Tag Archives: Jospeh Novak

Bible Overview Series: 2 Timothy

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Timothy by Joseph Novak

2 Timothy:  The dying apostle writes his will: “To my dear son Timothy I leave all that I possess: my gospel and these chains.”

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 2 Timothy

Paul is about to die.

He had devoted his life to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had fought for sound teaching in the churches. He had trained pastors. He had corrected individuals, churches, and even apostles. He had testified before kings. Now Paul’s work was almost done.

But even though Paul would soon leave the world behind, he wasn’t leaving the world without a representative for truth. Timothy, Paul’s protégé, his son in the Lord, needed to carry on Paul’s standard of sound teaching (2 Ti 1:13).

Paul’s second letter to Timothy focuses on solemn charges to the younger pastor:

  1. Guard and fight for the gospel. Paul was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher of the gospel, and Timothy is responsible for guarding it (2 Ti 1:12–13) and entrusting it to others (2 Ti 2:2). The road ahead will be fraught with suffering (2 Ti 1:8; 2:3), but Paul encourages Timothy to be strong, and fight the good fight (2 Ti 1:7; 2:1).
  2. Pursue righteousness. There are a lot of people out there who will try to disrupt Timothy’s work and lead people into ungodliness. Timothy and the other believers are to accurately handle the word, avoid empty chatter, flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2 Ti 2:22).
  3. Continue in sound teaching. Apostasy is coming in the future, and Timothy must remember the Scriptures.
  4. Preach the word. Paul’s last charge to Timothy is to preach the word. Timothy is not only responsible for keeping church doctrine in line; he’s also supposed to bring that teaching to the lost.

Second Timothy shows us what Paul needed another preacher to know before he was taken from the world. Today, it’s a fine letter of advice for church leaders, and gives instruction to those who want to live godly lives.

Theme verse of 2 Timothy

“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (2 Ti 1:13)

2 Timothy’s role in the Bible

Second Timothy is the second of Paul’s pastoral epistles—letters written to church leaders he knew. In contrast, most of Paul’s epistles were written to entire congregations. Titus also received a pastoral epistle from Paul, but Timothy got two.

Although Titus and Philemon come after this letter in our Bibles, Second Timothy is probably the latest of Paul’s letters. We assume this because Paul wrote the letter near the end of his life (2 Ti 4:6).

Quick outline of 2 Timothy

  1. Guard and maintain the gospel (2 Ti 1)
  2. Fight and suffer for the gospel (2 Ti 2:1–13)
  3. Pursue godliness (2 Ti 2:14–26)
  4. Continue in sound teaching (2 Ti 3)
  5. Preach the word (2 Ti 4)

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Bible Overview Series: 1 Timothy

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Timothy by Joseph Novak

1 Timothy:  Dear Paul, Thanks for your letter & for all the advice. The part about wine: ok! The part about women: huh? Yours, Tim.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 1 Timothy

Timothy was Paul’s protege, his “child in the faith” (1 Ti 1:2). Paul had left Timothy in the city of Ephesus to steer certain men away from false doctrine and provide sound leadership. This is Paul’s follow-up letter.

1 Timothy is about sound doctrine and godliness. Paul deals with two main issues in this epistle:

  • What Christians should or should not teach. False teachers had already cropped up in the early church, and Timothy was sure to deal with more of them. Paul encourages Timothy to maintain sound teaching regarding the law and the gospel (1 Ti 1:8–17), gifts from God (1 Ti 4:1–5), and the Scriptures (1 Ti 4:13). Timothy is also charged with teaching his church to behave in a godly way, which means he spends even more time discussing . . .
  • What godliness looks like in the church. From family to finances, from prayer to church leadership—Paul walks through several facets of life and discusses how to go about them in godly ways. The Greek word most commonly translated “godliness” or “piety” in the New Testament appears eight times in First Timothy: it doesn’t show up this much in any other book of the Bible.

First Timothy is a letter to a young church leader with specific instructions on how to “fight the good fight” (1 Ti 1:.18; 6:12). This book gives us a look at Paul’s instructions regarding the challenges Timothy faced—challenges many pastors still face today.

