Introductions . . . . Relevant History

introduction pict 2

There are different ways to intro a message.

Let’s use I Corinthians 9:24-27 as our example . . . .

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.


Sometimes a teacher/preacher will . . . .

√ bring up the general topic contained in the passage in a very broad way

“We are probably all familiar with the Olympics and have seen individuals such as _____ or ____ who [highlighting examples of individuals who were Olympic athletes] . . . .”


√ cite actual examples of striving in the lives of your audience

“If you are like most individuals, you have set some goals in your life — to finish H.S. with a certain grade point, get accepted to a particular college, reach a certain professional level, acquire a particular skill in a trade or a certification as a ____, be married and have this-or-that number of children . . . . All which required a “discipline” . . . . .


√ layout the passage’s context

“In the previous verses of chapter 9 Paul has been talking about “rights” — what he has a right to do and how he has laid aside those rights because there is something more important — notice verse 1 – 5 — again – verse 18.  However, he has been willing to forgo those rights because of the Gospel – verses 22 – 23.  Now Paul is going to share his thinking as to how he sees, how he thinks about, how he views his ministry — and it is in terms of an athlete. . . . ”


√ begin with a related passage which exemplifies the concept, principle, truth, or topic

“Judges 13 lays out the life of an individual who lacked any sense of discipline in his life.  Samson was ruled by his passions, not principles, by his sensuality, not any sensibility, by a spirit of rebellion, not by a spirit of a runner. . . . .  This is an Old Testament passage which exemplifies what Paul is going to talk about in I Corinthians . . . .”


√ start with a question

  • “Have you ever found yourself . . . .”
  • “How many of us have . . . .”
  • “Where would you begin if you wanted to master a particular ability or skill? . . . . “
  • “What is the first step after setting the goal to be an accomplished pianist — or to . .”
  • “Are there areas of life in which you have the desire but not the discipline?”


√ just jump in to the passage

“We’re in chapter 9 of I Corinthians, verse 24.  Paul is talking about the race he is in as a believer, and we are in the same race. . . . ”


√ provide some general historical background

“This is taking place during the days of Rome.  Rome ruled the land of Israel under three Herods . . . .

  • Herod the Great — Matthew 2
  • Herod Antipas — Matthew 14
  • Herod Agrippa — Acts 24 – 25

As Paul first arrives in Corinth in Acts 15 . . . . Now he is writing to the Corinthians from Ephesus, in about 53 A.D. — Herod Agrippa has died, and his son is now ruling.  Back in Rome, Claudius is about to die, and Nero is about to take the throne.”


√ provide some relevant historical background

This is what Matt Chandler does as he beings the study of the book of Colossians (link to audio file).  Below is an extensive transcribed portion of his message which covers three specific aspects of Roman life and times.  It provides a good example of how to use history as an introduction.  He focuses on three distinct aspects of living during the days of the Colossians.

As I was listening to Chandler, I was caught by the interesting way he used relevant historical background information.  It was relevant in that it complimented the points he was going to make in his message.

The following transcript is lightly edited with “. . . . . ” where it breaks for a few moments from the actual historical content.  At times, Chandler breaks to illustrates an idea (a “That would be like us today – saying or doing this” — kind of break).  The transcript below focuses on the historical information about Rome in the days of the Colossians —  (You can listen to the whole clip by clicking on the above link.).

The actual examination of Rome begins after some preliminary remarks about the ministry and begins about six minutes into the actual message.

The relevancy of Matt Chandler’s introduction (which takes up just about the whole first message on Colossians) is found in his statement — “It shrank the world”.


(audio @ approx. 6 minutes)

. . . . . In order for us to understand Colossians, we have to understand Rome.  If you don’t understand Rome — beyond the H.B.O. mini-series — you’re not going to quite understand the book of Colossians — or you’re not going to get some of the subversive elements of what he’s teaching — so let’s very very very quickly do a brief snapshot of the Roman Empire.


Before Rome and since Rome we’ve never seen anything like Rome — OK — if you study this thing historically we’ve never seen anything like it.


In its pinnacle Rome is six point four million kilometers or four million – thirty thousand miles across  — or  — are you tracking on that — the United States from sea to shining sea is right at — I believe three thousand and thirty-three hundred miles


Rome four million — like you track that — you’re talking India to England is Rome — OK — on top of that they rule the known world — catch this — for fifteen hundred years the United States this July will be two hundred thirty-four years old — Rome rules the world for fifteen hundred years


because of that longevity – they have impacted the modern world like you wouldn’t believe and there are three main ways that the Roman Empire not only transformed the world as we as they knew it but kind of transformed even the world as we know it and if you’ve got any seminary background or history background you’re going to know the three Romanos –  right –


the first one is the Roman roads — Roman roads — the first Roman road was built in three twelve B. C. By the second century there were fifty thousand miles of roads in Rome all leading to Rome — right — all roads lead to Rome — OK — So now here’s what’s amazing about those roads — they were built two thousand years ago some of them to this day are still being used in — including some bridges — so they did it faster and they lasted longer than we’re able to do now.


