God’s Word has so much wisdom, teaching and blessing for us today. We are not so different from the early church and the words that God gave the writers of the New Testament letters still very much apply to us today. If God were to send a letter to you today – which of His New Testament letters would he send to you? Don’t forget to read God’s Mail to you today!
Today we will be looking at the 8 books called the General Epistles (or Letters) which make up the 4th division of New Testament books. There is a lot of wisdom in these books.
Hebrews – Jesus is Better than…Anything!
It is unknown who wrote the book of Hebrews, though some suggest it may have been Paul. It was written to remind and convince the Jewish Christians that Jesus is the Messiah. It appears the Jewish Christians had already endured much persecution for their faith in Jesus – perhaps rejection by their Jewish family and friends who didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. Some were rethinking their commitment to Jesus and were thinking of returning to their Jewish roots and Old Testament law. The author of Hebrews was writing to show that Jesus is superior to the prophets, angels, Moses, the priests and the whole Old Testament law. Jesus is the NEW high priest who made the ultimate, perfect sacrifice so we could enter a new and living covenant with God. The book was written to encourage the Jewish Christians to not give up, to persevere in their new faith and to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.” (10:23).
James – Faith in Action
This book was written by James, the brother of Jesus and a leader of the early church in Jerusalem. The five short chapters that make up the book of James are sometimes compared to the Old Testament book of Proverbs because it contains so much wisdom. In this letter, James teaches several short sermons on how to live a Christian life on a daily basis. Over half of the verses contain a command or instruction for Christian brothers and sisters – such as “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God,” and, “Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James stresses the importance of LIVING out your faith – with actions consistent with your Christian faith. It is not enough to say you are a Christian and you love God and your neighbor. You must DO it daily. If Hebrews tells us WHY to become a Christian (because Jesus is better than…), then James is where we learn HOW to be a Christian.
1st & 2nd Peter – Stand Against Trouble
Written by Simon Peter, one of the disciple who, with his brother Andrew, left his nets to follow Jesus. Peter was far from perfect (denied Jesus 3 times), but he would be the ROCK on which the church would be built – and we see that taking place in the book of Acts. In 1st Peter he is writing to encourage the church that is being persecuted by the Roman Empire. He writes, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:7,8). We would be wise to remember and live by these words as well.
1st, 2nd & 3rd John – This is Love
Written by John, the disciple and close friend to Jesus who also wrote the gospel of John. In the 5 chapters of 1st John, the word ‘love’ is used 35 times and it also reoccurs in the next two letters several times as well. The “beloved disciple” John, writes of God’s love, and our love for God – as well as our love for our brothers and sisters. John emphasizes that in order to love God we must obey his commands – which means loving others.
Jude – Beware of False Teachers
Written by Jude who identifies himself as James’ brother (perhaps making him also Jesus’ half-brother). It would just about be quicker , and no doubt much better, to read Jude’s book of 24 verses than to read my overview. He says he would have liked to write about salvation available to all believers, but instead he felt the need to warn the church of the importance of testing those in the church to see if they are saying or doing anything contrary to God’s Word. He writes of immoral men using God’s grace as a license for follow their own evil desires. He likens them to the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, and says a similar fate awaits them. He urges the church to remain true to their faith and to “snatch others from the fire” (verse 23).
God’s got a lot to say to you because He loves you and wants to see you in His Kingdom – more on that tomorrow!
Don’t Let it Sit Unread in Your Mailbox!