The best way to show how the Christian framework reflects the thinking of the apostles is to show how it is consistent with various sayings in their writings.
Apostles Addressing C3 Saints
- Apostles Addressing C3 Saints
There are a number of letters in the New Testament specifically written by the apostles to C3 Saints. For the sake of drawing pictures, it’s helpful to understand that each letter is an example of apostolic ministry to existing Christians. The underlying theology of the apostles, applied to different situations determines the things they say and write to their Christian audiences. As we look at a few of the letters we can discern general patterns the apostolic practice of ministry and therefore their underlying theology as well.
I’ve divided these letters up roughly into three groups. Letters addressing problems, general letters, and letters to individuals. I’ve classified a letter as a ‘problem’ letter because from the outset it engages the audience with some sort of problem they are experiencing and a large amount of the letter is set out to correct this problem. None the less, I do acknowledge there is overlap between my distinctions between problem and general letters.
|1 & 2 Corinthians||Romans(1)||1 & 2 Timothy|
|1 & 2 Thessalonians|
|1 & 2 Peter|
|1,2 & 3 John|
- Romans addresses a whole heap of issues including potential problems (Rom 1-4,9-11). Large sections set out general instructions for the church (Rom 1,5-8,12-16).
- Paul addresses an individual Philemon with a specific issue in mind.
- The content of James suggests he was addressing a number of problems in several churches.
- Revelation addresses churches individually with commendations and problems. It also gives support to persecuted churches.
As a general rule (there are some exceptions), the Christian framework I have drawn above frames the beliefs and perspective of the apostles and all their writings.
To get a good cross section of apostles interacting with C3 Saints within this framework I will comment on;
- Eph 2.1-10
- Rom 5.1-11
- Gal 6.1-10
- Col 2.6-19
- 1 Tim 1.8-17
- 1 Pet 1:3-9
- Heb 10.19-31
- 1 Jn 3.1-15
Paul addressing C3 Saints; Eph 2.1-10
Paul is writing to Saints (Eph 1.1), therefore the location he views different states and events from is C3.
[2:1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Paul is describing the C1 state the Ephesians once were in. So he is looking backward from the C3 viewpoint to C1.
 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Still looking backwards from C3. Paul reflects on the saving event which occurs at C2. They were made alive, they have been saved (past tense) by grace.
 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Now Paul quickly switches from looking backward to looking forward to C5. In the coming ages God will show them immeasurable riches of his grace.
 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.
Paul comments again they have been saved (C1 to C3) by grace through faith (C2). They were not saved (C1 to C3) as a result of works (C2). Paul is contrasting the Christian (faith) with the Jewish means of initial salvation (works).
 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Paul’s statements now reflects his understanding of the C3 Ephesians identity in Christ. They are new creations, created for good works.
Paul addressing C3 Saints; Rom 5.1-11
Paul is addressing the Roman Christians at Rom 5 and onwards. Therefore the location he views different states and events from is C3.
[5:1] Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul is looking back to when they were justified by faith (C2). The Greek word ‘pistis’ rendered as faith could also refer to ‘faithfulness’. That is Christ’s faithfulness (witnessed to in the law and the prophets) which lead him to the Cross (cf. Rom 5.22; Phil 2.8; Heb 10.19-20). Paul says they have peace with God (C3).
 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Paul looks back to when they obtained access into ‘this grace’. Paul refers to their current favoured relationship with God (C3). They have gained this by ‘faith’ (C2). And they rejoice (C3), in hope of the [future] glory of God (C5).
 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Paul is referring to their current C3 state. God’s love works in the hearts of those whom he has sent the Holy Spirit. He links a series of casual benefits starting from suffering.
Suffering – endurance – character – hope.
All these are part of the ‘grace’ they stand in and consistent with the peace they have with God. All part of the process of salvation those in the C3 position are part of.
 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now, Paul looks back to their former C1 state. He sets up a continuum of people all of whom Paul believes exists.
