Learn to USE Your Bible – Week Seven – Part Two 💕
Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. _1 Peter 2:11-12 (MSG)
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. _Matthew 6:7-13 (MSG)
“No chance at all,” Jesus said, “if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Luke 18:27 (MSG)
Jesus said…”I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” _John 16:32-33 RSV
Finish Your Bible Index
The Letters of Peter
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ” was the simple and unpretentious way in which the author introduced himself to the readers of his first letter. He addressed the elders as “a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ.” He wrote from “Babylon,”probably a pseudonym for Rome. His scribe was Silvanus, most likely the same as Silas in the book of Acts, (ch 15-18) who was also called Silvanus in Paul’s epistles.
In the second letter the author identifies himself as Simon Peter, “servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” It is interesting to note that Simon means “reed” in the Greek…one who could be tossed and bent by every changing circumstance and emotion. Jesus changed his name to Peter which means “rock” in the Greek. A study of his life and ministry proves how he lived up to both names.
PUT A STICKIE TAB HERE (page 1471) SO YOU CAN QUICKLY FIND PETER’S LETTERS.
Peter, one of the original twelve apostles, wrote the letter we know as FIRST PETER to the churches in the northern part of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) probably about A.D. 63. The “Babylon” mentioned in chapter 5, verse 13, as the letter’s place of origin was in all likelihood a code name Peter used for Rome, in a manner similar to the reference to Babylon used in Revelation 18 to represent a godless human culture.
Peter’s letter was addressed to believers who faced suffering and persecution at the hands of the government under Emperor Nero. Nero’s attitude shifted the Roman Empire from tolerance toward Christianity to violent opposition. According to tradition, both Peter and Paul were martyred at Rome in the late sixties.
The dominate theme throughout the letter is suffering, which is mentioned sixteen times. Christianity was not a popular religion in Peter’s day. Believers faced discrimination, slander, confiscation of property and even death. These hardships caused some early Christians to wonder if God had abandoned them. Peter’s letter offered encouragement and promised God would “restore, establish and strengthen them.”
Peter knew what it was like to be afraid for his life. As Christ was arrested and tried, Peter denied knowing the Lord three times rather than risk sharing his punishment, despite his boast, “Lord I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” As an old man, having learned through the Holy Spirit, how to stand firm in an evil world, he could offer hope and inspiration to other Christians who were facing persecution for their faith.
The First Letter of Peter becomes a survival manual for all who live in a shattered and hopeless world. Peter promises that trials are only temporary. He reminds his readers of their royal identity and God’s ability to redeem every situation, and that they are created to be loving and hospitable to others, even when they are faced with trying times.
Persecution, trouble, pain and suffering can rob us of our peace and tear apart our faith. Peter’s words urge us to live in the confidence, patience and hope that come to all who place themselves in God’s care. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
As we’ve done in the past, I want to suggest a few verses to highlight. However, this letter is so filled with the message of grace and truth, it is difficult to pick out just two or three verses.
1st Peter 1:23 For through the living and eternal word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal, not mortal.
1st Peter 2:9 But you are the chosen race, the King’s priests, the holy nation, God’s own people, chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his own marvelous light.
1st Peter 5:10-11 But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share his eternal glory in union with Christ, will himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.11 To him be the power forever! Amen.
The opening statement: “From Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ—To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have been given a faith as precious as ours:” identifies both the writer and recipients of THE SECOND LETTER OF PETER.Very likely it was written from Rome some time between A.D. 65 and 68, just before Peter’s death, and was actually addressed to the same readers Peter encouraged in his first letter.
The central theme of this letter is knowledge: the words “know” and “knowledge” occur more than sixteen times. The letter is a reminder of the truth of the Gospel, against the harmful, secretive attacks of false teacher who were bringing destructive teachings into the ear;y church.
As Peter faced the end of his life, he predicted impending calamities and expressed concern about his readers remaining faithful and continuing to grow in discipleship. The letter refers to enemies of the faith, but in such broad terms that it is hard to imagine that Peter had a specific heresy in view. Instead the letter is probably a general warning to the churches, a warning that remains valid even in the twenty-first century.
False teachers, promoting moral compromise and doctrinal errors infiltrate the Christian community and dupe the believers into following their enticing words. Peter writes to expose the dangers and destructiveness of their teachings. He shares some practical guidelines for detecting false teachers and their doctrines. Urging believers to stand firm in their faith.
It seems that as our society grows increasingly lawless, complacent and godless – much like society in Peter’s day. In this letter Peter reminds us that as Christians, our faith combats the influences of the world around us. Peter urges us to be salt and light to a dark and dying world by actively living godly lives as we come to KNOW Christ Jesus through God’s Word.
Two verses to highlight in this letter are:
2nd Peter 1:3-4 (New Living Translation) By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
The Letters of John
First, Second and Third John have from earliest times been attributed to John the Beloved apostle, who wrote the fourth Gospel and the Revelation. The Gospel and All three letters may have been written about the same time, probably in the decade between A.D. 85 and 95.
The content, style and vocabulary seem to indicate these letters were addressed to the same readers as the Gospel of John.
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John begins this letter with a strong affirmation that he who was from the beginning, the Son of God, became flesh and was known as Jesus. John and his fellow apostles saw him, touched him, walked with him.
The heartbeat of this book – we can have fellowship with God and with his people – we can be part of the family of God. The test of that fellowship is simple. Do we love each other? Do we believe in Jesus as God’s Son incarnate and confess that truth before others? Do our heart and conscience confirm our relationship with God? Does God’s Spirit live within us?
