Session 4

New Testament Letters


As the Jesus’ first followers began to migrate around the Mediterranean and start faith communities, they did so without much direct guidance. it took some time before they even went from calling themselves “Followers of the Way” to being “Christians.” Leadership, when it came, was often in the form of wandering apostles who were often sent out from communities to support others’ work in sharing the message of Jesus Christ and building enclaves of people who were “called out” to follow him. Our original term for “church” comes from this notion of a community that was “called out” in this way. As Christianity spread, the more noteworthy apostles found themselves pressed to be able to lead so many diverse communities at one time, and often took to writing letters and sending envoys to share their teachings. Communities would later collect these letters and pass them around, creating the basis for a new set of scriptures based in these letters: Paul’s letters foremost among them.

The letters that were eventually accepted as the basis for the New Testament were collected over the first century or so of the Church’s existence, to be joined at some point by various gospels and other resources that more directly spoke of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry. Over a period of hundreds of years, the collected works became the new Testament that we know today.This session centers on those letters and how we developed the basis of a new religion called “Christianity” through the work of those first believers.

Session Video Lecture

Suggested Resources

Here are some terms to review

deuteropauline, Parousia, Pastoral Epistles, heresy, heterodoxy, Catholic Epistles, apocalypse, eschatology, Council of Jerusalem

Some resources to consider

The Revised Common Lectionary: A site at the Vanderbilt Divinity School that covers the scriptures and other appropriate resources for observing the Christian year.


After the Session: Research, Action, and Reflection

Bible Layers Project Part 4

Interpretive Context

Search for different examples of how this passage has been read across time. Can you find how the theology of the medieval church, the reformers, modern scholars, and others has colored their interpretation? Ask friends and family what the passage means to them. Can these different readings be reconciled? Can these different readings be held in tension? Write 250 to 500 words about how the context of reading this text has shaped what it means to the readers.

Roger Jasper

Original Live Session Instructor – Project Designer

Roger Jasper has served as pastor of Living Faith since July of 2010 and has been in pastoral ministry since 2003. Roger holds a BA (double major in Religion and Philosophy) from Georgetown College, an MDiv from Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Baptistic Histories and Theologies from the University of Manchester. Currently he is working toward a Ph.D. at the International Baptist Study Centre in Amsterdam (formerly in Rüschlikon and Prague). Roger came to know Christ at a young age through the teaching of his grandmother and was later baptized into Slate Branch Baptist Church of Somerset, KY. Slate Branch also ordained him in 2004 during his first pastorate.

Dr. Dalen Jackson

Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies

Dalen C. Jackson came to BSK in the Fall of 2002 and has served since 2007 as Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies. He was ordained to Christian Ministry in 1987 and served churches in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Georgia as pastor and interim pastor, youth minister, children’s director, recreation assistant and in a variety of lay roles. Prior to coming to BSK, he was chair of the Division of External Studies at Judson College in Marion, Alabama and chair of the Humanities Division and head of the Theology Department at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Georgia.

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