Book of the Week 66: Revelation

Greek Name: APOKALUPSIS IOANNOU

Human Author: John (the Apostle)                        

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 22

Basic Facts

  1. Revelation is the sixty-sixth and final book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Revelation is classified as apocalyptic literature, but according to some it fits in the categories of prophecy, or even an epistle.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Revelation is APOKALUPSIS IOANNOU which means, “revelation of John.”

  4. The book of Revelation contains more prophesies about the second coming of Christ than any other book of the Bible.

  5. The book of revelation contains both a supernatural revelation given to John the Apostle concerning the end of the age, and a word from God to seven different churches.

Story of the Book

Revelation begins with an introduction by John, which claims that the entire book is a revelation of Jesus Christ who is revealed as the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:1-8). John was exiled on the island of Patmos when he received a revelation of God in the form of a vision to seven churches (Revelation 1:9-20). God gives a message to each of the seven churches, commending them for what they do right and calling them to repent for what they do wrong. John writes to the churches in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11), Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17), Thyatira (Revelation 2:19-29), Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6), Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13), and Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). After addressing the seven churches, John receives a complex series of visions concerning the judgments of God which are to come at the end of the age including seven seal judgments (Revelation 5:1-8:1), seven trumpet judgments (Revelation 8:2-15:8), and seven bowl judgments (Revelation 16:1-18:24). After the judgment and wrath of God is poured out, God proclaims the marriage supper of the Lamb to be shared by Christ and all the faithful (Revelation 19:1-21). After this, Satan is bound and thrown into the pit of the abyss for a thousand years. At the end of this thousand years Satan is released and given a final defeat (Revelation 20:1-15). After this final victory over Satan, God renews heaven and earth, and New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven from God and His people live with Him in paradise forever (Revelation 21:1-22:6). The book ends as John tells his audience that he saw all these visions and He proclaims to them that Jesus will return. He also strictly forbids anyone from adding to or taking away from this book of prophecy (Revelation 22:1-6-21).

Jesus Revealed in Revelation

The book of Revelation reveals Jesus in many ways, and space does not permit to list them all here. However, the following is a list of some of the most important ways Jesus is revealed in Revelation including: Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8; 21:6), the lamb of God who was slain (Revelation 5:6), the one through whom God will renew heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1-5), the one who is faithful and true (Revelation 19:11), the one who will bring about both judgment for the wicked and eternal salvation to the righteous (Revelation 20:11-15). Jesus will bring judgment to the world, and all those who trust in Him will have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life. They will dwell in the paradise of God forever and ever, and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes (Revelation 7:17; 21:3-4).

Book of the Week 65: Jude

Greek Name: IOUDA

Human Author: Jude (brother of James)                                        

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 1

Basic Facts

  1. Jude is the sixty-fifth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, Jude is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Jude is IOUDA which means, “of Jude.”

  4. Jude is the only book of the Bible to refer to Enoch literature.

  5. Judah is written by the brother of James (Jude 1:1).

Story of the Book

Jude opens his letter by greeting his audience, identifying himself as a servant of Christ and a brother of James (Jude 1:1). He wishes that grace, mercy, and love would be multiplied to his audience (Jude 1:2). Jude stresses his urgency in writing to his audience about salvation, warning believers against false teachers who pervert the grace of God and deny Christ (Jude 1:3-4). Jude attributes to Jesus the mighty acts of God performed in the Exodus, the judgment upon Israelites who did not believe in the wilderness, the execution of God’s judgment upon fallen angels, and the judgment of eternal fire brought upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins (Jude 1:5-7). Jude condemns such disobedient people from the stories above as blasphemers, comparing them to Cain, the error of Balaam, and Korah’s rebellion (Jude 1:8-10). In the midst of this rebuke, Jude does allude to Enoch literature by giving the positive example of the archangel Michael’s rebuke against Satan regarding the body of Moses (Jude 1:9). Jude warns that false teachers are in the midst of the church and compares these false believers to shepherds who feed themselves, waterless clouds, dead trees, and waves of the sea. He condemns them as people who bring damnation upon themselves (Jude 1:11-13). Jude says that Enoch had prophesied against such people, and that God brought judgment upon them all (Jude 1:14-16). Jude warns his audience of believers to persevere by keeping themselves in the love of God, reminding them that the Apostles had prophesied that in the last days such false believers would arise who follow their own passions (Jude 1:17-23). Jude closes his letter with a form of doxology, proclaiming that all authority, dominion, majesty, and glory belong to the savior Jesus Christ forever (Jude 1:24-25).

Jesus Revealed in Jude

Jesus is revealed in Jude as the one through whom God accomplished several major events in the Old Testament. Jude argues that it is through Jesus that God the Father has saved the Israelites out of Egypt in the Exodus, and later destroyed some of them in the wilderness for their disobedience (Jude 1:5) and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Jude 1:7). Jude even proclaims Jesus as the one who holds fallen angels captive for the day of judgment (Jude 1:6). It is this same Jesus whom Jude proclaims as the one who has all authority, dominion, majesty, and glory forever (Jude 1:24-25). Jude warns that just as Jesus judged those who were formerly disobedient, Jesus will one day return to judge those who reject Him. Therefore, it is imperative that those who hear the message of the gospel must believe in Jesus in order to receive the promise of eternal life. Just as Jude compelled his audience to believe in Jesus in Biblical antiquity, we too are compelled to place our faith in Jesus Christ and to obey the command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations, for to Him belong all authority, dominion, majesty and glory both now and forever (Matthew 28:18-20; Jude 1:24-25). 

Book of the Week 64: III John

Greek Name: IOANNOU  G

Human Author: John (The Apostle)                                   

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 1

Basic Facts

  1. III John is the sixty-fourth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, III John is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of III John is IOANNOU G which means, “of John – three.”

  4. III John is addressed to a man named Gaius.

  5. III John is the second shortest book of the New Testament; it is only longer than II John.

Story of the Book

John begins this letter by identifying himself simply as “the Elder” and addresses his letter to a brother in Christ named Gaius (III John 1:1). John proclaims that he loves Gaius in Christ, and rejoices that Gaius is walking in the truth (III John 1:2-3), proclaiming that his greatest joy is to know that his children in the faith are walking in the truth (III John 1:4). He commends Gaius for generously showing hospitality and support for missionaries who came to him as strangers (III John 1:5). John encourages Gaius to send the missionaries out in a manner worthy of God, commending the missionaries for going out in the name of Christ without accepting anything from the Gentiles (III John 1: 6-7). For this reason, John writes that it is fitting to support such people in order to be fellow workers in the truth (III John 1:8). John then turns his attention to a matter of church discipline, stating that he has written to the church to rebuke a man named Diotrephes. Diotrephes liked to put himself first, refused to accept the authority of John as an Apostle, refuses to welcome Christian brothers, and prevents other believers from showing hospitality, and excommunicated believers who do show hospitality (III John 1:9-10). He warns Gaius to imitate good rather than evil, for those who do good are from God, and those who do evil have not seen God (III John 1:11). John then turns his attention to commending a man named Demetrius, who received a good report of his faith from the truth of the Gospel, from others, and from John and his companions (III John 1:12-13). John says he has much to write about, but he cuts his letter short, hoping instead to meet Gaius in person and speak with him face to face (III John 1:13-14). He closes his letters by sending Gaius a final greeting, telling him to greet each of his brother in Christ by name (III John 1:15).

