Epistles

25

Section 7

21 Letters

Authors: Paul wrote fourteen epistles, and there are three by John, two by Peter, and one each by James and Jude.

The Epistles are letters that were written by the apostles to churches that they had founded in the earliest days of Christianity. Their purpose is to explain the significance of Christ in terms of both our faith and practice.
Paul started new faith communities, set aside leaders in these churches, and then would leave to go preach in another town. When those leaders had questions or concerns, they sent messages to Paul, who wrote letters in response. His letters taught, encouraged, and sought to offer practical advice and help to these new Christians.

1. Romans
Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Rome to give them a foundation on which to construct their faith and to live for and serve God.
Paul wants the reader to understand that salvation cannot be attained through man’s good deeds but through faith in God.
In chapters 1-8, Paul explains the foundations of the Christian faith.
Chapters 9-11, Paul explains salvation. He also spells out how an individual may come into a right relationship with God: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”
In chapters 12-16, Paul gives instructions for all Christians about how to live a holy lifestyle.
He writes, “Do not be conformed to this world.” Much of the teaching that Paul dealt with in his letters, were because the believers had conformed their lives to the world and not to God.

2. First Corinthians
Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to the church in Corinth was to address and correct the immorality and divisions that had arisen among them.
Chapters 1-4, Paul received reports of problems in the church in Corinth and therefore addresses their problems and disorders, “there are quarrels among you.”
In chapters 5-11, Paul exposes all of the immorality that was occurring in the church at Corinth.
In chapters 12-14, he clears up some of the confusion about practices of worship. He corrects difficult doctrines that had caused divisions. Some of these differences were the role of women in worship, the use of spiritual gifts, and observing the Lord’s Supper. “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
Chapters 15-16 consist of Paul dealing with the topic of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the topic that is, “of first importance” to Paul.

3. Second Corinthians
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth to defend and protect his Apostleship, and to teach and warn against false teachers who were spreading heresy.
In chapters 1-7, Paul describes the characteristics of an Apostle. He explained that his ministry was to preach Jesus alone and not himself, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (4:5).
Paul then explains that Christians will suffer. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”. It is promised to followers of Christ that they will suffer. Paul states that compared to eternity with Christ the sufferings of this world are temporary and have a purpose for us.
In chapters 8-9, He urges the Corinthians to give the offering to the believers in Judea, as they had promised. He taught that if they gave generously they would also “reap generously”.
Chapters 10-13, Paul defends his ministry and responds to attacks about his Apostleship. They had been questioning his authority and opposing him. Paul declares that if anyone preaches a different Gospel or a different Jesus, other than what Paul and the Apostles were preaching, they are false teachers and deceitful workers and should not be accepted.
In chapter 12, Paul explains his own suffering. He asked God to remove a suffering from His life but God refused. God responded to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. Paul understood that God is sovereign and in control over even his sufferings. Therefore, Paul embraces his suffering because God allows them into his life for a purpose regardless of how difficult they may be. In times of calamity, he understood that these were times when he depended on God’s strength and mercy the most. Paul responds, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”. Paul knew he was the strongest when he felt the weakest because he depended on God, the one who has infinite strength.

4. Galatians
Galatians explains the concept of salvation by faith, not works.
Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul prior to the Jerusalem Council which had taken place in 50 A.D. Paul writes this book to deal with the problem of circumcision and Jewish legalism toward Gentile believers.
In chapters 1-2, Paul’s gives his testimony about how he had received the Gospel message. He warns that if anyone presents another Gospel message other than the one he was preaching, that person is “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (1:9).
Chapters 3-5, Paul begins by declaring that salvation is through faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone, and cannot be obtained through the keeping of the Law.
No one can obey the 10 Commandments. It is impossible. Every person has broken them; therefore, we can only attain salvation through trusting in our Savior Christ Jesus.
Chapters 5, He teaches the Fruits of the Spirit and tells us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”. A Christian must have the desire to produce good fruit, obey God’s Law, and live a righteous life.

