Tag Archives: New Testament

Bible Overview Series: Revelation

Revelation by Joseph Novak

Revelation: When she finally arrived at the wedding, she kissed him and said, “Sorry I’m late. The traffic was hell.”

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary) 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Revelation

John is an exile on the isle of Patmos. His crime: bearing witness of Jesus (Re 1:9). Somebody didn’t want John spreading this gospel message, and so they’d shipped him off to an island. He’s contained.

But now John has received even more news to share.

It all starts one Sunday, when John hears a voice behind him: “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches (Re 1:11).” John turns around to see seven golden lampstands, and among them, the risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Jesus gives John a message for seven churches in Asia (modern-day Turkey). Of the seven, one is about to undergo intense suffering (Re 2:10), one has kept His word (Re 3:8), and the other five were faltering in their loyalty to Jesus. The Lord warns the churches that He is the righteous judge, and He knows their deeds. He calls the faltering churches to repentance, and makes seven encouraging promises to those who overcome.

Then, John is whisked into heaven to witness “what must take place after these things” (Rev 4:1). So begins a long series of prophetic visions for the churches, including:

  • A Lamb (who represents Jesus) breaks seven seals holding an old book shut—each time a seal is broken, it triggers an event on earth, some of which are catastrophic (Re 4–7).
  • Seven angels blow seven trumpets, and each trumpet blast brings a plague on the earth (Re 8–11).
  • A great dragon (Satan) and two beasts make war against a certain woman and the saints (Re 12–14).
  • Seven angels pour out seven bowls, and each bowl brings another plague on the earth (Re 15–16).
  • The Lamb overcomes the wicked city of Babylon, the dragon, and the beasts, then brings about a final judgment day (Rev 17–20).
  • A new heaven and new earth appear, where God and the Lamb dwell with people in harmony forever (Rev 21–22).

John faithfully writes everything down as a prophetic letter to the seven churches, with a closing message from Jesus: “I am coming quickly.”

Theme verse of Revelation

Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things. (Re 1:19)

Revelation’s role in the Bible

Revelation is traditionally attributed to the apostle John, who also wrote a Gospel and three New Testament letters. He was a leader in the early church, and he probably wrote his documents after most of the other New Testament books were already written.

Two characteristics of Revelation set it apart from the rest of the New Testament:

  1. It’s the only book of its genre. Most of the New Testament is history or a letter. Revelation is indeed sent as a letter with a traditional greeting (Re 1:1–8), direct messages to the recipients (Re 2–3), and a sendoff (Re 22:18–21), but the bulk of the letter is a record of John’s vivid symbolic visions. No other book of the New Testament feels like Revelation.
  2. Jesus directly addresses the readers. You’ll have to flip back to the Old Testament to see someone write down a message from God for someone else. The Gospels record Jesus’ teachings, and the letters draw application from His teachings, but only in Revelation does Jesus Himself speak directly to the churches (Re 2–3; 22:16).

Revelation may be distinct from the New Testament, but its style and theology are right at home in the Bible. Revelation’s symbolic visions are similar to what you’d see in the Old Testament prophecies of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.

Of course, even after going over the book’s content, it can still be difficult to know what Revelation is all about. Some of the visions are explained for us: the Lamb is Jesus (Re 17:14) and the dragon is the devil (Re 12:9). Others—most, really—aren’t so directly explained.

Some say all (or most) of John’s visions are about the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.; others say the prophecies haven’t been fulfilled yet. As you read and study Revelation, keep a few things in mind:

  • This message is written to churches in Asia, which had both Jewish and Gentile members.
  • Jesus begins everything with messages to the churches who were dealing with distraction, persecution, false teaching, immorality, laziness, and stagnation.
  • The correct response to this letter is to come to Jesus and invite others (Re 22:17).

Revelation is the last book of the New Testament and the Bible—what a finish!