Jesus Revealed in III John

Jesus is revealed in III John as the one who is Himself the truth and has revealed the truth of the Gospel (John 14:6; III John 1: 2-4, 8, 12-13). Because Jesus Himself is the Truth, everyone who abides in Christ also abides in the Truth. John commends missionaries who go out to the world in the name of Christ, and commends Gaius for showing them support and hospitality in order that he might be a fellow worker in the truth (III John 1:5-8). John tells Gaius that it his greatest joy to know that his children in the Lord are walking in the truth (III John 1:4).

Just as John found joy in knowing that his spiritual children are walking in the truth, we as believers today can be assured that if we are abiding in Christ that we also are walking in the truth.  The truth of the gospel is that Jesus Himself is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). John re-affirms this truth in his letter to Gaius, who is walking in the truth of the gospel and showing hospitality to strangers in order to be a fellow laborer for the truth. We as believers today will do well to learn from Gaius’ example by supporting missionaries and waking in the truth as Gaius did.

Book of the Week 63: II John

Greek Name: IOANNOU  B

Human Author: John (the Apostle)                                    

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 1

Basic Facts

  1. II John is the sixty-third book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, II John is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of II John is IOANNOU B, which means, “of John – two.”

  4. II John is the shortest book of the New Testament.

  5. The book of II John is addressed to an unnamed elect lady and her children.

Story of the Book

The author, presumably the Apostle John, identifies himself simply as “the elder” and addresses his letter to an elect lady in Christ and her children (II John 1:1). John greets his audience and declares that he loves his audience because the truth of Christ and of God the Father abides in him (II John 1:2-3). John rejoices when he learns that some of the lady’s children are walking in the truth by following Christ (II John 1:4). He asks the elect lady to follow the ancient Biblical commandment to love one another (II John 1:5). This love is defined by John as keeping the commandments of God, which God has commanded His people to obey since the beginning (II John 1:6). John warns that many false teachers have emerged who do not confess the coming of Christ in the flesh, and that such people are against Christ (II John 1:7). Therefore, John warns his audience to keep watch so as not to lose their heavenly reward in Christ (II John 1:8). John teaches that anyone who fails to profess Christ as having come in the flesh does not have God, but whoever confesses Christ as having come in the flesh has both the Father and the Son (II John 1:9). John warns his audience against anyone who does not bring this teaching, and to refuse to greet or show hospitality to anyone who denies it (II John 1:10). Anyone who denies Christ in the flesh is participating in the wicked works of those who deny Christ (II John 1:11). John expresses that he has much to write but insists that he would rather meet with his audience in person and speak face to face, which he hopes to do in the near future (II John 1:12). The letter concludes as John tells the elect lady that the children of her elect sister send their greetings (II John 1:13). 

Jesus Revealed in II John

In II John, Jesus is revealed as the Christ who has come in the flesh. John insists that anyone who does not bring this teaching is not only against Christ but is also not to receive a greeting or any form of hospitality from believers (II John 1:7-10). For those who do believe that Christ has come in the flesh, John declares that they have both the Father and the Son. These believers, who accept that truth of Christ come in the flesh, are to obey the commands of God by loving God and loving one another (II John 1:5-6). John also reveals Jesus as the one who elects those who believe in Him by Faith. By referring to his main audience as the elect lady and her children, John affirms the faith of his audience, assuring them that their faith in Christ demonstrates that God has chosen them as His elect children (II John 1:1, 13). In the same way, those of us who demonstrate faith in Christ by abiding in Him and by loving one another have assurance that we are part of God’s elect children. At believers, we too must affirm that Jesus has indeed come in the flesh. In so doing, we avoid the heresy of Gnosticism and affirm the true nature of Jesus as the Christ who has indeed come in the flesh, and who is also the savior of the world.

Book of the Week 62: I John

Greek Name: IOANNOU A

Human Author: John (the Apostle)                                    

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 5

Basic Facts

  1. The book of I John is the sixty-second book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, I John is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of I John is IOANNOU A, which means “of John – one.”

  4. This letter is similar in vocabulary and style to the Gospel of John.

  5. John emphasizes the virtue of love as the supreme trait of God’s character.

Story of the Book

John opens his letter by stating that he is writing to his audience so that their joy may be complete, and he proclaims himself to be an eye witness of the eternal life that has been revealed in Jesus Christ (I John 1:1-4). John proclaims Jesus Christ as the light, and the one who forgives and cleanses those who confess their sins (I John 1:5-10). John proclaims Jesus as the righteous one who is the propitiation for the sins of all who believe, and then calls his audience to a life of love (I John 2:1-11). John then applies his call to love to different groups of people including children, fathers, and young men, warning them not to love the world (I John 2:12-17). John warns of many antichrists who are already in the world, commanding his audience to remain loyal to Jesus and not to be deceived (I John 2:18-27). He further calls his audience to abide in Christ, and to demonstrate their love for God by loving one another and not making a practice of sin (I John 2:28-3:17). Since Christ laid down His life for believers, believers should also lay down their lives for Christ (I John 3:18-24). John calls his audience to test the spirits in order to discern those who are from God from those who are false (I John 4:1-6). John again calls his audience to love one another, and to abide in Christ through the Holy Spirit, proclaiming Christ as the savior. Anyone who claims to abide in Christ must love his brother (I John 4:7-20). John proclaims that it is those who love God by faith and abide in Him who overcome the world and have eternal life in the Son (I John 5:1-12).

Jesus Revealed in I John

I John reveals Jesus as the righteous one who is faithful and just to forgive all the sins and cleanse sinners from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). John reveals that the nature of God is love by Biblical definition (I John 4:7-8). The love of God demands that He is faithful to His Covenant promises to His people, while the justice and holiness of God demands that He not let sin go unpunished (Genesis 2:16-17; Deuteronomy 32:4; Romans 6:23). Since God’s character demands punishment for sin and faithfulness to His Covenant promises, the only way for sinners to be forgiven is for someone else to bear the punishment for our sins. Since Jesus Christ has borne the punishment for our sins on the cross, through His atoning work on the cross we can receive forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ. Therefore, if we confess our sins, through the atoning work of Jesus Christ God is able to be both faithful and just in order to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Just as Jesus has given His life for us as believers, we too aught to lay down our lives in service to Christ (I John 3:18-24).

The way in which believers can lay down their lives in service to Christ is through abiding in Christ by the Holy Spirit, by loving one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and through proclaiming the good news of the gospel (I John 4:7-20).

Book of the Week 61: II Peter

Greek Name: PETROU B

Human Author: Peter                                                          

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. II Peter is the sixty-first book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, II Peter is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of II Peter is PETROU B which means “of Peter – Two.”

