Imprisoned For The Glory Of God: Considering Ryrie’s Third Aspect Of The “Sine Qua Non” Of Dispensationalism In Paul’s Prison Letters -- By: Wayne Slusser

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 22:1 (Spring 2018)
Article: Imprisoned For The Glory Of God: Considering Ryrie’s Third Aspect Of The “Sine Qua Non” Of Dispensationalism In Paul’s Prison Letters
Author: Wayne Slusser


Imprisoned For The Glory Of God: Considering Ryrie’s Third Aspect Of The “Sine Qua Non” Of Dispensationalism In Paul’s Prison Letters

Wayne Slusser

“To God be the glory” is a phrase often used by evangelicals to express honor and/or praise to God.2 Although this phrase may be more of a spoken cliché at times rather than truly giving honor to whom honor is due, Charles Ryrie saw it as an essential aspect of dispensationalism. In fact, he writes “the unifying principle of normative dispensationalism is

doxological, or the glory of God, for the dispensations reveal the glory of God as He manifests His character in the differing stewardships given to man.”3

Paul’s letters are addressed to churches or individuals from the first century, as well as intended for specific occasions related to the original recipients.4 Basically, his letters responded to a need or issue existing within a church to correct or clarify doctrinal beliefs and exhort correct behavior, thereby encouraging the readers as they faced everyday life.5 Paul’s letters follow the normal pattern of the Hellenistic letters of his day.6 The typical pattern of the Hellenistic letter contains a

threefold division: an opening, a main body of the letter, and a closing. As one studies Paul’s letters, it seems clear that he adopted the Hellenistic letter patterns of his day.7 Understanding the letter format provides two advantages for the interpreter. First, the letter format provides clues to identify the structure so that the interpreter can locate the major letter sections (e.g., introduction, thanksgiving, body, etc.). Second, it assists the interpreter to identify possible relationships between the sections. For example, the thanksgiving section (typically introduced with a form of the verb, εὐχαριστέω – “I give thanks”) provides topics that Paul will develop later in the letter.

However, as theologians or scholars study and interpret Paul’s letters, they will quickly see that he subtly altered the structure and content of a typical Hellenistic letter for his own purposes. These alterations reflect the unique Christian character of his letters. His focus was the original audience and how he c...

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