A strong similarity one could identify are the various power structures (government, military, mass brands) that still loom large and have a substantial grip upon the lives of many human beings. The Roman Eagle has, however, been replaced by a more tempered red, white, and blue flag. Coupled with this is the hierarchy of humanity, a division between the upper and lower classes with an economic context. Also of note are the various gods and religious centers within Paul’s own metropolitan context. Couple this with cultural idolatry (sex, consumerism, etc.), and it seems that this similar sociopolitical cocktail is blended to perfection.
In the areas of dissimilarity, the “corporate” versus “individual” mindset does seem to be reversed. Here in the States, the individual human is seen as autonomous and is able to function outside of the larger corporate body of people. An example would be the ‘unchurched’ Church, those who have left their faith communities. In the advent of technology, this is made possible. In Paul’s world, it seems that a human being was seen more in light of a proverb I once heard: “we are, therefore I am.” These days, it seems that the idiom is more “I am, therefore I am.” Some of the challenges the modern church must face include (and are not limited to!) our schismatic environment involving economics and race, notions of empire and imperialism, and assimilation by means of compromise. I suspect Paul could help guide us through his and our frame of reference.