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To Study a New Testament Letter

(1) Select one of the following letters (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John) (for this activity a few of the shorter letters have been excluded). Read it several times, taking notes.

(2) Summarize the contents of the letter in one paragraph; then summarize the contents of the letter in one sentence; then summarize the contents in five words to less (an incomplete sentence is fine); then summarize the contents of the letter in one word.

(3) Offer creative paragraph titles for each of the paragraphs of the letter (five words or less each, incomplete sentences are fine).
Identifying paragraphs can be tricky since they were not originally marked as such. The student may wish to use the paragraph divisions in a conventional modern English translation (like NRSV, ESV, NIV). Or, several conventional translations may be compared to identify which paragraph divisions are more clear and which are more subtle. Include the verse references on your work.

(4) Select a key paragraph, or turning point paragraph, and explain how the paragraph functions within the letter.

(5) Summarize the message of the letter in one short paragraph. Create your own outline of the letter, showing how the structure of the letter relates to its message. [
The difference between “contents” and “message” may need clarification (nos. 2 and 5). By contents I mean a description of the material in the letter, and by message an interpretation of the meaning and function of the letter.]

(6) What are the implications of the teaching of the letter for Christian readers?
What are the implications of the teaching of the key paragraph (see 4 above)? Select a specific situation and explain how the letter offers instructions to the Christian reader.

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