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.  

Book of the Week 46: I Corinthians

Greek Name: PROS KORINTHIOUS A 

Human Author: Paul (and Sosthenes)                          

OT or NT: New Testament 

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. I Corinthians is the forty-sixth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, I Corinthians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for I Corinthians is PROS KORINTHIOUS A which means “to the Corinthians - one” or “for the benefit of the Corinthians - one.”
  4. I Corinthians was a letter written by Paul that, at least in part, was in response to a letter he received from the Corinthian church.
  5. The book of I Corinthians has more instruction on spiritual gifts than most books of the New Testament.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter by greeting the Corinthian church and assuring them of his prayers of thanksgiving for them. Paul confronts the Corinthian church about divisions which exist among them, encouraging them toward unity in faith and in the Holy Spirit. Paul rebukes the Corinthian believers for sexual immorality and for taking one another to court before unbelievers. Next Paul responds to several matters which the believers in Corinth had written to him about including: marriage, widows, and food sacrificed to idols in which Paul encourages the church to flee immorality, to honor God with their body, to remain as they are when called regarding marriage, and to take care not to discourage other believers who have a weak conscience. Paul then surrenders his right as an Apostle to claim material support from the Corinthian church. He encourages believers to do everything to the glory of God. Paul continues his letter by giving advice to the Corinthian believers regarding a variety of topics including: the role of women in the church, head coverings, spiritual gifts, the way of love, keeping order in worship, the necessity of the resurrection of Christ to the Christian faith, and the triumph of Jesus over sin and death in His resurrection. The letter ends as Paul tells the Corinthian church of his plans to visit the Corinthian church, instructions involving a collection for the needy, and a list of personal greetings and commendations for faithful believers.

Jesus Revealed in I Corinthians

In I Corinthians, Paul reveals Jesus’ resurrection to be absolutely essential and indispensable to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus there is no new life for believers and no forgiveness of sins. (I Corinthians 15:12-19) Jesus is compared and contrasted with the character of Adam. Adam failed in the Garden of Eden by falling into sin and he and plunged the world into sin, death, and darkness along with him. Where Adam fails, Jesus succeeds by living a sinless life. Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ will many be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:21-22) While Adam became a living soul, Jesus the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45-49) For Christians, the entire basis for hope in the resurrection of the dead is founded first and foremost in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Victory over death is found only in the resurrection of Christ and not in the law. Next, when believers are united in Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit to live within us. The Holy Spirit unites us as one body in Christ, making us to be alive together with Christ as spiritual persons. The Spirit also empowers us with spiritual gifts which enable us to participate in the body of Christ in order to fulfill our calling within the church’s God-given ministry of reconciliation. (I Corinthians 12:1-28) Since we have a resurrected Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, we as believers not only have hope for our resurrection from the dead, but we are also given the Holy Spirit to unite us with Christ and to empower us for our spiritual mission as the church. Paul proclaims himself as one who personally experienced and encounter with the resurrected Jesus in order to assure believers that this hope of resurrection that we have in Christ is secure.

Book of the Week 45: Romans

Greek Name: PROS ROMAIOUS

Author: Paul                                                                         

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. Romans the forty-fifth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Romans is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. While Paul wrote Romans, the letter was entrusted to a woman named Phoebe who delivered the letter to the church[es] in Rome.
  4. The Greek name for the book of Romans is PROS ROMAIOUS, which means “to the Romans” or “for the benefit of the Romans.”
  5. The faith of the Roman believers was exceptionally important because it was being proclaimed around the world from the Capitol city of the Roman Empire (Romans 1:8).