Theme verse of 1 Timothy

“But in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Ti 3:15)

1 Timothy’s role in the Bible

First Timothy is the first of Paul’s pastoral epistles—letters written to church leaders he knew. In contrast, most of Paul’s epistles were written to entire congregations. Titus also received a pastoral epistle from Paul, but Timothy got two.

Timothy has a special relationship with Paul, and it shows. In this letter (and Second Timothy), we see Paul’s expectations of Timothy. This young church leader is specifically responsible for maintaining Paul’s standard of teaching in the church of Ephesus.

Paul probably wrote First Timothy a few years after he wrote Ephesians, the book that was read to the congregation Timothy now lead.

But First Timothy’s tone is notably different from Ephesians’. For example, whereas Paul’s instructions in Ephesians deal more with the high-level “Why?” and What?”, his charges to Timothy are in great detail and focus more on the “How.”

So while Ephesians lists general ways a Christian can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, First Timothy lays out specific ways to honor elders and widows,

Why the stark difference in Paul’s approach? The text gives us a few reasons:

  • Paul was writing to a fellow church leader. His letters to churches had to be general: if they were too specific, they wouldn’t be applicable to the common listener. However, First Timothy was written from one preacher to another preacher, from one church leader to another church leader, from one Jewish Christian to another Jewish Christian.
  • Paul was writing to a friend. Paul and Timothy had many shared experiences, and he was very familiar with the challenges Timothy faced, whether in ministry or in health (1 Ti 5:23).

This book gives us a good look at the challenges pastors face, but more importantly, how Paul instructs Timothy to deal with them.

Quick outline of 1 Timothy

  1. Sound teaching: the law and mercy (1 Ti 1)
  2. Living in godliness and dignity (1 Ti 2–3)
  3. Paul’s reason to write (1 Ti 3:14–16)
  4. Sound teaching: discipline and godliness (1 Ti 4)
  5. Overseeing the church (1 Ti 5:1–6:10)
  6. Charge to godliness (1 Ti 6:11–21)

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Bible Overview Series: 2 Thessalonians

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2 Thessalonians by Joseph Novak

2 Thessalonians:  When I told you, brothers, that he’s coming back soon, what I really meant was soonish.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 2 Thessalonians

The world just won’t let up. The Christians in Thessalonica was under fire from all directions.

The unbelievers outside were still persecuting them. The unbelievers of the city had come after Paul when he first founded the church in this city (Acts 17:4–5), and they continued to afflict the church. Paul had already written them a letter to encourage them about this: the church had to continue growing in faith and love with the hope that Jesus would return.

But now false teachers were saying that Jesus had already come. The Thessalonians were being told that the day they had hoped for had already passed. They’d been working in faith and laboring in love (1 Thes 1:3) as they prepared for the day of the Lord—was all their preparation and suffering in vain?

And some of their own had just given in. They were undisciplined, doing no work, and yet trying to be involved in everyone else’s affairs (2 Thes 3:11).

This church was very dear to Paul’s heart—they were his children in the Lord (1 Thes 2:7,11). So he reaches out to them again with a letter that addresses these three issues.

Theme verse of 2 Thessalonians

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Th 3:3)

2 Thessalonians’ role in the Bible

Second Thessalonians is the ninth of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Thessalonica).

Paul needed to address the three troubles the church in Thessalonica faced:

  • Persecution from outside. Paul puts the church’s situation in context. The’re being identified with Jesus, and therefore the world hates them now. But what happens later, when Jesus returns? God will give them relief and judge their persecutors (2 Thes 1:6–7). Jesus will be glorified, and so will His saints (2 Thes 1:10–12). What happens when Jesus returns? Justice.
  • Despair from false doctrine. Someone has told the church that Jesus had already returned and gathered His own to Him—possibly even by forging a letter from Paul (2 Thes 2:2). Paul reminds the church of his teachings regarding the return of Jesus, and the things that must happen beforehand—including the appearance of the mysterious “man of lawlessness” (2 Thes 2:3).
  • Busybodies in the church. A few Thessalonians had fallen off into undisciplined lives: they weren’t working, and they weren’t holding to Paul’s traditions. Some had become “busybodies,” people getting involved in other’s work without contributing themselves (2 Thes 3:11). Paul reminds them of the example he set: how he worked among them with his own hands (2 Thes 3:7–8). He also leaves instructions for dealing with those who would reject his teachings in this letter (2 Thes 3:14–15).

