The epistles don’t assume full awareness of God and the gospel and proceed quickly into practical applications. Instead God has given us many case studies of the apostles applying the gospel in concrete situations, and they don’t just dive into instruction, or assume that believers all have the basics in place. Furthermore:
3. The apostles never assume that God is a given. This is a big problem in the church today. Too many people assume that anyone talking about “god” is talking about God. And I don’t just mean those outside the church. Some of us do sniff out that there are different conceptions of “god” floating around, both in religious talk and in cultural use. But even within the church, it is thoroughly naive to assume that anyone referring to “God” is necessarily speaking with a full biblical awareness of the one true God revealed in the Bible. The epistle writers don’t just use a generic label and press on into practicalities. They always clarify and specify. Often we’ll find reference to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, or references such as “the God of all grace.” Let’s be real about the fact that even within the church, the God described by some people sounds like a different God than we see revealing Himself in the Bible.
4. The apostles never offered a paper-thin gospel. “God is the in-charge super-being who will judge you, so be sure you sort your relationship with him by praying this prayer.” Not something we find in the New Testament. The gospel they offer consistently communicates such realities as the intra-trinitarian relationships, the wonder of “in Christ” participation in that fellowship by the Spirit, inside-to-out transformation of a life by change of desires, the self-giving love of God as spotlighted by Christ’s atoning death on the cross, the divine countering of the Lie that still permeates this world through cosmic antagonism to the Truth, etc.
More could certainly be added (feel free to comment, of course). Let’s be looking at the epistles and recognizing the wonder of having these case studies in applied gospel theology for us to learn from and use as we seek to address the down-to-earth complexities of specific local situations.