James’ Letter to Christian Jews Scattered Throughout the Ancient World

5 Chapters

Author: James, the half-brother of Jesus

James had not believed that Jesus, his older half-brother, was the Messiah until after the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to him. After witnessing the Lord’s resurrected body, James became one of the leaders of the church at Jerusalem.
James was martyred after 30 years of ministry.

The epistle of James was written to Christian Jews who were scattered abroad throughout the ancient world.  From Babylon to Rome, wherever any community of Hebrews might be gathered for commercial or social reasons, these exhortations of James were likely to be read. Most of James’s readers were poor and had become even poorer through the persecution leveled against them.
The book of James concentrates primarily on questions of daily living as a Christian. The practical issues he considers include concern for the poor, the responsible use of wealth, control of the tongue, purity of life, unity within the community of Jesus-followers, and above all patience and endurance during times of trial.
The main purposes for James’ letter include:
To encourage Christians who were facing persecution to persevere.
To motivate them to hold on to the law of God.
To explain that faith without obedience to God is useless.
To instruct them in Christian living, even under duress and persecution.

Good Works are the Evidence of Genuine Faith
This book focuses on the importance of good works as the evidence of genuine faith.
The book of James urge Christians to “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers.”
James emphasizes that good actions will naturally flow from those who are filled with the Spirit and questions whether someone may or may not have a saving faith if the fruits of the Spirit cannot be seen.
James conveys that faith without works is dead and insists that works, not words, are the mark of a disciple.
Martin Luther, who detested this letter, failed to recognize that James’s teaching on works complemented—not contradicted—Paul’s teaching on faith.

Lessons from James 1
Count It All Joy (James 1:2-18)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
James reminds his suffering brothers and sisters that they should not be surprised when they experience intense periods of testing.
God was allowing these experiences to strengthen and mature their faith.
James does not say if you encounter trials, but when you encounter trials.
12God blesses those who patiently endure testing
19Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
22But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
26If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

Lessons from James 2
James makes it very clear in his epistle that keeping the law of God is something that all true believers, all Christians, are required to do (James 2:10-12).

Works always accompany true saving faith. Good works are not the cause of salvation, but they are the result of it.

A Warning against Showing Favoritism
1My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
9But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
13There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others.
Faith without Works Is Dead (James 2:14-26)
14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?
17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
18Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
20Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? + 22You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
24So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
25Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
26Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

Lessons from James 3
Controlling the Tongue
Proper control of the tongue is important for spiritual growth.

15For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
James makes a distinction between worldly and godly wisdom.
17But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. + 18And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
Lessons from James 4
1What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.
Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. + 3And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4 Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7So humble yourselves before God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. + 8Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. + 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
Warning against Judging Others
11Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. + 12God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
Warning about Self-Confidence
13Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” + 14How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. 15What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” 16Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. 17Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

Lessons from James 5
Solidarity with the Poor
God loves the poor—and the rich ought to love them, too.
If the community addressed by James is called to be doers who act, a key character of this action is to be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. Love of the neighbor is specifically contrasted with a partiality shown to the rich at the expense of the poor.
4For listen! Hear the cries of the field workers whom you have cheated of their pay. The cries of those who harvest your fields have reached the ears of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. + 5You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter. + 6You have condemned and killed innocent people,* who do not resist you.

Patience and Endurance
7Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. + 8You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
9Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged.
10For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. 
The Power of Prayer
13Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. + 14Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. 16Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
17Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! 18Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.
Restore Wandering Believers
19My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, 20you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.




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.