Story of the Book

Romans is a letter written by Paul to the believers in Rome. Paul begins his letter by greeting believers in Rome and assuring them that he is praying for them. Paul also assures the church in Rome of his desire to visit them in person. Paul teaches that church that God has revealed Himself to the world and that He is going to judge the world on account if its sins. Paul emphasizes that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23) but that Christ died to save all sinners who are justified through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the example of Abraham being justified by faith to demonstrate that people are justified not by obedience to Torah law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul then goes through a lengthy and complex explanation of how people are justified by faith in Christ and not through works, arguing that the ethnic people of Israel have no special standing; only those who come to Christ through faith do. Paul argues that God is sovereignly in control of all things. The rest of Paul’s letter is spent giving advice to believers on how to live their lives in light of God’s mercy including offering themselves as living sacrifices, being renewed in mind, loving one another with sincerity, blessing those who persecute them, submitting to governing authorities in the Lord, and showing mercy to those who are weak in faith. Paul finishes his letter with a lengthy list of personal greetings to the believers in Rome, often resorting to personal greetings on a first-name basis to express his caring for them. 

Jesus Revealed in Romans

Paul reveals Jesus by explaining to his audience that the way of salvation is not through righteous acts of obedience to the Law of Moses, but rather by faith through Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul reveals that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), yet Jesus is one who justifies sinners by faith (Romans 5:1). Jesus is the one who died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) and who fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law in order that we who have faith in Him and might also live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), and all who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9). Paul reveals Jesus as the Messiah through whom this salvation by faith, apart from the works of the Law, is made possible. Jesus is the one through whom salvation is offered not only to Jews, but also to the gentiles so that anyone who has faith in Christ is offered the free gift of salvation that is found exclusively in Him. Paul seeks to strengthen the faith of believers in Rome through proper instruction on the way of salvation, encouraging believers to live self-sacrificially in light of the mercy of God given to them freely in Christ.

Book of the Week 44: Acts

Greek Name: PRAXEIS APOSTOLON

Human Author: Luke                                              

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 28

Basic Facts

  1. Acts [of the Apostles] is the forty-fourth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Acts is classified as a book of history, though it could be classified as a letter written to Theophilus.
  3. Acts is the sequel to the two-part series known as Luke-Acts.
  4. The Greek name for the book of Acts is PRAXEIS APOSTOLON, which means “Acts of [the] Apostles” or “Deeds of [the] Apostles.”
  5. The book of Acts uniquely tells the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as foretold by Jesus.

Story of the Book

The Book of Acts begins with an introduction given by Luke to Theophilus, along with a brief account of the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit would soon come upon them. The disciples then cast lots and replace Judas Iscariot with a disciple named Matthias. Next, the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles at Pentecost with tongues of fire, and Peter addresses a crowd proclaiming the event to be prophetic fulfillment. Luke then gives some details regarding the practices of the community of the early church including persecution, the solidarity of the community, healings, signs and wonders, and believers praying for boldness. The book continues with many other stories which detail the acts of the Apostles and the early church including for following:

  • The testimony and martyrdom of Stephen
  • Ananias and Saphira,
  • The choosing of servers for the community
  • Persecution under Saul
  • Saul’s conversion
  • The vision of Peter
  • The church of Antioch
  • A meeting in Jerusalem

The rest of the book gives a detailed account of the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas to various places in the Roman empire stretching from Jerusalem to Rome as God commissions Paul as a missionary to the gentiles, and the gospel continues to expand throughout the known world.

Jesus Revealed in Acts

 Jesus had promised His disciples that the Father would send another helper in Jesus’ name who would teach them all things, namely the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). After the resurrection, Jesus promises His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would receive power to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:7-9). In Acts, the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples at Pentecost with tongues of fire and empowers them to fulfill their God-given mission to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. In addition to this, Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus to a man named Saul (Acts 9:1-22). Saul was a Pharisee and a zealous persecutor of the church. After Jesus reveals Himself to Saul, Saul’s heart is radically changed, and he begins to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that he once tried to destroy (Galatians 1:23). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ mission began to be carried out to the ends of the earth accompanied by signs, miracles, and visions and dreams of Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s coming was a fulfillment of the words of the prophet Joel, who proclaimed that visions and dreams would accompany the Spirit of the LORD (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:14-24). In this way, Jesus has and continues to appear to people around the world, spreading the gospel message and proclaiming the good news of himself to the ends of the earth.