Vivid images that contrast light and dark, truth and error, life and death, and love and hate fill the chapters of The First Letter of John. The apostle reassures believers that God will powerfully overcome sin as they seek his forgiveness. He warns them about loving “the world” and being influenced by false teachers. He reminds them that obedience to God brings a love for other believers and that true love is more than a good feeling.
Applying the simple truths of this book to our lives will affect our interaction with God and with others. Genuine fellowship with God will be reflected in our lives as we learn to live and walk in the light of his love.
Some verses to highlight are:
1st John 2:12 I write to you, my children, because your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ.
1st John 3:1 See how much the Father has loved us! his love is so great that we are called God’s children—and so, in fact, we are. This is why the world does not know us: it has not known God.
1st John 4:16 And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them.
John wrote this letter shortly before he was exiled to the island of Patmos because of his faith. This short letter gives us an insight into church life in the latter part of the first century as responsible leaders do their best to counteract the extremely harmful effects of false teaching. False doctrine dilutes the Christian witness, and it’s effects are felt in the lives of believers. John’s love of the truth and his concern for the spiritual welfare of his readers leads him to write this brief note to a church whose members are in real danger of abandoning the truth as it is in Jesus.
During the first two centuries the gospel was spread by traveling evangelists and teachers. Since inns were not readily available, believers customarily took these missionaries into their homes and supplied them with provisions when they were about to leave. The problem John addresses in this letter is that some of them added their own philosophies and false beliefs to the gospel message. He wrote this letter to expose their erroneous message and the ungodly conduct that resulted from it. He warned believers to withdraw from all contact with these teachers. Though God encourages his children to practice hospitality, John wants the believers to know when to close the doors. He asked his readers to refuse hospitality to any who did not “acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”
The best way for us to keep on target spiritually is to follow John’s call to truth, love and obedience. To be certain of what we believe and to walk in it in love and without faltering is the true hallmark of Christianity.
Highlight this passage:
2nd John verses 9-10 Anyone who does not stay with the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. Whoever does stay with the teaching has both the Father and the Son. So then, if some come to you who do not bring this teaching, do not welcome them in your homes; do not even say, “ Peace be with you.”
John’s third letter gives us a look at three different people in the early church. Quite similar to John’s Second Letter, it is addressed to John’s friend Gaius, who is praised for his faith help and hospitality to traveling missionaries. The letter is brief and to the point. In it, John condemns in no uncertain terms a church leader who refuses to practice the love and hospitality John has requested for those who are helping to spread the Gospel of Christ. Another word of confidence is added for Demetrius, who has apparently become a victim of condemnation for an undisclosed reason. John takes a moment in verse 12, to vouch for him.
3rd John verses 2-3 My dear friend, I pray that everything may go well with you and that you may be in good health—as I know you are well in spirit. I was so happy when some Christians arrived and told me how faithful you are to the truth—just as you always live in the truth.
The author of this brief letter calls himself “a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.” The most well known James of the early church was the Lord’s half-brother who headed the Council in Jerusalem. Mark mentions both James and Jude (6:3), among the members of Jesus’ immediate family tree, thus conservative scholars identify him as a half-brother of Jesus.
The date of writing may be about A.D. 65-70. The letter is not addressed to anyone in particular, but to Christians in general. The author had intended to write “about the salvation we all share,” but instead he writes to caution believers who might be drawn away from the gospel by the persuasive words of false teachers who were entering into the church.
Some religious teachers in the first century claimed that anything made of matter was evil but anything spiritual or intellectual was good. This philosophy, known as Gnosticism, perverted the grace of God, saying that believers can sin if they want since their spirits are already saved by grace, thus denying the Lordship of Christ. Jude writes this brief letter as a direct warning against these teachings, challenging believers to stand firm in their faith.
Jude’s closing statement (24-25) is often used today as a doxology in church services. It points out beautifully that the Lord himself is the one who will keep us from falling, from becoming victims to false teaching. Realizing that, we must keep close to him and to his Word, the Holy Bible.
PUT A STICKIE TAB HERE TO FIND JUDE EASILY.
Some verses to highlight are:
Jude 1:3 … urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people.
Jude 1:20-21 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
You already have an index tab here(page 1492) from our discussion at the beginning of the series. And, since the study of this amazing prophecy is a series in itself we will move on with only this note:
It is never simple being a Christian – we are either facing persecution for our faith in a hostile society or facing apathy toward our faith in a comfortable society. In either case, believers need hope: hope that all of God’s promises in the Bible are true, hope that Jesus is who he says he is, hope that believers will live forever with him in heaven, where peace and justice will finally prevail. God gave us this book of Revelation to bring us the assurance that all these hopes will truly come to pass. God will prevail. Evil will be defeated once and for all. And eternity will be everything we imagined and more.
Some verses to highlight in Revelation are:
Revelation 1:8 I AM the first and the last, says the Lord God Almighty, who is, who was, and who is to come.
Revelation 1:17-18 NLT When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I AM the First and the Last. I AM the living one. I died, but look—I AM alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.
Revelation 21:6-7 And he said, “It is done! I AM the first and the last, the beginning and the end. To anyone who is thirsty I will give the right to drink from the spring of the water of life without paying for it. Those who win the victory will receive this from me: I will be their God, and they will be my children.”