Big Ideas from the Epistles

Section 7


Salvation is found only through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross
The power of the Holy Spirit enables Christians to live righteous lives
1 Corinthians
Follow Christ first, not Christian leaders
God uses ordinary people
Spiritual Gifts should be used carefully
2 Corinthians
God loves reconciliation
Giving is an act of obedience
Beware of false teachers
God doesn’t always remove trials from people’s lives
God’s grace is for people of all nations
Jesus died for our sins
The Spirit empowers people to live holy lives
Believers live for God rather than themselves
God gives his people a purpose for living
Christians are created to do good works
Believers are members of the same body – the church
Christians fight a spiritual battle; God provides the weapons
Believers can have joy in the middle of suffering
Believers model humility and service to others
The goal of the Christian life is eternal life in heaven
Beware of false teachers

1 Thessalonians
Believers can expect to suffer for their faith
Christ’s return will be unexpected
2 Thessalonians
Christ’s coming will be preceded by the arrival of the antichrist
1 Timothy
Beware of false teachers
Godliness with contentment is the measure of true riches
2 Timothy
Believers can rely on the authority of scripture
False teachers threaten the church
Christians are to extend grace and forgiveness, just as they received from God
Conversion transforms people
Believers can expect to be challenged in this life
God uses hardship to discipline his children
Trials produce maturity
True believers bear the fruit of the spirit
God will answer the prayers of the faithful
1 Peter
Christians should endure persecution
Suffering tests one’s faith
2 Peter
Beware of false teachers
1 John
False witnesses deny Christ
Christians should enjoy fellowship with one another
God answers prayer
Believers love one another in words and actions
2 John
Beware of false teachings
Hospitality among Christians is vital
Love others
Beware of false teachers
Christians must educate themselves in the faith

2 Thessalonians

Letter to the Church at Thessalonica


3 Chapters

Author: Paul
Audience: The church likely included some Jews, since Paul began his ministry in the synagogue. However, 1:9–10 and Acts 17: suggest that church membership was predominantly gentile. Thessalonica was the largest city and chief harbor town of Macedonia, with a population of approximately 200,000.

The  purpose of this letter was to caution the Thessalonians that the Lord’s coming was not immediately at hand—it would not be until after the “rebellion” or the arrival of the antichrist.

In this letter, Paul indicates various events that must precede the second coming of Christ.
Second Thessalonians tells Christians that they should continue working until the second coming of Christ. Christ’s coming will be preceded by the arrival of the antichrist.
In his first letter Paul had spoken of the Lord’s coming as being sudden and unexpected. In this letter he explains that it will not be until after the apostasy (the falling away from or renouncing of the Christian faith).
The particular feature of the Lord’s coming that is emphasized in this chapter is that it will be a day of terror for the disobedient—those who have rejected God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul lists major events leading up to the return of Christ.
After Paul’s departure from Thessalonica, ongoing persecution of the faithful believers continued.
Another serious problem was an erroneous assumption on the part of the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord had actually begun, and that the Messiah would soon appear. Perhaps using this expectation as an excuse, some had given up their work.

Paul specifically states in the earliest writings we have of him—the Thessalonian epistles—that he did not expect the immediate appearance of the Lord, and that it would not be until after the rebellion, apostasy, or falling away, which in his day was only beginning to work.
Chapter 1
Paul encouraged and comforted the believers during their  trials.
His words of encouragement include:
“Your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (verse 3).
“We ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure” (verse 4).

