Category: New Testament (I through P)

Book of Jude

Jude 1 identifies the author of the Book of Jude as Jude, a brother of James. This likely refers to Jesus’ half-brother Jude, as Jesus also had a half-brother named James (Matthew 13:55). Jude likely does not identify himself as a brother of Jesus out of humility and reverence for Christ.

Date of Writing: The Book of Jude is closely related to the book of 2 Peter. The date of authorship for Jude depends on whether Jude used content from 2 Peter, or Peter used content from Jude when writing 2 Peter. The Book of Jude was written somewhere between A.D. 60 and 80.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of Jude is an important book for us today because it is written for the end times, for the end of the church age. The church age began at the Day of Pentecost. Jude is the only book given entirely to the great apostasy. Jude writes that evil works are the evidence of apostasy. He admonishes us to contend for the faith, for there are tares among the wheat. False prophets are in the church and the saints are in danger. Jude is a small but important book worthy of study, written for the Christian of today.

Key Verses: Jude 3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

Jude 17-19: “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”

Jude 24-25: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Brief Summary: According to verse 3, Jude was anxious to write about our salvation; however, he changed topics to address contending for the faith. This faith embodies the complete body of Christian doctrine taught by Christ, later passed on to the apostles. After Jude warns of false teachers (verses 4-16), he advises us on how we can succeed in spiritual warfare (verses 20-21). Here is wisdom we would do well to accept and adhere to as we go through these days of the end times.

Connections: The Book of Jude is filled with references to the Old Testament, including the Exodus (v. 5); Satan’s rebellion (v. 6); Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 7); Moses’ death (v. 9); Cain (v. 11); Balaam (v. 11); Korah (v. 11); Enoch (vv. 14,15); and Adam (v. 14). Jude’s use of the well-known historical illustrations of Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, and Korah reminded the Jewish Christians of the necessity of true faith and obedience.

Practical Application: We live in a unique time in history and this little book can help equip us for the untold challenges of living in the end times. Today’s Christian must be on guard for false doctrines which can so easily deceive us if we are not well versed in the Word. We need to know the Gospel—to protect and defend it—and accept the Lordship of Christ, which is evidenced by a life-change. Authentic faith always reflects Christ-like behavior. Our life in Christ should reflect our very own heart-knowledge that rests on the authority of the Almighty Creator and Father who puts faith into practice. We need that personal relationship with Him; only then will we know His voice so well that we will follow no other.

Author: 2 Peter 1:1 specifically states that the apostle Peter was the author of 2 Peter. Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter has been challenged more than that of any other book in the New Testament. However, the early church fathers found no good reason to reject it. We find no good reason to reject Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter.

Date of Writing: The Book of 2 Peter was written toward the end of Peter’s life. Since Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to A.D. 68. He very likely wrote 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 68.

Purpose of Writing: Peter was alarmed that false teachers were beginning to infiltrate the churches. He called on Christians to grow and become strong in their faith so that they could detect and combat the spreading apostasy. He strongly stressed the authenticity of the Word of God and the sure return of the Lord Jesus.

Key Verses: 2 Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
The key word is “knowledge,” with its related words, occurring at least 13 times in the Book of 2 Peter.

Brief Summary: Knowing that his time was short (2 Peter 1:13-15) and these churches faced immediate danger (2 Peter 2:1-3), Peter called upon the readers to refresh their memories (2 Peter 1:13) and stimulate their thinking (2 Peter 3:1-2) so that they would remember his teaching (2 Peter 1:15). He challenged the believers to become more mature in their faith by adding to it specific Christians virtues, thereby becoming effective and productive in their knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-9). The Old and New Testament writers were set forth as their authority for their faith (2 Peter 1:12-21, 3:2, 3:15-16). Peter desired they become strong in their faith to withstand the false teachers that had crept in and adversely affected the churches. In his denunciation of them, he described their conduct, their condemnation, and their characteristics (2 Peter chapter 2), and also that they ridiculed the Lord’s Second Coming (2 Peter 3:3-7). For the Christians, Peter taught that the Second Coming is the incentive for holy living (2 Peter 3:14). After a final warning, Peter again encouraged them to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He concluded with a word of praise to his Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).

