Being part of a group can be great: the camaraderie, the feeling of belonging, the free snacks at parties. But it can also be…trying. The authors of these epistles want Christians to really walk the line. Not only do they need to get along with each other by being on their best behavior, they also need to keep a good relationship with their Gentile neighbors.
Basically, these guys are saying: you're a believer, so be different…just not too different. Wouldn't want to upset the Romans, now would we? Yep, it's a real balancing act for the early Christians.
Questions About Community
What are the benefits to being part of a group? Why do you think the early Christians would have banded together?
Why do these letters advise believers to get along with their non-believing neighbors and not question Roman practices and officials? Is keeping a low profile a smart move for this small religious sect?
Are the false teachers still part of the community or should they be considered outside it? How are these early Christian squabbles over what folks should believe reflected in the state of Christianity today?