Somewhere between frightening and mysterious—that’s the book of Revelation. It is notoriously considered the most difficult of all the Bible books…completely unique, full of symbols, and awesome in scope. Regrettably, Revelation has occasionally become the playground of religious eccentrics, fodder for prophecy “fanatics” who seem compelled to find in Revelation a detailed end-times timetable—right down to the very day of the Lord’s return.
Someone has correctly coined Jude’s letter with the title “The Acts of the Apostates.” The primary apostates in the first century were the Gnostics, who embraced the philosophy that humans could do anything they liked, as no one is under any moral obligation to his or her physical body. This mindset led to rebellion against authority, irreverence, presumptuous speech, and a lifestyle marked by unbridled license. Jude wrote his letter to defend the apostolic faith and to stir up his readers to do the same.
John singles out three men for observation and instruction. Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius, while actual personalities in the early church, represent three types in the church today. We’ll find much that is practical for our churches as we examine these 15 verses together.
John’s second letter is much less complicated than his first—perhaps because it’s a personal and private letter. In it John mentioned “truth” five times and “love” four times. And both are key to understanding 2 John. John’s desire was for “the chosen lady” who received this letter to maintain a balanced perspective on life: love and truth…practice and doctrine…walking and standing…accepting and rejecting. A balance we need to maintain today.
In this study, we will look at a five-chapter letter appearing simple and uncomplicated yet, in reality, is both profound and complex. In the epistle of 1 John, he emphasized the nature of that life as possessed by God’s children.
In 2 Peter, the Apostle dealt with the internal enemies—false prophets and other subtle adversaries—who twisted the truth. Of special interest to Peter were false teachings regarding the return of the Lord as well as our life of service and purity prior to the event. The tone of 2 Peter is that of an urgent warning, urging all readers to beware…to be ready.
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.