Book of the Week 43: John

Greek Name: KATA IOANNEN

Human Author: John                                                           

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 21

Basic Facts

  1. John is the forty-third book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, John is classified as a gospel.
  3. Chronologically, John is the last of the four canonical gospels to be written.
  4. The Greek name for the book of John is KATA IOANNEN which means, “according to John”
  5. Of all four canonical gospels, John contains the most unique information and is considered the only gospel that is not a synoptic gospel.

Story of the Book

The gospel of John begins with an account of the story of Creation with parallels to Genesis chapter 1. John tells his audience that God created all things through His powerful Word, and this Word was made flesh and now dwells among us (John 1:14), and John reveals that this Word that was made flesh is Jesus Christ. Woven into this account of creation is the ministry of John the Baptist, who prepares the way for Jesus. John proclaims Jesus to be the lamb of God and baptizes Jesus. The next several chapters give a detailed account of the life of Jesus including His life, ministry, miracles, and teachings. Jesus heals the sick, raises the dead, proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God, and gives hope to the destitute. While the synoptic gospels give more detail to the early years of Jesus’ life, John focuses almost exclusively on Jesus’ final years of life concerning His public ministry. John gives an especially detailed account of the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry starting in chapter 13 through the end of the book. Out of all four gospels, John gives the most detailed account of Jesus’ last supper, prayer in Gethsemane, His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book ends with an acknowledgement that if all the things Jesus did were written down, the world itself could not even contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).

Fulfillments by Jesus in John

John writes about many of the things which Jesus did to reveal His identity as the Messiah, and John states that the purpose of his account is to convince his readers that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31). The ways in which John displays Jesus as the divine Son of God are too numerous to mention them all here. Nevertheless, the following is a short list of examples of the ways in which the divine identity of Jesus is revealed in John: Jesus is the Word of God who is God through whom God the father has made all things (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3), and Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus also makes several “I AM” statements which make a linguistic connection between the person and work of Jesus to the name God assigns to Himself as “I AM who I AM” in Exodus 3:14. Jesus declares:

  • “I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35-48)
  • “I AM the light of the world” (John 8:12)
  • “I AM the door of the sheep” (John 10:7) 
  • “I AM the good shepherd” (John 10:11-14) 
  • “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58) 
  • “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) 
  • “I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) 
  • “I AM the true vine” (John 15:1-5)

These examples, along with the miracles of Jesus, proclaim Jesus’ divine identity as the Son of God so that through Him we may obtain forgiveness of sins through His shed blood on the cross.

Book of the Week 42: Luke

Greek Name: KATA LOUKAN

Human Author: Luke                                                          

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 24

Basic Facts

  1. Luke is the forty-second book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Luke is classified as a gospel.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Luke is KATA LOUKAN which means “according to Luke.”
  4. The Gospel of Luke is the first part of a two-part series, with the book of Acts as a sequel.
  5. Along with Matthew and Mark, Luke is considered one of the synoptic gospels.

Story of the Book

The story of Luke is a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, which is followed by the book of Acts which gives a detailed account of the actions of the Apostles and the early church. Luke-Acts (a name for the two-part series containing the books of Luke and Acts) is written in the form of a letter or account addressed to Theophilus. The book begins with the birth of John the Baptist and continues with an account of the birth of Jesus. The book continues with the dedication of Jesus in the Temple, His childhood, the ministry of John the Baptist, and then a lengthy genealogy tracing Jesus’ lineage all the way from Jesus back to Adam. The book continues with a detailed account of Jesus’ life, ministry, teachings, miracles, and parables. The last several chapters of Luke give a detailed account of Jesus’ final arrival in Jerusalem, the Last Supper/Passover, Jesus’ arrest, trial, beatings, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Jesus appears to some of His followers on the road to Emmaus and to His disciples. The book ends as Jesus ascends into heaven and His disciples return to the Temple, praising God for the things which they had seen and heard.

