If you go to church regularly, you will likely be regularly exposed to teachings on major Christian topics such as grace, faith, gifts of the Holy Spirit, and salvation. You might spend weeks or months studying one of those topics.
There are probably many times you have heard a Scripture and said to yourself, “I wish someone would give me a short lesson on a particular word or topic. Not a long treatise, but enough to get a better understanding.” The purpose of this series is to do that for a wide variety of topics. For that reason, some of these videos are shorter than the typical Eyewitness episodes.
As we often caution, we are not trying to add to what the Bible says, we are trying to add context that will help you understand the Bible better. So, please read the applicable Scriptures in the study guides for these stories so you will know exactly what the Bible says.
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For almost two decades, the early church existed primarily among the Jews in Israel. Although there were certainly some differences in social and wealth standings, the society was homogeneous in many respects. In the 50’s AD, Christianity started spreading throughout the Roman Empire among people of different ethnic groups and countries. Although this was the intention of Jesus, it created numerous practical problems for church leaders.
Roman society was stratified in many ways: Roman citizen or not; wealthy or poor; government official or not; patrician or not; slave or free; and, ethnicity or country of origin. The list seemed to have no end. Society not only recognized these stratifications, but seemed to encourage them.
Imagine the challenge facing church leaders. Followers of Jesus accepted society’s norms even when those norms conflicted with Christian norms. In James 2:1-7, James taught Christians should quit discriminating on the basis of wealth. In 1 Corinthians 11:34, Paul seems to be admitting that the rich people ate a full communion meal while not sharing with poor people who did not have enough to do so.