Paul cared about the church he’d established, and the message he sends them still informs the way we should think about Jesus’ coming and the work we should do in the meantime.

Quick outline of 2 Thessalonians

  1. How persecution of the church ends (2 Thes 1)
  2. What must happen before Jesus returns (2 Thes 2)
  3. How to live and work together (2 Thes 3)

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Bible Overview Series: 1 Thessalonians

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1 Thessalonians by Joseph Novak

1 Thessalonians:  In Christ there is no night but only one eternal morning in which the living and the dead awake and embrace.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 1 Thessalonians

Timothy had good news for Paul: the church they had founded in the city of Thessalonica was growing. The members were loving one another. They were standing firm in their beliefs. They were holding up under persecution for their faith. The gospel is sounding forth from their city. Paul is overjoyed to hear this, and (with Timothy and Silvanus) writes them a letter to encourage and instruct them.

This is one of the most positive letters from Paul to a church. Paul overviews his history and relationship with the church members (which you can also read about in Acts 17:1–9), commends them for their excellent example, and goes on to list ways that they can “excel still more” until Jesus returns:

  • Sexual morality
  • Understanding the Lord’s return
  • Unity
  • Basic Christian conduct

The Thessalonians set a good example for churches in the area (1 Thes 1:7), and they still set a good example for us today.

Theme verse of 1 Thessalonians

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.” (1 Thes 4:1)

1 Thessalonians’ role in the Bible

First Thessalonians is the eighth of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Thessalonica).

Paul opens his letter commending the Thessalonians for their “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “steadfastness of hope” (1 Thes 1:3)—themes that echo throughout his letter. Paul writes to remind, encourage, and instruct them concerning a few areas of interest:

  • Encouragement for the Thessalonians. Paul had sent Timothy to them, and Timothy had returned with a glowing report. The Jews in Thessalonica had opposed Christianity since it came to the city (Acts 17:5), and the church there had come under persecution from their own countrymen. But despite the present suffering, the Thessalonians stood firm in their convictions. Paul commends them: they are following the examples of Paul, the church elders in Judea, and even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (1 Thes 1:6).
  • Expression of Paul’s affection for them. Paul communicates his pride in the Thessalonians, even calling them his glory, hope, joy, and crown (1 Thes 2:19–20). He was both mother and father to this church (1 Thes 2:7, 11), and he loves them dearly.
  • Instruction for future growth. The church was setting a fine example (1 Thes 1:7), and Paul challenges them to do more and more (1 Thes 4:1). He reminds them of the hope of Christ’s return (1 Thes 4:13–5:11) and lists ways to act until He does (1 Thes 5:12–24).

Paul also points to the return of Jesus throughout the letter:

  • Paul recalls the Thessalonians turning to Jesus and waiting for His return (1 Thes 1:10).
  • The Thessalonians will be Paul’s hope, joy, and crown when Jesus returns (1 Thes 2:19).
  • Paul prays that their hearts will be established at the coming of Jesus (1 Thes 3:13).
  • Paul wants them to be prepared for the day of the Lord (1 Thes 4:13–5:11).

 Quick outline of 1 Thessalonians

  1. Commendation for faith, hope, and love (1Thes 1–3)
    • The Thessalonians’ example (1 Thes 1)
    • Paul’s history with them (1 Thes 2)
    • Timothy’s visit and report (1 Thes 3)
  2. Challenge to grow in these areas even more (1Thes 4–5)

 

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Bible Overview Series: Colossians

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Colossians by Joseph Novak

Colossians: God assembled all the pieces of the universe as one huge jigsaw puzzle, a perfect picture of Christ.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Colossians

Paul had never been to Colossae, but he’d heard from a good friend that the church in that city was blossoming in faith and love. They’d been rooted in Christ—but young churches had been misled before. Paul desperately wants to encourage the church and head off any persuasive arguments from false teachers, so he writes them a letter.