Fulfillments by Jesus in Luke

The fulfillments Jesus brings are recorded in the Book of Luke to demonstrate Jesus’ miraculous power and identity as the Messiah. The ways in which Jesus fulfills prophecy in the book of Luke are too numerous to mention them all. Never the less, here are some examples of prophecies about the Messiah which were fulfilled by Jesus in order to demonstrate His identity: Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 2:34-35), Jesus as Messiah was preceded by an Elijah figure in the person of John the Baptist who would prepare the way of the LORD (Isaiah 40:3-5; Micah 4:5-6; Luke 3:1-6), Jesus was descended from the royal line of king David (II Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23-38), Jesus performed many miracles by making the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead were raised (Isaiah 35:1-5; Luke 7:18-23), and Jesus often taught in parables to produce the result Isaiah predicted (Isaiah 6:9; Luke 8:9-10). There are many more examples of how Jesus demonstrated His identity as the Messiah, these are just a few examples. Beyond fulfilling prophecy, God the Father vindicated the cause of Jesus by raising Him from the dead. Through the atoning work of Jesus, we who have faith in Him can receive forgiveness of sins through His blood shed on the cross. Luke gives a detailed account of the life of Jesus in Luke and continues his testimony of the early church in the book of Acts. 

Book of the Week 41: Mark

Greek Name: KATA MARKON

Human Author: Mark                                                         

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. Mark is the forty-first book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Mark is classified as a gospel.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Mark is KATA MARKON, which means “according to Mark.”
  4. Mark was likely the first of the four canonical gospel accounts to be written.
  5. Along with Matthew and Luke, Mark is considered one of the synoptic gospels.

Story of the Book

The story of Mark is a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Mark’s Gospel opens with the ministry of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. Next, Mark gives an account of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river. The rest of the book gives a detailed account of Jesus’ life including His ministry, the calling of His disciples, miracles, teachings, parables, His entry into Jerusalem, prophecies concerning the end of days, the plot to kill Jesus, the Lord’s Supper, Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book of Mark ends on a low note as Mary and Martha flee from Jesus’ empty tomb after an angel tells them that Jesus has been resurrected. The women flee initially tell no one about what they had seen because they were afraid. **

 ** (The ending of the book in Mark 16:9-20 is likely a later addition to the text that tells of how Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, and she in turn went and told Jesus’ disciples of His resurrection. This later addition to the text tells of signs and wonders which will accompany those who believe in Jesus and are baptized. The very end of the text briefly tells of Jesus’ ascension into heaven at the right hand of God and how the disciples went and proclaimed the Gospel accompanied by signs.)

Fulfillments by Jesus in Mark:

The fulfillments given by Jesus in the book of Mark demonstrate His identity as the Messiah, as the Son of God, and as a prophet like Moses. The ways in which Jesus fulfills prophecy in the book of Mark are too numerous to mention all of them here. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of prophecies about the Messiah which were fulfilled by Jesus in order to demonstrate His identity:

  • God the Father proclaims Jesus to be His son (Psalm 2:7-12; Mark 1:16). 
  • God proclaims Jesus to be His son and commands the disciples to listen to Him (which also gives parallels concerning the identity of Jesus as a prophet like Moses) (Exodus 24:15; Exodus 34:29; Deuteronomy 18:18-19; Mark 9:2-8). 
  • Jesus frequently speaks in Parables in Mark (Psalm 78:2-4; Mark 4:1-12 [and many other examples]). 
  • Jesus proclaims himself to be both the Lord (with authority over king David) and the Son of God (Psalm 110:1; Mark 12:35-36). 

Mark also gives an account of many miracles and signs which Jesus performed which demonstrate Jesus’ divine power. Many of the events recorded in the Gospel of Mark point to the reality of who Jesus is either through a demonstration of His miraculous power or through God the Father proclaiming Jesus to be His son.

Book of the Week 40: Matthew

Greek Name: KATA MATHTHAION

Human Author: Matthew                                        

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 28

Basic Facts

  1. Matthew is the fortieth book of the Bible and the first book of the New Testament.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Matthew is classified as a Gospel.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Matthew is KATA MATHTHAION, which means “according to Matthew.”
  4. While many scholars believe the entire New Testament was originally written in Greek, it is possible that the book of Matthew had an Aramaic original.
  5. Along with Mark and Luke, Matthew is considered one of the Synoptic Gospels.

