To Whom it May Concern:
Who were the New Testament books written to? an intended audience? The gospels are the Good News accounts and I do believe that they did have intended audiences. The Epistles, however are clearly addressed to the intended audience. How does this affect us? Should it? Does it matter? Why should I care?
First, there are plenty of people who want to ignore certain words but want to embrace others that are found within the New Testament portion of the Bible. I don't think that the Bible was meant to be a cafeteria menu, that is, take what you like and leave the rest. It really is an all or nothing type of book. Otherwise, dichotomies are classified as strict contradictions and principles are used for hidden agendas.
Lately, I have been in a place where my Sword (which is a word I like to use for my personal Bible) is being sharpened. Questions are beginning to surface again and I am grappling with what is God trying to show me and teach me. It is both a scary and exciting place to be. With the question, who were these NT letters written to, I did the most logical thing and went through the books: Romans to Revelation.
Here are just some of the ones I really liked
"to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:"
"To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:"
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae
To Timothy, my beloved son
Titus 1; 4
"To Titus, my true child in a common faith:"
"To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, to Apphia our sister,
and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:"
"to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth"
"To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:"
For years I cried, "context" you need to read that in "context." How near sighted of me to overlook this simple truth of the intent of the Author! The Lord indeed wrote a love letter to His children not to the world. The Word keeps traveling, the Lord keep sending out His Beloved with the Word by the power of His Spirit reaching the four corners of the earth. Not one who has been called will be lost, the Father will leave the 99 to find the one lost sheep and for His good pleasure He uses His own children to enter into the "labor" rooms and "birthing" centers to welcome in babes born again into the family of God.
How does this affect me? Since, I count myself as one of God's children, I am delighted and identify with the "beloved," the "faithful," the "chosen," and the "called." Yes, the letters were written to specific brothers and sisters in Christ and like love letters found in your grandmother's attic, they are part of our spiritual heritage. We can call them our own because we too are heirs with Christ! In Timothy, Paul says that ALL scripture is God breathed. The words are powerful and effective. For me to know what is written is good but to know to whom and why is giving me an even deeper understanding. Solomon warns me about the price for this knowledge - increasing pain according to the book of Ecclesiastes.
I don't believe the Bible was written, "To Whom it may concern." It is my hope that anyone who reads this would think about who is God's intended audience.