The brief book of Colossians is all about who we are in Christ. In the first two chapters, Paul teaches the Colossians who they are in Christ; in the last two chapters, he instructs them on how to walk in Christ. Paul emphasizes the mind throughout the book—the better the Colossians know what they believe, the harder it will be for someone to persuade them otherwise.

This letter is still a profound, encouraging word to us today for several reasons:

  • We, like the Colossians, have never met Paul face-to-face (Col 2:1)
  • We continue to face persuasive arguments that contradict sound Christian doctrine (Col 2:8).
  • We need to remember that our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:1–3).
  • We should walk in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus (Col 1:10).

If we know who we are in Christ, we’ll have a much better idea of what to believe and how to behave.

Theme verses of Colossians

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Col 2:6–7)

Colossians’ role in the Bible

Colossians is the seventh of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Colossae).

Paul makes a few statements as to why he wrote this letter:

  • He heard about their growth and wants to encourage them (Col 1:3–8)
  • He wants them to walk in Christ and remain established in their faith (Col 2:6–7).
  • He knows false teachers are trying to lead them astray (Col 2:8, 16, 20).

Like his letters to the Ephesians and Philippians, this epistle is meant to encourage the Colossians to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 2:6). Whereas Philippians focuses on the believer’s attitude and Ephesians focuses on how to walk as part of God’s family, Colossians emphasizes the believer’s mind (Col 2:8; 3:1–2). Paul addresses what Christians should know (Col 1–2) and what it looks like to set our minds on things above (Col 3–4).

Quick outline of Colossians

  1. Who we are in Christ (Col 1–2)
    • Christ: our head (Col 1)
    • Christ: our God (Col 2)
  2. How to walk in Christ (Col 3–4)
    • Christ: our life (Col 3)
    • Christ: our Master (Col 4)

 

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Bible Overview Series: Philippians

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Philippians by Joseph Novak

Philippians: Even in chains, Paul is freer than wild horses. Even in prison, his joy is boundless as the skies.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Philippians

Life was hard in the city of Philippi. The Christians were being persecuted for their faith. Paul, their first teacher, was in prison far away. One of their key members had fallen deathly ill. They had worked for the sake of the gospel ever since Paul first shared it with them—and the work was really hard.

And in the middle of all this, Paul tells them to rejoice. Why?

Because God is at work.

The book of Philippians is one of Paul’s most encouraging letters. Paul commends the Philippians for their earnest work in spreading the Word of God. He tells them how much he longs to see them. He warns them about potential pitfalls. He coaches them on dealing with hard times, and provides examples from his own life, other Christians, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

No matter what, the good news of Jesus will advance. God will complete His work in the Philippians’ lives. His children will have all their true needs supplied. Paul will continue to minister to them.

And that’s reason to rejoice.

Theme verse of Philippians

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Php 4:4)

Philippians’ role in the Bible

Philippians is the sixth of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Philippi).

No book of the Bible focuses on joy like Philippians. The imprisoned Paul hears that the Philippians are going through difficult circumstances:

  • They were being persecuted for their faith (Php 1:28)
  • Other teachers were trying to trouble their friend Paul while he was in prison (Php 1:17)
  • Their friend Epaphroditus had gone to visit Paul but had fallen very sick (Php 2:26–27)
  • False teachers were trying to submit the Gentile believers to the Old Testament law (Php 3:2)

Despite all these hardships, they were still doing their part to spread the gospel—even sending Paul a gift to provide for his needs. Paul writes this letter as a response to all this.

Like his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians, this epistle is meant to encourage the Philippians to joyfully walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 2:6). Whereas Ephesians focuses on how to walk as part of God’s family and Colossians focuses on the believer’s mind, Philippians focuses on the believer’s attitude. And Paul drives his point home: of all the books of the Bible, Philippians has the highest concentration of the words translated “rejoice” or “joy.”

Quick outline of Philippians

  1. Rejoice! Christ is our life (Php 1)
  2. Rejoice! Christ is our example (Php 2)
  3. Rejoice! Christ is our glory (Php 3)
  4. Rejoice! Christ is our strength (Php 4)

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Bible Overview Series: Ephesians

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Ephesians by Joseph Novak

Ephesians: When the human race had split apart, God (who loves to renovate) took wood and nails and fastened it back together.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Ephesians

You’re a Christian. Now what?

