Corporate vs. Individual Christian Identity

Tim Gombis’ thoughts on communal Christian identity. What do you think?

Faith Improvised

I’ve had a number of discussions recently about the differences between modern and first-century conceptions of being Christian. The paragraphs below represent what I’ve taught in classes on the NT. How do these thoughts strike you?

The documents of the NT, with a few exceptions, are addressed to communities and not to individuals.  Many of us know this and it may not be too shocking, but the significances of this reality must continue to transform how we envision Christian identity.

Nobody in the first century had a Bible.  Most people in the first few Christian generations were illiterate and couldn’t have read their Bibles even if they had them.  When Scripture was read, it was read to communities who listened to it.  When NT letters were circulated and read, they were read aloud by individuals to communities.

Consider just one significant aspect of this.  When communities heard, “Jesus said…

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