Other Letters

The Other Letters Series covers Hebrews; Firstand Second Peter; First, Secondand Third John;and, Jude. All the letters written by Paul are in the Paul’s Letters Series, while Jamesis in the James Series and Revelationis in the Revelation Series.

Surprisingly little information is known about the letters in this series. The exact dates of all of them are unknown, and the author of Hebrewsis both unknown and disputed. The target audiences of the letters are broadly described, if described at all.

Based on information from the NIV Archaeological Study Bible, the dates of these letters might be:

Hebrews                     60-70 AD

1 Peter                         60-64 AD

2 Peter                        64-68 AD

Jude                             60-68 AD

1 John                          85-95 AD

2 John                          85-95 AD

3 John                          85-95 AD

Elephant in the Room

Parts of this video are extremely satirical in order to make a point. It is easy to believe the Church grew at a smooth, rapid pace, resulting in millions and millions of Christians by the end of New Testament times. Acts 2:41 says 3,000 were baptized on the first day, and Acts 2:47 says the Lord added people daily to the early church. At some point later (we do not know whether it was weeks, months, or longer), the number of Christian men was about five thousand, so the total number of Christians was much larger.

The book of Acts is full of stories of the successful establishment of churches and conversions of people. It is natural to blithely assume a huge growth rate during the Church’s early years, but that may not be true. How many churches are mentioned in the New Testament? Can you name thirty? How many Christians were in each church?  Thirty? One hundred?

Upon reflection, you might conclude there were maybe a few tens of thousands of Christians when Paul finished his ministry. If that’s the case, then why weren’t there more?

The Parable of the Sower has always described reality. When times get hard, people walk away from Jesus. When times are affluent, people become distracted from Jesus. When people get bored, they find something more entertaining than Jesus. When people are born into cultures without Christianity, they are not easily swayed from their early beliefs. Other people are easily swayed by false teachers. The exit doors of churches are as large as the entrances, and just as busy.

Nonetheless, God had a different vision for the early Church than a quick demise. The early apostles and leaders established a very firm base of true believers who were intent on making more true believers. History shows that, by the early 300s, a great number of the citizens of the Roman Empire were Christians.

That is good news for modern Christians. If we make disciples who make disciples who make disciples, Christianity will spread across the world once again.

Primary Scriptures:
2 Timothy 1:15-18, 4:9-22; Hebrews 1
Story Summary:
Gaining a realistic view of the growth of the early Church
Roman Empire
AD 30 Jesus crucified and resurrected; Pentecost; Holy Spirit arrives AD 48 Paul’s “famine visit” to Jerusalem; First Missionary Journey starts AD 50 Council at Jerusalem; Start of Second Missionary Journey. AD 53 Start of Third Missionary Journey AD 67/68 Paul probably killed in Rome