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has the answer. The church at Ephesus (a city in the Roman Empire) had been established during Paul’s two-year stay (Ac 19). They heard the call, they believed, and they turned away from their old idols and practices—even if it was costly (Ac 19:19). Now Paul writes to remind them of where they stand in the family of God, and how to behave as members of that family.

Paul calls attention to three major themes: grace, peace, and love. God has shown these to the Ephesians, and Paul calls the readers to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1); therefore, we are to treat one another in like manner.

  • Grace. We’re saved by God’s grace—His favor which we could not deserve (Eph 2:8–9). Paul encourages the church to deal graciously with one another in turn (Eph 4:25–32).
  • Peace. We naturally deserved God’s wrath (Eph 2:3), but He has adopted us through Jesus (Eph 1:5). Furthermore, he has united the Jews and non-Jews in His Son, establishing peace between all parties (Eph 2:14). Now, the church is to preserve peace and unity with one another (Eph 4:3).
  • Love. God showed His love through Jesus (Eph 2:4), and Paul commends the Ephesians for the way they love one another (Eph 1:15). He prays that they be rooted in love (Eph 3:17) and encourages them to continue walking in love (Eph 5:2).

The call of Christ is a call to action, and Ephesians lays out God’s desire for your spiritual walk like no other book of the Bible.

Theme verse of Ephesians

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” (Eph 4:1)

Ephesians’ role in the Bible

Ephesians is the fifth of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Eight of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Ephesus).

Paul wrote Ephesians to accomplish two things:

  1. Describe the Christian’s calling. The first half of the letter focuses on the Ephesians’ calling. They were chosen by God, sealed with His Spirit, and saved by His grace. The church was mostly Gentile (Eph 3:1; 4:17), and didn’t have the historical relationship with God that the Jews had, but Paul assures them that they are just as much a part of God’s family as the Christian Jews are (Eph 2:19).
  2. Prescribe the Christian’s walk. The second half teaches how to “walk in a manner worthy” of the Christian’s calling (Eph 4:1). Paul outlines what the Christian walk looks like in various facets of life.

Like his letters to the Philippians and Colossians, this epistle is meant to encourage the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 2:6). Whereas Philippians focuses on the believer’s attitude and Colossians focuses on the believer’s mind, Ephesians focuses on how to walk as part of God’s family.

Quick outline of Ephesians

  1. Our calling in Christ (Eph 1–3)
  2. Our walk in Christ (Eph 4–6)

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Bible Overview Series: Galatians

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Galatians by Joseph Novak

Galatians: We felt insecure without our chains so we hired experts to repair them. Then Paul came back, wielding a sledgehammer.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Galatians

Paul is angry.

Some false teacher has pressured the churches in Galatia (a region in the Roman Empire) to follow the Jewish Law. They’re teaching that salvation comes through the Law of Moses, and not through Christ—the exact opposite of what Paul had taught them. So Paul writes a letter to bring them back to the truth.

This letter isn’t about Paul’s ego or preferences: it’s about understanding why Jesus had to die and how it affects us.

The Jews had been living under the Law since the days of Moses. The Law was a set of expectations for God’s people: commands that, when followed, would distinguish Israel from all other nations as a people that belonged to God. However, Israel couldn’t keep the Law. Nobody could: everyone was a sinner.

So God sent Jesus. Jesus lived the Law, died for our sins, and rose again—He fulfilled the Law so we don’t have to.

The Galatians’ new teacher completely disregards and disrespects God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit’s work. That’s why Paul is so upset.

This book explains the believer’s new relationship with God. We’re freed from sin. We’re freed from the Law. We’re adopted as children of God. We’re counted as spiritual children of Abraham, whether we’re Jews or non-Jews. And we’re all empowered by the Holy Spirit to do good works, something sin prevented us from doing and the Law never enabled us to do.

Christ’s death is important, and Paul won’t let anyone forget it.

Theme verse of Galatians

The verse that demonstrates the theme of this book is Galatians 5:1, which reads:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians’ role in the Bible

Galatians is the fourth of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the ones in Galatia).