Good – Righteous – … – Ungodly – Sinners – Enemies.
He sets up the continuum because he wants to highlight God’s love. Some, including God might die for those who have more value. The righteous and the good. But, Christ died for them while they were Sinners. Which means God has amazing love for those who do not attract it in any way.
 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood,
They once were sinners, now they have been justified.
Paul looks back to when they were justified by blood. This is a process that moved them from C1 to C3 by C2. They were sinners, but now having been justified they are righteous. Righteous in the sight of God. They are not sinners any more because of what Jesus has done.
much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
Paul refers to the continuum again. If God is willing to send Jesus to die for them while they are sinners its logical to think he will do even more for those who have greater value. Like those who have been made righteous by his blood. ‘Much more’ Paul says!
In light of the C2 event, Paul now looks to their C3 present and forward to their C4 future judgement. In both cases they will be saved by Jesus from the wrath of God. There is even more likelihood they will be saved now that they have been made righteous by Jesus’ blood.
I believe God’s wrath can be experienced in the present and in the end times, so I’ve drawn arrows to C3 and C5 respectively.
 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,
Paul refers to the continuum again. Paul looks backward to when they were C1 enemies with God. From before we know this was when they were C1 Sinners. He then points to the C2 event of reconciliation with God, effected by Christ’s death.
much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
‘Much more’ Paul says again. Now that they are reconciled and are God’s friends. Will God save them by Jesus life. So its the same point all over again.
If God sent Jesus to justify them by his blood while they were sinners, they can expect He will do much more for them now they are righteous.
If God sent Jesus to reconcile them by his death while they were enemies, they can expect He will do much more for them now they are friends.
Paul now looks to their C3 present and forward to their C4 future judgement. In both cases they will be saved by Jesus’ life. Similarly to wrath, I believe the salvation Paul expresses here can refer to both present and end time salvation. Hence again, C3 and C5 arrows.
 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Even more than being saved Paul urges them to rejoice in God. To boast in him, to glorify in him. So now (C3) they rejoice through Jesus Christ, because they have received C2 reconciliation.
Paul addressing C3 Saints; Gal 6.1-10
Galatians was written to the churches of Galatia. We can assume they are C3 saints.
[6:1] Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  For each will have to bear his own load.  Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.
Paul gives instructions for C3 Saints caught in transgression. He instructs them to help one another and warns all not brag to others, but to test their own works. All these are instructions given to C3 saints.
 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Now Paul exhorts the C3 Saints in how to live. Alluding to the C4 future judgement Paul tells them about the consequences of ‘sowing to the flesh’ – C5 corruption, and ‘sowing to the Spirit’ – C5 eternal life. Paul exhorts the C3 Saints not to grow weary of doing good.
 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
In light of the C4 future judgement and C5 rewards / punishments, Paul instruct the C3 Saints to do good to everyone and especially the household of faith.
Paul addressing C3 Saints; Col 2.6-19
 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord,
Paul looks back to the time when they first became Christians, when they first received Christ. This is the C2 moment of conversion.
so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Paul instructs the C3 Saints to walk in him, being careful not to be taken in by philosophy and deceit.
 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,  and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.  In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Paul looks back to their original reception of Christ, the C2 event of their salvation. They have been (past tense) – filled in him, circumcised in him, buried with him in baptism, and raised with him.
 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Paul looks back further to when they did not know Christ, to C1 when they were dead in their trespasses. Then he comments on the change effected by C2, God made them alive, forgave all their trespasses and cancelled the record of debt, nailing it to the cross.
 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.  Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,  and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Then he gives the C3 Saints a whole heap of instructions in light of these events against the imposition of Jewish ceremonial laws and other religious practices on them.
Peter addressing C3 Saints; 1 Pet 1:3-9, 10-23
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Peter looks back to the C2 event when, according to God’s great mercy they were born again, through the resurrection of Christ.
 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
Their new birth, thus assures them that in the future, now looking forward, they will receive the C5 inheritance.