  4. The book of II Peter was written to combat false teachers in the church.

  5. Peter likely wrote this letter while in Rome shortly before his death.

Story of the Book

Peter opens this letter with a short greeting in which he addresses his general believing audience, referring to himself as both a servant and an apostle (II Peter 1:1-2). He calls his audience to depend upon the promises of God in order to participate in God’s divine nature, and escape corruption in the world. Based on God’s promises, Peter calls his audience to supplement their faith with a series of virtues which will ensure the spiritual growth and fruitfulness of believers who practice them (II Peter 1:3-11). Peter tells his audience that he will soon be martyred, therefore he is intentionally reminding his audience about intentional growth in virtue in the Christian life (II Peter 1:12-15). Peter insists upon the authenticity of his testimony, stating that his prophetic word was confirmed, and that all prophetic words come from the Holy Spirit and not from private interpretation (II Peter 1:16-21). He warns his audience about the dangers of false prophets and heretics who deceive believers (II Peter 2:1-3). Peter then reviews a list of historical events in which God judged the unrighteous in the past but spared those who are righteous (II Peter 2:4-22). In the last days, Peter warns that people will abandon sound teaching and will inherit the judgment of God in which God will destroy the world by fire (II Peter 3:1-7). He warns his audience that the Lord’s return will come at a time in which they do not expect Him, and therefore believers should strive all the more to live lives of holiness while awaiting His return (II Peter 3:8-13). The letter closes as Peter urges his audience to wait patiently for their salvation. He acknowledges that Paul had also written to the same audience. Peter states that Paul had taught some things that are difficult to understand, which will be twisted by those who are ignorant (II Peter 3:14-16). Peter concludes with a call for believers to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ in order to glorify Him forever (II Peter 3:17-18).

Jesus Revealed in II Peter

In II Peter, Peter reveals Jesus as the one who will judge the world and bring it to an end. In light of God’s coming judgment, Peter urges believers to live holy lives in the sight of God, knowing ahead of time that God’s righteous judgment is coming with the return of Christ (II Peter 3:11-14). Therefore, as believers trust in Christ, Peter urges them to trust in the promises of God and to grow into maturity in Christ (II Peter 1:3-11). Growth into maturity in Christ through knowledge and virtue, Peter argues, will prevent believers from being ineffective and unproductive in living the Christian life (II Peter 1:8-11), and will allow believers to be on guard against false teachers who might otherwise lead them astray (II Peter 2:1-10). In the same way, believers today should seek to trust in God’s promises which have been given to us in Christ: seeking to grow into full spiritual maturity in Christ while remaining on the lookout for false teachers. In this way, we can avoid being deceived while awaiting Christ’s return.

Book of the Week 60: I Peter

Greek Name: PETROU A

Human Author: Peter (the Apostle)                                    

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 5

Basic Facts

  1. I Peter is the sixtieth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, I Peter is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of I Peter is PETROU A which means, “of Peter – one.”

  4. Peter is addressing his letter to the Jewish diaspora in the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (I Peter 1:1).

  5. This letter was written by Sylvanus under Peter’s dictation (I Peter 5:12).

Story of the Book

Peter begins this letter by greeting his audience among the Jewish diaspora (I Peter 1:1-2). He rejoices over the assurance that believers have in Christ in the midst of persecution (I Peter 1:3-12). Peter calls his audience to a life of holiness, calling them to forsake their former life of sin and to pursue righteousness through the gospel revealed to them in Christ (I Peter 1:13-25). Next, Peter calls his audience to honorable behavior among their neighbors by using the analogy of the temple in which believers are built on the foundation stone (Christ) as living stones being build up into a holy temple in the Lord (I Peter 2:1-12). Peter urges believers to submit to human institutions as a means of witnessing to those around them regarding good behavior in Christ (I Peter 2:13-25). He then applies submissive behavior in Christ to marriages as he calls wives to purity and gentleness, and husbands to understanding (I Peter 3:1-7). Peter urges believers to practice mercy and love toward their neighbors and to refuse to repay evil with evil (I Peter 3:8-17). Peter asserts that Christ purchased salvation once and for all, comparing the work of Christ to Old Testament historical events (I Peter 3:18-22). Peter urges believers to live holy lives and forsaking the company of sinners to live their lives according to the flesh. He calls them to be contrasted with the world by humility, gentleness, and love because the end of all things is at hand (I Peter 4:1-11). He instructs believers not to be surprised by persecution, but rather to trust in Christ through suffering and rejoice in the Lord while doing good deeds (I Peter 4:12-19). Finally, Peter turns his attention to the elders and calls them to shepherd the flock of God well by clothing themselves with humility, eagerness to serve, and gentleness (I Peter 5:1-11). Peter closes with brief greetings for believers by name, acknowledging Silvanus who wrote this letter at Peter’s dictation (I Peter 5:12-14).

Jesus Revealed in I Peter

Peter reveals Jesus as the one who has given new birth and hope to all who believe in Him. Jesus purchased salvation once and for all through His atoning work on the cross (I Peter 3:18-22). Peter reveals Jesus as one who has given believers a living hope through the atoning work of Christ. As a result, believers are to live holy lives of love in the midst of a sinful world (I Peter 4:1-11). The call to holiness that Peter gives to his audience is deeply informed by his belief that the end of all things is at hand, including the return of Jesus. When Jesus returns, He will bring both judgment for the wicked and a welcome into His eternal kingdom for all believers who belong to Him. It is for this reason that Peter reveals Jesus as the one who died for the sins of all believers once and for all, and as the one who will immanently return. Therefore, Peter calls believers to entrust themselves to God the faithful Creator while doing good, believing that God will be merciful to believers on account of Christ (I Peter 4:19). 

Book of the Week 59: James

Greek Name: IAKOBOU

Human Author: James (who is really named Jacob)          

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 5

Basic Facts

  1. James is the fifty-ninth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of James is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of James is IAKOBOU, which means “of Jacob.”

  4. James emphasizes that salvation is by faith, but that faith is something we do as an act of faithfulness toward God demonstrated through action.

  5. James, the author of the epistle that bears his name, is likely the half-brother of Jesus.

Story of the Book

James was specifically written to the portion of the Hebrew people who had been scattered among the nations (James 1:1). James calls his audience to consider it a joy to suffer trials for the sake of Christ (James 1:2-3). He tells his audience to ask God for wisdom, praying in faith that God will give wisdom freely to those who ask Him in order that those who are wise will rejoice in the Lord rather than in worldly riches (James 1:4-11). James warns that those who persevere under trial must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and to keep tight control over his tongue (James 1:12-26). Next, he warns against the sin of showing partiality in the way believers treat one another (James 2:1-10). James argues that faith must always be demonstrated through action in the life of the believer, for faith without works is dead (James 2:11-26). James warns his audience about the dangers of the tongue, warning believers to keep their speech tightly in check, especially for teachers who will be judged more strictly (James 3:1-12). James also encourages believers to seek wisdom that is from above (James 3:13-18), to resist friendship with the world (James 4:1-12), to avoid boasting about the future (James 4:13-17), and to avoid the dangers of worldly riches (James 5:1-6). In contrast, James tells his audience to remain steadfast in faithfulness through persecution (James 5:7-12), and to pray and anoint those who are suffering both physical ailments and those who need forgiveness (James 5:13-18). James closes his letter with a final word of encouragement, saying that anyone who brings a sinner back to repentance has through Christ covered a multitude of sins and produced a harvest of righteousness (James 5:18-20).

