This week we finish up Hebrews, and read through James, I and II Peter, I, II and III John. Here is some material to help you with your reading.
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.
I and II Peter - Attributed by its title to the Apostle Peter, this letter and its counterpart II Peter are some of the latest writings to be included in the New Testament. The first letter is the only one scholars really attribute to Peter; probably written while Peter was the bishop of the church in Rome. In this letter addressed to believers dispersed through five different provinces in Asia Minor (Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia) is a word of encouragement to those undergoing religious persecution. The authorship of II Peter is largely in question and was probably not the Apostle Peter - because it quotes a later letter extensively (Jude). But the main purpose of this letter is to identify Jesus with God and to correct a growing heresy since Jesus had not yet returned.
I John, II John and III John - These letters are attributed to the disciple John who also wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation. The first two letters were probably written in Ephesus between 95-110 AD to counter the heresies that Jesus did not come in the flesh but only as a spirit. The first letter is a general one and lifts up how Christians are to discern true teachers: by their ethics, their proclamation of Jesus and by their love. The second letter is a private one written to "an elect lady" and much speculation exists as to who this person is. The final letter is another private one addressed to Gaius to commend a party of Christians who had gone on a mission to preach the Gospel, to encourage him and to warn him of a group of other believers who are not cooperating.
Jude - This book is often attributed to one of Jesus' brothers. This 25 verse letter was composed as an encyclical letter - not directed at any one church but rather intended to be circulated and read in all churches. Addressed to Christians in general it warns about the doctrine of certain errant teachers. Many examples of evildoers and warnings about their fates are given in some of the most strongly worded language in the New Testament. The letter concludes with a doxology (short hymn of praise) one of the highest in quality in the Bible.
Revelation - Also attributed to John the disciple and probably written during John's exile at Patmos, this book is the piece of apocalyptic literature in the New Testament, a genre that relies heavily on visions and symbolism (like Daniel in the Old Testament).
Here is the schedule:
22 (Su) - Hebrews 5-8
23 (M) - Hebrews 9-12
24 (Tu)- Hebrews 13; James 1-3
25 (W)- James 4-5; I Peter 1-2
26 (Th) - I Peter 3-5; II Peter 1
27 (F) - II Peter 2-3; I John 1-2
28 (Sa) - I John 3-5; II John; III John
May God add his richest blessings to the reading, the hearing and most importantly the living out of His Holy Word. Amen.