The New Testament is the collection of twenty-seven writings, all in Greek, which make up the second part of the Christian Bible. It is twenty-one letters, four Gospels, a book of narrative historiography with clear theological intent (the Acts) and an apocalyptic text that looks like great prophetic vision (Revelation). These writings, different in literary genre and extension, bear witness to the faith in Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah and Son of God, sent eschatologically by God for the salvation of humanity, the definitive Word of God sent to mankind.
For details on the New Testament I used the CEI text (Episcopal Italian Conference) "The composition of the New Testament and the formation of the canon (click) " which I draw from these few notes, integrating them with links to the texts of the 'letters'.
In this article, I try to frame the historic environment by the text of the letters to compare it with that of today, and also to add something to a minimum contribution that I believed to have given examining the acts of the apostles with this same scope. Here I provide the reader the list of the letters, with particulars in respect of connections to read their texts. Speaking of letters Let us examine them in the order in which they were supposedly written:
The group of writings that was picked first is the Paul's letters. It's possible that the formation of a Pauline corpus started while Paul was still alive. For my purpose I do not consider discussions on the letters' attibution and the apocryphal, but I mention only to the following texts currently the canons. Here's the list. To read a single letter click on the title:
- First Corinthians: the Church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus..
- Second Corinthians: the Church of God which is at Corinth and all the saints of whole Achaia.
- Colossians: to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae..
- Ephesians: :to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus.
- Philèmon: Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother to our dear coworker Philemon, his sister Appia, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in her house.
- Philippians: to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.
- Galatians:to the churches of Galatia..
- Romans: :: to those who are in Rome loved by God and called to be saints..
- Firts Thessaloniansi: to the church of the Thessalonians, in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Second Thessalonians: to the church of the Thessalonians, in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- First Timothy: to Timothy, my true son in the faith. Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord..
- Second Timothy: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to the beloved son Timothy
- Titus: to Titus, my true son in the faith, Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our savior
- To the Hebrews: (The author is not Paul but one of his followers, unknown)
2)The four Gospels, composed in the second half of the first century are the second collection of writings, which became crucial in the canon.
3) The letters of SAINT PETER Apostle, who are probably after 13 letters of Paul and are contemporary to the letter of St. John the Apostle
4) Letter of St. James the Apostle. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad, greetings.
5) The letters of St. John the Apostle.
- First letter: what we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us
- Second letter: I, the priest, to the elect Lady and her children, whom I love in truth
- Third letter: I, the priest, to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth
5) Letter of Jude:Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to the selected who live in God the Father's love and preserved for Jesus Christ.
AS I HAVE ALREADY SAID IN TREATING THE 'ACTS OF THE APOSTLES', EVEN FOR THE PAUL'S 'LETTERS' THAT I HAVE LISTED ABOVE, I DO NOT WISH TO MAKE A SUMMARY HERE, BUT I PROPOSE TO GIVE A SMALL CONTRIBUTION TO THE HISTORICAL TRUTH ON ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THEIR AUTHORS MOVED AND ACTED.
LETTERS OF ST PAUL IN THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE ORIGINS
It should be noted from the historical point of view that the Romans are almost never involved in the struggles between Jews.
The Roman administration intervenes as little as possible in religious matters and internal affairs of the 'subject' peoples (both if ruling them directly or making protectorate ruled by local kings and potentates). The Grand Inquisitor and persecutor Saul then miraculously healed and converted, we can also read about how (the future St. Paul) could travel hard and relatively quickly throughout Syria on behalf of the Sanhedrin to find out heretics, and how he was electrocuted on the road leading to Damascus (Acts 27, 1-9; 28, 10-19; 29, 19-25). Besides being a powerful Pharisee because presumably wealthy entrepreneur from the father industry of a tents manufacturing, had inherited among the merits of his family even the Roman citizenship. The ease of travel was great, given its financial resources and its qualification, although he then put in a christian way his weath available in favor of his Christian brothers.
Before his conversion Paul of Tarsus was very active in the persecution of the converted Jews (#) who he hated, and had also participated in person at the St. Stephen Protomartyr's stoning kill.. After the conversion, from persecutor he became persecuted, and returned to Jerusalem. From there the 'brothers' sent him to Tarsus, to escape to the Jews.
We're amazed when seeing at the back and forth of St. Paul and his co-evangelizers throughout the whole empire : the possibility and ease of traveling is evident from the plain simplicity of the Acts' tales.
About Tarsus: in ancient geography, Cilicia formed a district on the southeast coast of Asia Minor, north of Cyprus; before becoming a Roman province Cilicia was one of the hideouts of pirates hindering businesses, and who were uprooted by Pompey the Great in his famous war against the Mediterranean's pirates .
(#) Saul "was ravaging the Church; entering homes, he dragged away men and women and committed them to prison."(Acts,22.3)
|THE TWO LONG LETTERS TO THE CORINTHIANS
The amplitude of the correspondence between Paul and the Corinthians is due to the fact that he had been he who had founded this city in the first Christian community, of which he was very proud, but from the point of view of 'mores' did not give him the satisfactions on would have expected.
If we read these letters, we realize that they are essentially the exhortation to abandon a lifestyle absolutely objectionable to people who claim to be Christians.
Since an ancient pre-Roman epoch, Corinth had in fact been a very prosperous and rich.city, of very licentious,costumes.
Given that the city in 146 BC had been razed by the consul Lucius Mummius, in 44 BC.
In 27 BC Emperor Octavian made it the capital of the new Senate's province of Achaia, promising it to shine as before. Slaves were numerous, the Jews had their own synagogue and important element greek was less present in relation to the five hundred thousand inhabitants, compared to other major cities. Corinth was the least of the Greek cities and Julius Caesar (see the figure) ordered its reconstruction calling to repopulate it many Italic settlers, both veterans and freedmen, who were udged with contempt by the Greeks.
Paul came to Corinth at the end of his second voyage, between spring and summer of 51 AD and when he was alone and without means of subsistence, coming. from Athens which had been voluntarily dismissed without having been driven out.
In Corinth Paul had met a Jewish couple, Aquila and Priscilla, at that time already Christians, just refugees from Rome because of the expulsion's edict of all Jews, issued by the emperor Claudius. Paul did his own work as craft tents' manufacturer, and got to keep hospitality.
Just economically placed, he began preaching, obviously starting from the synagogue.
He was reached by Silas and Timothy, who were in Macedonia, and that also had financially helped him .
Because the Jews, in general, rejected the resurrection of the Messiah son of God, crucified to redeem mankind, Paul began frequenting a certain Justus (a pagan affiliated to Judaism), whose house was near to the synagogue. Meanwhile he had also converted Crispus, a sinagogue chief, with his whole family.
Paul in eighteen months of hard work didn't get all the hoped success. The Corinthians in fact were accustomed to a lifestyle very far from sober. Impressive is the list that St. Paul himself outlines: fornication, idolatry, adultery, every kind of sexual vice, theft, greed, drunkenness, outrage....
The Jews of the city, annoyed by his proselytizing and aided by other pagans, denounced him to the proconsul Gallio, brother of the philosopher Seneca. The accusation was that Paul, in pagan cities, was preaching a monotheistic religion that could undermine the Empire's religious foundations (the Jews of course were monotheists, but they was prohibited proselytism).