5. Ephesians
All barriers between Jews and Gentiles have been broken down.
The book of Ephesians was written to encourage believers to walk as followers of Christ and to serve in unity and love in the midst of persecution.
In chapters 1-3, Paul begins with the truth that every believer has been chosen by God before the foundation of the world, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (1:4-5).
Paul then teaches about the unity of believers. These are the truths and blessings that all believers have in common. He wrote that all Christians are “adopted as sons through Jesus Christ” (1:5). All believers are, “redeemed through His blood” (1:7), and “sealed by the Holy Spirit” (1:13).
In chapters 4-5, Paul encourages the believer to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling”. Every believer has a responsibility to live as servants of Jesus Christ. In these chapters, Paul teaches that it takes hard work to be in unity with others.
In chapter 6, Paul instructs believers how to prepare for spiritual battle. Prayer is the key weapon of the Christian soldier.

6. Philippians

It reveals Paul’s devotion to Christ, his experience in prison, and his deep concern that the Church should be steadfast in sound doctrine.
The book of Philippians was written to show Paul’s appreciation and love to the Philippians in a thank-you letter for their continued help and support, and also to encourage their growth.
Chapter 1, Paul writes about his sufferings and that through his imprisonment the Kingdom was increased. “Now I want you to know, brethren that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (1:12).
Christians are to surrender their lives in service to Christ Jesus. Paul explains that there are two things granted by God for a believer. The first is to believe in Him and the other is to suffer, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (1:29-30). Jesus said, “Count the cost”… (Luke 14:25-33).
Chapter 2, Paul teaches a theological lesson about the humanity of Jesus Christ as He laid down His glory and became a perfect human man in order to rescue and restore mankind back to a relationship with God.
Chapter 3, Paul expounds on the joys of a Christian and encourages the church to press forward with the Gospel. He displays his testimony when he said, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (3:8).
Chapter 4, Paul again mentions joy in Christ as he encourages believers to rejoice in the Lord.

7. Colossians
Counsel to abandon worldly philosophy and sin.
The book of Colossians was written to counter and respond to heretical teachings and encourage believers to serve with fervor and passion.
In chapters 1-2, Paul sends words of thanks to the faithful believers “who are at Colosse”. Paul did not establish the Colossian Church and had never visited there.
It is apparent that false teachers were spreading heresy by rejecting the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul warns not to allow anyone to lead them astray with philosophy, trickery, or by traditions of men.
In chapters 3-4, Paul encourages the church to focus on God, and keep their eyes on the goal, “set your mind on the things above” (3:2). He teaches believers how to live at home, how to manage family matters, and how to get along with other believers in Christ. His approach is for believers to put aside the petty situations that become obstacles in our lives, slow us down, and prevent the spread of the Gospel.
Paul then explains what it means to forgive, “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (3:13).

8. First Thessalonians

Paul wrote this letter to strengthen and encourage the church in Thessalonica. To encourage and hearten the believers, Paul chose to emphasize the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In chapters 1-3, the first principle is seen as Paul accentuates and commends them for their faithfulness to the Lord. He wrote, “thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs it work in you who believe” (2:13).
In chapters 4-6, Paul highlights love and hope. He encourages the church to walk in love.

He then expounds on the return of Jesus and “the day of the Lord”. Paul teaches the church about the resurrection on the last day and that Christ will return in the clouds, this was the encouragement that the church in Thessalonica needed.

Before Paul finishes his letter he does not forget to add that they must pray and “examine everything carefully’.

9. Second Thessalonians
Paul wrote this letter to reemphasize the coming return of Jesus Christ. Some of the people in Thessalonica had thought that Jesus had already returned, this letter was written to correct any misunderstandings.
In chapter 1, Paul highlights the great hope of Jesus’ future return although the exact time is unable to be known by anyone.
He commends the church in Thessalonica for their perseverance in the midst of persecution, “we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure” (1:4).
Paul teaches that God will punish those who are persecuting on the last day. “Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (1:8-9).
In chapters 2-3, speaking of the return of Jesus Christ, Paul was sure to include the signs and setting that “the man of lawlessness” (the antichrist) had to arrive. For that to occur the Holy Spirit must be removed from restraining him. The Holy Spirit indwells all believers and when He is removed, all believers will be “caught up” in the clouds with the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Paul pushes them to pray and serve until this all transpires. “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ” (3:5).

