A quick glance at the first few verses of 1 Peter is enough to give us an understanding of Peter’s message to his readers: hope for the hurting. According to verse 1, the hurting were those residing as aliens, scattered throughout vast regions of the Roman Empire. These Christians were objects of social ostracism, slander, mistreatment, and threats. They needed encouragement.
Don’t be fooled by its size. The letter of James may be small, but it’s strong. It refuses to let the reader hide behind the walls of theological theory or intellectual faith. True faith produces authenticity. “No authenticity…no faith”—that’s James’s conclusion on the matter. James’s letter may make us squirm, but it also makes us tear down our facades.
Profound, mysterious, deep, and sometimes difficult to understand, this book deserves our time and attention. Rich in Jewish history and filled with quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament, the study of Hebrews requires concentration plus a fairly firm grasp of how God revealed Himself to His people in ancient times.
This, the shortest of the Apostle’s writings, is one of the grandest illustrations of grace and forgiveness in all of Scripture. It is a warm, passionate appeal to a slave owner to accept back, forgive, and reinstate his runaway slave Onesimus. Because of the obvious analogy with our being accepted by God and forgiven through His grace, this little letter has become one of the most treasured in the New Testament.
Titus brings a word of caution, a reminder that good works must accompany our proclamation of the truth and our defence of the Gospel. The two letters to Timothy encourage him to protect and to preach, while the letter to Titus instructs him to practice those things. While good works in no way lead to salvation, they are the irrefutable evidence of true salvation.
It’s doubtful that we could find a more nostalgic, emotional letter written by the Apostle Paul. Facing death alone in a dungeon, surrounded by memories, and exposed to the elements, this grand old man wrote by candlelight a letter to his dear friend, Timothy. Paul had no assurance it would ever reach him but, nevertheless, he wrote it. And we are so grateful he did!
First Timothy addresses the role of the shepherd and his responsibility for the life of the flock. The shepherd must know and teach sound doctrine, live a godly life, and maintain order in the church. This letter highlights the importance of choosing godly leaders according to God’s design.
Within these 47 verses, we find such helpful insights as the purpose of persecution as well as the importance of diligence, Bible study, personal discipline, minding our own business, and choosing the right companions. As we explore this letter, let’s be sensitive to what God is saying—as it relates both to His prophetic plan and to His practical advice. Both are of equal importance.
Although brief (fewer than 90 verses), this letter outlines such practical matters as a church model worth emulating, a philosophy toward ministry worth following, a commitment to purity worth remembering, a hope of Christ’s coming worth anticipating, and a love for fellow Christians worth duplicating.
Colossians is the chart and compass, which will enable us to sail a straight course between the dangers of viewing Christianity as merely a philosophy and of making it a lifestyle of rigidity. How we need this little yet potent letter! Beset by gnostic heresy and harassed by Greek philosophy, the saints at Colossae were in danger of losing their way. Paul wrote to help them get back on course.