The next time you read Paul’s epistles in the New Testament, keep in mind that he’s not writing to you. We are hopelessly removed from Paul’s original audience and can’t really appreciate what life was like in, say, Athens in 56 A.D. Our historical lens is so completely shot through with Judeo-Christian bias that it’s nearly impossible for us to picture. To help you understand what I’m talking about, I’ve put together a Top 10 list below. Enjoy!
- The Top 10 Reasons Paul Isn’t Writing To You
10. You’re not a first century Greek or Roman citizen
9. You have heard or read the name Jesus somewhere
8. You’re pretty sure you know who “the Jews” are
7. You know what a “church” is
6. You’ve used the words “Christmas” and “Easter” in conjunction with religious celebrations
5. You celebrate Christmas and Easter, or know someone who does
4. Where you’re from, prostitution isn’t legal, and (sadly) it’s not part of your regular worship experience
3. Animal sacrifice to a pantheon of gods and goddesses is rare in your circle of friends
2. You’ve helped someone for no reason and with no expectation of repayment
1. Your wildest trip to Las Vegas would’ve looked like a Sweet 16 party to Paul’s audience
With all this in mind I have to ask: Why do we read and preach from Paul’s epistles as if he was writing to us?