Connections: In his denunciation of false prophets, Peter repeats a prevalent Old Testament theme that must have been very familiar to his readers. Many of the early Christians were converted Jews who had been well taught in the law and the prophets. When Peter referred to the “word of the prophets” of the Old Testament in 2 Peter 1:19-21, he at one time denounced false prophets and affirmed that true prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit who spoke through them (2 Samuel 23:2). Jeremiah was equally forceful in his criticism of false prophets, asking, “How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?” (Jeremiah 23:26). Clearly, the same deluded false teachers who plagued God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments are still with us, making Peter’s second epistle as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago.

Practical Application: Certainly, as Christians in the 21st century, we are nearer our Lord’s return than the first-century Christians to whom this epistle was written. Through television and other means of mass communications, mature Christians are aware that many charlatans are parading as true Christian leaders, and that immature Christians have been “taken in” by their quackery and false interpretation of Scriptures. It behooves all born-again Christians to be so grounded in the Word that we will be able to discern truth from error.

The same prescription for growth in faith that Peter gave (2 Peter 1:5-11), when applied to our lives, will assure us also a rich reward “into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). The foundation for our faith is and always will be the same Word of God that Peter preached.

Author: 1 Peter 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of 1 Peter as the apostle Peter.

Date of Writing: The Book of 1 Peter was likely written between A.D. 60 and 65.

Purpose of Writing: 1 Peter is a letter from Peter to the believers who had been dispersed throughout the ancient world and were under intense persecution. If anyone understood persecution, it was Peter. He was beaten, threatened, punished and jailed for preaching the Word of God. He knew what it took to endure without bitterness, without losing hope and in great faith living an obedient, victorious life. This knowledge of living hope in Jesus was the message and Christ’s example was the one to follow.

Key Verses: 1 Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Brief Summary: Though this time of persecution was desperate, Peter reveals that it was actually a time to rejoice. He says to count it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ, as their Savior suffered for them. This letter makes reference to Peter’s personal experiences with Jesus and his sermons from the book of Acts. Peter confirms Satan as the great enemy of every Christian but the assurance of Christ’s future return gives the incentive of hope.

Connections: Peter’s familiarity with the Old Testament law and prophets enabled him to explain various OT passages in light of the life and work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 1:16, he quotes Leviticus 11:44: “Be holy, for I am holy.” But he prefaces it by explaining that holiness is not achieved by keeping the law, but by the grace bestowed upon all who believe in Christ (v. 13). Further, Peter explains the reference to the “cornerstone” in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 as Christ, who was rejected by the Jews through their disobedience and unbelief. Additional Old Testament references include the sinless Christ (1 Peter 2:22 / Isaiah 53:9) and admonitions to holy living through the power of God which yields blessings (1 Peter 3:10:12; Psalm 34:12-16; 1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 3:34).

Practical Application: The assurance of eternal life is given to all Christians. One way to identify with Christ is to share in His suffering. To us that would be to endure insults and slurs from those who call us “goodie two shoes” or “holier than thou.” This is so minor compared to what Christ suffered for us on the Cross. Stand up for what you know and believe is right and rejoice when the world and Satan aim to hurt you.

Author: The author of the Book of Philemon was the apostle Paul (Philemon 1:1).

Date of Writing: The Book of Philemon was written in approximately A. D. 60.

Purpose of Writing: The letter to Philemon is the shortest of all Paul’s writings and deals with the practice of slavery. The letter suggests that Paul was in prison at the time of the writing. Philemon was a slave owner who also hosted a church in his home. During the time of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, Philemon had likely journeyed to the city, heard Paul’s preaching and became a Christian. The slave Onesimus robbed his master, Philemon, and ran away, making his way to Rome and to Paul. Onesimus was still the property of Philemon, and Paul wrote to smooth the way for his return to his master. Through Paul’s witnessing to him, Onesimus had become a Christian (Philemon 10) and Paul wanted Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother in Christ and not merely as a slave.

Key Verses: Philemon 6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

Philemon 16: “…no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.”

