Monday, December 7, 2009

The Apostle Paul - Part XI - What We Have So Far

In Part VIII, we spoke of "Paul's Purpose":

We said that Paul's GOAL was to spread the truth of Jesus Christ to everyone and anyone willing to listen and learn. (Galatians 3:27-29)

We determined that Paul's AUDIENCE were the specific churches in Galatia, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Colasse. In addition he wrote to a few specific individuals: Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.

As we are focusing on what Paul said regarding women, we were going to concentrate on the letters which address women which were Ephesians, Corinthians, Titus and Timothy. As Timothy was the leader of the church of Ephesus and Titus was sent specifically by Paul to deal with issues in the church of Corinth, we are dealing with only two specific places. So, what have we learned about the CULTURE of these two cities and in particular the churches Paul cared so much about?

Both churches faced the following problems:
  1. Endured "modern day" temptations of any big, trade city.
  2. Existed within a society that revered idol worship with world-renowned temples that exerted powerful influence on all aspects of life.
  3. Struggled with the negative affects of false teachers.
  4. Battled constant unfaithfulness by its members.
  5. Endured detrimental pressures due to: conflicting beliefs within its ranks, strong religious opposition from both Jews and Gentiles, and ardent political and social criticism.
  6. Suffered from confusion over basic foundational beliefs from Christ's message such as: sex, marriage, love, spiritual gifts, the Lord's Supper, the resurrection ... and much, much more.
  7. Contained many members who were uneducated from pagan backgrounds.
In addition, the Ephesus church also had severe ethnic tensions between its believers (Jews vs. Gentiles).

In addition, the Corinth church had members involved in incest and temple prostitution.

Reading the above list, one might ask, "Why did Paul even bother?" Of course, the answer to that question is rooted in Paul's unswerving goal. In his writing, he regularly used analogies involving fighting, armies, and weaponry. When Paul signed on he knew full well this was going to be a difficult battle of epic proportions.

What would you have done were you Paul?

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