Quick outline of Revelation

  1. John’s greeting and introduction (1:1–8)
  2. Jesus’ messages to seven churches (1:9–3:22)
  3. Visions of what comes “after these things” (4–22:9)
    • The Lamb who was slain breaks seven seals (4–7)
    • Seven angels sound their trumpets (8–11)
    • The dragon, the beast, and the saints (12–14)
    • Seven bowls of God’s wrath (15–16)
    • The Lamb overcomes Babylon and judges the earth (17–20)
    • The new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem (21:1–22:9)
  4. How to respond to John’s vision (22:10–21)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Project: Jude

Jude by Joseph Novak

Jude: If ever the world is burned to ashes in a nuclear holocaust, let the last human being recite the epistle of Jude, and die.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary) 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Jude

Jude came from an important family:

  • The Lord Jesus Christ was his brother
  • Mary was his mother
  • James, the church leader was also his brother

Jude hadn’t always believed in Jesus (Jn 7:5;Mk 3:21), but after He rose from the dead, things changed. The world changed (Acts 17:6). His brother changed. Jude changed.

Now he shared this glorious salvation with people all over the world: Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female—all united in Christ. He  wanted desperately to write about it. But he couldn’t.

The church was facing a more pressing issue: people were creeping into the church unnoticed (Jd 4). These were not “seekers,” nonbelievers who were genuinely curious about Christianity.  They claimed to be believers. But they denied the exclusive authority of Jesus, twisting His grace into a license to sin all they wanted.

They were infiltrators. They indulged in sexual immorality, greed, and grumbling. They rejected the authority of the apostles, angels, and the Lord. They caused churches to split up into opposing factions.

The children of God needed to keep their eyes open for this kind of behavior in the churches. So instead of writing about the salvation they shared, Jude wrote a brief, hard-hitting letter to the churches of the world.

In just 25 verses, Jude covers a few important points for Christians to remember:

  • The threat to the faith. The ungodly people are perverting the grace of God and denying the only Master, Jesus (Jd 4). God will judge them, just like He has judged the unbelievers in the past (Jd 5).
  • Characteristics of the ungodly. Jude compares these unrestrained, divisive people to unruly angels, Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain the murderer, the profit-hungry Balaam, and the rebellious Korah. Jude brings in examples from both the Old Testament and other nonbiblical writings.
  • The apostles’ warnings. The church had been dealing with false teachers for a while—some people were even pretending to be apostles of Jesus, with the authority of Peter, James, Paul, and John (2 Co 11:13). The apostles had warned that “mockers” would arise, causing doubt and division in the church.

But Jude is more than just a detractor. He doesn’t just write a list of red flags. This is a letter that urges the Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith”—to fight long and hard on behalf of their Lord. And Jude tells them how to combat this attack:

  • Build themselves up in faith. They are to pray in the Holy Spirit, maintain themselves in God’s love, and wait for eternal life in Jesus.
  • Show mercy to others. They should have mercy on those who doubt, even on those who are stained by sin. They’re to be rescuers, snatching some out of the fires that will come.

Jude is a call to fight, but it’s not like any other battle cry in history. It’s a charge to delight in God and show mercy to others. This is how the church fights valiantly for the faith: by loving God and showing mercy.

Theme verse of Jude

[. . .] I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. (Jud 3b)

Jude’s role in the Bible

Jude is the seventh and last of the General Epistles (or Catholic Letters), the writings of apostles to the church at large. While Paul wrote to specific congregations and individuals, Peter, James, John, and Jude wrote to broader audiences across the Roman empire. We’re not sure when Jude was written.

Jude’s content mirrors the second and third chapters of Peter’s second letter. We don’t know if Peter borrowed from Jude’s letter, if Jude borrowed from Peter’s letter, or if both men were drawing from a prior discussion. Both letters, however, warn the church of two dangerous influences:

  1. False teachers who lead the people to indulge in sin
  2. Mockers who dismiss the idea of Jesus’ return

One major difference between the two books is Jude’s use of apocryphal literature (Jewish writings outside of the Scriptures). Jude mentions events that aren’t recorded in the Bible, such as an argument between Michael the Archangel and the devil over the body of Moses, or Enoch’s ancient prophecies. These examples come from the Assumption of Moses and First Enoch. Jude’s intended audience was familiar with these pieces, and therefore would have appreciated the references.