Philemon 18: “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

Brief Summary: Paul had warned slave owners that they had a responsibility towards their slaves and showed slaves as responsible moral beings who were to fear God. In Philemon, Paul did not condemn slavery, but he presented Onesimus as a Christian brother instead of a slave. When an owner can refer to a slave as a brother, the slave has reached a position in which the legal title of slave is meaningless. The early church did not attack slavery directly but it laid the foundation for a new relationship between owner and slave. Paul attempted to unite both Philemon and Onesimus with Christian love so that emancipation would become necessary. Only after exposure to the light of the gospel could the institution of slavery die.

Connections: Perhaps nowhere in the New Testament is the distinction between law and grace so beautifully portrayed. Both Roman law and the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament gave Philemon the right to punish a runaway slave who was considered property. But the covenant of grace through the Lord Jesus allowed both master and slave to fellowship in love on an equal basis in the body of Christ.

Practical Application: Employers, political leaders, corporation executives and parents can follow the spirit of Paul’s teaching by treating Christian employees, co-workers and family members as members of Christ’s Body. Christians in modern society must not view helpers as stepping stones to help them achieve their ambitions but as Christian brothers and sisters who must receive gracious treatment. In addition, all Christian leaders must recognize that God holds them accountable for the treatment of those who work for them, whether the helpers are Christians or not. They must eventually answer to God for their actions (Colossians 4:1).

Author: Philippians  1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Philippians as the apostle Paul,  likely along with the help of Timothy.

Date of Writing: The Book of Philippians was written in approximately A.D.  61.

Purpose of Writing: The Epistle to the Philippians,  one of Paul’s prison epistles, was written in Rome. It was at Philippi, which  the apostle visited on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:12), that Lydia and the Philippian jailer and his  family were converted to Christ. Now, some few years later, the church was well  established, as may be inferred from its address which includes “bishops  (elders) and deacons” (Philippians  1:1).

The occasion of the epistle was to acknowledge a gift of money  from the church at Philippi, brought to the apostle by Epaphroditus, one of its  members (Philippians 4:10-18). This is a tender letter to a group  of Christians who were especially close to the heart of Paul (2 Corinthians  8:1-6), and comparatively little is said about doctrinal  error.

Key Verses: Philippians  1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Philippians 3:7: “But  whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”

Philippians 4:4:  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Philippians 4:6-7: “Do  not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with  thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which  transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ  Jesus.”

Philippians  4:13: “I can do everything through him who gives me  strength.”

Brief Summary: Philippians can be called  “Resources Through Suffering.” The book is about Christ in our life, Christ in  our mind, Christ as our goal, Christ as our strength, and joy through suffering.  It was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, about thirty years after  Christ’s ascension and about ten years after Paul first preached at  Philippi.

Paul was Nero’s prisoner, yet the epistle fairly shouts with  triumph, the words “joy” and “rejoice” appearing frequently (Philippians 1:4, 18, 25, 26; 2:2, 28; Philippians 3:1, 4:1, 4, 10). Right Christian  experience is the outworking, whatever our circumstances may be, of the life,  nature, and mind of Christ living in us (Philippians  1:6, 11; 2:5, 13). Philippians  reaches its pinnacle at 2:5-11 with the glorious and profound declaration  regarding the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians may be divided as follows:
Introduction, 1:1-7
I. Christ  the Christian’s Life: Rejoicing in Spite of Suffering, 1:8-30
II. Christ the  Christian’s Pattern: Rejoicing in Lowly Service, 2:1-30
III. Christ the  Object of the Christian’s Faith, Desire, and Expectation, 3:1-21
IV. Christ  the Christian’s Strength: Rejoicing Through Anxiety, 4:1-9
Conclusion,  4:10-23

Connections: As with many of his letters, Paul  warned the new believers in the church of Philippi to beware of the tendency  toward legalism which continually cropped up in the early churches. So tied to  the Old Testament law were the Jews that there was a constant effort on the part  of the Judaizers to return to the teaching of salvation by works. But Paul  reiterated that salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone and branded the  Judaizers as “dogs” and “men who do evil.” In particular, the legalists were  insisting that the new believers in Christ should continue to be circumcised  according to the requirements of the Old Covenant (Genesis  17:10-12; Leviticus  12:3). In this way, they attempted to please God by their own efforts and  elevate themselves above the Gentile Christians who did not participate in the  ritual. Paul explained that those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb  were no longer to perform the ritual that symbolized the need for a clean  heart.

