Biblical Interpretation: Epistles

 An epistle is a letter, usually in a formal style. There are 21 letters in the New Testament from the apostles to various churches or individuals. These letters have a style very similar to modern letters, with an opening, a greeting, a body, and a closing. The content of the Epistles involves clarification of prior teaching, rebuke, explanation, correction of false teaching and a deeper dive into the teachings of Jesus. The reader would do well to understand the cultural, historical and social situation of the original recipients in order to get the most out of an analysis of these books.

1. Study the logical development of the argument.
2. Study the situation behind the statements.
3. Note the different subgenres employed in the Epistles.

Points on the Epistles:
  1. NT Letters serve as authoritative substitutes for the personal presence of their authors.
  2. They are occasional or situational, meaning that they were written to address specific situations or problems in the communities that received the letters.  They are most concerned with applying theology in practical ways to real-life situations.
  3. Meant to be read aloud repeatedly in local congregations.
  4. Offer a window into struggles and victories of the early church.
To interpret a NT letter, apply the steps of the Interpretive Journey to the letter. (see above)

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