Story of the Book

Matthew covers a full account of Jesus Christ as the Messiah including Jesus’ lineage, life, youth, ministry, miracles, teachings, prophetic fulfillments, parables, and a full account of His atoning work including His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book begins with a lengthy genealogy of Jesus and continues with stories of Jesus’ birth, youth, an account of the life and ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan, the sermon on the mount, and many stories about Jesus’ miracles and teachings. The book ends dramatically with an account of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book ends with the resurrected Jesus commanding His disciples to make disciples of all nations and promising to be with them to the very end of the age.

Fulfillments by Jesus in Matthew

Matthew records the ways in which Jesus fulfills many Old Testament prophecies in order to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Jesus fulfills too many prophecies in Matthew to mention them all here. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of prophecies about the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled in order to demonstrate His identity as the Messiah:

  • Jesus is descended from the royal line of king David (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:1-17). 
  • Jesus was born of a virgin and called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
  • Jesus is preceded by an Elijah figure in John the Baptist (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:1-15). 
  • Jesus is the light that has dawned in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-17). 
  • Jesus is the one who took our illnesses and diseases (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 7:14-17). 
  • Jesus is the king who came to Jerusalem on a donkey and a colt (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-5). 
  • Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected that became the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22-23; Matthew 21:42).
  • The story of Jesus’ atoning death fulfills the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16; Matthew 27:32-28:20).
  • Jesus is the Son of God under whom God will place all rule and authority (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44).

After Jesus is resurrected, He proclaims that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. Jesus uses this authority to command His disciples to make disciples of all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. By these proofs and many more, Matthew proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah and the Son of God.

Book of the Week 39: Malachi

Hebrew Name: Malakhi

Human Author: Malachi                                                     

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Malachi is the thirty-ninth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Malachi is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Malachi is Malakhi, which means “my messenger.”
  4. Malachi was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah who returned from Babylon/Persia.
  5. Malachi may have been a contemporary of the prophet Nehemiah.

Story of the Book

Malachi contains three basic parts: a word against Judah’s priests for their sin and corruption (Malachi 1:1-2:9), a word against the sinfulness of the people of Judah (Malachi 2:10-3:15), and a word to the faithful remnant of Judah (Malachi 3:16-4:6). The book begins with God’s rebuke of the priesthood of Judah. God criticizes the priests for offering blemished sacrifices. God warns the priests that He is not pleased with them. Next, God rebukes the people generally for their sin and disobedience. God rebukes the people for failing to honor Him with their words, by failing to tithe, and failing to take obedience to God’s commands seriously. Finally, the book ends with a scroll being written regarding a remnant of faithful Jews among the people. God promises that the faithful remnant of the nation will be His and will be His treasured possession on the day when He judges all people with fire—namely the day of the LORD. The book ends as God promises to send Elijah before the day of the LORD comes and that this Elijah figure will turn the hearts of people toward one another.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Malachi

Jesus is foretold in Malachi in more than one place but in a way that is somewhat veiled and vague. Only later would he be fully revealed as the Messiah in the New Testament. Here are a few examples of the ways in which Jesus is foretold in the book of Malachi: God promises to send a messenger who will prepare the way before Him, and then the LORD and messenger of the covenant will appear (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:7-14; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 7:24-28). God also promises that Elijah will proceed the day of the LORD; this Elijah is revealed as John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus Christ (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:11-15; Luke 1:78). In addition to these examples, Malachi was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah who had come back from Babylon/Persia. God was gathering His people back to the promised land in order to fulfill His promises to them in the Messiah. It is possible to interpret God’s warnings to the people through Malachi as both a message of hope and of judgment. Even after being punished in exile, the people were continuing to disobey God. When God would come in the person of Jesus Christ, He would refine those who trust in Him like a refiner of gold and silver (Malachi 3:2-4), but God also warned that those who were disobedient would face judgment at the coming of Jesus as Malachi writes, “or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). Malachi is one of the clearest examples in the Old Testament of how the Messiah, later revealed as Jesus Christ, would bring both hope and purification for the righteous and judgment against the wicked. In this way Jesus is foretold to be a bringer of both hope and judgment.