Practical Application: Philippians is one of  Paul’s most personal letters, and as such it has several personal applications  to believers. Written during his imprisonment in Rome, Paul exhorts the  Philippians to follow his example and be “encouraged to speak the word of God  more courageously and fearlessly” (Philippians  1:14) during times of persecution. All Christians have experienced, at one  time or another, the animosity of unbelievers against the gospel of Christ. This  is to be expected. Jesus said that the world hated Him and it will hate His  followers as well (John 5:18).  Paul exhorts us to persevere in the face of persecution, to “stand firm in one  spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians  1:27).

Another application of Philippians is the need for Christians  to be united in humility. We are united with Christ and we need to strive to be  united to one another in the same way. Paul reminds us to be “like-minded,  having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” and to put away conceit  and selfishness, “but in humility consider others better than yourselves”  looking out for the interest of others and caring for one another (Philippians 2:2-4).  There would be far less conflict in churches today if we all took to heart  Paul’s advice.

Another application of Philippians is that of the joy  and rejoicing which are found throughout his letter. He rejoices that Christ is  being proclaimed (Philippians  1:8); he rejoices in his persecution (2:18); he exhorts others to rejoice in  the Lord (3:1); and he refers to the Philippian brothers as his “joy and crown”  (4:1). He sums up with this exhortation to believers: “Rejoice in the Lord  always; again, I say Rejoice” (4:4-7).  As believers, we can rejoice and  experience the peace of God by casting all our cares on Him, if we “in  everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let [our] requests be  made known to God” (4:6). Paul’s joy, in spite of persecution and imprisonment,  comes shining through this epistle, and we are promised the same joy he  experienced when we center our thoughts on the Lord (Philippians 4:8).

Author: The Book of 3 John does not directly name its author.  The tradition from the earliest days of the church has been that the apostle  John is the author. There have been occasional doubts raised by those who  thought it possible that this was written by another disciple of the Lord named  John, but all the evidence points to the author being John.

Date  of Writing: The Book of 3 John would most likely have been written at  about the same time as John’s other letters, 1 and 2 John, between A.D.  85-95.

Purpose of Writing: John’s purpose in writing  this third epistle is threefold. First, he writes to commend and encourage his  beloved co-worker, Gaius, in his ministry of hospitality to the itinerant  messengers who were going from place to place to preach the Gospel of Christ.  Second, he indirectly warns and condemns the behavior of one Diotrephes, a  dictatorial leader who had taken over one of the churches in the province of  Asia, and whose behavior was directly opposed to all that the apostle and his  Gospel stood for. Third, he commends the example of Demetrius who was reported  as having a good testimony from all.

Key Verses: 3 John 4: “I have no greater  joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

3 John 11: “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but  what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is  evil has not seen God.”

Brief Summary: John is writing  with his usual strong emphasis on truth to this much-loved brother in Christ,  Gaius, a layman of some wealth and distinction in a city near Ephesus. He highly  commends Gaius’ care and hospitality to his messengers whose mission  was to take the Gospel from place to place, whether they were known to him or  were strangers. John exhorts him to continue to to do good and not to imitate  evil, as in the example of Diotrephes. This man had taken over the leadership of  a church in Asia and not only refused to recognize John’s authority as an  apostle but also to receive his letters and submit to his  directions. He also circulated malicious slanders against John and  excommunicated members who showed support and hospitality to John’s messengers.  Before John concludes his letter he also commends the example of Demetrius, of  whom he has heard excellent reports.

Connections: The  concept of offering hospitality to strangers has plenty of precedent in the Old  Testament. Acts of hospitality in Israel included the humble and gracious  reception of aliens into the home for food, lodging and protection (Genesis 18:2-8, 19:1-8; Job 31:16-23, 31-32). In addition, Old  Testament teaching portrays the Israelites as alienated people who are dependent  on God’s hospitality (Psalm 39:12)  and God as the One who graciously meets their needs, redeeming them from Egypt  and feeding and clothing them in the wilderness (Exodus 16; Deuteronomy  8:2-5).