Chapter 2
In verses 1-12 Paul clarified the misconception that Christ’s second coming was going to immediately occur. He said two events must come to pass before Christ will return. These are:
1. “The falling away comes first” (verse 3).
2. “The man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (verse 3).
Paul encouraged them to “stand fast” and to hold firmly to the teachings they were taught.
Chapter 3
Paul urged them to pray for him and his party (verses 1-2). The Thessalonians were given the assurance that “the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (verse 3). At the same time Paul expressed confidence in God who would help them to be obedient and develop “the patience of Christ” (verses 4-5).
Perhaps as a result of the mistaken belief that Christ would soon appear, some members had stopped working and relied upon the generosity of others to support them and their families. Paul condemned these individuals and gave strict instructions that such disorderly conduct should end. He declared that “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (verse 10).
Paul was obviously addressing able-bodied individuals who were capable of working, and not those who were elderly or infirmed and unable to work.
He concluded with a prayer that God’s peace and presence remain with and among them. He ended with his personal signature to authenticate his letter (verses 16-18).
“The man of sin”
The context of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 shows that the individual spoken of is a religious figure. For a second time Paul warned them about a religious deception he had discussed with them on his previous visit (verse 5).
Consider these relevant points:
• The time setting: The man of sin will appear on the scene just before the second coming of Christ—he will be destroyed by “the brightness of His coming” (verse 8).
• The man of sin will be extremely arrogant: “Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (verse 4).
• This skillful deceiver is controlled and influenced by Satan the devil, and he will perform spectacular miracles to deceive: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (verse 9).
• The man of sin is part of “the mystery of lawlessness,” and he will mislead people into “unrighteous deception” (verses 7, 10) and, therefore, unrighteous and ungodly behavior.
• He will encourage people to reject the truths of the Bible, and instead will teach lies about what the Word of God actually instructs (verses 10-12).
Author: Apostle Paul

The church in Thessalonica still had some misconceptions about the Day of the Lord. They thought it had come already so they stopped with their work. Paul wrote to clear up misconceptions and to comfort them.
A major theme of this book, especially chapters 1-2, is the return of Christ in judgment when He will put down all rebellion and bring retribution. Second Thessalonians anticipates Christ, the coming.
2 Thessalonians 1
Paul greets the church at Thessalonica and commends them for what he hears they are doing in the Lord. The Lord Jesus will appear in vengeance.

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
** He wrote to give an incentive for the Thessalonians to persevere by describing the reward and retribution that will occur in the future judgment of God (1:3-10).
5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 12 We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2
In chapter 2, Paul explains what will happen in the Day of the Lord. First the lawless one will appear, whom Jesus will destroy.
Paul refers to several Old Testament passages that had crept into the Thessalonian church which taught that the day of the Lord had already come. Here the apostle taught them that the day of the Lord had not come and could not until certain events had taken place, not for the rapture of the church which is imminent, but for the day of the Lord, Daniel’s seventieth week.
Paul then encourages them to stand firm and instructs them to keep away from idle men who don’t live by the gospel.

The Man of Lawlessness
1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
**He wrote to clarify the prominent events belonging to the day of the Lord in order to prove the falsity of the claims that the day had already arrived (2:1-2).
3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
5Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
Stand Firm
13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings[c] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 3
Finally, pray for us. The Lord will guard you against the evil one. Keep away from anyone who walks in idleness. The Lord be with you.
Request for Prayer
1Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
Warning Against Idleness
** He wrote to give detailed instructions covering the disciplinary steps the church should take in correcting those who refuse to work (3:6-15).
6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
11We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

1 Thessalonians

Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians

5 Chapters

Paul was concerned that the believers in Thessalonica might stop following Jesus because of the opposition they were facing..

In this letter, Paul first talks at length about his relationship with the new believers in Thessalonica. He recalls his time with them and says how grateful he is that they’ve remained faithful to Jesus.

After wishing them a blessing, he makes a transition to provide briefer teaching and instruction on several practical matters.
• Paul teaches the Thessalonians to avoid sexual immorality,
• to love one another
• and to work hard and earn their own livings.
But Paul reminds the Thessalonians that Jesus will come back suddenly and unexpectedly. So they should live in such a way that they won’t be ashamed to greet him, whenever he comes.
Author: Paul
The apostle Paul wrote letters to the congregations he established in order to strengthen them, answer questions and address the needs of the members when he could not be with them. When Timothy returned with the welcome news that the Thessalonians had remained faithful, Paul wrote to them to express his joy. He also used the opportunity to provide some teaching and correction the community needed.