The Galatians felt pressured to seek salvation from the Law of Moses, even though they had already accepted the grace of Christ. The book of Galatians succinctly outlines the relationship between the Law of Moses and God’s New Covenant with the Church.

Paul defends the true gospel, and deals with a few questions that would naturally arise in an argument of Law vs. grace:

What about God’s promises to Abraham?

God made an everlasting covenant (a pact or agreement) with Abraham in the book of Genesis. This was a promise to bless Abraham, his descendants, and the world (Gn 15). Abraham’s descendants, the Hebrews, were considered God’s special people, and God set them apart from the world with the Law at Mount Sinai (this happened in Exodus). Paul teaches that faith in Christ does not cancel out God’s promises to Abraham; rather, it extends the blessings of that covenant beyond Israel. Now, anyone who believes in Christ is a spiritual son of Abraham (Ga 3:29).

What is my relationship with God?

Paul teaches that faith in Jesus makes us not only children of Abraham, but also children of God. It’s a radical shift in identity: we are adopted into God’s family (Ga 4:5–6).

Why make the Law in the first place?

The Law is a tutor that taught us two things: (1) God is holy and expects His people to be holy, and (2) we cannot live up to His standards. The Law makes it clear that we need a savior.

What about sin?

We’re being changed, but we still sin. Paul explains how the Holy Spirit works in us to battle our sinful desires. It’s in Galatians that we find the fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22–23).

If we’re free from the Law, are we free to sin?

No way. “God is not mocked,” and we all reap what we sow (Ga 6:7). Paul finishes his letter with a strong call to do what’s right and not lose heart as a community of believers: “Let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Ga 6:9–10).

Paul acknowledges that those who advocate the Law may still try to refute his letter, but urges the church to lean on the true gospel of grace in Jesus.

Quick outline of Galatians

  1. The gospel under attack in Galatia (Ga 1:1–10)
  2. History of the Law vs. grace debate (Ga 1:11–2:21)
  3. Salvation via faith vs. salvation via works (Ga 3)
  4. Slavery vs. sons and heirs of God (Ga 4)
  5. The sinful flesh vs. the Holy Spirit (Ga 5)
  6. How to do good in Christian community (Ga 6)

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Bible Overview Series: 2 Corinthians

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2 Corinthians by Joseph Novak

2 Corinthians: O how I love you, you darling scalawags, you dear sweet blockheaded scoundrels, you infuriating puppies!

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 2 Corinthians

When Paul wrote his first epistle to the church in the city of Corinth, they had been going through all kinds of divisive problems. Paul had urged them to put God’s glory first and love one another, but he wasn’t the only one telling them what to do. When Paul came for a visit, a member of the church opposed him strongly. Paul left, and sent his associate Titus to Corinth with yet another strong letter admonishing them.

Titus delivered that letter, and the church (including the member who had opposed Paul) repented. Now Paul has heard Titus’ report, and writes to Corinth once again to address lingering concerns.

This letter is a comforting one. It’s a letter that affirms Paul’s loving relationship with the church he planted years ago. It’s a letter that praises the young church for their obedience, generosity, and love. It’s a letter that reassures them of Paul’s legitimacy as an apostle.

We know this letter as Second Corinthians.

Theme verse of 2 Corinthians

“I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.” (2 Co 7:16 ESV)

2 Corinthians’ role in the Bible

Second Corinthians is the third of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Corinth).

In the wake of all that happened since writing First Corinthians, Paul writes to the church to resolve a few lingering concerns and issues:

  • Where the Corinthians stand with Paul. When the church last heard from Paul, he was writing to correct them. Now they have repented, and Paul assures them that they are loved by and reconciled to him (2 Co 7:4).
  • Why Paul hasn’t visited Corinth since they repented. Paul had originally planned to visit them twice, but he did not want to put the church through another sorrowful event like his last visit. Paul assures the church that he had avoided a second visit with pure motives, not because of hypocrisy or fickleness (2 Co 1:17, 24). Paul plans another visit to Corinth (2 Co 12:14; 13:10).
  • How to complete the contribution for the Christians at Jerusalem. The church had eagerly begun to take up an offering to pass along to the church in Jerusalem (1 Co 16:1–2; 2 Co 8:10), but somehow the contribution effort had stalled. Paul encourages the church to generously complete the offering (2 Co 8)
  • Paul’s authority as an apostle. Paul’s character and legitimacy had apparently come under attack in Corinth. At least one man had criticized Paul for using strong letters and meek speech in person (2 Co 10:10), and Paul was concerned that the church would be lured away from the truth (2 Co 11:1–5). Paul defends his apostleship, and explains his humble approach to ministry (2 Co 10–13).