10. First Timothy
The book of 1 Timothy was written to give encouragement and leadership guidelines to a young pastor named Timothy at the church in Ephesus.
Chapter 1 begins with a greeting to Timothy, then turns to a warning against false teachings, and an emphasis on correct beliefs. Paul encourages him to “fight the good fight” (vs. 18).
In chapters 2-4, Paul declares that God desires salvation for everyone.
Next, Paul lays some important guidelines and principles for church leadership. He taught the controversial subject of women in the church and what the two offices of leadership in the church were to be, the Overseer and the Deacon. He even taught some of the practices that should be carried out in the church such as, “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (4:13).
Chapter 5-6, Paul gives guidelines for relationships within the church as he explains how to deal with discipline and care for widows. He gives advice of how to minister and lays more guidelines for the wealthy instructing them to be generous. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (6:17).

11. 2 Timothy
Paul’s last letter, written before his death, giving counsel to his beloved “son in the Gospel.”
The book of 2 Timothy is a letter from Paul to a church leader. Its purpose was to give direction to Timothy and urge him to visit one final time. From the somber nature of this letter, it is apparent that Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end (4:6-8).
In chapters 1-2, Paul begins with thanksgivings and an announcement to remain faithful, strong, and to “Join with me in suffering for the Gospel” (1:8). In contrast to his first imprisonment (where he lived in a rented house), he now languished in a cold dungeon (4:13) chained like a common criminal (1:16; 2:9). He also reiterates the important work of “entrusting the faithful men who will be able to teach others” (2:2).
Paul’s desire was to equip the saints with the knowledge of how to teach others.
In chapters 3-4, Paul tells Timothy to remain faithful and “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction”, because difficult times would be in the future. He challenges him to endure reminding him that endurance is one of the main quality essentials for a successful preacher of the Gospel. Men would become just as they were in the time of Moses. He writes that, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (3:12).
Soon after this letter, it is likely that Paul was beheaded as a Roman citizen.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (4:7).

12. Titus
The book of Titus is a letter from Paul to guide Titus, a Greek believer, in his leadership of the churches on the island of Crete. Paul writes to encourage and guide the young pastor in dealing with opposition from both false teachers and sinful men.
In chapter 1, Paul gives qualifications about how to choose leaders in the church, “the overseer must be above reproach”. He also warned to be aware of the rebellious men and deceivers.
In chapters 2-3, Paul teaches how believers may live healthy inside and outside of the church. He told them to live Godly lives and to be prepared for the coming Savior Jesus Christ.

13. Philemon
A private letter written to Philemon, asking him to receive and forgive Onesimus, a runaway slave.
The book of Philemon was written to Philemon as a plea to request forgiveness for his runaway servant Onesimus, who was a new believer in Jesus Christ.
The book of Philemon consists of one chapter.
Verses 8-25, consist of Paul’s appeal for Onesimus, “I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me”.
Onesimus had run away and traveled to Rome where he met Paul. While there, Onesimus surrendered his life to Christ. Philemon, under Roman law, could execute his slave for fleeing however, Paul pleas with Philemon to accept his servant. Paul goes one-step further and asks Philemon not only to accept his slave, but also to accept him as a brother in Christ and to overlook his faults and errors. “For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (15-16).
Onesimus would carry this letter back and give it to Philemon. Onesimus is later mentioned at the end of the book of Colossians as a faithful and beloved brother.