The proconsul expelled the Jews from the court, because, according to him, it was purely religious matters, which he refused to enter.
Gallio knew the Jews, and pretended nothing when he saw, at that moment, that some Greeks were beating, in retaliation, such Sosthenes, head of the legal proceedings against Paul.
In most unfavorable moments for him, Saint Paul was very good at putting opposers one against the other. In fact, immediately he took advantage to continue preaching for many more days, until, after having dissolved a vote with the Jewish rite of the Nazarite (Num 6.2 to 21), he sailed in the early 53's, with Aquila and Priscilla, heading for the Syria's coast .
The Saint Paul's travels
LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS
The Christian community of Colossus, a city of Phrygia (in modern Turkey) on the left bank of the Lico, had been founded, around 54-55, from a certain Epaphras, who had been trained by Paul in Ephesus, while speaking or in the synagogue or in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19.1 to 8; 19.9), and had received from him the title of "minister of Christ".
The community, as a rule in the Pauline communities, was to be composed mainly of converted pagans. Epaphras was in close relationship with Paul, and spoke with authority, because the community had been one of his creatures.
The reason for the Paul's letter depended on a report that Epaphras did to Paul, when he was still a prisoner in Rome, on the status of that new-converted community.. Evidently he felt that he did not have sufficient authority to resolve the problems.
Those problems wasn't, however, precisely known. Whereas Docetists heretics, such as Valentinus and Marcion, abused the letter in support of their arguments, one may think that the issue's key was of Christological nature.
Also because that, in this very letter St. Paul goes to make highly metaphysical considerations, though expressed in a very condensed form, about the figure of "Christ the Head", which is both "fullness" (pleroma) of divinity, that redeemed humanity and the entire universe.
It is likely that, after the death of St. Paul, the Colossus' community has passed under the influence of the Apostle John, who was in favor of the uprising against the Romans, then he was politically hostile to Paul himself.
From the historical point of view we note that the orthodox Jews continued the relentless opposition to the new religion, especially in cases of hebrews' evangelization, and the State's magistrates used to consider the religious issues completely unrelated to their jurisdictional sphere, provided not touching imperial prerogatives.
Even among the converted Jews continued the opposition to the Roman rule, which then led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews' diaspora, as Jesus Christ had predicted.
The discussions and Christological disputes, and about religion in general, took more and more force with the Christian communities' rise and growth, as also the different interpretations of Scriptures, so that began heresies which then had great effect in later centuries, since Christianity became the state religion.
(#): Colossus (today Çürüsku) was a city of Phrygia (in modern Turkey) on the left bank of the Lico, south-east of Laodicea, to which was near about 25 km. It was the latter, founded by Antiochus III (261-246 BC), to absorb almost all the trades, which were very prosperous because of the strategic location in the geographic area that connected the metropolis Ephesus to Euphrates
Of this community however, one doesn't know anything, except that, from its ruins, it was built, 4 km away, the Chonai's village (today Khonas).
Colossus was evangelized, along with Laodicea, during the three years of the third missionary journey that Paul devoted himself to the Turkish region then called "Asia" (cf. Acts 19.1 to 20.1). but it was not visited by him personally. In fact in the letter is written that the Colossus' Christians had never seen him until then. That Paul has visited them, between the first and second imprisonment, it is not unlikely, given that in the letter to Timothy he declares that he has been in Miletus.
(#) Let's recall that the Emperor Constantine, in his capacity as Pontifex, intervened and called a council at Nicaea in 325 to settle the issue between Catholics, Orthodox, and Aryans. The Council began May 20, 325 in the presence of about 220 bishops, in an overwhelming majority of the eastern part of the Empire.
Then the Empire was about to an end. From the east pushed the nomadic peoples of the steppe and forests, attracted by the wealth and splendor of the European culture and civilization, to which they wanted to become members.
Inside the Empire ambitions, corruption, birth control, and loss of military vigor and civilians virtues did their fundamental part.
(#) With the Christianity's development, begins the decline of the immense empire, dismembered and divided, first dividing the command (1 Augustus and 1 Caesar for the West, 1 Augustus and 1 Caesar for the East) and then dividing in two distinct parts, and finally also removing from Rome the character of capital and the center of politics. The Empire had now done its part for the civilization and the romanization of the European peoples, and a new order was overcoming..
LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS
To the congregation in Ephesus, predominantly consisting of Gentiles, St. Paul addresses a complete and comprehensive catechesis that examines point by point the duties of Christians who wish to preserve the unity with Jesus Christ. The letter begins by explaining the MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH AND OF SALVATION: the divine plan or of salvation, with the triumph and the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the gratuitousness of salvation in Christ, the need for reconciliation of Jews and pagans among themselves and with God; it appeals to the life's unity in Christ and the moral standards, public and private used to obtain it; here, as in the letter to the Colossians he recommends: "As to fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, must not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; the same goes for the vulgarity, platitudes, triviality: all inappropriate things". In domestic Morality Paul recommends the respect for all, the family's and marriage's rights and obligations, and that eachone performs his well done work. St. Paul concludes the exhortation to spiritual warfare:
"Wherefore take unto you the armor of God, so you can withstand in the evil day, and remain standing after passing all tests. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having fitted your feet zeal to spread the gospel of peace. Keep taking the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one; take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and also for me, because when I open my mouth I have given a frank word, to make known the mystery the gospel, of which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. "
Reading this St. Paul's letter, as indeed all the other, it is understood that, in all the Empire's rich and populous cities, people lived in those days just as we live today. There is nothing new under the sun: the problems in prosperous and rich societies are always the same. Even in those days were very much troubling the low birth rate and the corruption of morals.
LETTER TO PHILEMON
It begins with these words: "Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother to our dear coworker Philemon, his sister Appia, to Archippus our fellow soldier and to the church that meets in her house." It is essentially a letter of recommendation because Philemon will accept back home a slave converted by St. Paul, who had fled with him.
"So if you consider me a friend, receive him as myself.  And if in anything he has offended you or he owes you anything, put it on my account."
Here I would like to emphasize again that the treatment of slaves in the Roman world was not usually what ruthless you see represented in the so said 'peplum' movies. Surely some mad or sadistic master there has been, as indeed there ever was also the Europe in the modern era, and as there was definitely in the plantations of the American South and wherever they imported slaves from Africa. In Rome, the slaves had much value, because the fact that taking place, almost always without monetary compensation, the same work of free people. Indeed, more educated or intelligent slaves could get to have a significant personal wealth and own slaves themselves. In Rome everything was regulated by a precise 'corpus juris'.
SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON SLAVERY IN THE GREEK-ROMAN WORLD by Francesca Reduzzi (CLICK)
Differences between Greek and Roman slavery
In the greek world, the legal status of the slave is not clearly defined, due to the absence of a class of lawyers as those who worked in Rome, and for the presence of different legal situations to undergo, according to eras and regions, and the existence of situations of intermediate dependence between slavery and freedom.
In the Roman world, on the contrary, everything appears clearer, at least in the period of greatest expansion of slave labor (second century BC-second century AD). The jurist Gaius, the middle of the second century AD, in his 'Institutions' talks at the beginning of the book on "status personarum", a clear distinction, the most important distinction: "all men are free or slaves."