Jesus Revealed in James

James reveals God as the one whom, through faith in Christ, provides believers with joy, wisdom, forgiveness, and healing. While the primary focus of James is to address believers and admonishing them to express their faith through good deeds, James does indirectly reveal Jesus as the one who sustains believers in the midst of suffering. James calls believers to consider it pure joy to suffer for the sake of following Jesus (James 1:2-4). He also reveals that God answers prayers for wisdom, and gives wisdom to all without finding fault to those who ask in faith (James 1:5-8). Later, James also says that God shows no partiality, and that believers should also refrain from all partiality as imitators of Christ (James 2:1-7). Finally, James writes that those who have faith in Christ and are suffering should confess their sins and ask for anointing and prayer by the Elders in order to receive forgiveness and healing (James 5: 13-16). Through all these ways in which James reveals Jesus, he never fails to emphasize that faith in Christ must be expressed through action, for faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

Book of the Week 58: Hebrews

Greek Name: PROS ‘EBRAIOUS

Human Author: Unknown (Possibly Paul or Luke)

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 13

Basic Facts

  1. The book of Hebrews is the fifty-eighth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Hebrews is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Hebrews is PROS ‘EBRAIOUS, which means, “to the Hebrews” or “for the benefit of the Hebrews.”

  4. Hebrews uses the most sophisticated Greek of any book in the New Testament.

  5. Hebrews is addressed to the Hebrew people generally. 

Story of the Book

The author is writing to the Hebrew people, proclaiming among them that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Son of God.  The letter begins with arguments from Scripture that the Son of God is superior to the angels of God (Hebrews 1:1-14). Next, the author urges the Hebrews to pay close attention to the message of salvation which God made available through the Son of God who became human (Hebrews 2:1-18). Then, Jesus is compared and contrasted with Moses, and Jesus is counted to be greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6). The author warns the Hebrew people not to harden their hearts against God and His message of salvation in Jesus (Hebrews 3:7-19). The author then calls his Hebrew audience to repent and believe in order to enter into the Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:1-13). The author then goes into a lengthy and complex narrative identifying Jesus the Son of God as the great high priest in the order of Melchizedek who makes atonement for sin once and for all. Jesus is also the one through whom God inaugurates and establishes the New Covenant (Hebrews 4:14-10:39). The author asserts that salvation has always been a matter of faith since the time of Abraham, even before the Law of Moses had been given (Hebrews 11:1-39). Jesus is proclaimed as the one who is the founder and perfecter of Hebrew faith who brought salvation and a kingdom which cannot be shaken, and the author urges the Hebrews not to reject Him (Hebrews 12:1-29). The letter is concluded as the author calls his Hebrew audience toward brotherly love and affection for one another as they follow the resurrected Jesus (Hebrews 13:1-21). At the very close of the letter the author proclaims that Timothy was released from prison, and that the author intends to visit his Hebrew audience soon (Hebrews 13:22-25).

Jesus Revealed in Hebrews

Jesus is revealed in Hebrews in many ways, and there are too many to mention them all here. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God who is superior to the angels (Hebrews 1:1-14), as the great high priest in the order of Melchizedek in whom the perfect sacrifice for sin has been given once and for all (Hebrews 4:14-10:39), as the one through whom the New Covenant is established (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:1-9:28), as the one through whom God the Father has provided atonement for sin once and for all (Hebrews 10:1-39), and as the author and perfector of faith (Hebrews 12:1-12). Through the finished work of Jesus, salvation has once and for all been secured and is offered to Hebrews and gentiles alike. It is through faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world that salvation is exclusively made available to all who receive Him. The author of Hebrews urges the Hebrew people not to reject Jesus as the Messiah, for if they do they will face the wrath of God and their own destruction (Hebrews 12:25-29).

Book of the Week 57: Philemon

Greek Name: PROS PHILEMONA

Human Author: Paul                                                           

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 1

Basic Facts

  1. Philemon is the fifty-seventh book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, Philemon is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Philemon is PROS PHILEMONA, which means “to Philemon,” or “for the benefit of Philemon.”

  4. Philemon is a personal letter written by Paul to a man named Philemon.

  5. Paul appeals to Philemon on the basis of love in Christ to show mercy to Onesimus, a runaway slave.

Story of the Book

Paul begins this very short letter by acknowledging that he is writing while in prison (Philemon 1:1). Paul greets and addresses his letter to Philemon his brother in Christ, Apphia is sister in Christ, Archippus a fellow soldier, and to all the members of Philemon’s household (Philemon 1:2-3). Paul thanks God for Philemon, expressing gratitude for his faith and for the fact that the body of Christ has been and continues to be refreshed through the faithfulness of Philemon (Philemon 1:4-7). Paul then appeals to Philemon on behalf of a man who has been Philemon’s slave, a man named Onesimus. Paul states that he is a prisoner in chains and an old man. Paul tells Philemon that he has the spiritual authority to command Philemon to do the right thing (presumably to free Onesimus), but appeals to Philemon instead as a brother in Christ on the basis of love. Onesimus is a runaway slave who became a Christian, and was adopted by Paul as a son during his imprisonment. Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus back not merely as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. In other words, Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus back in just the way he would receive Paul himself if he came to visit in person. In this way, Paul restores Onesimus to Philemon as a slave, but appeals to Philemon on the basis of love to receive Oniasimus back as a brother in Christ forever (Philemon 1:8-16). Paul appeals to Philemon to be obedient to Christ by showing mercy to Onesimus and doing even more to bless Onesimus, and in so doing to refresh Paul’s heart in Christ (Philemon 1:17-20). Paul also asks Philemon to prepare a guest room for Paul, because Paul is confident that he will soon be released from prison and plans to visit Philemon in person in the near future (Philemon 1:21-22). The letter ends with a number of personal greetings from others who are imprisoned for the gospel, whom Paul identifies by name (Philemon 1:23-25).

Jesus Revealed in Philemon

Jesus is revealed in Philemon as the Savior who sets us free from sin by reconciling all people to God through Jesus’ finished work on the cross. In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). On the basis of this spiritually liberating work of Christ who frees us from sin and death, Paul appeals to Philemon to show mercy to Onesimus for running away. Paul appeals to Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother in Christ even to the extent that Philemon would receive Onesimus as if he were Paul himself (Philemon 1:8-20). In Christ we have all been reconciled to God and to one another, and God shows no favoritism. When we are united in Christ as brothers and sister in the Lord, we too must refrain from any form of favoritism. We must do likewise in showing mercy in Christ.