But Jude also relies heavily on the inspired Scriptures, especially Genesis and Numbers. Jude references all sorts of Old Testament figures and events, including:

  • The Exodus from Egypt (Jd 5; Ex 12:51)
  • The generation of Israelites who died in the wilderness (Jd 5; Nu 14:35)
  • The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jd 7; Gn 19:24)
  • Cain, the son of Adam, who killed his brother (Jd  11; Gn 4:8)
  • The prophet Balaam, who tried to curse the Israelites in exchange for money (Jd 11; Nu 22:31–33)
  • Korah, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron, but was swallowed up by the earth (Jd 11; Nu 16)
  • Enoch, the descendant of Adam and ancestor of Noah, whom God “took” from earth before he died (Jd 14; Gn 5:24; Heb 11:5)

Jude is only one chapter long, and it’s the fifth shortest book of the Bible (Third John is the shortest).

Quick outline of Jude

  1. The ungodly contending against the faith (1–16)
  2. How we should contend for the faith (17–25)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: 3 John

Letters of John by Joseph Novak

3 John: Oh my dear friend, I need to see you face to face to tell you what love means. Love can’t be sent by mail.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary) 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 2 John

Gaius knows the truth. He was baptized by Paul and traveled with him (1 Co 1:14; Acts 19:29). Later, he hosted Paul and a local church (Ro 16:23). Now he’s earned a reputation for his hospitality among the Christians (3 Jn 5–6). And hospitality is a good, powerful thing: the apostle John says that by supporting these men, we join them in their work for the truth.

Sadly, not everyone is like Gaius.

The power-hungry Diotrephes is stirring up strife in Gaius’ church. He’s rejecting John’s earlier letter, babbling accusations against the apostle, and even excommunicating church members who welcome other Christians into their homes (3 Jn 9–10).

When truth is rejected, fellowship is fractured.

This won’t do. Jesus has commanded Christians to love one another (Jn 13:34), and John writes to Gaius to let him know three things:

  1. Gaius is doing the right thing, even though Diotrephes is condemning hospitality.
  2. Gaius should not imitate what is evil, but instead imitate what is good (3 Jn 11).
  3. John is coming to straighten things out.

John will soon arrive to put things right in person (3 Jn 14). He’ll hold Diotrephes accountable for his words and deeds (3 Jn 10). Soon, John will arrive.

And there will be peace in truth (3 Jn 15).

Theme verse of 3 John

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. (3 Jn 4)

3 John’s role in the Bible

In addition to this one, John wrote two other New Testament letters, a Gospel, and possibly the prophetic book of Revelation. He was a leader in the early church, and he probably wrote his documents after most of the other New Testament books were already written.

Third John is the sixth of the General Epistles (or Catholic Letters), the writings of apostles to the church at large. While Paul wrote to specific congregations and individuals, Peter, James, John, and Jude wrote to broader audiences scattered across the Roman empire. Second and Third John, however, are written to specific audiences.

Third John is the shortest book of the Bible: only 219 words (in its original Greek).

This letter repeats many themes from John’s first letter, and Second John reflects these themes as well. Third John shows us what happens when people follow sound teaching . . . and when they don’t:

  • When Christians walk in truth, joy abounds (3 Jn 4). When someone in the church rejects the truth, everyone hurts (3 Jn 19).
  • When Christians support one another, they share fellowship in the truth (3 Jn 8). When someone seeks his own power, the fellowship is at risk (3 Jn 9–10).

Overall, the three letters from John give us an idea of what the apostle thought was most important at the time: sound teaching, obedience to God, and brotherly love.

