The book of 1st Timothy is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). The author is Paul who wrote it approximately 62 A.D. The key personalities are the Apostle Paul and Timothy. It was written to give encouragement and leadership guidelines to a young pastor named Timothy at the church in Ephesus. • Chapter 1 begins with a greeting to Timothy, then quickly turns to a warning against false teachings, and an emphasis on correct beliefs. Paul encourages him to “fight the good fight” (vs. 18). • In chapters 2-4, Paul declares that God desires salvation for everyone, “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2:4). Paul then teaches that, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (2:5). Next, Paul lays some important guidelines and principles for church leadership. He taught the controversial subject of women in the church and what the two offices of leadership in the church were to be, the Overseer and the Deacon. He even taught some of the practices that should be carried out in the church such as, “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (4:13). • Chapter 5-6, Paul gives guidelines for relationships within the church as he explains how to deal with discipline and care for widows. He gives advice of how to minister and lays more guidelines for the wealthy instructing them to be generous. “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (6:17). “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
(1:17) The book of 2nd Timothy is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). The author is the Apostle Paul who wrote it approximately 67 A.D. and is probably his last letter. After Paul’s release from his first imprisonment in Rome in AD 61 or 62, and after his final missionary journey (probably into Spain), he was again imprisoned under Emperor Nero c. 66-67. The key personalities are Paul, Timothy, Luke, Mark, and many others. Its purpose was to give direction to Timothy and urge him to visit one final time. From the somber nature of this letter, it is apparent that Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end (4:6-8). • In chapters 1-2, Paul begins with thanksgivings and an announcement to remain faithful, strong, and to “Join with me in suffering for the Gospel” (1:8). In contrast to his first imprisonment (where he lived in a rented house), he now languished in a cold dungeon (4:13) chained like a common criminal (1:16; 2:9). He also reiterates the important work of “entrusting the faithful men who will be able to teach others” (2:2). Paul’s desire was to equip the saints with the knowledge of how to teach others. • In chapters 3-4, Paul tells Timothy to remain faithful and “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (4:2), because difficult times would be in the future. He challenges him to endure reminding him that endurance is one of the main quality essentials for a successful preacher of the Gospel. Men would become just as they were in the time of Moses. He writes that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (3:12). • At the end of chapter 4, Paul writes about personal concerns asking that some of his personal items be brought to him. It appears that his imprisonment was completely unexpected. Soon after this letter, probably the spring of 68 A.D., it is likely that Paul was beheaded as a Roman citizen. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (4:7).
The book of Titus is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). The author is Paul who wrote it approximately 66 A.D. Key personalities include Paul and Titus. It was written to guide Titus, a Greek believer, in his leadership of the churches on the island of Crete, “For this reason, I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (1:5). As was the case with the letter of 1st Timothy, Paul writes to encourage and guide young pastors in dealing with opposition from both false teachers and the sinful nature of men. • In chapter 1, Paul gives qualifications about how to choose leaders in the church, “the overseer must be above reproach”. He also warned to be aware of the rebellious men and deceivers who “turn away from the truth”, there were many to be aware of (vs. 10). • In chapters 2-3, Paul teaches how believers may live healthy inside and outside of the church. He told them to live Godly lives and to be prepared for the coming Savior Jesus Christ. Paul describes how Jesus rescues us from sin in chapter 2 verses 11-13. When a person first places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation they are saved from the penalty of sin, this is Justification, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men”. While the believer is worshiping and serving God on earth they are saved from the binding power of sin, this is Sanctification, “Instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age”. When a believer’s life comes to an end they go to be with Jesus Christ. Here they live with Him for eternity and are safe and protected from the presence of sin, this is Glorification, “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”.
The book of Jonah is Narrative History and a Prophetic Oracle. The prophet Jonah wrote it approximately 785-760 B.C. before Assyria conquered Israel’s Northern Kingdom. Key personalities include Jonah, the captain and the ship’s crew and the people of Nineveh. The purpose of this book is to show that God is a merciful and gracious God. Although the wicked city of Nineveh deserved to be crushed immediately, God was patient towards them. A reluctant prophet, Jonah originally ran from God before delivering a message of repentance to the nation of Nineveh. • In chapter 1, God directed Jonah to go to Nineveh however; Jonah disobeyed, boarded a ship and headed for Tarshish. The sailors of the ship became concerned because of the great storm that brewed and Jonah explained that God was bringing judgment upon him. The sailors threw him into the sea where he was swallowed by an enormous fish. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights” (1:17). • Chapter 2-3, After God had the fish cough him up, three days later; Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh to fulfill his mission. Jonah preached a message of repentance and to his surprise, the sinful city repented. “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them” (3:5). • In chapter 4, God deals with Jonah and teaches him about His love and compassion. “…knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (4:2). Nineveh’s repentance must have been short-lived; it was destroyed in 612 B.C.
The book of Hosea is a Narrative History and Prophetic Oracle. Hosea is the first book in the sections of Minor Prophets. They are called Minor Prophets not because their material is less important or insignificant, but because of the size of the book they wrote was shorter in length. The prophet Hosea wrote it at approximately 715 B.C. It records the events from 753-715 B.C. including the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722. The key personalities are Hosea, Gomer, and their children. Its purpose was to illustrate the spiritual adultery of Israel and God’s boundless love for His sinful people. Hosea brings God’s message to the wicked Northern Kingdom. During this time, they are active in oppressing the poor in slavery and worshipping idols. God, because of His grace, sent another opportunity for Israel to repent and turn to Him. Shortly thereafter, the Northern Kingdom went into permanent captivity. • In chapters 1-3, God gives Hosea instructions to marry an unfaithful woman and he obeys. His unfaithful wife Gomer leaves him and finds another man. Hosea is faithful; he finds her, redeems her and brings her back home to him. “Then I said to her, ‘You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you” (3:3). • Chapters 4-14 Hosea describes how Israel has been unfaithful to God. God wants Israel to repent and turn from their wickedness. He wants to restore Israel however, they continue to disobey and follow their own ways, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (4:6).
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament and is a book of Prophetic Oracle. It is a post-exilic book, meaning it was written after the return from captivity in Babylon. The prophet Malachi wrote it approximately 430 B.C. Key personalities include Malachi and the priests. The purpose of this book is that Malachi wrote to ensure that the hearts of the Jews was right and that they were keeping God first in their lives. • In chapters 1-3, Malachi identified the sins of the Jews, including their priests. He prophesied that God would send a messenger to prepare the way (this is John the Baptist), “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts” (3:1). Finally, he addressed the topic of tithes and offering and that God is stolen from when people disobey it. • In chapter 4, the last chapter of the Old Testament, Malachi addressed, “the great and terrible day of the Lord” (vs. 5). He teaches about the coming judgment when God will set them ablaze in His holy anger. He also gives hope to the faithful with the Book of Remembrance. Those who do the will of God and are righteous will be spared. Malachi, the last book of the Bible, ends very differently than it began in the book of Genesis. Let us compare them: Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This was a beautiful and perfect relationship with God. Malachi 4:6, “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Consider the large contrast between the very first verse and the very last verse. Afterward, consider that “the sin of mankind” made all the difference. The Old Testament begins with the magnificent power of God’s creation and ends with fear and separation from God and in need of a Savior.