Slaves and their masters
The slave could be sold or even killed by his master, although in Rome in imperial times the laws mitigated this dominical power. In the Roman law, in the slaves sale's contracts, it was possible to prevent abuses against them, such as through the inclusion of the clause that prevented the new dominus of prostituting the slave. In Greece also there were introduced by laws limitations to the owners' abuses .
There were slaves who lived in better condition than others, who were directing the other slaves' work and, in Greece, who could work out of the master's house, paying him a part of their earnings (apophorà). In Greece, as in Rome, the slave could have a peculium (hoard) which in Roman law is defined as a set of goods (clothes, money, other slaves, even funds and debt claims) of which the dominus, while retaining the property, gave the availability to his slave.
Slaves and peculium
Typically, when the slave was freed he was left the peculium, which also occurred in the greek world, as we know from the limited sources on the subject, among which the will of Aristotle in the testimony of Diogenes Laertius, " Lives of the Philosophers" 5:14 -15:... Ambracides is free, and are given her 500 drachmas and the slave that she has now; Be given Tales, in addition to the slave that I bought, 1000 drachmas and another slave."
Thanks to peculium in Rome slaves could fulfill commercial operations, either by order of the dominus, but in some cases also at its own initiative.
The enrichment produced by the slave was dominus' property, and in case third parties were damaged by the slave, was the dominus to be sued.
Slave and business
Depending on the type of procedural action experienced by third parties, the owner could be sentenced up to the extent of amount of slave's peculium. Slaves could manage a shop or a company or a anymaritime business (as we shall see later widthely) also using other slaves who sometimes could be a part of their peculium, so-called vicar slaves (their peculi were part of the peculium of the "higher" slave, the ordinary), so that there was talk of "patrimonial capacity of slaves."
In Greece, slaves could stand trial in special cases of commercial actions, in which it did not matter the legal status of the parties, which however was not possible in Rome.
Privileged slaves and slavish family
In Greece as in Rome, among the slaves one must consider the privileged "public servants", especially those in the cities, and in Rome, during the Principality, the imperial slaves (servi Caesaris), particularly during the first century AD, they played a major role in the administration, according to some historians they could make a will for half of their peculium (the other half went to the emperor).
The slave couldn't have a legitimate family, but it happened sometimes that the slaves who lived together had children. This had no legal significance, but in Rome when the slave was freed and had the financial ability, he (her) could redeem his (her) partner and his (her) children, giving legal effect to the union through marriage.
The union, which was previously called "contubernium" with the marriage defined the position of the descendants, who became so legitimate children.
Slaves and criminal law
As part of the criminal law, in Greece slaves could testify under torture in trials for murder, if the dominus gave his consent.
In Rome, slaves could be subjected to torture, to confess or testify about certain crimes (adultery, treason, tax fraud), but the power to torture the slaves was limited by a rescript of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD princeps ).
The greek slave , as the roman one, could enter the religious sphere; in Rome a dominus had to ensure a burial to the slave, and his tomb was "locus religiosus."
One came out of slavery's condition with the 'manumissio'.
Liberation of slaves
In the attic civil law there were manumission with the solemn master's declaration to liberate the slave, and religious, with which the master fictitiously sold the slave to the deity.
Even in Rome there were different manumission's ways: the fundamental difference with the penthouse right, in Rome was that the freedman became a Roman citizen, while the tampered greek (apeleutheros) did not become a citizen, but its legal status was similar to that of "metics", ie foreigners residing in Athens.
In Rome during the Principality jurists began to inspire their decisions to liberalizing, namely that in certain cases it was took the decision in favor of the slave's freedom.
In the same period, the law introduced limitations regarding the manumission made in fraud of creditors: the slaves who were freed against these laws became "Latins" (Aeliani), similar to the Latins inhabitants of Roman colonies, not achieving the full Roman citizenship.
Both in Greece and in Rome the freedman had obligations to his patronus (ex-dominus), and in Greece were also included the obligation to remain for a period of time with him or with another person designated by him.
Christianity in the Late Empire, gave its contribution to the improvement of the slaves' conditions without reaching, however, to theorize the slavery abolition.
LETTER TO THE PHILIPPIANS
"Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with bishops and deacons."
This long letter consists of four chapters: the first St. Paul expresses thanks to God and the assurance of his constant remembrance and prayers that he devotes to the Philippi's communityf. Then he follows with precise information about his personal situation and how he intends to devote his life to Christ by continuing to fight.
In the second chapter Paul skillfully emphasizes the duty that a Christian has to work with right intention and not for pride and personal advantage, recalling the example of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men to save them from harm. Then he tells them that after Epaphroditus, who he strongly recommends to be received the best as possible, he hopes to send Timothy soon, to be comforted to receive news, and then also announces that he intends to come in person to Philippi as soon.
In the third chapter he indicates which is the way of personal holiness, strongly recommending the rules of life he had addressed to the other communities and urging to behave as true Christians.
"For many, of whom I have said many times, and now I say again with tears in my eyes, they live as enemies of the cross of Christ: but destruction shall be their end, because they, whose god is their belly , boast of what they should be ashamed, all intent on earthly things. "
Note: It's appropriate to say: NIHIL NOVI SUB SOLE!
In the fourth chapter he gives the latest tips and exhortations, and gives thanks for the help that they sent him.
"You did well, however, to take part in my affliction. You know, you the Philippians, that at the beginning of the Gospel's preaching, when I departed from Macedonia, no congregation did open with me a giving and receiving account, but you only; and two times you sent the necessary to Thessalonica ...... "
LETTER TO THE GALATIANS
Galatia (from Latin: Galatia) was an ancient province of the Roman Empire which included part of the territories of central Turkey.
In 64 BC Galatia became a state associated to the Roman Empire, while maintaining the division into three tribes (each of which is headed by a Tetrarch).
At the time of Caesar, one of the three tetrarchs, Deiotarus, took over on the other two and was recognized by the Romans as Galatia's "King".
With the death of King Aminta (25 BC), Galatia was finally incorporated in the empire by Augustus, so much so that Pilamene, heir of the last King, rebuilt a temple at Ancyra dedicating it to Augustus as a sign of loyalty to the empire . In later centuries, moreover, Galatia proved to be one of the provinces most loyal to Rome. Under Diocletian it was divided into Galatia Anterior and Galatia Salutaris.
The churches of Galatia had lent faith to the message of a group of Pharisee-Christians who claimed that to be saved one had to be circumcised.
And St. Paul responds:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him, who called you by the grace of Christ, and that you're turning to a different Gospel". So begins the admonition that St. Paul addresses to the Galatia's inhabitants that were moving away from evangelical orthodoxy
After summarizing his evangelization's travels, he narrates that he went back in Jerusalem, and had consultations with St. Peter.
In the second chapter of the letter, he speaks of the need to abandon the Jewish custom of circumcision and implicitly recognizes the authority of Peter as head of the church, but Paul could only oppose a behavior that somehow endorsed the necessity of circumcision and the compliance with the rules of the Jewish law as a fact necessary to the salvation brought by Christ.
It should be noted that Paul is fully aware of Peter's prominence.
However, before the Council of Jerusalem Peter also was in contradiction, because he even didn't observed the Jewish rules as regards the distinction between clean and unclean foods, not the Jewish rites of purification ablutions, not impure thought to approach a pagan, to enter the his house, to touch a corpse, but he allowed the practice of circumcision.
