Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
Hospitality is a central Christian virtue, but it is mixed with reason: “Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.” Then the following instructions are given: (1) Assist a traveler as you are able, but do not let them stay longer than two or three days. (2) If the person stays longer, that person must use their craft to earn a living. (3) If it happens that a person has no trade, then the host must use their own common sense to determine what to do. (4) If the person complains with the arrangement, be suspect, this person is “Christ-Peddler” or “Christ-Monger” (χριστέμπρός, 12:1-5).
Prophets were addressed earlier, but the subject arises again in 13:1-7. This section seems to address local prophets, rather than itinerate prophets. There is a sense that these prophets should be supported–a “tithe” if you will. If there are no prophets to support, the same items–first fruits, first loaves of bread, first portions of wine–should be given to the poor.
“The Lord’s Day” consist of confessing sins to one another, breaking bread, giving thanks (εὐχαριστήσατε, 14:1). If a person is contentious being at odds with another “brother” in the church, that person cannot participate. It appears that this is a early argument for the Eucharist event being one that promotes unity or “communion” of the saints (14:2).
Bishops are to be appointed, seemingly by the community. In other words, a Bishop is chosen from within the local assembly, rather than by an outside governing hierarchy. The same is true of deacons. Qualifications include being “worthy of the Lord” (a echo of Colossians 1:10?), meek, unattached to money, truthful, and proven (15:1). Bishops are categorized alongside Teachers and Prophets (15:2). Contention in the community is to be addressed. People should be reproved, though not in anger. If the reproved doesn’t change, s/he is to be isolated until this attitude changes (15:3).
The document begins to end with a series of warnings/edifications: Do not let your lamps be quenched (witness?); do not let your loins be loosed (sexuality?); be prepared for the imminent return of Christ; gather together often. The eschatology of the author(s) is as follows: you can fall away if not perfected in life; there will be false prophets/teachers in the last days (ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις); sinfulness and lawlessness will increase; a world-deceiver will come as the Son of God (ὁ κοσμοπλανὴς ὡς υἱὸσ θεοῦ); there will be a time of trial for humanity; then the “signs of truth” appear (τὰ σημεῖα τῆς ἀληθείας): Sign 1: the heavens open. Sign 2: a trumpet sound. Sign 3: the resurrection of the dead. Then the appearance of the Lord with his saints. Then there will be judgment.
Great balance, thank you Brian.
Postulations about the Q material, emphasis on contentions with other apostles and theories of the dynamics with John the Baptist and his disciples might obtain value if some additional artifact of that period is discovered. Examination at the fringes and precision of idiom or inflection must obtain balance from the overview. Incomplete evidences are applied to confirm or refute the Bible. A sensible approach seeks answers from physical evidence yet conclusions offered from insufficient information are a type of belief and arise from the proponents’ own concept of existence. Faith remains a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.
Philippians 3:13-14, Hebrews 12:3-4
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