Teaching Scripture: Know the Destination of the Passage

The Importance of Knowing to Whom a Scripture Passage Is Written

Many times we miss out on a fuller understanding of the Word of God because we do not stop to consider to whom a passage of Scripture is written.

  • When preparing to teach a letter or a book or a chapter of the Bible, it is very important to know to whom the letter, the book, or the chapter is being written.

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians was obviously written to the church body located in Colossae. However, after careful reading, we also find that the letter was written to the church body at Laodicea.

Why is this type of information important?

  • The destination of a letter directs us in seeking information about the culture of a particular group of people living during the time frame in which the letter was written.

Information contained within the letter may give clues as to the culture.

Secular history may also give additional needed information that can help us in understanding the mindset of the people who lived in the area.

Where did these people live?

In a large metropolitan area or in the wilderness? By the seaside or in the mountains?

What was the main occupation?

Fishing or farming, shepherding or trading in goods?

Was the location of political or religious or economic importance?
What major events may have happened there?
Were they a city-state governing themselves or were they part of a large empire?
How did they bury their dead?

These and many other questions may pop into one’s mind. Seeking the answers to these types of questions will contribute to the understanding of the Bible passages we choose to study.


What questions pop into your mind?

Add to the list by leaving a comment below.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark

 

The Character of Epaphras: “The Servant of Christ”

In The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians we read of a man named Epaphras. This man had traveled by unknown means to the city of Rome from the city of Colosse.

By stating unknown we are recognizing the fact that people in those days either walked or traveled by caravan long distances. However, we do not specifically know why Epaphras came to Rome. He could have come on business, been brought by Roman request, or have come particularly to seek out the apostle Paul for wisdom and direction.

Whatever his reason for coming to the capital of the empire, he did wind up face to face with the apostle during the time of Paul’s confinement.

We learn several things about Epaphras during this particular period as stated in the epistle.

A Saved Man

In Colossians 1:7 and 4:12-13 we learn that Epaphras was a saved man who served Christ.

His position in Colosse and the surrounding cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis was as a minister. Whether that was as the pastor of a church body or as a traveling evangelist or circuit preacher is of little consequence. He was definitely ministering and evangelizing the area.

A Faithful Man

The above verses also tell us that Epaphras was faithful.

Not only was he faithful to Christ, but he was faithful to those to whom he ministered. He spoke highly about the positive traits of the church.

Although by reading the Scriptures we can infer that he also spoke of conditions concerning the church. Those were spoken of only because of Epaphras’ desire for help in ministering and establishing the saints in their personal walk with the Lord.

A Positive Man

His conversation was as any minister’s should be.

He spoke of the love shown by the Colossians toward each other, their faithfulness to Jesus Christ, their reception of the gospel, and the fruit that was being displayed by the church. He also spoke highly of their love of spiritual things (Col. 1:4-8; 2:5). In no way was he negative of the members of the body of Christ where he served.

A Praying Man

We also see that Epaphras was a prayer warrior (Col. 4:12-13).

Scripture tells us that he was “always labouring fervently” in prayers. His prayers were not general; they were specific requests to God.  Those requests manifest to us his desire to see the church “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

His burden is further shown by his great zeal.

It is refreshing to hear a minister speak excitedly about his congregants and the growth that is being experienced by the individual members of the body.

Epaphras’s focus was on what was right about the church.

His concerns focused on what would help the church go further in their walk with Christ. He wasted no time in gleaning from Paul instruction that would help him further his ministry to these people.

A Standing Man

Epaphras is also mentioned in Philemon 23.  Here he is described as being a “fellowprisoner.”

Was he arrested while visiting the city, arrested while ministering in Colosse and then brought forcefully to Rome, or arrested later and brought back to Rome, we do not know. We only know his stand for Christ led to his imprisonment of some sort.

The mention of his name in Paul’s letter to Philemon lets us know that Epaphras remained faithful in spite of difficult circumstances.

Faithfulness is a character trait that each of us should covet especially in these times of uncertainly. Faithfulness, service, zeal, and prayerfulness should be the description of every saint’s character.


A Devastating Event

Devastating Earthquake Recorded

The Roman senator and historian, Tacitus, kept a journal of events that happened in the Roman Empire during his time. This journal called The Annals has been translated by Alfred Church and William Bradribb and gives us insight and a valuable timeline as to the happenings in the empire during the reign of several emperors.

Of particular interest to us, Book XIV of The Annals has an important statement concerning the area surrounding Colosse and Laodicea.

“One of the famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was that same year overthrown by a earthquake, and, without any relief from us, recovered itself by its own resources.”

This earthquake happened sometime between AD 60 and AD 62 during the reign of Nero. The tri-city area of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis was devastated. Laodicea and Hierapolis managed to recover from the ruins.

However, Colosse lay in ruins and was never able to restore itself. Today, those ruins lie somewhere beneath the sod. Only a mound remains to remind us of its existence.

Continue the story…


Return to the beginning at History in the Making.


 

Two Letters?

Did you know that Colosse, Hierapolis, and Laodicea were a tri-city area?

Did you also know that Paul’s epistle to the Colossians was also written to the Laodiceans? In fact, Paul wrote another letter to the Laodiceans that was to be shared with the Colossians.

Oh, a mystery letter! Yes, it may be a mystery to us; but what is important is the messages we do have.

Revelation 3 gives us insight as to the condition of the churches in this area at the end of the first century. Do you see any similarities to the church today?

Continue the story… 


Begin the story at History in the Making.