"Recognizing the grace given unto me, James, Cephas and John, reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they go to the circumcised. Only they did beg us to rememberr the poors : what I was eager to do. "
In the third chapter, but with less heavy way than used to the Ephesians, he invokes morality and behavior that a Christian should take toward the world, with himself and his community. Consequently in the fourth chapter he performs the catechesis on faith and the law, and the role of the law, which is the "system" to make known the sin, and the function of the faith that stimulates us to avoid it and allows you to pass from death to life; and Paul does so by developing doctrinal arguments of extraordinary depth and logical clarity.
With what, he says and proves the validity of the old covenant with God, that continues with the New Alliance and the promise of salvation to the followers of the Messiah Jesus Cristo. Law was therefore a pedagogue, because it gave awareness of sin, up to Christ. With Christ the Law teaching ceases to function, because by the faith in Christ there is regeneration in the Holy Spirit. The event happened at Baptism in which the baptized did abandon the ugliness of sin and have "put theirselves on Christ".
The new reality in Christ means that are canceled the Judaizing ethnic claims to be custodians of salvation, because the salvation is Christ. So "There is neither Jew nor Greek ... for you are all one in Christ."
In the fifth chapter St. Paul once again urges the Galatians to be guided by the spirit: "if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now, the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, discord, jealousy, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like that; you do notice about these things, as I have already said, that those who do them will not inherit the kingdom of God. The fruit of the Spirit is instead love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. "
Epilogue:"It is not circumcision matters, nor uncircumcision, but to be a new the creature."
THE LETTER TO ROMANS
This letter has extraordinary length and importance (16 chapters), and presents the community of Rome. In the letter, perhaps written in Corinth the spring of 58, the church of Rome is considered to be a well-formed and well-coordinated Congregation. celebrated, as Paul says (1.8; cf. 16:19), "All over the world," so worthy of the importance of Rome, the world's capital, and for this also meant to be the capital of Christendom.
When the first time Paul was taken as a prisoner to Rome, a group of Christians joined him in Phorum Appius and Three Taverns (Acts 28:15), a sign that the community had information capacity. This raises the question of how this community was originated. The first announcement could be brought to Rome only by those Jews of Rome, who were in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10) and who received the message of Peter and the Baptism administered by him, becoming Christians.
The evangelization of the Jewish world left immediately at Pentecost, that of the pagan world a few years later at the hands of Paul.
Authenticity and canonicity of the letter
No one has ever questioned the authenticity of this Pauline letter, even the Protestants and rationalists authors. Only some radical critic of the nineteenth century, the so-called "Dutch School", have denied the authenticity, but they have not been followed.
In favor of the authenticity are evidenced by the Apostolic Fathers, some quotes in the letters of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne, and the Gnostic writers of the second century. (Basilides, Valentine, Marcion). St. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, the Muratorian fragment (170 AD List of New Testament texts accepted as canonical), etc. that attribute without hesitation this letter to the Romans to the Apostle Paul.
Place and time of composition
The "Acts" and the letter itself show that Paul stayed for about three years in Ephesus, then headed to Corinth where he remained three months (Acts 20,1s). Later he went to Jerusalem counting to get there towards Easter, bringing the fruit of the money collections made in Achaia and Macedonia.
But he came to Jerusalem, because a conspiracy against him, only for Pentecost (Acts 20,3.6.16), and it is during the short stay in Corinth that Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, as it can be deduced from various clues.
The time of the letter's composition is assessable to the spring of 58, before the Passover (Acts 20.6). The arrest of Paul came in this year after his arrival in Jerusalem (Acts 20:16), having started from Corinth.
The purpose of the letter
The letter to the Romans, making it a vital contribution to the wealth of the community, it is not the simple letter of introduction to an imminent arrival - hoped as a stage for an evangelization journey in Spain (Rom 15,24s), but a doctrinal anticipation for evangelization among Jews and Gentiles, that Paul hoped to do in Rome.
Paul is not only a theologian, but he is also evangelizing on the ground: he is apostle and theologian.
Paul wants first advise Christians against the suggestions of paganism, strong by the imperial power, presenting the vice's situation that has the denial of God's existence as its root, which instead can be deduced from the created realities.
Paul, however, says that among the Gentiles there are men who live the Law, that is, the love of God and neighbor, while not come from the law.
They, following a correct conscience and with God's help, are Law to themselves. This is the most high, but there are also cases of honesty, while not coming to fully escape the pagan religious culture.
Paul wants the Christians, in their evangelization's work, see the presence of positive signs among the pagans, and get exploiting them. Paul declares himself debtor of the Greeks as of Barbarians that is , Βάρβαροι (strangers) - the non greeck people - of the wise men as ignorant.
Another goal of Paul is to clarify what should be the relationship of Christians with the Jews. Christians could be discouraged deeming invalid the Gospel message in front of the Jewish rejection, or, on the contrary, could persegcuire violent behavior. The doctrine on the law and faith in Christ is presented in such a way that Christians may proclaim their faith to the Jews by inviting to conversion to Christ.
Paul says that the Jews have no title to fight the Gospel, because rejecting it come in conflict with the reason for which they were created.
The justification from sin occurs not by works, but by faith in Christ, faith that involves walking in the Spirit and not after the flesh. The Jews rejected Christ, announced by the Scriptures, and that they had to wait, and thereby entered the disobedience.
Israel's situation is not hopeless, however, because one day it will open to Christ.
In the letter to the Romans one does not feels the presence of particular conflicts between Judeo-Christians and those coming from paganism. About the provisions of the Council with regard to food, Paul appeals, as mentioned in the first letter to the Corinthians (8,1s), to the charity of the strong to the weak, and to respect the opinions, which, of course, not touching faith or moral.
Everything is entrusted to maturity in charity.
Paul wants to denounce the presence of Christians in name but not in fact, do not serving Christ, but "their own belly", deforming the freedom given by Christ as a libertinism's justification (1 Peter 2:16). There is no shortage in the letter indications on the behavior of Christians towards the civil authority constituted.
The letter to the Romans tells us how the community of Rome was already well-formed and more cohesive of others unity of life. The basis of 'virtus' and the seriousness of the Romans in the first century evidently provide the foundation of human virtues needed to better witness adherence to Christian doctrine.
|THE TWO LETTERS TO THE THESSALONIANS
The city of Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη) was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and was a lively commercial center. Its population was cosmopolitan also because the city was built on the Via Egnatia that connected the East with Rome through Durres. The number of its inhabitants in Paul's time was about 150,000 units.
St. Paul went to Thessaloniki after the Council of Jerusalem, near the end of AD 50, during the second missionary journey. Thessaloniki was located in the northern tip of the beautiful Thermaikos Gulf and was later called Saloniki. From 1937 it returned to be named Thessaloniki.
The community founded by Paul had to count no more than a few hundred people, at the time of the foundation.
Christians gathered in fixed days (the day after the Sabbath) in various private homes (Acts 2:46; 4:31; Rom 16,5.10.11; 1 Cor 16:19; Philippians 4:22; Col 4:15) for prayer, just before dawn, then met again for dinner (Pliny the Younger "Epistle to Trajan X, 96.1-9").