Audience: The church at Thessalonica
The church at Thessalonica was very young, having been established only two or three years before this letter was written. The Thessalonian Christians needed to mature in their faith. In addition, there was a misunderstanding concerning Christ’s second coming—some thought Christ would return immediately; thus, they were confused when their loved ones died because they expected Christ to return beforehand. Also, believers were being persecuted.
The letter was intended to encourage the Christian growth of new believers in the Thessalonian church and to settle questions they had, primarily about the Lord’s second coming
Chapter 1
Paul commended the members for their steadfastness and faithfulness despite suffering severe persecution and opposition. They “became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1:6).
Chapter 2
Because of a campaign by some in Thessalonica to destroy Paul’s reputation, he testified that his conduct among them had been in every way an example of unselfish and brotherly devotion to them.
His desire was to please God and not to seek the praise of men. He refused financial support.
Paul commended them for receiving the Word of God.
He longed to see them again despite the failures of previous attempts.
Chapter 3

Christians are being persecuted and Paul hopes that this isn’t gonna shake the Thessalonians’ faith in Jesus. They’ve gotta be rock solid in the face of opposition.
Paul expressed his deep-seated concern for their spiritual welfare as he was unsure how they would stand up to bitter and sustained persecution. However, he was greatly encouraged and filled with joy when Timothy returned with the news of their steadfastness and devotion to God and His Word (3:1-10).
Chapter 4
Paul emphasized godly conduct, including a warning against sexual immorality and encouragement to develop a righteous attitude toward fellow brethren and outsiders.
Love is important when it comes to non-Christians, too. Show them respect, and basically, keep a low profile so Gentiles won’t start trying to find reasons to persecute you.
These instructions were a prelude to a great future event—the second coming of Christ. Paul told them that after Christ’s return they would always be with Him.
One day soon, Paul says, you’ll see Jesus descend from Heaven with all kinds of trumpet blasts and shouts and archangels following him. See? Epic.
The dead will be raised up to Heaven and the living will float up into the clouds to high five Jesus (or something like that).
Then all the faithful will live with God forever.

Chapter 5
Paul continued with the subject of the second coming of Christ. His return to the earth is a certain and undeniable event. This is a theme that is frequently mentioned throughout the Bible. Paul warned the members to be spiritually alert and vigilant so that they would not be caught off guard by the appearing of Christ. He will come suddenly, unexpectedly—“as a thief in the night”—and we need to be ready (5:1-11).

He also gives them some practical advice. Be respectful to the leaders in the community. Don’t fight with each other. Do point out when other Christians are doing the wrong thing. But don’t “repay evil for evil.” Be happy. Pray. Be thankful. Listen to the prophets among them who are filled with the Holy Sprit. In short, be excellent to each other.

Author: Apostle Paul

In the church of Thessalonica there were some misunderstandings about the return of Christ. Paul desired to clear them up in his letter. He also writes it as an instruction in holy living.

The first three chapters are about Paul longing to visit the church in Thessalonica but not being able to because Satan stopped them.

In chapter 4, Paul is instructing the believers in Thessalonica on how to live a holy life.

Paul goes on to instruct them of a misconception they had. He tells them that the people who have died in Christ Jesus will also go to heaven when He comes back.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians that the persecution they were receiving from their “own countrymen”, the Jews who rejected their Messiah, is the same that the Old Testament prophets suffered.

Jesus warned that true prophets of God would always be opposed by the unrighteous.


A Letter to Titus from Paul

3 Chapters

Author: Paul
Audience: Paul wrote his letter to Titus

Titus is a short letter of guidance and encouragement to a young pastor that includes great advice on what qualities elders and leaders should have.

The purpose of Paul’s letter was to:

  • instruct Titus concerning the character of men to be ordained to lead the Churches on Crete
  • To challenge Titus to stand firm against the unchristian character of the Cretans
  • To urge Titus to teach sound doctrine to the Churches on Crete

Paul’s letter to Titus is addressed to his co-worker but meant for the people of the community to hear as well.