Practical Application: John, as always,  emphasizes the importance of walking in the truth of the Gospel. Hospitality,  support and encouragement for our fellow Christians are some of the main  precepts of the teachings of Jesus, and Gaius was obviously an outstanding  example of this ministry. We should do the same whenever we can, welcoming  visiting missionaries, preachers and strangers (as long as we are sure that they  are true believers) not only to our churches but also to our homes, and offer  them whatever support and encouragement they need.

We also need to be  careful always to follow only the example of those whose words and actions are  in line with the Gospel, and to be discerning enough to be aware of those such  as Diotrephes whose behavior is far from being like that which Jesus  taught.

Author: The Book of 2 John does not directly name its author.  The tradition from the earliest days of the church states that the author was  the apostle John. There have been various conjectures over the years that  another disciple of Christ named John may have been responsible for this letter.  However, all the evidence points to the author as John the beloved disciple who  also wrote the Gospel of John.

Date of Writing: The  Book of 2 John would most likely have been written at about the same time as  John’s other letters, 1 and 3 John, between A.D. 85-95.

Purpose  of Writing: The Book of 2 John is an urgent plea that the readers of  John’s letter should show their love for God and His son Jesus by obeying the  commandment to love each other and live their lives in obedience to the  Scriptures. The Book of 2 John is also a strong warning to be on the lookout for  deceivers who were going about saying that Christ had not actually risen in the  flesh.

Key Verses: 2 John 6: “And  this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from  the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”

2 John 8-9: “Watch out that  you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not  have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the  Son.”

Brief Summary: The Book of 2 John is addressed to  “the chosen lady and her children.” This could either have been a lady of  important standing in the church or a code which refers to the local church and  its congregation. In those days when Christians were being persecuted such coded  salutations were often used.

The Book of 2 John is largely concerned  with an urgent warning concerning deceivers who were not teaching the exact  doctrine of Christ and who maintained that Jesus did not actually rise in the  flesh but only spiritually. John is very anxious that true believers should be  aware of these false teachers and have nothing to do with  them.

Connections: John describes love not as an  emotion or feeling, but as obedience to the commandments of God. Jesus  reiterated the importance of the commandments, especially the “first and  greatest commandment,” love for God (Deuteronomy  6:5), and the second, love for one another (Matthew  22:37-40; Leviticus  19:18). Far from abolishing the Old Testament law of God, Jesus came to  fulfill it by providing the means of its fulfillment in  Himself.

Practical Application: It is extremely  important that we check everything we see, hear, and read that claims to be  “Christian” with the Scriptures. This cannot be too strongly emphasized because  one of Satan’s greatest weapons is deceit. It is very easy to be taken in by a  new and exciting doctrine that appears to be based on Scripture but which, if  examined closely, is in fact a departure from the Word of God. If what appears  to be happening does not line up explicitly with Scripture, then this is false  and not of the Spirit, and we should have nothing to do with it.

Author: 1, 2, and 3 John have from earliest times been  attributed to the apostle John, who also wrote the Gospel of John. The content,  style, and vocabulary seem to warrant the conclusion that these three epistles  were addressed to the same readers as the Gospel of John.

Date of  Writing: The Book of 1 John was likely written between A.D.  85-95.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of 1 John seems to  be a summary that assumes the readers’ knowledge of the gospel as written by  John and offers certainty for their faith in Christ. The first epistle indicates  that the readers were confronted with the error of gnosticism, which became a  more serious problem in the second century. As a philosophy of religion it held  that matter is evil and spirit is good. The solution to the tension between  these two was knowledge, or gnosis, through which man rose from the mundane to  the spiritual. In the gospel message, this led to two false theories concerning  the person of Christ, Docetism—regarding the human Jesus as a ghost—and  Cerinthianism—making Jesus a dual personality, at times human and at times  divine. The key purpose of 1 John is to set boundaries on the content of faith  and to give believers assurance of their salvation.