After dinner, once established the priests, there was the Eucharistic celebration. There were also evening meetings of all members of the community. Paul began his preaching, starting from the synagogue, but he was rejected, so the third Saturday he decided to go to the Gentiles (Acts 17.1 to 4), and there he succeded.
Paul stayed in Thessaloniki for three or four months. The Jews saw that the pagans were opened to Paul's message, and conspired to kill him and his companion Silas. During the night Paul and Silas were able to escape from Thessaloniki and went to Berea, where they found Timothy. But the Jews reached the missionary group also in Berea, so Paul had to reach Athens, while Silas (alias Silvan) and Timothy remained in Berea, with the intention to rejoin Paul in Athens.
The Thessalonians' community had a first catechesis for access to the sacraments, but had not yet overcome the difficulties facing in their mind of Christian converted from paganism. Paul tried twice to return to Thessaloniki, but sudden difficulties prevented him (Acts 17,5-9.13-15; 18.1). Persecuted by the Jews of Thessalonica who pursued him, was forced to flee to Athens.
From Athens he sent Timothy to Thessaloniki (3,1-5), who then joined Paul in Corinth, reassuring him on the vitality of the Thessalonians' community .
There were, however, some difficulties to believe in the dead's resurrection at the time of the Lord's return, and some propensity to pagan licentiousness. After the news reported by Timothy, Paul sent a letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth, that is, in order of time, the first writing of the New Testament. After two or three months, Paul wrote to the community of Thessalonica a second letter. The tone of this letter is very sweet. Paul has not in front of him serious situations, but people who need to complete their Christian formation.
The first letter's topics:
Thanks and appreciation for the good behavior of the Christians of the city;
Invitation to sanctification;
exhortation to remain vigilant in view of the Lord's return and the resurrection of the dead.
The second letter to the Thessalonians was written by Paul in Corinth (probably the spring of 52), shortly after the first letter, as evidenced by the similarity of style and terminology and also by the complementarity between the two.
The reason for this second letter is in the disturbance took over in the community because of rumors about the imminent Lord's return. The resistance of persecution's impact was strong, but the rumors about the imminent end of the world were taking away the hope of apostolic expanding, because now everything was at the end. This gave space to disaffection for the job, under the pretext of preparing for the Lord's return. Paul, to strengthen the faith and hope of the Thessalonians, had given indications on the future, but these were in danger of being removed, at the idea of an imminent Lord's return.
As shown in the letter, Paul spoke of a future apostasy in the future Christian 'civitas'. Paul doesn't hesitate to propose to the Thessalonians the apostasy's horror, that they will not have to live, but which must be considered not to recline, in the idea of a rosy future situation on the Earth, resulting in loss of strength of Lord's expectation and of militancy in Christ.
The letter is less expansive than the first one, but this is perfectly logical, because the situation in the Christian community of Thessalonica had become worrisome: there was false revelations, false considerations on events, false letters placed in the community as written by Paul.
Here, too, it's appropriate to say: NIHIL NOVI SUB SOLE!
THE TWO LETTERS TO TIMOTHY
Timothy (one who honors God) was a native of Lystra , Lycaonia, in Asia Minor. His father was a pagan and her mother a Jewess. The mother Eunice and grandmother Loides began Timothy to the Scriptures from childhood (2 Tim 3:15).
His mother and grandmother had to be converted to Christ during the first two missionary presence (47 ac) of Paul at Lystra (Acts 14,6.21; 2 Tim 1.5). Paul met Timothy already Christian in the second missionary journey (49 AC), and since he was highly esteemed by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16.2) he joined him with Silas. Paul had circumcised (Acts 16.3) him to give the status of Jewish, his father being a greek, and this fact was well known.
The Acts of the Apostles end with the arrival in Rome of Paul prisoner and his stay in a rented house (Acts, 28,30), but the students of the three pastoral letters (1 Timothy; Titus; 2 Timothy) agree in saying that Paul returned in Asia at the end of two years of detention (63 AD), as his Jewish accusers failed to appear before the judgment seat of Caesar (Acts 28.21). doing the term of limitation to be expired. That in fact this was the reason for the trial's fall.
La prima lettera venne scritta da Paolo a Timòteo (che Paolo sveva posto alla guida della chiesa di Efeso) da una località della Macedonia, probabilmente già da Mileto, poiché risulta che il viaggio di andata in Macedonia fu per via mare con partenza da Mileto e arrivo a Corinto dove Paolo lasciò Erasto (2Tim 4,20). La lettera a Timoteo (come quella a Tito) dovette essere molto repentina, dopo avere constatato la forte incidenza (Cf. At 20,29) della propaganda dei falsi dottori giudaizzanti.
The Pontifical Biblical Commission of June 12, 1903, concluded that: "From the Pastorals it's clear that the Apostle was imprisoned in Rome twice". The indictment was like the previous formulated by the Jews (Acts 24.2), with the aggravating circumstance of being a recidivist and have also defected the court of Caesar.
While left alone, Paul was able with the help of the Lord to be delivered from the lion's mouth (2 Tim 4:17), which metaphor probably indicates delivery to the Jews. Arriving in Rome in custodia militaris, the appearing before the court of Nero had to be postponed until a later date, and Paul could think of evangelizing action, despite the limited freedom, with Timothy and Mark.
In Rome, Paul was joined by Titus (2 Tim 4:19), who then went to Dalmatia. Joined him even Luke, who was before present in Palestine (Luke 1,1s).
The date of the second letter to Timothy is placed just before the burning of Rome (18 July 64), who started the persecution of Nero.
Before 64 in the capital of the empire there were no particular dangers for Christians, still confused with those of the Jewish religion, that since the time of Pompey and then of Caesar had obtained the recognition of some special rights.
However we must remember that the Emperor Claudius for a time had banished the Jews from Rome, because they continually provoked unrest, violence, and assassinations because of their religious disputes.
Paul could think of an easing of the detention's conditions such as to allow an evangelization with Timothy and Mark, who at the time of the letter was still in Ephesus.
The contents of the first letter, after the usual greetings, with the constant affirmation to be an apostle by the will of God, and therefore not of men, are provisions concerning a matter of doctrine.
The right doctrine becomes more valuable as those who do not follow it, not only arise out of the ecclesial community, but also tend to create a rift in the community.
The pitfall of false teachers who teach strange doctrines and tell fables and endless genealogies, not in harmony with the faith, make meaningless talks, desiring to be teachers of the law, but understanding neither of what they say or about what they are so sure. The different doctrines spread by "some" are not specified, but within the framework of the survival of the Jewish practices, no longer considered necessary to salvation, as the Council of Jerusalem had rejected this concept, but considered useful for holiness. The tales are the Jewish ones (Titus 1:14) on the characters of the Old Testament.
Next to this there were those who said the value of a given position on the basis of long genealogies, that much more had long, seemed all the more credible. Saint Paul's charge to Timothy the task of combating heresy and to bring back those pretended doctors of the law to strive for charity. and faith in Christ.
Paul claims to be an example of God's mercy. "Before I was a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent". Paul acknowledges that he was a "persecutor", "Because I acted ignorantly, in unbelief". A sinner, but not a corrupt, that is, one that acts with choice of perversion against the known truth ¿. Paul had no sin against the Holy Spirit, then "Christ Jesus wanted me, first, to demonstrate his whole magnanimity, and I was an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life"
Invitation to fight the good fight.