Paul instructs Titus to appoint godly leaders and oppose predatory teachings.

Paul identifies the teaching that must be opposed: a combination of Jewish observances (such as being circumcised and abstaining from certain foods).

Therefore, in the instructions Paul gives to the members of the community about how to live out their varying stations in life, he stresses how they can and should do what is good. The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people, he says, so that God’s people can live a new kind of life.

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Titus 1:16
Titus accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey, during which the apostle sent him to Corinth at least once. Paul clearly held Titus in a position of great respect as a friend and fellow worker for the gospel, praising Titus for his affection, his earnestness, and his bringing comfort to others.
Upon leaving Timothy in Ephesus to minister there, Paul accompanied Titus to the island of Crete, where he intended Titus to lead and organize the island’s churches in their early years of existence.

The churches on Crete were just as susceptible to false teachers as any other church, so Paul directed Titus to establish a group of faithful elders to oversee the doctrinal purity and good conduct of the believers on Crete. Paul exhorted Titus to “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1), a clear direction that this should be the young pastor’s primary role.
However, Paul also understood that when a body of believers embraces sound doctrine, the result is changed and purified lives that produce “good deeds.” God’s grace is the motivation for all good deeds. Paul gave instructions to Titus about the roles of specific groups of people—older men, older women, young women, young men, and slaves—as well as general instructions to all believers about their conduct. Right living was essential because Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed,” saving us “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.

Paul had left Titus in Crete to lead the church which Paul had established on one of his missionary journeys. This letter advises Titus regarding what qualifications to look for in leaders for the church. He also warns Titus of the reputations of those living on the island of Crete.
Titus is a personal letter from Paul to a dear friend and co-laborer. Paul obviously visited Crete on his way to Ephesus, and upon his departure requested Titus to remain and strengthen the Churches in every city on the island. The Gospel had obviously spread throughout the island, but there was a great need for someone to “set in order” the things that were wanting. Titus was called on for the task.
Titus had been working with Paul on the island called Crete. Paul did not have time to complete the work himself, so he left Titus to finish it. Titus had to appoint men to lead the churches. Paul reminded Titus about the kind of character that a leader should have.

Many people considered that the people in Crete had bad characters. Paul advised Titus how he should teach different groups of people. These groups were the old people, the young people and slaves. The island of Crete, where Titus was left by Paul to lead the church, was inhabited by natives of the island and Jews who did not know the truth of Jesus Christ. Paul felt it to be his responsibility to follow through with Titus to instruct and encourage him in developing leaders within the church at Crete. As the apostle Paul directed Titus in his search for leaders, Paul also suggested how Titus would instruct the leaders so that they could grow in their faith in Christ. His instructions included those for both men and women of all ages.



Paul’s Letter to Christians in Colossae

Chapters: 4
Author: The apostle Paul

Paul is writing to a group of Christians in Colossae (which was located in what’s now Turkey) with his friend and co-author, Timothy. The Colossian church consisted of mostly Gentile converts.

Purpose: To Combat False Teachings
The theme of Colossians is the complete adequacy of Christ meeting our needs in every area.


Paul combatted false teachings, which had infiltrated the Colossian church. The Christians who lived there had begun to listen to false teachers. Paul was worried that the Christians would turn away from the true gospel. The letter was written in response to a false teaching that was developing within the church, which denied the total sufficiency of Jesus for salvation.

Jewish and Gentile beliefs and practices were being combined, creating a sort of religion that no longer resembled true Christianity.

Christ had made them free from rules that placed too much emphasis on ritual circumcision, dietary laws, and the observance of holy days. Paul then went on to teach the Christians how to live this new life.
Colossians Chapter 1 
Paul starts out by thanking God for the Colossians. They know the truth about Jesus and they’re living good Christian lives because of it.

Colossians Chapter 2

Spiritual Fullness in Christ
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
Freedom From Human Rules
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence