Eight New Testament Letters Summarised
I'm doing an exam in 3 or 4 weeks on these eight New Testament letters, plus the book of Revelation (which I'll summarise in a separate web page).
Since it's almost just as easy to write up my notes here than in any other form, I might as well add them here and then eventually turn them into a page summarising these books.
The word "epistle" means letter. As in the old fashioned way people used to write letters, before there was email.Each of them are counted as one of the books of the Bible. So each of these letters can be referred to as a letter, an epistle, or a book; with these three words having the same meaning here.
If you want to read some of these letters, note that the two longer letters (1 Corinthians and Hebrews) added together make 29 chapters — which is about the same as the 28 chapters that make up all six of the other letters added together.
This page will be updated a lot over late October and early November 2018...
One Quick Idea About Each Book
First of all, one quick idea about each book:
1 Corinthians: Instructions about how to live as Christians.
Galatians: Convincing some of the early Christians (from the province of Galatia, but it can apply just as well anywhere) that they don't need to follow all the old Jewish laws (the laws of Moses) any more. Contains a discussion of "justification by faith" — meaning how Chrisitians are saved on the basis of their faith in Jesus, rather than their ability to follow certain religious laws. This is also known as "grace". You can remember this since "Galatians" begins with the letter G, i.e. G for grace.
Colossians: Written from prison. When I read this recently, I wrote in my notes afterwards "Seems like a mini version of Ephesians". Which is like an overview of the basics of most of Paul's ideas.
1 Timothy: Timothy was a young pastor. This letter gives a lot of advice for pastors and qualifications for church leaders.
2 Timothy: Paul's last letter, written from jail not long before he is martyred (killed). He reminds us to persevere for the Gospel, and to endure suffering.
Titus: Do what is good.
Hebrews: Written to the Hebrews (i.e. the Jews), this letter starts off saying how Jesus is better than their old (i.e. pre-Christian) belief systems. It then goes on to discuss other issues like the power of faith, how suffering is not to be feared, and a few other things.
James: Says a lot about works, i.e. not just believing in your head but doing things because of your belief. Genuine saving faith must become evident in how we endure trials, and how we treat the poor, and how we speak, and how we relate to the world.
Next will come summaries of the books as I study them...
(16 Chapters) God's holy people (all Christians) must mature. God's holy people will become what we already are ?? .. Will not tolerate sin, we will build each other up, we will strongly affirm Jesus' bodily resurrection.
Galatians (6ch) - Justification by faith, esp Gal 2:16. And v17 too. And much of the surrounding text. Guards the gospel. Both Jews and gentiles are justified by, and continue to live by, faith in Christ, not by the works of the law. Fruit of the spirit Gal 5:22
(4 chapters) (Prison) - seemed to me like a "mini" version of Ephesians. Heralds that Christ is supreme. And that is the basis for the letter's many commands.
(6 chapters) - Those in the church , esp church leaders, must oppose false teaching and be Godly. 1:4 Advancing God's work -- which is by faith. Ch2: Pray, dress modestly, women be submissive and don't teach men. Ch3: Qualifications for overseers and deacons. Ch4: In later times some will abandon the faith and believe things taught by demons. Ch5-6 Widows, elders and slaves, don't love money - if we have food and clothing, be content with that.
(4 Chapters) Written from jail not long before Paul is martyred. Paul exhorts persevere for the gospel. 2 Tim 1:7 The spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim 2 - endure suffering for the gospel of Jesus. 2 Tim 3 begins "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ......". 2 Tim 4 has people will gather teachers who say what their itching ears want to hear.
(3 Chapters) - exhorts do what is good by the grace of God.
(13 Chapters) The message of Hebrews is that Jesus is better. So persevere. Don't fall away from the faith. Jesus is better than prophets, than angels, than Moses, than Joshua, than any high priest in the old covenant. Jesus' sacrifice is better than any under the old convenant. Jesus' Melchizadekian (mel-KIZZ-ah-dek)ian priesthood is better than the levitical priesthood. Jesus' new covenant is better than the old covenant. Jesus is better. So persevere. [Starts off comparing the new covenent as being better. Then talks about faith and persevering, giving examples in Ch.11. Ch.12 is encouragement and that suffering is not to be feared, endure hardship as discipline/chastening because we are legitimate (not illegitimate or slave etc) children of God in God's family. See there is no root of bitterness nor sexual immorality. Ch 13. Remember them that are in bonds/prison as if I was together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated. Be sexually pure. Keep my life free from the love of money and be content with what I have.
(5 Chapters) Says a lot about works. Faith works. Genuine saving faith must become evident in how we endure trials, and how we treat the poor, and how we speak, and how we relate to the world.