'This is the order I give you, my son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made about you, because, based on them, you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience'.
Here Paul speaks of some, that having denied it, have made shipwreck of their faith; Paul speaks of Gnostics, among these Hymeneus, denier of the body's resurrection.
And the excommunication, which is appplied when the heresy is not a private matter, but it is touted to create a rift within the Church. Excommunication aims the repentance.
The delivery to Satan is the fact coming from the excommunication, which is the exclusion from the community and from the goods of the communion of saints. Heresies are opposition to the truth and to this can be treated as blasphemies
" I want therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up pure hands, without wrath and without controversy. Similarly women, dressed decently, adorn themselves with modesty and discretion, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire, but, as proper of women who honor God with good works."
Together with many strict precepts and orders about women, (the woman does not dominate man because the power of the woman on the man is already so much by nature) he extends to the teaching in the meetings and to the management of ecclesial authority; he gives provisions regarding the bishop who must be blameless, the husband of only one wife, that must be temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous.
The bishop can drive well his own house, having his children submissive and respectful, because if one does not know how to drive your own house, how shall he take care of God's church? Also not a converted recently, because, blinded by pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil ... etc etc.
The qualities that the bishop should have no trivial means. He must be "above reproach", that is, he must set a good example in everything, always be corrected with everyone and indeed preceded by good example by serving all of all. He must be "the husband of one woman", considered as a sign of temperance and fortitude and dedication to the community. The early Christians were mostly married, but among Christians, in the event of widthowhood, was not estimated sign of virtue to marry again.
Paul's thought about marriage and virginity is known (1 Cor 7.1): the state of celibacy is preferable for the priest.
In this Paul's letter the provisions are covering every state of the individual believer, whether man or woman, both 'secular' deacon or priest, married or widthowed, free or slave, and the recommendations are mandatory and very detailed.
Paul speaks of simplicity, sincerity and honesty in gain and administration of the goods and of all the other virtues, including faith, and does so explicitly, outspoken. Especially recommended to all the units of life, that is being Christians not only in name but with their behavior or their virtues, to be estimated and be an example for all to attract to Christ.
Paul even goes to say that non-Christian religions are also the ways of salvation established by God. Only one is the true Religion, but also in the other positive values can be found. Since the saving work of Christ is for all men provided honest and upright.
“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted; avoids empty and perverse talk, and objections of false science ". The "empty and perverse talk " are those designed to throw laces with scams of words, with insinuations of doubt, with hypocrisy to pretend that they are spoken to seek the truth; about " the objections of false science", Timothy must certainly know the Gnostics' errors to refute them, but he is invited to do not want to go into their wrong speeches believing to become a learned confuter because this will end up being in a quagmire fabricated to disorient. The best and decisive refutation is always given by the life in Christ. Timothy is so invited to act always in close union with the Spirit of Truth who acts in him.
"Grace be with you!". Is the final wish.
SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY
The second arrest of Paul came on renewed Jews' accusations, the same as that of the first arrest, aggravated by false charges of violating house arrest.
In all likelihood, it occured in Troas, a Mysia's city, during the return trip from Macedonia; it's evidence of the fact (4.13) that Paul could not take with him his cloak and parchments. Those who could support him left him to himself, impressed by an arrest that qualified the apostle as a criminal.
After the arrest, there was a preliminary hearing in a court, in all probability at Troas; it would not otherwise be emphasized the fact that those in Asia abandoned him (2 Tim 1:15; 4:16). One can't think for the first hearing the city of Ephesus, since there was Timothy, who is informed by this letter. Paul, however, was able to defend himself and to be sent back to Caesar and not delivered to the Jews.
The second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote in Roma (1.17) close to the arrest's time, probably before July 64, when Nero, taking the suggestions of Jews, and to clear himself from the charge of having fired it himself, blamed the Christians for the fire that swept through many neighborhoods of Rome. Nero's persecution (which in 68, died by committing suicide) was limited to the city of Rome alone, but it lasted until the death of the emperor; outside of Rome there were only sporadic episodes. .
The fire of Rome was of such proportions that even devoured the Nero's palace, causing logistical problems and confusion. Hard to think that Nero had at that moment the time to judge one who had appealed to him to strange issues. Then in 65 was hatched a conspiracy to suppress the Emperor, and here he had to think of something else; Seneca also among the conspirators.
In the year 66 there was another conspiracy. Then in 66 or 67 Nero made a propaganda's trip in Greece.
In all it's not impossible to think that Paul, while in militaris custodia, and while there was a persecution in Rome, had capacity of underground movement with the complicity of some Roman soldier, because the cruelty of Nero against the Christians was now seen as senseless.
Paul gave Christian witness in the court of Nero in 66/67/68, the date of his martyrdom: before or after the journey of the Emperor in Greece. (Tertullian, "Scorpiace, 15, 2-5"; Lactantius, "De mortibus persecutorum, 2, 4-6"; Orosius, "Historiarum, VII, 7-10"; Sulpicius Severus, "Chronicorum, 3, 29") .
Nero condemned him to be beheaded as a Christian and a Roman citizen. (Acts of Paul, written toward the end of the second century): Peter instead who was not a Roman citizen was crucified. The execution took place in the place known as "Aquas Salvias" (Acts of Peter and Paul of Pseudo Marcellus, of the fifth century), outside the Aurelian walls on the Via Ostiense.
The second letter to Timothy is one of three letters to the leaders of local churches, regarding their ministry. In order of time are:
first letter to Timothy, a letter to Titus, the second letter to Timothy.
These three letters have an extreme resemblance of style, especially the first letter to Timothy and that to Titus, and were written at short intervals between them.
The purpose of the second letter to Timothy is to fortify him. After the arrest of Paul, the false Judaizers teachers had exploited the arrest to present the apostle not only as a traitor of the fathers' religion, but also as a common criminal.
Timothy was hit by this fact, hence the concern of the second letter. The apostle Paul had information on the situation in Ephesus from Onesìpherus (1.15), which came to find him in Rome. Paul had done in short to send Tychicus to Ephesus.
Tychicus was a Paul's collaborator of Asian origin, already present at Paul Caesarea's emprisonment (Acts 20.4) before being transferred to the Caesar's court, he was the bearer of the letters to Ephesians and Colossians, as also was sent to Timothy as a valuable collaborator to overcome the difficulties in the area of Ephesus. Then Timothy could leave for Rome, where Paul was calling him.
Exhortations to Timothy:
As in the first letter, these too are very detailed, and concern once again the need to fight to preserve Christian orthodoxy and purity of Christ's teaching, dealing with unshakable decision the sufferings of a Christ's soldier.
"If we deny him, he also will deny us". If you give in to the world, choosing the world and its idols, then we will be disfigured and Jesus can not recognize us for his own people, and will deny us (Lk 13,22s).
"If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he can not deny himself." Christ does not denies himself, will remain true to itself, will not change his word to accommodate himself to those who are unfaithful. (Heb 13.8) "Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Lk 21,33: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
How to lead the fight against the errors and the need to prepare against future errors are as usual exposed by Paul to the smallest details of doctrine, because there is no possibility that something is misunderstood or interpreted. In the end we find the heart of the exhortation:
"BONUM CERTAMEN CERTAVI, CURSUM CONSUMMAVI, FIDEM SERVAVI"
I charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent at the time and out of season, convince, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and teaching.