Book of the Week 56: Titus

Greek Name: PROS TITON

Human Author: Paul                                                           

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Titus is the fifty-sixth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, Titus is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Titus is PROS TITON, which means “to Titus” or “for the benefit of Titus.”

  4. Titus contains more information about the qualifications of elders than almost any other New Testament book (except for I Timothy).

  5. Paul’s letter to Titus, along with I and II Timothy, has historically been known as one of the Pastoral Epistles because it gives personal, pastoral instruction to an individual.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter by reviewing his calling as an apostle of the gospel of Christ, along with a greeting for Titus (Titus 1:1-4). Paul is writing to Titus, whom he left ministering in Crete. He instructs Titus to appoint elders in every town that he visits, along with a list of qualifications that each Elder must meet in order to qualify for their office (Titus 1:5-9). Paul warns Titus about false teachers who are insubordinate and lack integrity. In particular, Paul warns against a group known as the circumcision party (Titus 1:10-16). Paul instructs Titus to teach sound doctrine and to teach others to practice mature healthy relationships: men are to love their wives and be steadfast in faith, women are to be pure and instruct other women to love their husbands and their children, young men are to be self-controlled, and servants are to be obedient to masters (Titus 2:1-10). Titus is to instruct others concerning the grace of God that has been revealed in Christ, not allowing anyone to disregard him as a teacher (Titus 2:11-15). Paul gives Titus final instructions on how to teach other believers to be peaceful and patient with all people in sharing the Gospel, knowing that all believers were once lost in foolishness without God in the world (Titus 3:1-11). Paul concludes his letter with specific instructions, and with greetings concerning other disciples mentioned by name including Tychicus, Artemas, and Zenas. The letter ends as Paul gives instructions and final greetings for the general assembly (Titus 3:12-15).

Jesus Revealed in Titus

Jesus is revealed in Titus as the one who left a world-changing and life-transforming legacy through His unique, atoning work on the cross. Because Jesus died for all those who believe in Him, He left a legacy of faithfulness and an example of a holy life for all believers to follow. This legacy was passed along to many including Paul, whose life was radically transformed when Jesus appeared to him (Acts 9:1-19). In Paul’s letter to Titus, he is encouraging Titus to carry on the legacy of Jesus by following Christ wholeheartedly: making disciples and appointing elders everywhere he goes (Titus 1:5-9; 2:1-10). Just as Paul had modeled a life of following Jesus to Titus, he now commands Titus to model a life devoted to Christ by making disciples in every city and town he reaches. The legacy Jesus left for Paul, and then subsequently for Titus, ultimately involved a life of righteousness in which both men were called be obedient to the authorities and patient with those who persecute them, knowing that everyone was once lost and without God in the world (Titus 3:1-11). In the same way, we as believers in Christ must follow Jesus, using every opportunity to advance the message of the gospel. If we follow Christ, we too can carry on the legacy of discipleship that Jesus has passed down to us.

Book of the Week 55: II Timothy

Greek Name: PROS TIMOTHEON B

Human Author: Paul                                               

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. II Timothy is the fifty-fifth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, II Timothy is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek Name for the book of II Timothy is PROS TIMOTHEON B, which means, “to Timothy – Two” or “for the benefit of Timothy – Two.”

  4. II Timothy was written by Paul when Paul was in prison.

  5. Chronologically, II Timothy was one of the last letters Paul wrote before his death.

Story of the Book

In II Timothy, Paul is giving Timothy final instructions because he believes that he (Paul) is not going to live much longer in this world (II Timothy 4:6). Paul knows that his death, and possibly even martyrdom, is drawing near. Paul begins his second letter to Timothy with a simple greeting, treating Timothy as his child in the Lord (II Timothy 1:1-2). He thanks God for Timothy and calls him to fan into flame the gift of God (II Timothy 1:3-7). Paul instructs Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel, but to proclaim it boldly, using several examples from his own ministry to demonstrate the importance of boldness and faithfulness (II Timothy 1:8-18). He encourages Timothy to be a good and faithful soldier of Christ who is willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (II Timothy 2:1-13), and to be willing to patiently teach others to do the same in a spirit of brotherly love and unity (II Timothy 2:14-26). Paul teaches that in the last days people will abandon sound teaching and sound doctrine (II Timothy 3:1-9), but charges Timothy to remain steadfast in the things that he has learned from the Lord through Paul and through Scripture in order to be an effective worker for the kingdom (II Timothy 3:10-17). Paul charges Timothy by God, Christ, and the appearing of Christ to preach the word and to faithfully fulfill his ministry (II Timothy 4:1-8). Paul asks Timothy to visit him in person, but warns Timothy against several troublemakers by name (II Timothy 4:9-18), and closes the letter with a final personal farewell (II Timothy 4:19-22).

Jesus Revealed in II Timothy

Jesus is revealed in II Timothy is the one through whom God grants eternal life to believers. In II Timothy, Paul is contemplating his own death. He consistently tells Timothy to remain strong in faith in Christ Jesus, trusting that Jesus will grant eternal life both to himself and to Timothy if he perseveres. Therefore, Paul personally charges Timothy by Jesus Christ and His appearing to preach the Word and to faithfully fulfill his ministry (II Timothy 4:1-8). Paul knows that his martyrdom is drawing near, and he charges Timothy to remain faithful to Christ because it is Christ alone who will sustain Timothy in his ministry, especially after Paul is gone.

Paul urges Timothy to trust in Jesus throughout his entire life, believing that Jesus is the one through whom God the Father will grant salvation, eternal life, and immortality to all who trust in Jesus through the gospel (II Timothy 1:8-10). Just as Paul entrusted his eternity to Jesus and encouraged Timothy to do the same, we too can and must entrust ourselves to Jesus in order to obtain salvation, eternal life, and immortality. Every believer is called to entrust his or her eternity solely into the hands of Jesus. Just as Paul faced his own death for the cause of Christ with faith, we are to proclaim Christ boldly to the end of our days.

Book of the Week 54: I Timothy

Greek Name: PROS TIMOTHEON A

Human Author: Paul                                               

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 6

Basic Facts

  1. I Timothy is the fifty-fourth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, I Timothy is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of I Timothy is PROS TIMOTHEON A, which means “to Timothy - One,” or “for the benefit of Timothy – One.”

  4. I Timothy was written by Paul to Timothy as a personal letter, rather than a letter written to a whole group of believers.

