我一度以为这是一本真实的书信集，今天还特意Google了一下书中的两位主人公，结果没有发现。这才注意到封面上的小字：A Novel of the Christian Life——原来是虚构的。但是这并不削弱书信所传达的意义。事实上，我曾经经历过这样的为父：五六年前曾有一位美国弟兄曾辗转托我给他的朋友在上海的一位笔友找教会，由于彼此不够熟悉（辗转托人神马的最麻烦了），我要他的朋友直接给我写证明信，没想到那位弟兄一呼拉给我转发了十几封两三年来他的朋友与这位中国弟兄（他们认识的时候，中国的这位弟兄还只是慕道友）的通信，每一封打印出来都至少有一页纸，我当时是读的几乎落泪的（还是没落下来）。忠心为父的在这个时代仍然有，他们是这个世界所不配有的人。
Contextual Background: (1) The significance of 12: Jesus called the Twelve as an identifiable group (Luke 6:12-16) to signal the reorganization and restoration of Israel (Luke 22:29-30). So the number of 12 has important meaning to Luke’s narrative on how Jesus restores the kingdom to Israel. (2) “These days” at the beginning of the text refers to the period after Jesus’ ascension and the coming of Holy Spirit (chapter 2). This is the first time Peter took the initiative as a leader. Based on 1:12-14, the agenda of the meetings focused on prayer.
Structure: According to Schnabel’s notes, the text consists four incidents: (1) Peter’s initiative (1:15-22), which is also Peter’s first speech; (2) The nomination (1:23); (3) the prayer (1:24-25); (4) the decision (1:26). Most other commentaries generally agree with it.
Original Language Observation: (1) Western text uses present tense (δεῖ) in verse 16. Both Conzelmann and Schnabel, and other commentators think the past tense of ἔδει should be used here. The past tense indicates that the Scripture is already fulfilled by the death of Judas, while the present tense relates it to the replacement of Judas that has to be fulfilled. In Luke’s writings, the verb is used to stress the idea of compulsion that is inherent in the divine plan — a stress usually accompanied by an emphasis on human inability to comprehend God’s workings (Longenecker, 726). (2) verse 19-20 are tied with the context and the language in Lukan. Luke does not have Peter speak for the hearer of his own time, but for the reader of the Gospel and Acts: “in their language”. (3) It is unclear how they nominated the two. MS D and Latin versions read the verb as singular ἔστησεν indicating “he (Peter) setup” thus enhanced the role of Peter in the early church. (4) vv.25, the aorist infinitive λαβεῖν indicates the purpose of God’s choice. Schnabel also suggests that διακονία and ἀποστολή are not synonyms. διακονία speaks of the commission of the twelve and of the actual execution of the commission, ἀποστολή denotes the sending of the Twelve. The first τόπος means an open “place”, while the second τόπος describes Judas’s destiny. (5) “casting lot” (δίδωμι), which means “give” with the dative αὐτῶν has suggested to some that those present “gave their votes for them”. (Schnabel) The precise method used is not known for certain. But Conzelmann think it’s “lots shaken in a cloth bag or in a vessel until one fell out (page 12). It should be observed that they did not cast lots randomly among the 120. They first select the two men whom they judged worthiest to fill the vacancy. In this case the casting of lots was a very reasonable way of deciding (Bruce, 51).
Colossae was located in the Roman province of Asia, currently in the territory of Turkey, in the Lycus River valley. It’s about 120 miles east to Ephesus, close to Laodicea and Hierapolis. The three cities formed a kind of triangle. It appears that in Paul’s day Colossae is much smaller than its nearby cities like Laodicea and Hierapolis. However, according to geographical research, it was “well positioned on a major trade route and well known for the purple hue of its wool”.
Bible does not tell us how the gospel was preached to the city of Colossae. However 1:4-7 indicates that Paul learned from others about the situation of church in Colossae. Moreover, since in 2:1 Paul mentioned the believers in Laodicea and other believers “who have not met me face to face”, it is widely believed that “the establishing of the church in Colossae is influenced by Paul’s ministry among Ephesians, when ‘all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord’ (Acts 19:10)”. According to 1:7, a coworker named Epaphras was responsible for overseeing and ministering the church. And when Paul was writing the letter, he was in prison (4:3, 18) and he had never got the opportunity to see the congregation face-to-face.
Please open your Bible and turn to 1 Corinthians, chapter 1 verse 4 to 9. Listen to my reading of English Standard Version:
Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 (ESV)
4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— 6even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let us pray:
Our heavenly father, thank you for this precious opportunity that we can study your word together. I pray that you will help me to speak what you want me to speak from this passage, and overcome the difficulty of the language and culture. And I also pray that Holy Spirit will work here so that your words will touch and change our hearts. Please help us to understand and put your words into our daily life. I pray in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
In the New Testament there are many passages discussing circumcision and Jewish identity. The significance of circumcision initiated in Genesis 17 is restated several times in the Old Testament. In this article, the significance of circumcision primarily in the Old Testament is explored under the discipline of Biblical Theology. The study draws the same conclusion as Paul did based on the text in Pentateuch and the Prophets. The circumcision is a sign on the flesh of the chosen people, while the purpose is to remind the human obligations in Abraham’s covenant with God. While the rite is on the flesh, the true reflection should be in the heart.
In 2006, BBC Mischief series took a documentary video named “Circumcise Me.” The purpose of the video is to explore whether circumcision can really bring people benefits or not. When a group of Jewish young people were interviewed by the journalist on the reason for circumcision, they laughed at what seemed to be an obvious question. One young man responded, “Because we are Jewish.”
Paul argued about circumcision in his letters many times. In the New Testament, circumcision is treated as a sign of being Jewish, and most of the time connected with legalism and ignorance of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. If circumcision is commanded by God, it must carry some deeper significance. Though most modern Jews and Jews of Paul’s time treat circumcision solely as a sign of ethnicity or being a chosen people, one must understand the original meaning that God assigned to circumcision. One must also seek to understand whether it is Paul or the Jewish people who abolished the true meaning of the circumcision.
原文标题：Seven Standards of Excellence for Short-Term Missions
译者注：这是Dr. Plueddemann在宣教基础这门课上发下来的讲义，我觉得很好，翻译给大家。注意在美国基督教文化中，并不是直接传福音才算“短宣”，其他短期事工也笼统称之为“短宣”（Short-Term Mission Trip）。