The day shall come, in fact, when the good doctrine will not endure, but men will choose for themselves teachers to suit their whims, refusing to listen to the truth, to get lost behind the fables.
You always be steady, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured on offer, and it is now time for me to leave this life. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now only remains for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
LETTER TO TITUS
The Acts of the Apostles' text never cite him, while in the letters of St. Paul he is mentioned 12 times. In all probability, Luke and Tito met only in Rome at the time of the second Paul's imprisonment (2 Tim 4.9 to 10), that is, out of the historical context of the Acts of the Apostles that ends with the arrival in Rome of Paul's first imprisonment.
By the sections of the Acts written in first person, which are attributed to Luke, we deduce that Luke accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey from Troas to Philippi (Acts 16.10 to 40).
There he followed Paul during the return of the third missionary journey from Philippi to Jerusalem (Acts 20,6s 21.1 to 17). Present in the time of Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea (Acts 21,18; 26,32; Col 4:14; Fm 24), followed the Apostle in Rome in the first and then in the second imprisonment.
In Philippi, in the third missionary journey, there was a chance for Luca to meet Titus, but this one had to be already left for Corinth, according to the Paul's arrangement.
Titus we know that he was of pagan origin, and that he went with Paul to Jerusalem, where he was not compelled to be circumcised (Gal 2,1). It seems that this visit to Jerusalem coincides with the time of the first Council (Acts 25,1s).
We find Titus to Corinth, posted by Paul in the unfolding of the third mission, after which the Apostle there had already sent Timothy (1 Cor 4:17; 16:10).
After the mission in Corinth, Titus joined Paul in Macedonia (2 Cor 7.6), with good news. So Paul again sent Titus to Corinth, probably with the second letter (2 Cor 2.12 to 13; 7.5 to 7) and with the mission of carrying out a collection for the poor of Jerusalem (2 Cor 8.16 to 23 ).
The letter to Titus presents the Paul's invitation to reach Nicapoli of Epirus (3.12), where the Apostle intended to spend the winter, undoubtedly a stage subsequent to that of Corinth (2 Tim 4:20).
We dont know if it actually Titus went to Nicopolis, however, we find Titus in Rome (2 Tim 4,10s) next to Paul, then moving in Dalmatia. After the mission in Dalmatia, according to Eusebius ( Ecclesiastical History, 3.4 ) and Theodoret (Prima ad Timotheus, 3.1 ) , Titus returned to Crete where he died.
The evangelization of the island of Crete.
After the first imprisonment in Rome, Paul reached Crete with Titus, freely conducting its evangelizing action. In the island were already Christian communities. They were converts from Judaism, but there was also a minority coming from paganism.
All them needed to be educated and more to have a priests' organization and priests to be charged with government post: the bishops.
Paul left Titus in Crete which continuer of the started work (1.5), giving him instructions.
Paul then went to Ephesus where he placed Timothy at the head of that Church. Paul then planned a trip to Macedonia, departing from the port of Miletus (2 Tim 4:20) to get to Corinth.
In Miletus Paul had better realized the extent of the propaganda of false teachers, until one feels the need from a letter to Timothy and one to Titus, with more accurate directions.
The danger feared by Paul was that the island's Christian plant could cede facing the pressure of a very powerful island's Judaism, soaked in many genealogies and traditions, as well as in front of a Judeo-Christian-Gnostic syncretism, of which he had seen the virulence.
In the island there was a strong presence of the pagan goddess Rhea, boasted that she had brought his son Jupiter in Crete to hide it from his father Saturn.
Dionisus then had joined her in Crete with Ariadne, daughter of the legendary Minos, son of Zeus and the goddess Europe, goddess of the moon.
In short, the pagans of Crete had made sure to give prestige to their island with a web of myths.
The letter presents the Paul's invitation to Titus to reach him at Nicapolis of Epirus (3.12), where the Apostle intended to spend the winter, undoubtedly a stage subsequent to that of Corinth (2 Tim 4:20).
The letter's nature
The letter to Titus has a great resemblance to the first letter to Timothy, but that of Titus is more concise, dry, although Paul does not neglect to call Titus, "my own son in the same faith."
After the usual address and greeting, as usually Paul says that his authority as an apostle comes from God and that it aims to "bring to the faith those whom God has chosen.".
He then goes on, as in the letter to Timothy to give his instructions to Titus on proselytism and organization of communities and on correcting deviances: I left you in Crete, because that you put in order what remains to be done, and establish some elders in every city, as per the instructions I gave you.
Even here Paul gives detailed instructions on behavior and the unity of life of the lay faithfuls, deacons, priests, bishops and women, and also describes how to must take the pastoral action and what the teaching's core.
OMNIA MUNDA MUNDIS. In more than usual here Paul declares that the impurity of certain foods has no reason to be, having been superseded by the advent of Christ.
And are those who are corrupt in faith that make everything impure because used in vice. There are also those who have corrupted their thinking, but also have paved their conscience. Titus with them will have to use every firmness. As we see, the situation in Crete was very complex and required a lot of determination.
Paul reminds Titus recommendations to the faithful: to remind them to be submissive to the govern's authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work; not to speak ill of anyone, to avoid disputes, to be gentle, showing all meekness to all men.
We too were once foolish, disobedient, corrupt, slaves to various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
But when the kindness of God our Saviour, and his love for men, had saved us, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, with water that regenerates and renews in the Holy Spirit, God has poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace and become, in the hope, heirs of eternal life.
Then the letter ends with the usual greetings and invitation to send it to all those "who love us in the faith", that are true believers (cf. Mt 10:40).
"Grace be with all of you!". In fact the greetings and blessing authorize Titus to make of this one a public letter between "those who love us in the faith." In this way, the faithful of the island of Crete will find that the Titus' conduct is in obedience to the Paul's instructions.
From the 'letters' emerges a complex world, but also practical and essential, that is definitely not that oppressive, violent, and bloodthirsty represented by certain historians or painted in many books and many fool movies. That world especially not so different from that of today, just as it is not different the behavior of the Christians of that time just emerged from paganism - of many of those who are now, or call themselves Christians. Who knows what St. Paul would say about our world, in comparison to the Roman world in the first century, or even in what later came out of the battle of the Milvian Bridge in Saxa Rubra?
In Romans Paul wants first to warn Christians against the suggestions of paganism, presenting the situation of lack proper of paganism, and that it has as its root the denial of the existence of God, which can be accessed from the realities created.
Paul, however, says that in Rome there are among the Gentiles men who live the Law, that the love of God and neighbor, while not coming from the law. They, following a correct conscience and with God's help, are Law to themselves. This is the most high, but there are also cases of honesty, while not coming to fully escape the pagan religious culture.
Nowadays, in the West as elsewhere, prevailing relativism and practical atheism, which is an implicit denial of the supernatural destiny of humanity. The technological means and scientific knowledge were harbingers of great progress and have reduced the incidence of disease and infant mortality; over the centuries, particularly in the last two the globe population, mainly due to such decreased mortality, has reached 7 billion, and is being offered to increase.
The human soul, however, has not changed and the problems are still the same, but now are compounded by the possibility of committing abominations yet unknown how the organ trade, and all sorts of violations of ethics and the sanctity of life and nature created.
