NOVEMBER QUICK GUIDE TO THE BIBLE: THE GOSPEL OF JOHN,REVELATION, 1, 2, & 3 JOHN, COLOSSIANS, EPHESIANS, 1 & 2 PETER, HEBREWS, JAMES, JUDE
The Gospel of John is unique among the four gospels in the way the story of Jesus is presented. The sequence of events is different (the temple is cleansed early in his ministry as opposed to later, he goes to Jerusalem three different times as opposed to one, he carries his own cross, etc.) Jesus delivers long monologues and this language is mysterious. He says one thing and means another. Things appear to be working at two levels in John. The reader wonders about details and whether symbolic significance should be read into them. For example, should one make anything of the fact that they caught 153 fish?
Revelation: This letter is of a genre called apocalyptic literature. Through symbolic language it is designed to inspire hope. Many symbols and references come from the Old Testament. It should not be taken as a prediction of the future but as a song of hope in God’s kingdom. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes” (21:4).
I John: This is an important letter about love for one another to show that we are God’s children: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (4:16).
II John: This a postcard warning about deceivers. Don’t welcome anyone who teaches the wrong stuff.
III John: This letter is a bit more paranoid than the others; the author defends himself against some guy named Diotrephes. “Beloved do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good.” (vs. 11)
Ephesians: This letter describes the great unity we have in Christ who is the head of the Church who can bring Jew and Gentile together: “For he (Christ) is our peace; he has...broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (2:14)
Colossians: Paul has a concern that some goofy teachings have taken over “empty deceit” (2:8). He speaks of Christ as the head of the cosmos “the firstborn of all creation...in him all things hold together.” (1:15-17)
I Peter: This letter from Peter is encouragement in the face of persecution. “Live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God.” (4:2)
II Peter: This letter is an attack on false teachers and a warning that Christ will come again for judgment. In the meantime: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (3:18)
Hebrews: This is a long sermon about how Christ is the perfect sacrifice done once and for all. Therefore, animal sacrifice in the temple is no longer needed. It contains a list of the heroes of faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (11:1)
James: This letter is about putting your works where your faith is. Not one for idle talk is James: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (2:14)
Jude: Bad apples have entered into the barrel. Don’t listen to them and reject the true faith. “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (vs. 21).