14. Hebrews
Written to Jewish Christians, this explains the doctrine of salvation.
The book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrew believers. Its purpose was to present the Lord Jesus Christ as superior in comparison to anything Judaism and the old covenant had to offer. The author was writing to a group of Christians who were under intense persecution and some were contemplating a return to Judaism. He admonished them not to turn away from their hope of salvation.
In chapters 1-10, the author demonstrates Jesus Christ as preeminent over the angels, “let all the angels of God worship Him” (1:6); over Moses, “He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (3:3); over the Old Testament priesthood, “being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:10).
The writer explains that the New Covenant is greater than the Old Covenant because Jesus was the perfect, permanent sacrifice, rather than the Old Testament sacrifices.
The author also presents the power and authority of the Word of God, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12).
The writer explains that Faith is superior to the work of the Old Covenant. He writes, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1).
Faith in Jesus Christ is our source of salvation.

15. James
Written by James, the brother of Jesus, it was sent to Jewish converts who had dispersed from Israel. The main theme is practical religion, manifesting itself in good works, as contrasted with only a profession of faith.
James wrote this book to Jewish believers to encourage them to endure and live bold Christian lives. James is a book about practical Christian living that reflects a genuine faith that transforms lives. In many ways, it is similar to the OT book of Proverbs.
In chapter 1, James teaches believers to test their faith and “prove yourselves doers of the word” (1:22).
James encourages believers to put their faith into action, and to be servants of Jesus Christ.
Chapters 2-3, James describes the relationship between faith and works. He teaches that a person of faith without works demonstrates useless faith. What good is a person’s faith if they don’t present it to the world? A believer’s good works are evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ.
In Chapters 4-5, James gives wise instruction to believers. He said, “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (4:7). A faithful believer will desire to follow hard after God in service, obedience, and prayer.
In the last chapter James stresses the weight and magnitude of prayer for every believer. He uses the word “Prayer” 7 times, signifying its importance.
In the final verse of his book James expresses the magnitude of living faith in action saying:
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (5:19-20).

16. First Peter
A letter of encouragement written by the Apostle Peter to the believers scattered throughout Asia Minor.
Peter’s central focus is persecution.
Chapters 1-2, Peter addresses the issue that believers are to live a life of personal holiness as God’s people, even during times of suffering and persecution. He teaches that all Christians are to expect suffering; it is normal and Scriptural for Christians to suffer persecution and even imprisonment and death.
In chapters 3-5, Peter explains that in living holy lives the believer is to, “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (3:15).

17. Second Peter
The book of 2 Peter warns against the increasing number of false teachers attacking the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In chapters 1-2, Peter gives guidance and reassurance to the growing church and claims that the Gospel they are preaching is of Jesus Christ. Peter went on to teach that in the end God would judge all of the false prophets.
Chapter 3, Peter encourages believes with the coming Day of the Lord. The Earth will receive its punishment and the righteous will dwell in the “New Heavens and the New Earth”. His final warning is critical which he claims, “Be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men”.

18. First John
John discusses the duty of fellowship and brotherly love.
Its purpose was to warn about the increasing threat of false teachings and to reassure Christians of their faith and love in Jesus Christ.
It was written to combat false teachings that had to do with the denial that Jesus had a genuine human body.
Chapters 1-2, Because John was aware of the continuing attack of false teachings, he then urged believers not to love and follow after the world because it was not of the Father, and would pass away.
In chapters 3-4, He teaches about love. Believers should love each other not only with words but also, “in deed and truth”, as Jesus commanded.
Chapter 5, John writes “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
John wanted all believers to know 100%, that because of their faith and trust in Jesus Christ they would spend all of eternity with Him.

19. Second John
The book of 2 John was written to encourage all Christians not to lose focus of Jesus Christ and to warn against persistent heresy.
Verses 4-11, John supports the commandment to “love one another”. He cautions them to watch for the deceivers and the antichrists that are abundant and active in the world spreading false teachings.
Those who do not follow the teachings of Jesus Christ are false teachers.
He also reminds his readers of their responsibility as Christians to love other Christians.