Quick outline of 3 John

  1. Praise for walking in truth (1–4)
  2. Praise for loving the brethren (5–8)
  3. Caution regarding Diotrephes (9–12)
  4. Anticipation of a visit (13–15)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: 2 John

Letters of John by Joseph Novak

2 John: Pure spiritual love is a delusion. Love has come among us in the flesh. It’s with our bodies that we walk in love’s way.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary) 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 2 John

The apostle John had set several things straight in his first epistle. He’d told the churches how to know if they were of the faith, he’d dressed down the false teachings that were making their rounds, and he’d strongly urged the Christians to love one another.

He’d told them about truth, love, and obedience—now he writes to tell them what to do about it.

In Second John, the elder (2 Jn 1) briefly explains the relationship between the three:

  • Love and truth. John loves those who know the truth, because the truth “abides” in them (2 Jn 1–2). When two parties know the truth, love comes naturally.
  • Truth and obedience. God the Father commanded that His children walk in truth (2 Jn 4). When you know the truth, obedience comes naturally.
  • Obedience and love. The commandment that God gave isn’t anything new: “love one another” (2 Jn 5). A sure sign of obedience to God is love for His church, and a sure sign of love is obedience to God (2 Jn 6).

He then warns that “many deceivers have gone out into the world” (2 Jn 7), and that the Christians should watch themselves. They should beware of teachers who do not acknowledge Jesus’ human life and who deviate from the things He taught (2 Jn 8–9). Such people are dangerous: the church shouldn’t side with them, shouldn’t invite them in, and shouldn’t participate in their actions (2 Jn 10–11).

John is a bit cryptic in this letter, but he seems well aware of this. He would rather discuss this and more in person, so he lets the audience know that he hopes to visit soon (2 Jn 12).

Because truth, love, and obedience should be a part of everyday life, and the church needs to understand how.

Theme verse in 2 John

And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. (2 Jn 6)

2 John’s role in the Bible

In addition to this one, John wrote two other New Testament letters, a Gospel, and possibly the prophetic book of Revelation. He was a leader in the early church, and he probably wrote his documents after most of the other New Testament books were already written.

John writes this second letter to “the chosen lady and her children”—which may refer to a particular church leader, or perhaps metaphorically to a local church or group of churches. John refers to this lady’s “chosen sister” at the end of this letter (2 Jn 13), which may be code for a greeting from the children of another woman, or members of another church or group of churches.

Second John is the fifth of the General Epistles (or Catholic Letters), the writings of apostles to the church at large. While Paul wrote to specific congregations and individuals, Peter, James, John, and Jude wrote to broader audiences scattered across the Roman empire. Second and Third John, however, are written to specific audiences.

Second John is the second shortest book of the Bible—Third John is the shortest (by word count). It’s only one chapter long, and has only thirteen verses.

This letter repeats many themes from John’s first letter, and Third John reflects these themes as well. Overall, the three letters from John give us an idea of what the apostle thought was most important at the time: sound teaching, obedience to God, and brotherly love.

Quick outline of 2 John

  1. Walk in truth (1–4)
  2. Love others and obey God (5–6)
  3. Beware false teachers (7–11)
  4. Look forward to a visit (12–13)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: 1 John

Letters of John by Joseph Novak

1 John: Love is the order of things; hatred is rebellion against reality.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary) 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of 1 John

Peter was right: false teachers had arisen from among the church (2 Pe 2:1). Now some people were teaching that Jesus wasn’t human, denying that He was the true Messiah. It was probably easier to get away with than it ever had been: the apostles were growing older, and churches were springing up all over the Roman Empire.

Plus these teachers claimed to be Christians, which would have been very troubling for the young churches to hear. Whom can they believe, and how can they evaluate new teachers as they come?

The apostle John has the answers. He’s been with Jesus; he’s seen Jesus die (Jn 19:26); he’s seen the empty tomb (Jn 20:4–5). John knows the truth, and so he writes a letter to help the church know how to tell the children of God from the impostors.

John combats false teaching with absolutes: truth and lies, light and darkness, love and hate, sin and righteousness, Christ and antichrist. He shows the church how to tell if they are children of God and how to tell if a teacher is trying to deceive them.

