesssion
 

Acts
Author: Paul
Date: AD 62
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] From: Rome
To: Romans who were not Jesus Followers
Subject: The Spread of the Good News by the Leading of the Spirit


About Acts

The books of Luke and Acts form a two-volume work of Luke and they should be read together. Luke’s purpose in writing was to provide a complete defense of the Christian faith. In Acts, there are two main characters around which Luke tells his story of the ecclesia. They are Peter and Paul. The Roman government was always suspicious of any new religious sect which might pose a political problem for Rome. Thus, Luke wrote to defend Paul’s ministry and to ensure Rome that Christianity was not a menace to the Roman government. The book could be rightfully titled, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.”[ref] Luke Timothy Johnson. The Acts of the Apostles. 1992. 14-18.[/ref] It is Luke’s main theological interest to show the activity of the Holy Spirit in the mission of the church. Acts 1.8 identifies the mission and Luke closely follows its geographic movement from Jerusalem to Rome.

A Quick Look At Acts

Spirit Arrives in Jerusalem: Acts 1.1-6.6

Luke begins his second volume with the story of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. In the story of Luke’s Acts, the Spirit manifested himself in a special way to humankind after the Ressurection of Jesus. The manifestation of the Spirit came first to a few faithful followers in the upper room and then to thousands as a result of the preaching of Peter. This section is packed with the stories of the supernatural intervention of the Spirit and concludes with a summary statement at Acts 6.7, which says that the word of God was spreading and there was an increase in disciples. Take a listen to my podcast “Are You An Epicurean?” at AskDrWinn.com.

Proclamation in Judea-Samaria: Acts 6.7-9.31

Because of the persecution of Stephen, the ecclesia moved began its journey to the whole world: starting in Jerusalem and into Judea and Samaria on its way to a worldwide phenomenon. This is the first recorded movement of the ecclesia outside of the safety of Jerusalem. The story of Saul (later he took the name Paul) is converted as he traveled from Jerusalem to arrest those who were becoming followers of Jesus. He was struck blind and then recovers his sight. The section ends with a second summary about the growth of the church in the geographic area of Judea and Samaria. (Acts 9.31)

Inclusion of Gentiles: Acts 9.32-12.24

Gentiles were not highly valued by the Jews. The ecclesia was now faced with their inclusion. To demonstrate this move of the Holy Spirit into Gentile territory, Luke tells the story of the conversion of Cornelius under the ministry of the Jewish Peter and how the ecclesia at Antioch developed in a Gentile territory with Gentiles in attendance. Another summary statement ends this section of Acts, which also concludes that the ecclesia is continually growing (Acts 12.24).

Received Gospel in Asia: Acts 12.25-16.5

Paul now became the main character of the rest of Acts. In this section, Luke told the story of his first missionary trip where he carried the good news of Jesus and setting little outstations of new life within the Roman Empire. He left Antioch and traveled through Cyprus and the cities of Galatia. Paul and Barnabas had great success on this journey that lasted about two years. Included in this section is the story of the meeting of the ecclesia at Jerusalem to decide the statement which had been posed by the Jewish agitators and stated in Acts 15.1: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” The ecclesia sides with Paul and he leaves on his second trip. Luke concludes this segment with another summary statement about the growth of the ecclesia (Acts 16.6).

Involvement of Gospel in Asia: Acts 16.6-19.20

This segment of Luke’s story continues the second mission trip of Paul. He received a vision from God to travel and minister in Macedonia. His trip took him to Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. After eighteen months of ministering in Corinth, he left and returned to Jerusalem. Again, as is his custom, Luke closes this part of Acts with a summary statement (Acts 19.20).

Trials – Appeal – Rome: Acts 19.21-28.31

The final mission trip of Paul which is recorded in Acts is concluded. After traveling to Ephesus, Macedonia, and Greece, Paul returns to Jerusalem where he is arrested and put on trial before the Sanhedrin. A plot developed to assassinate him but was spoiled by a relative when he was sent to Caesarea to be tried before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa. Paul is given his request to be sent to Rome for trial and on his journey there suffers his fourth shipwreck. Luke ends Acts with Paul preaching the kingdom of God without hindrance from Rome. (Acts 28.30-31)

A Theological Glance At Acts

Apologetic

Luke composed his two-volume work to give an apologetic which would convince Theophilus that the Christian ecclesia was not politically dangerous and that Jesus and his followers were innocent of the charges which were leveled against them.

Early Apostolic Preaching

Almost one-fifth of the book of Acts is speeches. Luke provides lengthy summaries of how Peter and Paul preached the Gospel (Luke 2.14-36; 3.13-26; 4.8-20; 13.16-41; 17.16-34). Each has a focus on the following points:

  • Jesus was God’s man.
  • Jesus died and rose again.
  • Jesus will come again to judge the world.
  • Their preaching called for their listeners to respond to the Gospel message.