20. Third John
This book is the shortest book in the New Testament and was written to praise Gaius and Demetrius for their faithful service.
In verses 1-12, John praises two teachers for “walking in truth”. He wrote that nothing gave him more joy than to see Christians walking in truth and acting faithfully, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God”.

21. Jude
The author is Jude the brother of James, both of who are half-brothers of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of this book is to address false teachings and to illustrate a contrast between the error of heresy and the truth of Jesus Christ.
Jude consists of one chapter.
In verses 1- 16, Jude delves into the dilemma of false teachings. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed”, heresy was seeping into the region, disturbing the churches, and deceiving believers.
Verses 17-25, Jude urges Christians to “remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ”. He was referring to all of the apostles and disciples in the past, which had warned about false teachers and prophets that were coming to deceive. His advice is to focus on Jesus Christ and to watch out for each other so that no one is misled into error.
Those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are secure in salvation, not by their own good deeds, because no one is good enough to do that, but believers are secure by the vicarious work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

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1 Timothy 6

False Teachers and the Love of Money

These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Paul tells us that the Christian’s goal with respect to material things is godliness with contentment.
In Paul’s vocabulary, contentment was detachment or independence from things or possessions.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:11, 13).
Material things belong only to this world. Things have no lasting value and provide no eternal advantage. Therefore one’s contentment cannot stem from things.

Romans 2

God’s Righteous Judgment

Romans 2:1-29
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

 
Whenever we find ourselves feeling justifiably angry about someone’s sin, we should be careful.
Before we accuse others, we must look at ourselves and see if sin, in any form, exists within us.
“You have no excuse. You are just as bad!”
Paul was stressing that nobody is good enough to save himself or herself. All of us must depend totally on God’s grace. We have all sinned repeatedly, and there is no way apart from Christ to be saved from sin’s consequences.
Paul says that those who patiently and persistently do God’s will find eternal life. He is not contradicting his previous statement that salvation comes by faith alone. We are not saved by good deeds, but when we commit our life fully to God, we want to please him and do his will. As such, our good deeds are a grateful response to what God has done, not a prerequisite to earning his favor.
Those who know God’s written Word and his law will be judged by them. Those who have never seen a Bible still know right from wrong, and they will be judged because they did not keep even those standards that their own consciences dictated.

2 Corinthians

Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians

12 Chapters
Often called “the hard letter”, this is an intensely personal letter. It recounts the difficulties and hardships Paul has endured in the service of Christ. The Apostle regards the Corinthians as his children in Christ.

Second Corinthians is a sequel to 1 Corinthians. The church followed some of the earlier advice, but still had some problems, so Paul continues to tell the Corinthians how to live correctly. He also tells Christians what their heavenly bodies will be like.
Summary:
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul expresses his relief and joy that the Corinthians had received his “severe” letter in a positive manner. That letter addressed issues that were tearing the church apart, primarily the arrival of false apostles who were assaulting Paul’s character, sowing discord among the believers, and teaching false doctrine.

Accusations leveled at Paul
The majority of the Corinthian Church had complied and submitted to Paul’s admonitions. Unfortunately a small group continued with their opposition and accusations against the apostle.
The members in Corinth faced many negative influences from the society around them. As the capital of the Roman province of Achaia in the southern part of Greece, Corinth was a large port city. It was the center of extensive commerce and attracted many strangers from all over the world. It was known for its wealth, luxury and licentious living. The worship of Aphrodite formed an important part of the religious life of the inhabitants. It became known as the most corrupt city in Greece.
Chapter 1
Paul explained how God comforted him during severe trials.

Chapter 2
Paul encouraged the members to forgive and accept the wayward person mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5.