Key Verses:  1 John 1:9,  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins  and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 3:6,  “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has  either seen him or known him.”

1 John 4:4,  “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is  in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

1 John 5:13, “I write these  things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know  that you have eternal life.”

The key word is “knowledge,” with its  related words, occurring at least 13 times in the Book of 1  John.

Brief Summary: False spiritual teachers were a  big problem in the early church. Because there was not a complete New Testament  that believers could refer to, many churches fell prey to pretenders who taught  their own ideas and advanced themselves as leaders. John wrote this letter to  set the record straight on some important issues, particularly concerning the  identity of Jesus Christ.

Because John’s letter was about the basics of  faith in Christ, it helped his readers reflect honestly on their faith. It  helped them answer the question, Are we true believers? John told them that they  could tell by looking at their actions. If they loved one another, that was  evidence of God’s presence in their lives. But if they bickered and fought all  the time or were selfish and did not look out for one another, they were  betraying that they, in fact, did not know God.

That did not mean they  had to be perfect. In fact, John also recognized that believing involved  admitting our sins and seeking God’s forgiveness. Depending on God for cleansing  from guilt, along with admitting our wrongs against others and making amends,  was another important part of getting to know God.

Connections:  One of the most often-quoted passages regarding sin is found in 1 John 2:16. In this  passage, John describes the three aspects of sin that recall the first and most  earth-shattering temptations in all of Scripture. The first sin—the disobedience  of Eve—was the result of her yielding to the same three temptations as we find  in Genesis 3:6:  the lust of the flesh (“good for food”); the lust of the eyes (“pleasing to the  eye”); and the pride of life (“desirable for gaining  wisdom”).

Practical Application: The Book of 1 John is  a book of love and joy. It explains the fellowship we have with others and with  Jesus Christ. It differentiates between happiness, which is temporary and  fleeting, and true joy, which 1 John tells us how to achieve. If we take the  words written by John and we apply them to our daily lives, the true love,  commitment, fellowship, and joy we long for will be ours.

The apostle  John knew Christ well. He is telling us that we can all have that close,  intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We have the witness of men who had  direct and personal contact with Him. The Gospel writers present their solidly  based testimony on a historical reality. Now, how does that apply to our lives?  It explains to us that Jesus came here as the Son of God to create a union with  us based on His grace, mercy, love, and acceptance. So many times people think  Jesus is off in some faraway place and that He doesn’t really concern Himself  with our daily struggles, issues, and concerns. But John is telling us that  Jesus is right here with us in both the simple, mundane parts of our lives and  in the complex, soul-wrenching parts as well. John testifies as a witness of his  personal experiences that God became flesh and lived among men. That means  Christ came here to live with us and He still lives with us. As He walked the  earth alongside John, so does He walk through each and every day with us. We  need to apply this truth to our lives and live as if Jesus were standing right  next to us every second of the day. If we put this truth into practice, Christ  will add holiness to our lives, making us more and more like Him.

Author: John  21:20-24 describes the author as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” and for  both historical and internal reasons this is understood to be John the Apostle,  one of the sons of Zebedee (Luke  5:10).

Date of Writing: Discovery of certain  papyrus fragments dated around A.D. 135 require the book to have been written,  copied, and circulated before then. And while some think it was written  before Jerusalem was destroyed (A.D. 70), A.D. 85-90 is a more accepted time for  its writing.

Purpose of Writing: John 20:31 cites the purpose as follows: “But these are  written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that  believing you may have life in His name.” Unlike the three synoptic Gospels,  John’s purpose is not to present a chronological narrative of the life of  Christ, but to display His deity. John was not only seeking to strengthen the  faith of second-generation believers and bring about faith in others, but he  also sought to correct a false teaching that was spreading. John emphasized  Jesus Christ as “the Son of God,” fully God and fully man, contrary to that  false doctrine which saw the “Christ-spirit” as coming upon the human Jesus at  His baptism and leaving him at the crucifixion.

Key Verses:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the  Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His  glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”  (John 1:1,14).

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward  him, and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'”  (John 1:29).

