In the opening chapter of the letter, we learn that Diognetus has three “clear and careful” questions about the Christian faith.
- What do Christians believe about God and how do they worship Him?
- What is the nature of the heartfelt love they have for one another? (We will soon find that this question could also be phrased “How do Christians interact among themselves and within the wider world?”)
- If Christianity is true, why would God have waited so long to introduce it to the world?
Notes on the Reading
Who is Diognetus?
There are some throughout history who have held that the intended recipient of this letter was none other than Diognetus, the tutor of Marcus Aurelius. Whether this is the case or not is difficult to determine historically. What we do know is that Diognetus at least represents somebody within the Roman empire who is curious about the Christian faith.
Disregard the World? Despise death?
Though we will learn more about what the author of this letter means by these two phrases, it is worth highlighting the nuances of two Greek words used by the author.
The word translated as “disregard” means literally to overlook someone or something. To disregard the world appears to mean to intentionally overlook the ways of the world (i.e. those ways of living that are in contrast with the Christian faith) as viable ways of living.
The word translated as “despise” means to look down on something because it has little value or power.
Prayer for Speakers and Listeners
The author ends this opening chapter by asking God to allow him to speak in a way that benefits those who are listening. He also asks God to allow his audience to hear him in a way that leaves the speaker without regrets. These are two good prayers to keep in mind for those who speak and those who listen.
- What three questions do you think Diognetus would have about our faith if he were alive today?
- If you were responsible for answering these questions, what percentage of the letter would you devote to answering each question?