Chapter 3
Paul explained the ministry of the New Covenant and contrasted it with the administration of the Old Covenant.
The Greater Glory of the New Covenant
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Chapter 4
Paul explained how Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers.
Chapter 5
He continued to illustrate what true conversion is and how Christians are brought into harmony (reconciled) with Christ: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is [let him be] a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (5:17).
Chapter 6
Paul provided proof that he was a minister of Jesus Christ, a fact that had been called into question by the would-be teachers.
He warned the members against compromising with society, since they were now children of God.
Chapter 7
Paul was overjoyed by the genuine repentance of the members of the Church of God at Corinth. He explained the difference between a worldly sorrow that “leads to death” and godly sorrow that leads to eternal life. He listed the qualities of godly sorrow to reassure them they were “clear in this matter” (7:9-12).
Chapters 8-9
These chapters contain instruction on the importance of developing a giving attitude, “for God loves a cheerful giver”.
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Chapters 10-11
Paul warned the Corinthians against the deceptive devices of Satan and the daily spiritual warfare Christians are engaged in (2 Corinthians 10:1-6). He then turned his attention to his critics who had attacked him on a number of fronts. He categorically proved that he was not lacking in any of the qualities of a true apostle of Jesus Christ and answered the charges leveled against him (10:7-11).

As further proof that he was not a second-rate apostle, he listed the many incidents of suffering and hardships he had endured in order to serve the churches and preach the gospel (11:22-33).
Chapter 12
Paul described “visions and revelations of the Lord” when one (Paul) was “caught up to the third heaven” (12:1-6). But he was given “a thorn in the flesh” in order to keep him humble. He asked God to remove it, but instead God said He would give Paul the strength to endure the trial (12:7-10). Despite the affliction, God would demonstrate His power in his life.
Chapter 13
Here Paul takes a slightly different approach to those questioning his authority. Paul’s accusers questioned his legitimacy as an apostle, but he admonished them to examine themselves: “Examine [put to the test] yourselves [not Paul] as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (13:5). They were to take stock of their own (not others’) spiritual condition. The likely result of this examination was that his accusers would then understand that he, Paul, and his fellow ministers were “not disqualified” (13:6).
Christ said that “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5)
Repentance is a vital part of our Christian growth, and it is a requirement in order for us to receive the power of the Holy Spirit—and ultimately eternal life. During the process of repentance, we come to understand how much we have lived contrary to the will and the laws of God. That is when the true Christian life really begins. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

1 John

To the Christians in the City of Ephesus

Author:
First John was written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. He was probably “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 21:20), and along with Peter and James, he had a special relationship with Jesus.
He was noted for his gentleness and his graciousness and his goodness. He became a man who was characterized by such an outstanding devotion and love for the Lord Jesus that all his life he was singled out as the apostle of love.
As an eyewitness to Jesus’ ministry, John was qualified to teach the truth about him.

Audience:
The letter known as 1 John was sent to a group of believers in Ephesus. Many within their community had abandoned the original faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
Despite their denial that Jesus had come in the flesh, their immoral lives and their lack of practical love, they still claimed that they belonged to God. They asserted they had a special source of spiritual insight, and that the rest of the group didn’t know the truth as they did. They made their rejection of the original teaching about Jesus emphatic by leaving the community of those who still held to it. Those left behind were deeply shaken, uncertain about everything they’d been taught.

Background:
The main problem confronting the church at this time was declining commitment: Many believers were conforming to the world’s standards, failing to stand up for Christ and compromising their faith.
False teachers were plentiful, and they were accelerating the church’s downward slide away from the Christian faith.

Summary:
First John was written to dispel doubts a by presenting a clear picture of Christ.
First John tackles a strange heresy that claimed Jesus had been on earth only in spirit, not in body. John wrote that he knew Jesus personally.
Chapter 1
John stresses the importance of fellowshipping with fellow Christians and the acknowledgement and confession of sins.

Chapter 2
John defines some of the main traits of true Christians: keeping the commandments and not loving the world.
If someone says they’re living in God’s light but they really hate a fellow Christian, then they’re actually in the dark and stumbling around blind.
If you love the world, you do not love God.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. (1 John 2:15-16)
John calls out love of money—”pride in riches”—as a bad thing. He equates it with loving the world.
While the elder is specific about which people deserve to get it. The elder isn’t advocating for general charity for all who are in need. He only calls out “brothers and sisters” as the folks deserving of generosity. But not just anyone who believes in Christ will do.
Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person. (2 John 1:10-11)
The elder’s hospitality only applies to Christians.