“For God  so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in  Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John  3:16).

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God,  that you believe in Him whom He sent'” (John  6:29).

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to  destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more  abundantly” (John  10:10).

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;  neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John  10:28).

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He  who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and  believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'”(John 11:25-26).

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one  another” (John  13:35).

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me'” (John  14:6).

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet  you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how  can you say, “Show us the Father”?'” (John  14:9).

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

“So when Jesus had received the sour  wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

“Jesus  said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are  those who have not seen and yet have believed'” (John  20:29).

Brief Summary: The Gospel of John selects  only seven miracles as signs to demonstrate the deity of Christ and to  illustrate His ministry. Some of these signs and stories are found only in John.  His is the most theological of the four gospels and often gives the reason  behind events mentioned in the other gospels. He shares much about the  approaching ministry of the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ ascension. There are  certain words or phrases that John frequently uses that show the repeating  themes of his Gospel: believe, witness, Comforter, life – death, light –  darkness, I am… (as in Jesus is the “I Am”), and love.

John’s gospel  introduces Christ, not from His birth, but from “the beginning” as “the Word”  (Logos) who, as Deity, is involved in every aspect of creation (1:1-3) and who  later becomes flesh (1:14) in order that He might take away our sins as the  spotless, sacrificial Lamb (John 1:29).  John selects spiritual conversations that show that Jesus is the Messiah (4:26)  and explain how one is saved by His vicarious death on the cross (3:14-16).  Jesus repeatedly angers the Jewish leaders by correcting them (2:13-16); healing  on the Sabbath, and claiming characteristics belonging to God (5:18; 8:56-59;  9:6,16; 10:33). Jesus prepares His disciples for His coming death and for their  ministry after His resurrection and ascension (John 14-17). He then willingly  dies on the cross in our place (10:15-18), paying our sin debt in full (19:30)  so that whoever trusts in Him as his/her Savior from sin will be saved (John 3:14-16). He then  rises from the dead, convincing even the most doubting of His disciples that He  is God and Master (20:24-29).

Connections: John’s  portrayal of Jesus as the God of the Old Testament is seen most emphatically in  the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus. He is the “Bread of life” (John 6:35), provided by God to feed the souls of His  people, just as He provided manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the  wilderness (Exodus  16:11-36). Jesus is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12),  the same Light that God promised to His people in the Old Testament (Isaiah 30:26, 60:19-22) and which will  find its culmination in the New Jerusalem when Christ the Lamb will be its Light  (Revelation  21:23). Two of the “I Am” statements refer to Jesus as both the “Good  Shepherd” and the “Door of the sheep.” Here are clear references to Jesus as the  God of the Old Testament, the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 23:180:1; Jeremiah 31:10; Ezekiel 34:23) and, as the  only Door into the sheepfold, the only way of salvation.

The Jews  believed in the resurrection and, in fact, used the doctrine to try to trick  Jesus into making statements they could use against Him. But His statement at  the tomb of Lazarus “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) must have astounded them. He was claiming to  be the cause of resurrection and the possessor of the power over life and death.  None other than God Himself could claim such a thing. Similarly, His claim to be  the “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6)  linked Him unmistakably to the Old Testament. His is the “Way of Holiness”  prophesied in Isaiah 35:8;  He established the City of Truth of Zechariah  8:3 when He, who is “truth” itself, was in Jerusalem and the truths of the  Gospel were preached there by Him and His apostles; and as “the Life,” He  affirms His deity, the Creator of life, God incarnate (John 1:1-3). Finally, as the “true Vine” (John 15:1, 5) Jesus  identifies Himself with the nation of Israel who are called the vineyard of the  Lord in many OT passages. As the true Vine of the vineyard of Israel, He  portrays Himself as the Lord of the “true Israel”—all those who would come to  Him in faith, because “…not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (Romans  9:6).

