Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Timeline Tuesday

We have 3 new books listed on the Bible reading schedule this week.Today's timeline will deal with just the New Testament books. Next week we'll discuss the Old Testament book of Joshua.

Saturday we completed First Thessalonians and yesterday we began reading the epistle of Second Thessalonians. This second letter to the believers in Thessalonica was written by the same three men as the first, namely, Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Paul did the actual writing (3:17), but Silas and Timothy were given credit by Paul for contributing (1:1).

It appears to have been written shortly after the first letter, probably in AD 51 while Paul and company were still in Corinth.

One of its purposes was to explain future events more clearly. The believers in Thessalonica were still experiencing persecution for their faith and they desired the quick return of the Lord Jesus to alleviate their suffering.

Many Christians around the world today can identify with these belilevers.

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Speaking of Corinth, later this week we will begin reading the first epistle that Paul wrote to the church there, which means that while Paul was in Corinth writing letters to Thessalonica he was establishing a church there. That should be obvious since that's what Paul, the missionary, did. Also obvious is that he eventually left Corinth in order to preach and establish churches elsewhere. (You will read about that later this week in Acts chapter 18.)

The epistle of First Corinthians was written by Paul in approximately AD 55 when he was at Ephesus (16:8). It is a meaty letter.

Corinth was a Greek city that became part of the Roman empire, as was the case of much of the known world of the New Testament era. Idol worship with its accompanied temple prostitution and meat sacrifices was one of their religious traditions. Paul made it clear that a believer's body is the true temple and that the living God (not an idol made by hands) inhabits it. As such it is to remain pure of all fornication and adultery. A culture that had no basis for morality obviously had to be taught Godly marriage principles as well.

The Greeks were also known as wisdom seekers. Their philosophies from the Classical Period that gave way to the Hellenistic Period were not far removed from the time of Paul. We still study these teachings. Paul had to instruct them in the issue of Godly wisdom.

One of the most beloved passages is found within this letter. I Corinthians 13 is known as the "Love chapter" and is widely used in weddings, and on greeting cards and decorations. When you read it next week focus your attention upon how it describes Jesus. Only by imitating the life of Christ can we show true love to others.

Many churches (and their members by default) bear a striking resemblance to the fornication-saturated, idolatrous one that Paul addressed at Corinth. (Professing [ourselves] to be wise, [we] became fools (Rom 1:22) but that's from another Pauline epistle that we'll read in the future). May we put away our own ideas of what is wise and desire Godly wisdom so that we can present to all a true representation of love.

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Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)