Chapter 3
Believers are “children of God.”
You know you’re alive when you love other people.
It is not enough to just say we love others; we have to prove it with our actions.

Chapter 4
John gives warnings against false ministers and tells how to detect them.
He tells how to determine if someone has the love of God and how to demonstrate the love of God.

The test involves making sure these people and ideas center on the fact that Jesus came “in the flesh.” That just means that it’s important to believe Jesus was a human being.
The speaker tells the audience that they should love each other because “God is love.” If you have love in your heart then you’re living how God wants you to.
The speaker says that God loved the world so very much that he sent Jesus. Jesus gave up his life so that people could have a sin-free relationship with God.
Believe that God sent Jesus to save the whole world.
Love your fellow Christians.
He finishes off the chapter by saying that if you go around saying that you love God but you’re hating on other Christians, then you’re just a liar.

Chapter 5
John encourages us to overcome the evils of the world (society) through faith, love and obedience and overcome trials through the power of God. He concludes with a warning against idolatry.
Anyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is a child of God.

1 Timothy

Paul’s First Letter to Timothy

Author: Paul
6 chapters
Audience: This is the first letter Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor who had been a help to Paul in his work. Paul was more than just a mentor and leader to Timothy, he was like a father to him, and Timothy was like a son to Paul. Timothy was a constant companion of Paul, accompanying him on his second and third journeys.
Purpose:
Paul begins by restating why he’s left Timothy in Ephesus. He defends his own apostleship in the process.
Paul gives advice to Timothy, a young preacher, on proper leadership and dealings with false teachers, the role of women, prayer, and requirements of elders and deacons.
Paul states his purpose for the letter in 1 Timothy 3:15: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

 
Summary:
Pastoral Conduct
Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him in his responsibility for overseeing the work of the Ephesian church and possibly the other churches in the province of Asia.
This letter lays the foundation for ordaining elders and provides guidance for ordaining people into offices of the church. Paul’s first letter to Timothy amounts to an instruction book on leading, administrating, and pastoring the local church.

However, much of the letter deals with pastoral conduct. Paul instructs Timothy in worship and developing mature leaders for the church. He also deals the church’s responsibility toward single members, widows, elders, and slaves. All throughout the letter, Paul encourages Timothy to stand firm, to persevere, and to remain true to his calling.
Paul instructs Timothy on matters of church doctrine, church leadership, and church administration.

 
False Doctrine
Paul’s first letter to Timothy begins with a very strong charge concerning some things that others were teaching the brethren. False doctrine was creeping into the Church, and arguments were developing. Paul showed that the basis for sound doctrine and the emphasis in teaching should be on good and proper use of the law of God.
Paul begins the letter by urging Timothy to be on guard for false teachers and false doctrine.
Paul explained that teaching in the Church should be done in the right way and from the right motive. The teacher must have a pure heart and a good conscience, and not be hypocritical or motivated by the desire for power over people.
Some of the false teachers were twisting the law, but Paul taught that the law was good. “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:8).
Paul charged Timothy in very strong words to guard the truth that had been committed to him as a servant of God. “You hold onto it, and faithfully pass it on to those you are serving.”

Hebrews

Letter to a Jewish Christian Community

Chapters: 13

Author: Many believe it was written by the apostle Paul, but this cannot be confirmed.

Audience:
The recipients were Jewish believers in Jesus. They were well versed in Scripture, and they had professed faith in Christ. Whether through doubt, persecution, or false teaching, however, they may have been in danger of giving up their Christian faith and returning to Judaism.
These Jewish Christians were probably undergoing fierce persecution, socially and physically, both from Jews and from Romans. The people needed to be reassured that Christianity was true and that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
Summary:
The message of Christ was difficult for Jews to accept. Although they had sought the Messiah for centuries, they were entrenched in thinking and worshiping in traditional forms. Following Jesus seemed to repudiate their marvelous heritage and Scriptures. With caution and questions they listened to the gospel, but many rejected it and sought to eliminate this “heresy.”
Christian Jews had to make a choice. They could not continue in Judaism and be Christians. They must decide which way to go. It was either to go back to being Jews or to go on to be Christians.

