Any good introduction will have at least seven (7) elements that help with interpretation and application. Last week we began with the first of those seven elements, the Authenticity of the epistle.
When we consider the authenticity of any portion of Scripture we have to ask ourselves several key questions:
- Why was this epistle included in the New Testament Canon?
- Why did the early church consider this epistle as authentic?
- What evidence is available that testifies to authenticity?
- Antioch - Antioch was important in the early spread of Christianity. The fact that the term "Christian" originated there attests well to that fact. Antioch was a safe haven for believers who fled from Jerusalem after the persecution that broke out after the stoning of Stephen who was considered to be the first Christian martyr. After Saul's (Paul) conversion, Antioch was his home base.
- Alexandria - Alexandria lies north-west of the Nile delta and stretches along a narrow land strip between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mareotis, site of the city's fresh water. From the very first, Alexandrian Greeks assumed the leadership citizens, followed by a large Jewish community. This area was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy and subscribed heavily to the allegorization of the Scriptures. Plato, Clement, and Origen was influenced by the philosophy in this area. There was a large school and library in Alexandria.
- Africa (Carthage) - Carthage also became a center of early Christianity. In the first of a string of rather poorly reported Councils at Carthage a few years later seventy bishops were in attendance. It was in AD 397 at the Council at Carthage the bible canon for the western church was confirmed.
- Rome - Rome became the pre-eminent city based on the tradition that Peter and Paul were martyred in the first century. The bishop of Rome became known as the "Pope" and he claimed primacy over all Bishops.
- Formal Equivalence (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV) This means that the translation is a word for word translation. It is known as a literal-grammatical translation.
- Dynamic Equivalence (NIV, NLT) The goal in this type of a translation is to produce the receptor language in the closest natural equivalent of the message expressed by the original language. These translations are known as "thought" translations. The translators attempt to do their best to translate the thought patterns of the ancient writers and to present their ideas. This form of translation is prone to error. We do know have the original writers to verify what their "thought-process" was.
- there are no contradictions in any major doctrine. Absolute confidence can be placed in the bible of today.
- the differences lie in names, locations, spellings and numbers