  5. Paul is writing this letter to instruct Timothy as a child in the faith.

Story of the Book

Paul begins I Timothy with a greeting, urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus in order to teach and correct those who have deviated from sound doctrine (I Timothy 1:1-11). Paul shares his testimony in order to encourage Timothy and urge him to stay steadfast in the faith (I Timothy 1:12-20). He tells Timothy to pray for all people (I Timothy 2:1-7) and gives instructions for how women should conduct themselves with modesty and self-control (I Timothy 2:8-15). Paul gives Timothy a list of qualifications for overseers (I Timothy 3:1-7), and for deacons in the church (I Timothy 3:8-13). Paul tells Timothy of his plans to visit, stating that if he is delayed this letter will serve for his instruction (I Timothy 3:14-16). The focus of the letter shifts as Paul warns Timothy about false teachers which will arise in the last days. He charges Timothy to be a faithful teacher and follower of Christ who instills sound doctrine among believers (I Timothy 4:1-16). Timothy is then given instructions for how to rebuke others within the body of Christ in a spirit of purity, along with instructions for how to care for widows and women who are in need (I Timothy 5:1-16). Paul writes that Elders in the church who rule well should be treated with double honor as faithful ministers of God (I Timothy 5:17-25). He teaches that all who are believing bond-servants are to have good behavior in order to bring a good reputation to the church (I Timothy 6:1-2). Paul warns Timothy about the danger of false teachers and gives him advise about how to remain content (I Timothy 6:3-10). The letter closes as Paul admonishes Timothy to remain steadfast and to fight the good fight of faith in order to take hold of his salvation that is secure for him in Christ (I Timothy 6:11-21).

Jesus Revealed in I Timothy

I Timothy is written by Paul to instruct Timothy about how to teach sound doctrine, to refute false teachers, and to fulfill his calling by remaining steadfast in faith. Jesus is revealed by Paul as the one who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords who will sustain Timothy throughout his life. God will bring all things under His dominion in good time (I Timothy 6:12-16). Paul urges Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. Just as Paul charged Timothy to fight the good fight of faith, all believers are also called to keep the faith and remain faithful to Jesus and to sound doctrine throughout life. God is the one who gives life to all things and He is the one who provides salvation through the finished work of Jesus. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him life, so God will give eternal life to all who have faith in Jesus Christ. If we remain faithful to God in Christ through all circumstances, we have the same hope of an eternal inheritance in Christ that Paul called Timothy to pursue in I Timothy.

Book of the Week 53: II Thessalonians

Greek Name: PROS THESSALONIKEIS B

Human Author: Paul (and Silvanus and Timothy) 

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. II Thessalonians is the fifty-third book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, II Thessalonians is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of II Thessalonians is PROS THESSALONIKEIS B, which means “to the Thessalonians – Two” or “for the benefit of the Thessalonians – Two.”

  4. II Thessalonians warns of the coming of the man of lawlessness.

  5. This letter’s final verses were written personally by Paul in his own hand to ensure its authenticity against those who sought to falsely imitate Paul.

Story of the Book

Paul begins this letter with a greeting for the church, which includes his note of thanks to God for their perseverance in faith (II Thessalonians 1:1-5). The letter continues as Paul prays for the church in Thessalonica, saying that the salvation they are receiving and the punishment God gives to those who afflict them are both a demonstration of God’s justice (II Thessalonians 1:6-12). Paul warns the church against the coming of a lawless man of destruction who will do false signs and wonders, and in so doing will deceive many. He also warns of false teachers and some who will write letters to the church pretending to be Paul and his companions (II Thessalonians 2:1-12). Paul urges the believers to remain strong in faith and in the grace of Christ (II Thessalonians 2:13-17). He continues by praying that Christ would guard and protect the believers of Thessalonica from the evil one and from evil men who are without faith (II Thessalonians 3:1-5). Paul urges the believers to be hard working and diligent in obeying God through serving others and building up the body. He sets himself up as an example to follow, so that no one in the body of Christ would be idle in order that all might diligently serve the Lord. The church is told not to welcome or associate with those who do otherwise, but to warn the idle person as a brother. Paul commands that everyone must work diligently (II Thessalonians 3:6-13). The letter closes with a final blessing, and Paul writes the last greeting with his own hand to seal the letter’s authenticity (II Thessalonians 3:14-18).

Jesus Revealed in II Thessalonians

Jesus is revealed in II Thessalonians as the one who is able to protect us from the evil one. In the midst of persecution, false teaching, lawlessness, and affliction, Paul prays for the church that Jesus might protect them from the evil one (II Thessalonians 3:1-5). During the time of Paul’s ministry there were many false teachers who were traveling about trying to imitate Paul and deceive the believers in Thessalonica by falsely stating that the day of the Lord had already come (II Thessalonians 2:1-2). Paul specifically prays that Christ would protect them from the evil one, and to guard their hearts and minds against faithless men. When we face false teachers and those who try to deceive believers, we too can pray that God would guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7; II Thessalonians 3:1-5). Paul also reveals Jesus as the one who is steadfast in obedience to the Father (II Thessalonians 3:5) so that believers in Thessalonica may be imitators of Christ by being active in the work of God, avoiding idleness (II Thessalonians 3:6-13). Jesus is steadfast in His obedience to the Father in all things, and by protecting us from the evil one, He can also free us up toward full obedience in our walk with God.

Book of the Week 52: I Thessalonians

Greek Name: PROS THESSALONIKEIS A

Human Author: Paul (and Silvanus and Timothy)

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 5

Basic Facts

  1. I Thessalonians is the fifty-second book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, I Thessalonians is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of I Thessalonians is PROS THESSALONIKEIS A, which means “to the Thessalonians – One” or “for the benefit of the Thessalonians – One.”

  4. I Thessalonians contains important information about the return of Christ.

  5. Paul is writing, at least in part, in response to a good report from Timothy about the Thessalonian church.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter by greeting the Thessalonian church. He thanks them for their prayers, conviction, and sincere faith in the midst of affliction. He assures the believers that Jesus will deliver them from God’s coming wrath that is coming on those who are disobedient (I Thessalonians 1:1-10). Paul continues by reminding the Thessalonians of his labor among them in sharing the gospel with integrity (I Thessalonians 2:1-12). He thanks the believers for persevering in the midst of persecution just as the believing Jews had done before them, and laments that the wrath of God is coming down on the unbelieving Jews (I Thessalonians 2:13-15). Paul writes that he and others are longing to see the believers in Thessalonica but were hindered from visiting, so he sent Timothy to visit them instead. Paul rejoiced that Timothy brought back a good report (I Thessalonians 2:16-3:13). He urges the believers to abandon a life of sin, especially sexual sins, but he commends them for already practicing their faith by loving one another (I Thessalonians 4:1-12). Paul both comforts the Thessalonian believers by reminding them of the coming resurrection of the dead. He assures them that Christ will deliver them from the wrath of God that is coming at an unknown future time when Jesus returns (I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11). The letter closes as Paul gives the believers final instructions to build one another up, to respect those who labor for the gospel, and to pray and serve with humility (I Thessalonians 5:12-26). At the very end of the letter, Paul puts the church under an oath to ensure that this letter is read to all the believers in the city (I Thessalonians 5:27-28).