There’s a lot of things that happened with Roman roads in ease of travel, commerce, trade those kinds of things — but what it did more than anything else is it — shrank the world — but that’s what it did — it shrank the world — it created a world in which cultures, ethnicity, food, and religion began to boil together and you started to see your first forms of syncretism occurring in the world so basically what ends up happening you have a melting pot or a boiling pot where multiple cultures collide and you get something new.


And Roman roads created that at a massive – massive level whereas before travel was really restricted to those who were courageous enough or wealthy enough — now you had a road system where anybody could travel it – OK


And so this shrank the world. It did for them what the Internet has done for us — but that’s that’s what the Roman roads did for them.  It created an unreal amount of access to other cultures — to other ideas — to other temples — to other bits of architecture — to new kinds of foods  — new kind of — it shrank the world that


The second thing Rome really did is it brought about what’s called Pax Romana — or Roman Peace — Now Roman peace is an interesting idea because if you are an enemy of Rome or you are on the outskirts of Rome or you are a Legionnaire and Rome’s army there was a lot of peace for you, in fact, it was an extremely violent fifteen hundred years but inside the confines of the empire it was unbelievably peaceful  — right — there were skirmishes here and there but Roman rule did a great job of keeping order — OK


Really the only significant uprising we see in fifteen hundred years of Roman history is in sixty-nine eighty after the death of Nero. They call it The Year of the four emperors . . . . . .  where you had quite a bit of — there’s just not a lot of that in Roman rule — there’s just not — and so it’s of an extremely kind of peaceful fifteen hundred years inside the walls of the Empire — outside of skirmishes here and there — so a great deal of peace inside the Roman Empire


And then the last thing – and the thing that you can see the most residue in the modern world of is Roman Law.  Roman  — the Roman rulers did a phenomenal job of — creating systems — and this goes back to Roman peace  — because if people feel like they’re heard — they’re cared for — and they get justice — they don’t have a tendency to rise up against their government.   It’s when they feel that there is no justice and there is no hope that they tend to rebel – OK – Uhm – And so they  — Rome did a fascinating job of not staying to strict rigid rules but creating flexibility within their rules  – uhm – for humanity — am I making sense —  so basically they would judge action but they wouldn’t judge intent — are you tracking with me —  the Roman philosophy was that you can — there will be eyewitnesses to words and action — there will not be eyewitnesses to intention (historical example — @14:30) This is an example of their flexibility that created a great deal of peace uhm – in the Roman Empire — so uhm — the world has never seen anything like this up to this point – the world up to this point is an extremely dark – violent — hostile – horrible place and  – and Rome was able to bring some light into it.


— Matt Chandler – Colossians 1 – “An Encouraging Beginning”


I find his lesson on Roman history to be outstanding!  In fact, it might be wise to grab those same three aspects of Roman life (roads – peace – law) and use them yourself, to sum up what it was like to live in the days of Rome and use them to engage in some further study so as to make them your own.

Chandler’s lesson on the history of Rome is focused on providing a description of what the Colossians would have experienced, not only politically, but sociologically and experientially.  His description of Rome is purposefully designed to include and lay out what the Colossians would have experienced as they tried to live out the Christian faith.

They lived in a world . . . .

  • which had shrunk
  • Which taught that  Rome was the light of the world
  • which looked like a pretty substantial kingdom
  • that offered a feeling of peace
  • that maybe could be combined with what they believed
  • which was much like ours.


Rome: Making the Historical Connection:

Matt Chandler then goes on to connect that “history lesson” with the book of Colossians and make those points . . . .

(audio @ 14:43 – 16:30)


Now there are going to be two problems in Colossians that – that Paul is going to address.  – uhm – Number one he’s is going to get after – uhm – the Empire a little bit.  He going to get after – Rome is not your hope.  Your hope is not in the Roman Empire. It’s is not what Rome can bring — it’s not — He is going to very subversively try to whittle away at the foundation of that and then he’s also going to address syncretism.


Now here is what syncretism is — basically with the boiling pot of humanity that’s occurring this world looks very much like our world does right now — where the world shrank – and so here’s what’s happening – the Colossians saying yes – Jesus – Jesus is my main man – we believe in Him and love Him but my next door neighbor is a Jewish mystic . . . .  and so I going to borrow a little bit of his stuff – now Jesus is still my main guy – but I’m going borrow a little bit of Jewish mysticism here . . . . and then my other neighbor . . . . and so I’m going to borrow a little bit from this — and a little bit from this — and I’m going to kind of create – with Jesus is my main man – this kind of new thing and so  Paul going to try to undermine and attack that.


Now here is the best news in all of this — we’re 2000 years removed from this – so we get to find out if Paul is a liar or not . . . .  was Rome the Light . . . or was Jesus Christ the light?

— Matt Chandler – Colossians 1- “An Encouraging Beginning”


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