That ancient world, even in paganism, is not what the Marxists and marxistoids used to represent, who teaching in schools for decades perverted the minds of schoolchildren wrongly presenting this world in general and the Roman world in particular, through the lens of vulgar prejudice and the crass ignorance; and almost never remembering that the basis of the right after so many past centuries are still the same.
In the area directly under the Imperial rule there's freedom of religion, of speech, and defined rights for the property and trade, in public and in private. The local public offices are elective; they apply the law, there is a register of real estate and slaves, and it also it's made the periodic census of the population in general. Who knows how to do something useful, whether slave, freedman, or citizen has no problem in keeping himself.
Everything that happens is recorded in the 'Annales' that are a diary of important and significant.events on time.
There is a calendar with few changes still in use, a way of measuring time and the subdivision of the day and night in 12 hours, which we still use today. For the ancient Romans the first hour of the day are six in the morning, the third are 9, the fourth noon and so on until the twelfth, because the daytime ends at six in the evening. Let's recall that Jesus Christ died at the ninth hour, ie at our three in the afternoon.
CALENDAR (from latin 'calendae', the first day of a month)
Every day of the week of the calendar is almost always left with the name of the Roman god to whom he was devoted. Those of different origins are in bold.
DAYS OF THE WEEK
|Latin: devoted to
|Diana (The Moon)
Apollo (The Sun) or Domini Dies
MONTHS IN THE YEAR
Industry is flourishing in the Empire, because the Romans use local resources whenever possible: in addition to the large shipyards, we have the mass production of all sorts of goods, from ceramic to glass, from statues to weapons, and even of the stored food, such as the famous 'garum' the smelly fish sauce much appreciated by the ancient Romans, and even livestock. Do not neglect the schools, taught by 'magistri' individuals to whom enroll the kids whose father able to pay fees. Illiteracy in Rome is quite rare. In the army then all should at least know how to read and write properly.
In the second century. C., the victorious end of the Punic War and the encounter with Greek culture liberated in the Italic peoples, now united under Rome and temperate by the hardest sacrifices, did bring an extraordinary explosion of energy and vitality. The entire Mediterranean basin is he opened the conquest, to the exchange of goods and cultural works. On the sea you drew hundreds and hundreds of routes of civilization between the East and the West; ships suffered substantial constructive improvements and with them containers and methods for the transport of goods; The navigation techniques were now tested and improved not only by the experience of war in many naval battles, but also from the piratesque activities who had their own fortune to progress that the Mediterranean man was doing in the knowledge of winds, currents, seabed.
The father of St. Paul of Tarsus, let me repeat it, had a flourishing and appreciated textile industry , which also had the contract for the supply of tents for the Roman army. For this he was recognized of Roman citizenship who he transmitted to his son Saul.
In the Empire racism doesn't exist, and every man is appreciated for what it's worth and is capable of doing. We remember an obscure Illyrian (a Slav) named Diocletian, who enlisted as a private soldier in the legions and eventually became thanks to his heroism and his intelligence, even Emperor.
The concept of VIRTUS (Latin vir = man) inherited from the ancient republic extolled the concept of honor, generosity, respect for shareholders, as well as the respect of the people, and even the respect of the slaves. The freedmen, especially men of culture and science, were numerous and very rich.
Without the slightest praise to slavery, but we must say that the Roman 'virtus' imposes that slaves are well treated. Moreover, the institution of slavery continued and ended in the West in the nineteenth century, and even today there is still surviving in many parts of the world, especially in the Eastern world.
Even at the time of the first industrial revolution workers, in certain European country were treated worse than slaves, especially where the government was nominally a 'people's democracy'.
Instead, reading novels and comedies that we have received of the time of the Empire. we understand what life was like for everyone. In Rome the freed slaves (freedmen) often come to occupy positions even dominant in economy and politics.
It is not true that in Rome the great works were built by slaves, even for the size of the population - it is estimated that the city of Rome came to more than 3 million inhabitants, compared with one hundred million throughout the empire - so the great works in large cities were built to employ the Roman citizens, who were paid for their work in order to keep himself and his family.
It so happened also in the countryside. A first law of Julius Caesar demanded even that at least 30% of workers in the fields were by free citizens, others increased this percentage. Please note that to eventually disobey the law it was extremely dangerous for everyone.
At the end of the second century there were almost 400 thousand kilometers of roads, which had been built and were maintained by the legionaries and soldiers during times in preparation on war, or when there were no wars, because the military had never to stay idle and so to lose the their virtues and stoicism.
The roads were not only used to civilian traffic, but could allow the legions rapid repressive interventions needed to counter piracy and brigandage invasions.
More. anyone who knows a bit about history, knows then that the Roman people did not allow nobody to put their feet on their head, and that the survival of an emperor depended largely, if not exclusively, by the favor of the people of the city of Rome.
In ancient Rome flourished all sorts of crafts and even publishing. Let me recall that the Spanish poet Valerius Martial did copy and sell his work by a publisher who had his shop near the Capitol. The literature was flourishing as even the theater. It came down to us an impressive body of comedies, tragedies, novels and even cookbooks, besides the works of both Roman and Greeks philosophers, poets, and historians..
Worldwidthe the Romanized empire illiteracy is less widthespread than in the modern world, the importance of law and respect for the law, and the level of democracy is much greater than one would expect two thousand years ago, so much so that most of the local Magistrates are elected by the citizens that they represents and administers.
The Romans respect the laws and local governments, and build large infrastructure, sewers, roads, aqueducts and ports , which allow all easy and fast movements as it's possible by the technological means of the time.
Being able to travel and trade in relative safety for most of the known world facilitated the spread of Romanization; even after the collapse of the Western European cultures could basically be approved, since the language of culture was long time Latin, and in the world continued to be recognized the principles of civilization and law, still in force. And then, to those who know a bit of Latin and ethimology, it is clear that most the European languages were affected much of the influence of the mother tongue, ie the same Latin, and even by Ancient Greek.
The army was not numerous, but very efficient. Augustus had fixed the number of legions to XXIII (about 100,000 men in all) and later it came up to about 150,000 men. Despite all problems and disasters, even after the fall, which began with Constantine, and was completed after about two centuries under the pressure of wild populations from the east when the capital was no longer in Rome, various great attempt to resurrect the Western Empire. After the german tribe of Longbeardeds, came the Frank Charlemagne with the Holy Roman-German Empire.
There were other great emperors such as Frederick II of Swabia but none of them coul fully succed. The title of 'Caesar' he fell to last Emperor Franz Joseph of the Habsburg's House. The Empire therefore ended in 1918 with the collapse of the Central Empires.
Anyway I am proud to be a Roman citizen and I have the honor of having the Urbe for home and as teacher of lofty thoughts historical and civil, (Paul VI), and as I think from the History's point of view the peoples who inhabit the peninsula, and also almost all Europeans are Roman citizens . It amazes me so much, and even a little 'irritates me, as during some Sunday's Sermons, almost all the Roman Catholic priests speak about the Ancient Romans as rude occupiers oppressors and exploiters. The demolition of our glorious and honorable past began as a reaction to the bombastic fascist rhetoric and in support of the Marxist one, but was made by blind teachers, so crude as ignorant of the mankind's history ...
Lino Bertuzzi September 2014
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|CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS GLADLY ACCEPTED