Jesus Revealed in I Thessalonians

Jesus is revealed in I Thessalonians as the Savior who will one day return. Paul writes to the Thessalonians in order to build them up and encourage them in the face of persecution, telling them that one day Jesus will return and raise to life all those who have fallen asleep in Christ. This is a euphemism for those who have died, especially those who have died for the sake of their faith in Christ (I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11). Paul specifically encourages the believers by assuring them of real hope in their future resurrection from the dead when Jesus returns. Just as Paul encouraged the believers in Thessalonica by assuring them of their hope in the resurrection at the return of Jesus, we too have hope and assurance that Jesus will one day raise us up to eternal life when He returns. Until that day comes, Paul calls the Thessalonian believers to walk according to the will of God; namely that they would receive sanctification by putting away their former life of sin by walking in the love of Christ, brotherly love, forgiveness, and hope (I Thessalonians 4:1-8). We too must live holy lives, actively pursuing our sanctification through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit until Jesus returns.

Book of the Week 51: Colossians

Greek Name: PROS KOLOSSAEIS

Human Author: Paul (and Timothy)                      

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Colossians is the fifty-first book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, Colossians is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Colossians is PROS KOLOSSAEIS, which means “to the Colossians” or “for the benefit of the Colossians.”

  4. Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians while he was in prison.

  5. Paul’s letter to the Colossians likely has a chiastic structure.

Story of the Book

Paul opens his letter with greetings where he assures the Colossian church that he is praying for them (Colossians 1:1-13). Paul then presents Christ as preeminent in all of creation, proclaiming that all things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:14-23). He continues by summarizing his ministry and his struggles for the gospel and for the believers in Colossae (Colossians 1:24-2:5). Paul insists that the Colossian believers remain committed to Christ by refusing to be deceived into believing mere human traditions (Colossians 2:6-23). He teaches the believers to live according to their new life in Christ by living out a life of Christ-like virtue, doing everything for the glory of God and by putting away their former sins (Colossians 3:1-17). Paul then applies this new life in Christ to various relationships within families including: husbands and wives, children to their parents, fathers to their children, and servants and masters, recognizing that all will be held accountable to God for their actions (Colossians 3:18-4:1). Paul asks the Colossian believers to pray for him, specifically that he would have the courage and strength to proclaim the gospel with boldness (Colossians 4:2-6). The letter concludes with a lengthy list of greetings in which Paul asks the believers in Colossae to receive Onesimus and Tychicus as brothers in Christ (Colossians 4:7-17). The letter ends with a final greeting written in Paul’s own hand in which he asks the church to remember him in his chains (Colossians 4:18).

Jesus Revealed in Colossians

Jesus is revealed in Colossians as the Divine Word of God through whom all things were created. Paul goes to considerable lengths to proclaim that Christ is preeminent in creation, even to the extent that all things in the whole of creation were made through and for Christ (Colossians 1:15-18). In Christ, the whole of creation is held together (Colossians 1:17) and the fullness God’s deity dwells within Christ in bodily form (Colossians 2:9-10). These teachings of Paul reveal Jesus to be more than the Messiah. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14) through whom God the Father created the universe. The eternal, divine nature of Jesus as the Word of God made flesh is revealed by Paul in Colossians. Paul reveals this same Jesus in Colossians as the one who is preeminent in all of creation. In other words, all of creation was made through Jesus, and Jesus as the uncreated and eternal Word of God is the one who is revealed by God in all things in creation. Therefore, no human being has any excuse for not acknowledging God as the Creator (Romans 1:19-20). In light of who Jesus is, we have an obligation as Christians to live as people who belong to Christ by loving one another. Therefore, because Jesus died for us, we must honor God with everything we do. Our very lives belong to God because He both created us and bought us with the blood of Jesus. (Colossians 3:1-11).

Book of the Week 50: Philippians

Greek Name: PROS PHILIPPESIOUS

 Human Author: Paul (and Timothy)                      

OT or NT: New Testament 

Number of Chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Philippians is the fiftieth book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Philippians is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Philippians is PROS PHILIPPESIOUS, which means “to the Philippians” or “for the benefit of the Philippians.”

  4. Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison.

Paul insisted that his imprisonment for Christ has served to advance the gospel.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter with a short greeting and by assuring the church at Philippi that he is praying for them (Philippians 1:1-11). Paul then assures believers that his imprisonment has served to advance the gospel (Philippians 1:12-18). He urges the believers to imitate his faith as he expresses his confidence in Christ in all circumstances including imprisonment, life, and even in death (Philippians 1:19-30). The letter continues as Paul urges the church toward humility, unity in faith, and to be of like mind with him (Philippians 2:1-18). Next, Paul discusses his plans to send Timothy and Epaphroditus to visit the Philippians and to encourage them (Philippians 2:19-30). Paul warns the church to be on the lookout for those who try to convince them to depend on obedience to the Law, stressing that salvation is through faith in Christ alone (Philippians 3:1-11), and that Christian citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:12-21). Paul closes his letter with personal greetings (Philippians 4:1-3, 21-23), a call to prayer (Philippians 4:4-7), and a call to encouragement (Philippians 4:8-20).

Jesus Revealed in Philippians

In Philippians, Paul reveals Jesus as the one who is worthy to receive our faith and allegiance in both life and death. At the time in which he wrote his letter to the Philippians, Paul was in prison. He encourages the church to remain confident in Christ in all circumstances, seeing even his imprisonment as an opportunity to advance the gospel. Paul is even so bold as to proclaim, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) This same confidence that Paul has in Christ is the very thing he tries to instill in the Philippian church. Paul also urges the Philippian church to adopt a stance of humility because of the example of Jesus. He proclaims that, while Jesus is equal with God, He did not considered equality with God a thing to be grasped. Rather, Jesus took on the form of a servant and was obedient to the Father in all things, even to the point of death on the cross to redeem fallen, sinful people from sin. (Philippians 2:1-11) Christians are to follow the example of Jesus by being like-minded. In so doing, we are to consider others within the body of Christ to be more important than ourselves. Jesus laid down His very life for us and gave His life so that we might be set free from sin. Just as we have been freely given salvation in Christ, in humility we are also to freely love and serve one another by following Jesus’ example in humbling Himself. Because of this finished work of Jesus, Paul has the confidence to proclaim that for him to live is Christ (for to live is to have opportunity to serve Christ by serving others), and to die is gain (for then Paul can depart and be with Christ).

Book of the Week 49: Ephesians

Greek Name: PROS EPHESIOUS

Human Author: Paul                                               

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 6

Basic Facts

  1. Ephesians is the forty-ninth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Ephesians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Ephesians is PROS EPHESIOUS, which means “to the Ephesians” or “for the benefit of the Ephesians.”
  4. The book of Ephesians may have originally been a circulatory letter, intended to be read to the church in Ephesus and other churches in the surrounding region.
  5. Ephesians, among all the letters of Paul, seems to give more general advice rather than admonitions which are specific to the church in Ephesus.