The Holy Spirit in Acts

The Holy Spirit is mentioned some fifty times in Acts. This has led some scholars to conclude that the title of the books should be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit in Acts is seen as the source of the power of the ecclesia. Without a doubt, he is the main character of this book. Both of its central human characters, Peter and Paul, performed miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit (Peter: Acts 3.1-10; Paul: Acts 13.6-11). It is in the direction of the Holy Spirit that the missionary activity of the early church came (Acts 8.29; 13.2,4).
The chief theme of Luke was to demonstrate that the universal spread of the ecclesia was started and maintained by the power of the Holy Spirit, who came to the ecclesia as a direct consequence of the exaltation of Jesus as risen Lord (2.33; 3.13-16; 5.31f.; 7.55-56, 59; 10.40-45; 13.2-4). You can see this central theological point in many different ways. The Holy Spirit can be observed at every critical phase of the development of the ecclesia.

Filled with the Spirit

The terms baptized and filled with the Spirit are not synonymous. Luke records several recurrences of filling with the Spirit (Acts 2.4; 4.8; 4.28; 13.9), while it never mentions that believers are baptized a second time. When people are baptized in the Spirit after Pentecost, it is never believers who have already been baptized once with the Spirit. To be baptized in the Spirit is the same as conversion. It is a once-for-all event that occurs when one believes in Jesus for salvation. Filling of the Spirit is an individual experience that can be repeated and has to do with Christian devotion and ministry.[ref]Roger E. Olson. “Pentecostal Theology: A Brief Description,” accessed 1.16.2020.[/ref]

The Ecclesiae: A New Creation

Luke demonstrated that the ecclesia came out of Judaism to form “one new identity”. He wanted to show that the multiracial ecclesia, which was predominately Gentile in ethnic balance, was linked with salvation-history which could not be severed. In Acts, we see a nexus of First Testament promise and gospel fulfillment.

Is Acts a Norm for Today’s Ecclesia?

We need to interpret each section of Acts within the context of the entire book to determine if specific events form a consistent pattern throughout or if the models that Luke presents vary from one situation to another. If the pattern is consistent, it may be viewed as a norm. If the pattern is not consistent, it may be seen as not normative for all time, but maybe normative in certain circumstances.

Theological Considerations

  • The ecclesiae is the goal of God in salvation-history.
  • The Holy Spirit is the central character in the book of Acts.
  • The Apostles provided a model for modern preaching of the Gospel.

Questions Acts Answers

  • How did a small Jewish sect called “the Way” become an independent fellowship in Rome without any ties to Judaism?
  • How is the ecclesia the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation-history?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • What is your personal apologetic for belief in Jesus?
  • In what ways can you attest to the power of the Holy Spirit in your day-to-day life?
  • Whose responsibility is it to raise children to faith in Jesus? What responsibility does the ecclesia have, if any?

Meditations

  • Remember who Jesus is and what he commanded his ecclesia to do.
  • The message of the Good News should be understood and proclaimed.
  • Barriers and obstacles should not prevent us from sharing the message of Jesus.
  • Recognize that God still wants to perform signs and wonders in our midst as we are open to the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts To Contemplate

  • The Holy Spirit gives you power in your daily life to work the works of Jesus.
  • The Holy Spirit can fill you for greater devotion and ministry.
  • The Holy Spirit provides boldness to be a follower of Jesus.
  • The Holy Spirit furnishes wisdom in life situations.

End of Sesssion
 

Phillippians
Author: Paul
Date: AD 62
[Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Zondervan Academic;
5 edition (June 24, 2012), Grand Rapids, MI. 572-574.] From: Rome
To: The Ecclesia at Philippi
Subject: Christian Models to Follow and Thank You for Your Monetary Help.


About Philippians

During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, he wrote four letters (Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians). Philippians was the last and carries a deeply personal tone. Paul had started many ecclesiae, but this was the only one that sent him money and a personal attendant to help him during his difficult days as a prisoner in Rome. Epaphroditus, the Philippian gift, had grown ill. Paul wrote to the ecclesiae to say thanks for the gifts and why Epaphroditus was returning to them even though Paul was still in prison.

A Quick Look At Philippians

The outline presented below reveals a pattern in Paul’s writing. He begins by telling the ecclesiae that he cared for them deeply. He wants them to understand that there are models to follow for them to live their Christian life to its fullest. The ultimate example to follow was the model of Christ. He became a servant to provide our redemption. Timothy and Epaphroditus were visual examples of what to do as a follower of Jesus. Paul’s ministry among them also gave them a pattern to follow. Finally, he thanks them for their interest in him.

