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Lessons in Context

Martin Luther described the Bible as the cradle that holds Christ. Christians read the whole of Scripture and find meaning through Christ.

From the Old Testament: The Prophets

The Book of Micah

During the 8th century when Micah was written, several other prophets were active, as well: Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. Israel and Judah seemed to be flourishing in worldly terms, but had become indifferent to God and what it meant to be his people. They were caught up in acquiring wealth, ignored the plight of the needy at best, and treated them unjustly and without mercy at worst. They depended on earthly powers to defend them from the aggressive Assyrian Empire; but in the mid-8th century, the Assyrian ruler, Tiglath-pileser III, conquered Damascus and laid siege to Samaria, Israel's capital. In 722 B. C. E., he conquered the city, laid waste to the northern kingdom of Israel, and dispersed its people throughout his empire. In 711 B. C. E., the Assyrian king Sennacherib attacked the southern kingdom of Judah. Many towns and cities were destroyed; the fighting came very close to Micah's home town of Moresheth. About 10 years later, after Micah was active, the Assyrian king laid siege to Jerusalem; however, he was defeated by the faithful king of Judah, Hezekiah. Even those who aren't particularly well-read in the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures seem to be aware of him! Isaiah wrote about Hezekiah and his faithfulness.

From the New Testament: Epistles of Paul  

The Book of 1 Corinthians

Paul's letters to the Corinthians, written between 53-55 C. E., give us a glimpse of what life was like in a 1st century Greco-Roman city and the challenges faced by the Christians there, some of whom were Jewish converts, others Gentiles who had formerly paid homage to many gods. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Asclepius, the god of healing, were favorites of the Corinthians, and Corinth was also a major center of Emperor worship. The city was ethnically diverse and very sophisticated, the home of a large theatre and a haven for philosophers. It was a place where a resourceful person, even a former slave, could get ahead. Just as it is in the large cities of our day, there was a sharp divide between rich and poor; so the Gospel, with its emphasis on justice and equality and the oneness of all believers in the crucified and risen God-man, regardless of status, must have seemed just as radical to the movers and shakers of Corinth as it does to our "it's all about me" society today. The Corinthian Christians were a contentious bunch. 1 Corinthians seems to be a call to unity and advice on issues that were causing division among them—they were in a mess. As the one who brought them to Christ, Paul is trying to bring them back to his teachings.

From the New Testament: The Gospels 

The Gospel According to St. Matthew

The Book of Matthew, written by an unknown Christian about 90 C.E., declares the advent of the Kingdom of God. (The author says, “Kingdom of heaven,” which may be because Jews did not use the name of God. Even today they will write G-d.) God has drawn near to dwell with God’s people, the church, breaking into the world in the person of Jesus, and in his authority to teach, to cast out demons, heal, and to forgive sins. (Matthew 1:23; 16:16; 28:20). The author tells the story of the life, ministry, and suffering and death of Jesus. Matthew is structured in three parts and includes five important speeches of Jesus: The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29); The missionary discourse (9:35-10:42); The discourse in parables (13:1-52); The ecclesiological (theological doctrine relating to the church) discourse (17:24-18:35); The eschatological (the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind; i.e., the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine) discourse (24:1-25:46). Matthew stresses forgiveness and the need to forgive.