This is a letter written from a wise and loving father to a troubled church. John writes to older men (“fathers”), young men, and children, but he addresses all of them as his “little children”—a term of endearment that a loving father would use for his child.

John’s letter moves around from theme to theme, but he makes three things very clear to the church:

  1. The children of God believe in Jesus Christ
  2. The children of God keep His commandments
  3. The children of God love one another

And John as far as John is concerned, the people he writes to are children of God (1 Jn 5:13).

Theme verse in 1 John

This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. (1 Jn 3:23)

1 John’s role in the Bible

First John is the fourth of the General Epistles (or Catholic Letters), the writings of apostles to the church at large. While Paul wrote to specific congregations and individuals, Peter, James, John, and Jude wrote to broader audiences scattered across the Roman empire. John’s next two letters, however, are written to specific audiences.

In addition to this one, John wrote two other New Testament letters, a Gospel, and possibly the prophetic book of Revelation. He was a leader in the early church, and he probably wrote his documents after most of the other New Testament books were already written.

First John is powerful. It’s also a bit odd. It reads somewhat like a letter, somewhat like a sermon, and a little like some passages from Proverbs. Most of our New Testament epistles begins with a formal greeting and end with a conclusion and instructions, but First John has neither of these characteristics.

Plus, John’s wise, fatherly writing style can wander from point to point: there are few obvious divisions in this letter. Plus, while many epistles contain a single statement of the author’s purpose in writing, John lists at least 12 reasons for penning this letter:

  1. So that he and the church may have joy (1 Jn 1:4)
  2. So that they would not sin (1 Jn 2:1)
  3. Because their sins are forgiven (1 Jn 2:12)
  4. Because they know God the Father (1 Jn 2:13)
  5. Because they know Jesus (1 Jn 2:13)
  6. Because they have overcome the evil one (1 Jn 2:13–14)
  7. Because they are strong (1 Jn 2:14)
  8. Because the word of God abides in them (1 Jn 2:14)
  9. Because they know the truth (1 Jn 2:14)
  10. Because no lie or false teaching can come from the truth (1 Jn 2:21)
  11. Because some would try to deceive them (1 Jn 2:26)
  12. So that they would know they have eternal life (1 Jn 5:13)

To be fair, these reasons are more fluidly interconnected in the text than a bulleted list like this makes them out to be.

First John’s role in the Bible is closely related to the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is written to persuade non-Christians to believe in Jesus and find eternal life in His name (Jn 20:31). Conversely, the first letter of John is written so that those who believe in Jesus would know they have indeed found life in Him.

If you wonder how the teaching in First John played out in real life, you’ll love Second and Third John! These two very short letters apply First John’s general teachings of truth, love, and obedience to specific local church situations.

No other book of the Bible talks about love as often as First John. About one in every 50 words is a form of “love”—that makes for about 52 mentions of love in just five short chapters. And it’s no surprise: love is evidence of salvation (1 Jn 3:14), and John says that God Himself is love (1 Jn 4:8).

Quick outline of 1 John

Disclaimer: this may be the toughest book of the Bible to outline. With all John’s reasons to write, scholars have a hard time forming an outline from John’s letter. But the central focus of First John seems to be distinguishing the false teachers from children of God, so here’s my take:

  1. The children of God keep His commands (1 Jn 1–3)
  2. The Spirit of God affirms Jesus’ first coming (1 Jn 4:1–6)
  3. The children of God love one another (1 Jn 4:7–21)
  4. Things the child of God can know (1 Jn 5)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: 2 Thessalonians

Print

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)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: 1 Thessalonians

Print

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)

 

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: Colossians

Print

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)

 

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating to help offset the costs of running this site. I will never have ads or charge a fee. However, it takes a lot of work to keep this site up. Thanks!

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: Ephesians

Print

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)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating below to help offset the costs of running this site! Thanks! 🙂

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share

Bible Overview Series: Galatians

Print

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)

If you found this blog post helpful, please consider donating below to help offset the costs of running this site! Thanks! 🙂

paypal.me/meredisciple

Share