The outline of Philippians seems best understood within the following pattern. First, Paul told the ecclesiae how much he deeply cared for them. Second, he wanted his reader to understand that there were good models to follow, the ultimate model being Christ, who became a servant. Timothy and Epaphroditus were models of being practical in one’s life as a follower of Jesus. The ministry of Paul was a pattern to follow. Finally, he thanked the ecclesiae for their interest in him.

Introduction: (Phil. 1.1-2)

Paul’s Interest in the Philippian Church: (Phil. 1.3-26)

An Exhortation: The Pattern Of Christ to Follow (Phil. 1.27-2.18)

Example of Timothy: (Phil. 2.19-24)

Example of Epaphroditus: (Phil. 2.25-30)

An Exhortation: The Pattern of Paul to Follow (Phil. 3.1-4.9)

Philippian Church’s Interest in Paul: (Phil. 4.10-20)

Conclusion: (Phil. 4.21-23)

Another way to view Philippians is by seeing that Paul’s primary concern was that the proclamation of the gospel would be accomplished. Disunity in the ecclesiae would cause this not to occur.

  • A self-centered and self-service attitude should be ruled out: (Phil. 2.3-4).
  • The Kenosis Passage. Those who follow Jesus follow him in selfless service to others: (Phil. 2.5-11).

There are three theological examples and one practical example that cause disunity.

Theological

  • Jewish legalism: (Phil. 3.2-11)
  • Gnostic perfectionism: (Phil. 3.12-16)
  • Pagan libertinism: (Phil. 3.17-21)

Practical

  • The personal conflict between believers (Phil. 4.2-3)

A Theological Glance At Philippians

The Deity of Christ: The Kenosis Passage

The so-called Kenosis (ki NOH sis) section in Philippians is probably one of the most famous passages in all of Paul’s writings. It is a classic passage about the deity of Jesus. It is also one of the most important yet most difficult passages written by Paul. Most likely Paul was quoting a hymn of the early ecclesiae that taught followers of Jesus about the nature and work of Christ – preexistence, incarnation, passion, resurrection, and exaltation. In the Philippians’ context, this passage highlights the humility and selfless service demonstrated by Jesus, whose example his followers were to follow.

Paul’s primary concern was that the proclamation of the gospel would be accomplished. Unity, a passion for the gospel, was needed in the proclamation of the gospel and was a high priority. If disunity in the ecclesiae continued, unity could not occur. The Kenosis passage may have been written to help the Philippians solve their unity problem among themselves.

Paul instructed them that a self-centered and self-serving attitude should be ruled out (Phil. 2.3-4). Those who follow Jesus follow him in selfless service to others (the Kenosis Passage: (Phil. 2.6-11). The results of others following the model of Jesus and emptying themselves in ministry would be a joy that only comes when unity abides.

Free of Anxiety

Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4.6-8).

Develop a Christian Outlook

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true (things which are fact), whatever is noble (things which inspire you to reverence and awe), whatever is right (things which promote right conduct), whatever is pure (things not defiled or contaminated), whatever is lovely (things which are pleasing and agreeable), whatever is admirable (things well-spoken of)—if anything is excellent (morally correct things) or praiseworthy (things which you can commend God for by telling him)—think about such things (Phil. 4.8-9).

Joy

Joy is a positive attitude or pleasant emotion. In Philippians, we are told we can pray with joy as modeled by Paul (Phil. 1.4). He tells us that we can have progress and joy in our faith (Phil. 1.25). That being with other followers can cause joy to overflow (Phil. 1.26). Unity of mind can produce joy (Phil. 2.2). We can honor those who minister to us and receive them with joy (Phil. 2.29). Individuals that we have brought to faith in Jesus are a joy to us (Phil. 4.1).

Theological Considerations

  • Jesus is a model for selfless service to mankind.
  • Bad theology can cause disunity.
  • The joy of the Lord is not dependent on circumstances or people.

Questions Philippians Answers

  • How do I become a servant?
  • What are good models?

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • How does the worship music you sing regularly teach you the fundamentals of the faith? What can you do about it?
  • In what areas of life do you find anxiety creeping up?
  • Make a list of the things Paul says that you should think about and make a conscious effort to spend time thinking about them daily!

Meditations

  • The joy of the Lord is a true mark of a maturing believer.
  • Joy is contagious. It conquers circumstances, communicates contentment, and comes directly from God. Joy is abiding confidence in God, not superficial happiness or a slurpy sentimental feeling.

Thoughts To Contemplate

  • Finding a good Christian model to imitate is a good thing to accomplish.
  • Joy only comes when unity abides.

End of Sesssion

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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)