Practical Application: John’s gospel  continues to fulfill its purpose of containing much useful information for  evangelism (John 3:16 is  likely the best known Bible verse) and is often used in evangelistic Bible  studies. In the recorded encounters between Jesus and Nicodemus and the woman at  the well (chapters 3-4), we can learn much from Jesus’ model of personal  evangelism. His comforting words to His disciples before His death (14:1-6,16,  16:33) are still of great comfort in the times death claims our loved ones in  Christ, as is His “high priestly prayer” for believers in chapter 17.  John’s  teachings concerning the deity of Christ (1:1-3,14; 5:22-23; 8:58; 14:8-9;  20:28, etc.) are very helpful in countering the false teachings of some of the  cults who see Jesus as being less than fully God.

The Gospel of Luke does not identify its author. From Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-3,  it is clear that the same author wrote both Luke and Acts, addressing both to  “most excellent Theophilus,” possibly a Roman dignitary. The tradition from the earliest days of the church has been that Luke, a physician and a close companion of the Apostle Paul, wrote both Luke and Acts (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy  4:11). This would make Luke the only Gentile to pen any books of  Scripture.

Date of Writing: The Gospel of Luke was likely written between A.D. 58 and 65.

Purpose of  Writing: As with the other two synoptic gospels—Matthew and Mark—this book’s purpose is to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ and all He “began to do and to  teach until the day he was taken up to heaven” (Acts 1:1-2).  Luke’s gospel is unique in that is a meticulous history—an “orderly account” (Luke 1:3) consistent with the Luke’s medical mind—often giving details the other accounts omit. Luke’s history of the life of the Great Physician emphasizes His ministry to—and compassion for—Gentiles, Samaritans, women, children, tax collectors, sinners, and others regarded as outcasts in Israel.

Key Verses: Luke 2:4-7: “So Joseph also went up from the town of  Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he  belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary,  who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were  there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her  firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because  there was no room for them in the inn.”

Luke 3:16,  “John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I  will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize  you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'”

Luke  4:18-19, 21: “‘The  Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to  the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of  sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the  Lord’s favor.’ Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 18:31-32: “Jesus took  the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything  that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will  be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him,  flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.’”

Luke 23:33-34: “When they  came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the  criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive  them, for they do not know what they are doing.’”

Luke 24:1-3: “On the first day of the week, very early in  the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did  not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”

Brief Summary: Called the most beautiful book ever written, Luke begins by telling us about  Jesus’ parents; the birth of His cousin, John the Baptist; Mary and Joseph’s  journey to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born in a manger; and the genealogy of  Christ through Mary. Jesus’ public ministry reveals His perfect compassion and  forgiveness through the stories of the prodigal son, the rich man and Lazarus,  and the Good Samaritan. While many believe in this unprejudiced love that  surpasses all human limits, many others—especially the religious  leaders—challenge and oppose the claims of Jesus. Christ’s followers are  encouraged to count the cost of discipleship, while His enemies seek His death  on the cross. Finally, Jesus is betrayed, tried, sentenced and crucified. But  the grave cannot hold Him! His Resurrection assures the continuation of His  ministry of seeking and saving the lost.

Connections: Since Luke was a Gentile, his references to the Old Testament are relatively  few compared to those in Matthew’s gospel, and most of the OT references are in  the words spoken by Jesus rather than in Luke’s narration. Jesus used the Old  Testament to defend against Satan’s attacks, answering him with “It is written”  (Luke 4:1-13); to identify  Himself as the promised Messiah (Luke  4:17-21); to remind the Pharisees of their inability to keep the Law and  their need of a Savior (Luke  10:25-28, 18:18-27);  and to confound their learning when they tried to trap and trick Him (Luke  20).

Practical Application: Luke gives us a beautiful  portrait of our compassionate Savior. Jesus was not “turned off” by the poor and  the needy; in fact, they were a primary focus of His ministry. Israel at the  time of Jesus was a very class-conscious society. The weak and downtrodden were  literally powerless to improve their lot in life and were especially open to the  message that “the kingdom of God is near you” (Luke 10:9).  This is a message we must carry to those around us who desperately need to hear  it. Even in comparatively wealthy countries—perhaps especially so—the spiritual  need is dire. Christians must follow the example of Jesus and bring the good  news of salvation to the spiritually poor and needy. The kingdom of God is near  and the time grows shorter every day.