A pastoral leader in the early church delivers a constructive but firm warning to a community under his care to be prepared and vigilant in confronting false teachers. Selfish in their motivations, distorters of sound doctrine, and immoral in character, these teachers are to be vigorously opposed and resisted, rather than listened to or welcomed. Vivid examples of similar challenges from the past are cited from both canonical and non-canonical literature, with the aim of providing models of constancy, faithfulness, and resilience within the community. The author lifts up the love, mercy, and steadfastness of God as a foundation for hope and celebration.
The book of Hebrews brings a word of encouragement to discouraged Christians. The intended readers once had a vivid sense of God’s presence and later showed bold support for others during an outburst of persecution. Yet as time dragged on, some began drifting away. The author emboldens them by telling of the way Jesus the pioneer went through suffering into glory, making a way for others to follow. As high priest, Christ offered himself as the atoning sacrifice, bringing others into a new covenant relationship with God. People are therefore called to persevere in faith, knowing that God will be faithful.
The book of James is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). James the half-brother of Jesus wrote it approximately 48-49 A.D. It was likely the first New Testament book (letter) to be written. The key personalities of this book are James and Persecuted Christians. 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.
The book of 1 John is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It is written by the Disciple/Apostle John around 85-95 A.D. probably from Ephesus. The key personalities are the Apostles Peter and Paul. 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 (1:1). This Gnostic view of matter as being evil led to two responses, asceticism or licentiousness. He very clearly writes to give the true tests of a true Christian. These tests also contradicted the Gnostic licentious approach to Christianity. He gives several means to measure the reality of one’s conversion experience.
The book of 1 Peter is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It was written to all believers in general. The author is Peter who wrote it about 60 A.D. The key personalities are the Apostle Peter, Silas, and Mark. Its purpose was to encourage suffering Christians and to call them to personal holiness; Peter’s central focus is persecution.
The book of 2 John is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It is written by the Disciple/Apostle John around 85-95 A.D. Key personality is John. It was written to encourage all Christians not to lose focus of Jesus Christ and to warn against persistent heresy. His key purpose is that his children (the children of God) may abide in the truth and the truth may abide in them.
The book of 2 Peter is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It was written to all believers in general. The author is Peter who wrote it about 63-64 A.D. The key personalities are the Apostles Peter and Paul. Its purpose was to warn against the increasing number of false teachers attacking the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The book of 3 John is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It is written by the Disciple/Apostle John around 85-95 A.D. The key personalities in this book are the Apostle John, Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. This book is the shortest book in the New Testament and was written to praise Gaius and Demetrius for their faithful service.