What we are dealing with here is a group of people who had had profound religious experiences that they interpreted as encounters with the living Lord – that is, with Jesus the Christ. To be sure, some of their leaders, such as Paul or the author of Hebrews or the Beloved Disciple, could match wits with many of the great minds of their age. But it was their religious experiences with Christ that they had in common. And it was their communities of worship and fellowship, which came into being because of those experiences, that provided the matrix for reflection about the meaning of the Christ event.
Ben Witherington, ‘Jesus as the Alpha and Omega of New Testament Thought,’ in Contours of Christology in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 44-45.