We're making a lot of progress again at the end of the New Testament. This week we finish up the last chapter of II Thessalonians and progress through some of Paul's other letters addressed not to churches but to people: I and II Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Then we move on to another large book often attributed to Paul - the book of Hebrews. Finally, we will begin our journey through James.
I and II Timothy - Paul found Timothy during one of his visits to Lystra where Timothy is mentioned as a disciple. From the Scriptures it seems his mother and grandmother were Jews who had become believers; the only thing mentioned about his father was that he was Greek. Timothy becomes Paul's traveling companion going to Phyrgia, Galatia, Mysia, Troad, Philippi, Veria and Corinth. Eventually around 65AD, Paul installs Timothy as the bishop of the church at Ephesus, a post he would hold for at least the next fifteen years. Timothy was eventually stoned to death when he took a stand against a pagan procession of idols, ceremonies and songs. The first letter from Paul to Timothy seems to deal mainly with forms of worship, organization of the church, the responsibilities of the bishops and deacons, and keeping faithful amid surrounding errors. The second letter seems to be more of a personal goodbye as Paul is nearing the end of his life.
Titus - Titus is mentioned in Galatians as one of Paul's traveling companions to Jerusalem. He was then dispatched to Corinth and later went to Crete as the bishop there. This letter mainly deals with the requirements for bishops and elders in the church.
Philemon - Philemon was a wealthy Christian and leader (possibly bishop) of the church in Colosse. This is the shortest of all Paul's letters and deals mainly with the topic of forgiveness.
Hebrews - The author of this letter is not known or identified although many associate it with Paul or suppose it to be written in his style by one of his followers. The book provides a unique look at Jesus as both exalted Son of God and high priest of the people. Most believe the title to be a reference to its original audience: Jewish Christians of the second century who are apparently being tempted to avoid severe persecution by "shrinking back" in their faith. It is a letter written with hope and perseverance in mind.
James- Most believe the author of this letter to be James the brother of Jesus. Many people wrestle with this letter because it appears to contradict Paul's stance on justification by faith alone. James emphasizes works, but not in the sense of justifying oneself before God; rather in the sense that works are evidence of a person's inward faith.
Here is the schedule:
11, Sunday: II Thessalonians 3 - I Timothy 3
12, Monday: I Timothy 4 - II Timothy 1
13, Tuesday: II Timothy 2 - Titus 2
14, Wednesday: Titus 3 - Philemon - Hebrews 2
15, Thursday: Hebrews 3-6
16, Friday: Hebrews 7-10
17, Saturday: Hebrews 11 - James 1
May God add His richest blessings to the reading, the hearing and the living out of His holy word. Amen.
Have a great weekend!