Story of the Book

The book of Ephesians begins with a brief greeting by Paul, followed by a longer synopsis of the atoning work of Jesus which brought salvation. (Ephesians 1:3-14, originally one sentence in Greek.) Paul then expresses his gratitude for the Ephesian church in his prayers. (Ephesians 1:15-23) He then proceeds to remind the Ephesians that they were once sinners without God in the world, stressing that it is Christ who has reconciled them to God through His blood. This salvation is expressly by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:1-22) Paul appeals to the Ephesian church as a prisoner for Christ, asking them to persevere in Christ and to welcome their gentile believing brethren as equals. (Ephesians 3:1-13) Paul then gives a prayer for the church, asking God to sustain them in their walk with Christ. (Ephesians 3:14-21) He urges the Ephesian church to walk in a manner worthy of their calling in Christ and to grow into full maturity. (Ephesians 4:1-16) He also encourages believers to walk in newness of life in Christ, forgiving one another for past wrongs. (Ephesians 4:17-32) Paul spends the rest of the letter giving advice on how believers should conduct themselves in various interpersonal relationships including: being believers who are imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1-20), husbands and wives (Ephesians 5:21-33), parents and children (Ephesians 6:1-4), and servants and masters (Ephesians 6:5-9). Paul closes his letter by calling the church to equip themselves for bold kingdom service through an analogy called the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). The epistle closes with a few personal greetings Paul gives to particular individuals. (Ephesians 6:21-23)

Jesus Revealed in Ephesians

Jesus is revealed in Ephesians as the one who has reconciled believers back to God through His blood shed on the cross. The completed work of reconciliation that Jesus brought between God and believers is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10), which also entails a call to full maturity in Christ. (Ephesians 4:1-16) This call to maturity involves a transformation of interpersonal relationships including: husbands and wives who are called to be a picture of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:21-33), children living in obedience to parents (Ephesians 6:1-4), and servants serving masters wholeheartedly and masters treating servants with kindness knowing both will be held accountable before God for their treatment of one another (Ephesians 6:5-9). Finally, walking in full maturity in Christ involves a bold life of Christian service in which believers are thoroughly equipped for following Christ through an analogy of the soldier.  Believers are called to stand firm in faith by putting on the full armor of God, resisting the enemy and following Christ faithfully throughout their lives (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Book of the Week 48: Galatians

Greek Name: PROS GALATAS

Human Author: Paul                                               

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 6

Basic Facts

  1. Galatians is the forty-eighth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Galatians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Galatians is PROS GALATAS, which means “to the Galatians” or “for the benefit of the Galatians.”
  4. In Galatians, the Apostle Paul shares his personal testimony.
  5. Galatians was written by Paul to oppose the heresy of the Judaizers, who sought to make Gentile believers in Christ follow the Law of Moses.

Story of the Book

Paul writes to the people of Galatia (scholars debate whether the city of Galatia or the province of Galatia is his target audience). He confronts the Galatians for abandoning the Gospel message by giving in to Jews who were teaching them that they must obey the Law of the Torah. Paul gives his personal testimony of conversion, explaining how he was transformed from a persecutor of the Church to a follower of Jesus by faith. Paul’s testimony includes a personal revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to tell the Galatians how he came to Jerusalem and was accepted by Peter and James, and he briefly tells how he confronted Peter for being a hypocrite by briefly accepting the Judaizers' arguments. Paul argues that salvation is by faith in Christ and is to be received by faith apart from the works of the Law. Paul argues that, by faith in Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike become children of God and heirs of the promise that God gave to Abraham. As a result, God considers believers in Christ to be children of Abraham, in fulfillment of God’s Covenant promises. Paul urges the Galatian believers not to be subject to the Law, but rather to trust in Christ alone for their salvation. He concludes his letter by urging the Galatian believers to walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit, to refrain from sin, and to bear one another’s burdens as an expression of brotherly love in Christ. Paul personally hand-wrote the conclusion to this letter, urging believers not to give in to the Judaizers, but rather to remain steadfast in faith.

Jesus Revealed in Galatians

In Galatians, Paul reveals Jesus to be the one who brings fulfillment to the Law (Matthew 5:17). Jesus fulfilled the law through His sinless life and atoning work. Salvation, therefore, is found only through faith in Jesus Christ and not through the works of the Law. Paul’s portrayal of Jesus as the one who fulfills the Law is crucial to the identity of all believers, for the atoning work of Christ is the only way that believers are reckoned as children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise through faith (Galatians 3:29). Paul makes the case that the work of Christ has brought about reconciliation: both between God and men and also between Jews and Gentiles to such an extent that all believers regardless of race are now one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Paul uses this defense to refute the heresy of the Judaizers, who were trying to convince the Galatians to see their salvation as coming from both Jesus Christ and obedience to the Law. If this were true, then the atoning work of Jesus on the cross alone would not be enough to forgive sins. Paul refutes this claim in the strongest possible terms, insisting that Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law is complete and allows believers to receive salvation exclusively through faith in Jesus (Galatians 2:15-21).

Book of the Week 47: II Corinthians

Greek Name: PROS KORINTHIOUS B

Human Author: Paul (and Timothy)                                   

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 13

Basic Facts

  1. II Corinthians is the forty-seventh book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, II Corinthians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for II Corinthians is PROS KORINTHIOUS B, which means “to the Corinthians—two” or “for the benefit of the Corinthians—two.”
  4. II Corinthians contains major themes about suffering and comfort for believers.
  5. The epistle of II Corinthians was originally written to both the believers in Corinth and to believers throughout the Roman province of Achaia (II Corinthians 1:1-2).

Story of the Book

Paul begins this letter by greeting the Corinthian church. He then proceeds to assure them that, just as they share in the sufferings of Christ through persecution, they will also share in God’s comfort to them in Christ. Paul continues this theme of comfort from God in the midst of suffering throughout his letter. He explains his change of plans regarding a visit to the Corinthian church. Paul tells the church that they are vessels in jars of clay intended as instruments of God’s glory who have been united to God through the Holy Spirit. He goes on to explain that the church needs an eternal perspective in the midst of suffering in which they see that their eternal home is in heaven with God. Paul defends his ministry to the Corinthians and tries to demonstrate his faithfulness by reminding them of his sufferings with them. He encourages the church in Corinth to be generous in giving to the church in other places though a collection he is putting together for the believers in Jerusalem. Next, Paul warns the church about false apostles and defends his own apostleship of his sufferings, his faith in Christ, and his personal identity as a Hebrew. Paul ends his letter by reviewing his suffering and perseverance and the grace of God expressed to him in Christ even in the midst of a personal ailment. Paul warns the church that he is coming to visit them and that they should heed his warnings about past wrongdoing and, in so doing, prove that they pass the test of being in Christ and part of the ministry of reconciliation. 

Jesus Revealed in II Corinthians

In II Corinthians, Jesus is revealed as the one who reconciles believers to God through His redeeming work on the cross. It is on this basis that believers have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Paul’s own words summarize this theme best as he writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:17-20). Because of what Christ did in reconciling Paul to God, God appeals to the Corinthian church for reconciliation over a previous misunderstanding or wrong. Paul reveals Christ as the one in whom reconciliation with God is truly possible for anyone who comes to God in faith through Jesus Christ.