 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,  obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Peter explains that currently (C3) they are being guarded through faith for a coming salvation (C4). Now (C3) they rejoice, but sometimes they are grieved by trials. Eventually the testing of their faith, will result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ returns and is revealed (C4). Then Peter comments on their present perception of Christ, joy and salvation in knowing him (C3).
 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Peter instructs them to prepare themselves (C3) mentally for the grace to be given them when Jesus reveals himself again (C4). With this in mind he instructs them not to live as they did formerly (C1) in ignorance. They are to be holy, like the one who called them.
 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
Even though as C3 Saints God is their heavenly, they should know he judges everyone impartially according to their deeds (C3-C4). This means he will judge C1 sinners the same way as he will judge C3 Saints. In light of this they are to conduct themselves with fear (of this judgement) throughout their lives (C3).
 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you  who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Peter calls upon for his listeners to live holy lives in response to Christ’s blood shed for them. Jesus has ransomed them (C2 event moving them from C1 to C3) from the futile ways inherited from their fathers (looking back to C1), by his own blood. Peter values Jesus blood above all else, because he was foreknown before the foundation of the world and made manifest for them and because of this they (C3 Saints) are believers in God, their faith and hope are in God.
 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
Peter describes their believing the gospel as ‘obedience to the truth’. When they came to believe the gospel (C2 event) one of the products was that it inspired brotherly love for other C3 Saints. Peter encourages them (C3 Saints) all the more to love one another with a sincere heart.
 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
Again Peter looks back to the past where he describes them as being born again (C2 event) and uses this to further encourage their love for one another.
 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
In light of what Jesus has done (C3 to C2) the author addresses his C3 brothers and says they have confidence to enter the holy places.
 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The author believes his C3 audience have believing hearts. They have had their evil consciences and bodies washed clean (C3 to C2). In light of this he gives a series of instructions they are live live by (C3) in light of the future day of judgment (C3 to C4).
 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The author now gives a series of warnings about how they are not to live now (C3). If they go on sinning deliberately they will come under judgment (C3 to C4) in the end times. He says all this in the light of what Jesus has done for them on the cross (C3 to C2).
John addressing C3 Saints; 1 Jn 3.1-15
[3:1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
John identifies the C3 Saints as ‘children of God’. Then he compares their own knowledge of themselves with that of the world. The world consists of people still in the C1 state. John then looks forward to Christ’s return (C4), who will show them what they will be. They will be like him, hence at C4 they will change. Everyone (C3) who hopes in him purifies himself.
 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.  You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
John compares those ‘who make a practice of sinning’ (C1), with those (C3) who have had their sins taken away by the appearance of Christ (C2). John says to the C3 Saints, ‘no one who abides in him keeps on sinning’. Those who abide in him (C3 Saints) do not ‘keep on sinning’. Those who don’t abide in him (C1 Sinners), do ‘keep on sinning’.
 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
John now describes what C3 Saints are intended to be and contrasts this with C1 Sinners. The purpose the Son of God’s appearance was to destroy the works of the devil – to take away sins.
 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
John describes the behaviour of C3 Saints and in comparison with C1 Sinners. The reason for the difference is that C3 Saints have been born of God, the C2 event of salvation.
 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.  Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
John reminds them (C3 Saints) of Jesus command to love one another. He exhorts them not to be like C1 Cain who was evil and murdered his brother. He describes (C3 Saint) Abel’s deeds as righteous. He then instructs from their example, that his listeners should not be surprised if the world (C1 Sinners) hates them.
 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.  Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
Speaking to his C3 Saint audience, he refers to the C2 salvation event, saying they have passed from C1 death to C3 life. They are to know this has happened by the evidence of their love for one another in the C3 state. He compares this to those in the C1 state, who hate one another. No murderer (C1 Sinner) has eternal life abiding in him.
Tomorrow is the last post of this series. In tomorrows post I will make some general observations about how the apostles treat their church audiences.
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