Quick outline of 2 Corinthians

  1. Affirmation that Paul and the Corinthians are reconciled (2 Co 1–2)
  2. Paul’s ministry as an apostle (2 Co 3–6)
  3. Paul’s confidence and joy in them (2 Co 7)
  4. The contribution for Jerusalem (2 Co 8–9)
  5. Paul’s legitimacy and authority (2 Co 10–13)

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Bible Overview Series: 1 Corinthians

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1 Corinthians by Joseph Novak

1 Corinthians: When the last trump sounded we didn’t hear it. We were too busy arguing and bragging about our spirituality.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 1 Corinthians

The church in Corinth was in trouble. They were divided. They were immature. They were abusing the sacraments, spiritual gifts, and each other. The apostle Paul had founded this church earlier (Acts 18), and when he hears of the young church’s struggles, he writes them a letter.

And it’s a bold one. He tackles the issues the church faces, reprimands them for their shortcomings, and encourages them in love.

First Corinthians is not a step-by-step guide to solving church problems, however. Instead of telling the church precisely what to do, Paul proposes a new perspective: put God’s glory first.It’s the key to overcoming these struggles.

  • The Corinthians were fighting each other, with one faction claiming Paul as their leader while others claimed the eloquent Apollos, the original apostle Peter (Cephas), or the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (1 Co 1:12). Paul reprimands them for their immaturity (1 Co 3:3), and points to God as the one who deserves glory, not His servants (1 Co 3:5–7).
  • The church was condoning sexual immorality: one man was sleeping with his mother-in-law (1 Co 5:1) and others seem to have been seeing prostitutes (1 Co 6:16–18). The church was not judging their own based on God’s Word; rather, they were taking their disputes with other Christians to the secular courts (1 Co 6:5–7). Paul’s direction: recognize God’s authority and glorify Him with the physical body (1 Co 6:19-20).
  • The Corinthians had written Paul with questions about what they were at liberty to do in marriage, divorce, eating and drinking, and the like. Paul gives detailed responses on each topic, but sums up the Christian philosophy: “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Co 10:31 ESV)

Unlike Romans and Colossians, 1 Corinthians is a letter written to people Paul knew well. Paul’s familiarity is very obvious in this letter, especially in his fatherly language (1 Co 4:14, 21; 11:1–2).

Two of Paul’s New Testament letters are written to the church in Corinth. In Second Corinthians, we see Paul’s relationship restored with his children in Christ.

Theme verse in 1 Corinthians

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Co 10:31 ESV)

Why 1 Corinthians was written

Second Corinthians is the third of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Nine of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Corinth).

The Corinthian church was divided over several issues, and Paul writes to put things back into proper perspective. One could think of First Corinthians as “Christian Living 101” or “Church for Dummies.” And since Paul addresses questions from Corinth, this letter contains one of the rare direct Q&A portions of the Bible.

Quick outline of 1 Corinthians

  1. Paul greets and encourages the Corinthian church (1 Co 1:1–9).
  2. Paul corrects them in areas of immaturity (1 Co 1:10–6:20)
    • Quarrels over leadership (1 Co 1:10–4:21)
    • Dealing with the church’s lack of judgment on sex and legal disputes (1 Co 5–6)
  3. Paul addresses issues the church raised in an earlier letter (1 Co 7–10)
    • Marriage, divorce, and virginity (1 Co 7)
    • Eating meat used for idol worship (1 Co 8–10)
  4. Paul calls the church to order
    • Head coverings and authority (1 Co 11:1–16)
    • The Lord’s Supper (1 Co 11:17–34)
    • Using spiritual gifts (1 Co 12–14)
    • Understanding the resurrection (1 Co 15)
    • Instructions for greeting other Christians (1 Co 16)

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