It seems that their nation had now turned against Christians. They could not now go to the temple as the Jews would not let them. The writer tries to show his readers that the right choice was to continue to trust in Jesus.

That was much better than all the ceremonies of their former religion, which Jesus had replaced.

Purpose:
This is a letter to the Hebrew Christians in danger of returning to Judaism. The writer of Hebrews continually makes mention of the superiority of Christ.
This letter shows the greatness of Jesus’ new covenant over the old covenant. Jesus’ sacrifice is better than the old sacrificial system.
This book repeatedly makes the case that Christ and Christianity is better or superior to the old way of the old covenant. Jesus Christ made a better sacrifice and established a better covenant, ensuring that the old way is obsolete and that faith is the better way to live.

Christianity surpasses Judaism because it has a better covenant.

Hebrews was written to wean Jewish Christians from depending on the old covenant, as the final rule for life. Rather the author emphasized the superiority of Jesus and the new covenant he brought.
This letter was written to explain to the Jewish Christians that animal sacrifices, to which they were so attached, were no longer of any use, that the killing of a bull or a lamb could never take away sin. God’s people must look only to Christ for redemption and salvation.
Hebrews was written to wean Jewish believers in Jesus from depending on the law of Moses or the old covenant, represented by the Old Testament, as the final rule for life. In order to do this the author emphasized the superiority of Jesus Christ.
Christ is superior to the old sacrificial system. This book repeatedly makes the case that Christianity is better or superior to the old way of the old covenant.
Jesus  fulfills the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ made a better sacrifice and established a better covenant, ensuring that the old way is obsolete and that faith is the better way to live.

1 Peter

Peter’s First Letter

Author: Peter
Simon Peter, the apostle of Jesus.
The apostle Peter was a leader of the church in Rome. From there he encouraged and challenged believers in other parts of the empire.

1 Peter is a letter 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.

These believers had been victims of serious persecution and unjust suffering and they needed to be encouraged not to lose heart. Peter wanted to remind them of a number of important doctrinal truths as well as to help them see that suffering within the plan of God serves his glory. He wrote to urge them to remain faithful to Jesus and to live godly lives, to show their opponents that they were really blameless.

Peter also wanted his readers to understand the grace of God. He wanted every Christian to know what God has done for them.

This letter is very practical. When a person becomes a Christian his life changes. Peter is writing to encourage Christians to live like Jesus.

He first tells his readers to be holy in all you do. This new life is to be lived out specifically in their community— in their relationships with one another.
Live such good lives among the pagans, he writes, that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Finally, Peter comes directly to his purpose for writing. He acknowledges that his readers are suffering for their faith, but he explains that this is only to be expected: do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. The Messiah himself suffered, and their fellow believers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings, so they should bear up patiently and faithfully.

1 Peter 1
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:
Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
Be Holy
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
Some people will suffer for their faith.
1 Peter 2
2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.
15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.
17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
Be totally accepting of your masters.
Actually, this makes you just like Jesus. He didn’t do anything wrong and the powers that beat and crucified him. He never even retaliated—he just trusted that God would sort it all out.

1 Peter 3
3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
Suffering for Doing Good
8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

If someone does something bad to you, don’t try to get even by seeking revenge. Bless them instead.

Don’t be afraid if someone asks you what you believe. Tell them politely.
1 Peter 4
Living for God
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ
Jesus suffered and died, and that means that you’ve got to be ready to suffer too.
Be serious and disciplined. Pray. Love each other. Don’t complain. Help everyone.
Those who suffer as Christians will be blessed by God.
1 Peter 5
To the Elders and the Flock
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.