Set 17: Paul to the Churches

Many sections of Paul's epistles to the churches are just as familiar as the stories of Jesus and are important sources of information about Christian living. At times, our temptation is to do exactly what the early church was doing: add requirements onto the salvation God provides to us in Jesus. Paul spends a lot of time directing people back to the Gospel and the message of grace in Christ, salvation by faith alone, and finding encouragement in that.

While we assume that this is easy to understand, these issues have signifiantly affected the church ever since. Martin Luther was especially impacted by Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Until then, he had been taught by the Catholic church that additional works were necessary for salvation. Even today, many churches promote "gospel PLUS" theologies and ask for people to prove their faith. That is why digging into Paul's letters to the churches can be so important in our spiritual lives.


Message from Sunday, February 18th

Romans (to the church in the city of Rome, in modern Italy)Paul was writing to the Romans in preparation for his visit to them. His primary focus is on both Gentiles and Jew being sinners as well as how they are both righteous by faith.
1 & 2 Corinthians (to the church in the city of Corinth, Greece)These books come after Romans, so we are mentioning them here even though we will read excerpts from them on Week 19. The Corinthians had written to Paul regarding several problems within the church (immoral relationships, misunderstandings about Christ, etc). Paul writes back to address these topics and shepherd them how to respond to sinful acts among fellow Christians in light of the Gospel.
Galations (to the church in the region of Galatia, in modern Turkey): Paul's letter to the Galatians refuted their claims that Old Testament practices were still essential in the early church.
Ephesians (to the church in the city of Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the modern coast of Turkey)Paul is not writing to correct any problems in Ephesus. The letter generally discusses God's plan for salvation, the work of Christ in that plan, and our response because of it.
Philippians (to the church in the city of Philippi, Greece): This is a missionary "thank you" letter for support they have given Paul while he is in prison. He gives an update on how he is doing and encourages them in their Christian living.
Colossians (to the church in the city of Colosse, modern day Turkey): Paul is writing to argue against several heresies in the church at Colossus, including Gnosticism, the belief that knowing more brings you closer to God, and extreme forms of Judaism.

These questions can apply to all readings individually or can be done after all readings are finished.
  1. What did you find most interesting or thought-provoking?
  2. What challenged you?
  3. What did you learn about the character of God?
  4. What does this Biblical account invite you to do, think, or believe after reading it?

Dear Lord, it is easy for us to look down at problems in the early church instead of the impact of our own sins on those around us. Forgive us for judging when we should be reflecting on our own lives, but help us to learn what Paul is teaching. Grow us always in faith so that we can act with humility in all situations. Give us comfort and peace knowing that Christ is all we need for life and salvation. May our lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit, reflect that faith to those around us. Amen.

You can engage these readings and devotional times individually or as a group. If you want to send an email to Family of Christ with your thoughts and questions, you are invited to click the link below.
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