How did people in the Bible do without email? This session focuses on three examples of how they used written communications with each other.
Rants Go Viral - Twice! (Esther)
Esther contains an account of how everything can go wrong when you bulk-mail 127 people and then realize you made a mistake!
Xerxes, king of Persia, acquires a new queen, Esther (2:17), who - oops - does not tell him she is Jewish. She was raised by her cousin, Mordecai, a middle manager in the palace. Mordecai gets in trouble with a higher official, Haman (3:2). This annoys Haman (3:5) who then concocts a scheme of revenge to kill all the Jews in the nation (3:6). He gets Xerxes to sign a vague document ordering the removal of a certain people on a certain day (3:13). Esther finds out and appeals to the king (7:3), who is surprised to find that not only is the target the Jewish people, but his wife is one of them!
- Xerxes clicks the SEND button on 127 copies of Rant #1 (3:12-15).
- Mordecai somehow gets an illicit (forwarded?) copy (4:8)
- No UNSEND button! Once it's online, you can never get it back (8:5-8)
- Xerxes clicks the SEND button on 127 copies of Rant #2 in an attempt to undo Rant #1 (8: 9-14).
The Original Internet Hoax (Nehemiah)
Synopsis: Nehemiah is busy organizing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. Sanballat tries various schemes to disrupt the work, then comes up with idea of distributing a written hoax.
- 6:4: Sanballat's first four messages have no effect.
- 6:5: Sanballat writes a hoax, and sends it along in an unsealed letter. At the time, an unsealed letter could be expected to be read by anyone who came in contact with it. What is the hoax - and with is its purpose? See 6:9.
- 6:8: Nehemiah refutes the hoax, and prays for a solution in 6:9b.
Not So Gentle Persuasion (Philemon)
Synopsis: Philemon was a resident of Colossae (Greece). His house served as a meeting place for the local church. His slave, Onesimus, ran away, wound up being converted by Paul, and now is being sent back home.
Paul strongly hints throughout the letter that Philemon should free Onesimus, so he can again help Paul. Paul exerts his influence throughout the letter.
- This is a public letter to the church (2) so the members may exert peer pressure on Philemon.
- Paul praises Philemon's faith and his love for all people (5) - hint: including slaves.
- Paul, as an apostle, has the authority to direct Philemon to free Onesimus - but prefers Philemon do it on his own initiative (13-14).
- Paul urges Philemon to treat Onesimus "as he would me" (16-17). Philemon would not treat Paul as he would a runaway slave.
- Paul offers to cover expenses (18) but points out you "you own me your life" (19); implying Philemon owes Paul.
- Paul plans to come visit Philemon (22) so he had better do the right thing before then.
Just a Sticky Note (1, 2, 3 John)
Compare the openings/closing of 1, 2, and 3 John. Note the 'formula' wordings which introduce and close each letter.
- Note that 1 John is essentially a big sermon, without the usual opening and closing of letters. Meanwhile, short 2 and 3 John have both an opening and a closing. One idea is that 1 John was meant for publication - as a widespread distribution, not as a personal letter. 2 John and 3 John are then seen as enclosures - individual sticky notes to a specific church, to be included with their copy of 1 John.
Revised Jan 26 2016 by Rick Mills firstname.lastname@example.org
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.