Part F: A modern parallel to Hellenization in the first century

To make Hellenization easier to understand for an American reader today, consider the days surrounding the birth of the local church to be similar to the times surrounding the colonization of the United States.

Native Americans were present and had a culture and language of their own, complete with tribal elders and chiefs, spiritual leaders, etc.

The European settlers were unacquainted with such things and organized in formal governments at local, regional, and eventually national levels. Europeans never organized themselves with elders, except those Puritans or Anabaptists who did so from scriptural convictions. Interestingly, many early colonists sought to break free from heavy-handed civic authority structures, but that is another matter altogether.

By way if example – the early European colonists would be very similar to the Hellenized people ( because they ARE Hellenized people) living in Jerusalem at the times of Christ. The American Indians would be similar to the non-Hellenized Jews, native to the local environment. Interestingly, most would agree that American Indians were not Hellenized prior to European colonization.

Now imagine a local church forming in the middle of the American West where the believers were both European and American Indians alike. Imagine trying to address the conflicts arising from the collision of these cultures and worldviews. This is a similar context to the birth of the local church in the first century and the very context that the book of Acts and the Epistles were written within. This is important because nearly ALL teaching on the role of leaders in the local church, as well as most ideas about authority, structure, etc are taken from these portions of scripture. 

Context, my friends – is indeed king.


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