The book of Romans is a Pauline Epistle (letter from Paul). The Apostle Paul wrote it roughly about 56-57 A.D. The key personalities in the book of Romans are the Apostle Paul, and Phoebe who delivered this letter. Paul wrote the letter to the believers in Rome, hence the name “Romans”. He wrote it to give them a concrete theological foundation on which to construct their faith and to live for and serve God effectively. The book of Romans reveals the answers to important questions and supplies information on many topics, such as salvation, the sovereignty of God, judgment, spiritual growth, and the righteousness of God. Many scholars also describe it as The Gospel and the Righteousness of God, which can be received only by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The focus of the “righteousness of God” is foundational throughout the book of Romans. In fact, it is threaded through every section of the basic outline of this epistle. Paul reiterates this so that the reader may realize that salvation cannot be attained through man’s good deeds but only through faith in God’s righteousness: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith” (1:16-17). You cannot repair your relationship with God through your good deeds; this is only accomplished through faith in the perfect and finished work of Jesus Christ. • In chapters 1-8, Paul explains the fundamentals and foundations of the Christian faith. This is the Gospel Message, which all believers are commanded to share with the entire world. Some of the most popular and precious memorization passages about Salvation can be found in the first several chapters of Romans, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23). Paul teaches about the sinful nature of all men in the eyes of God, justification by faith in Jesus Christ, freedom from sin, and victory in Christ. • Chapters 9-11, Paul explains God’s sovereignty over salvation. He also spells out how an individual may come into a right relationship with God: “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (10:13). Place your faith and trust only in what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross and make Him the Master of your life and trust He raised Himself from the grave conquering death. His promise is “You will be saved”. • In chapters 12-16, Paul gives instructions for all Christians about how to live a holy lifestyle. In the beginning of chapter 12 he writes, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice”, and “Do not be conformed to this world” (vss. 1-2). Much of the errors and trials that Paul dealt with in his “Epistles”, were because the believers had conformed their lives to the world and not to God.
The book of Philemon is a Prison Epistle (letter written while in prison), which Paul wrote circa 61 A.D. The key personalities of Philemon are Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus. It was written to Philemon as a plea to request forgiveness for his runaway servant Onesimus, who was a new believer in Jesus Christ. The book of Philemon consists of only one chapter. • In verses 1-7, Paul gives his greetings to Philemon and presents his appreciation and gratitude for Him as a brother and worker in Jesus Christ. Philemon was most likely a wealthy member of the church in Colosse. It seems Paul begins by softening up Philemon, as to prepare him initially, before mentioning Onesimus his runaway slave. Philemon was apparently angry with his absent slave. “I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake” (vs. 6). • Verses 8-25, consist of Paul’s appeal for Onesimus, “I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me” (vs. 10). Onesimus had run away and traveled to Rome where he met Paul. While there, Onesimus surrendered his life to Christ. Philemon, under Roman law, could execute his slave for fleeing however, Paul pleas with Philemon to accept his servant. Paul goes one step further and asks Philemon not only to accept his slave but also to accept him as a brother in Christ and to overlook his faults and errors. “For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (15-16). Onesimus would carry this letter back and give it to Philemon. Onesimus is later mentioned at the end of the book of Colossians as a faithful and beloved brother. The book of 1st Corinthians is a Pauline Epistle (letter from Paul). The Apostle Paul wrote it about 56 A.D. The key personalities of this book are the Apostle Paul, Timothy and also Chloe’s household.
Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to the church in Corinth was to address and correct the immorality and divisions that had arisen among them. • Chapters 1-4, Paul received reports of problems in the church in Corinth and therefore addresses their problems and disorders, “there are quarrels among you” (1:11). Paul asks believers to ”consider your calling” (1:26-30). He then declares three times that God ”has chosen” them and ”because of Him you are in Christ Jesus”. This truth is joyful and relieving to believers that God is in control and is the orchestrator of our lives. • In chapters 5-11, Paul exposes all of the immorality that was occurring in the church at Corinth. These include sexual immorality, issues of marriage, and lawsuits with other believers. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9). Paul warns believers to be careful how you live, “For you have been bought with a price” (vs 20), • In chapters 12-14, he clears up some of the confusion about practices of worship. He corrects difficult doctrines that had caused divisions. Some of these differences were the role of women in worship, the use of spiritual gifts, and observing the Lord’s Supper. “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (14:33). • Chapters 15-16 consist of Paul dealing with the topic of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the topic that is, “of first importance” to Paul. It is here we find the most important information on planet Earth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ in verses 1-4. “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (15:1-4).
The book of 2nd Corinthians is a Pauline Epistle (letter from Paul). The Apostle Paul wrote it about 56 A.D. The key personalities of this book are the Apostle Paul, Timothy, and Titus. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth to defend and protect his Apostleship and to teach and warn against false teachers who were spreading heresy. • In chapters 1-7, Paul describes the characteristics of an Apostle. He explained that his ministry was to preach Jesus Christ alone and not himself, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (4:5). Paul then explains that Christians will suffer. “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”. It is promised to followers of Christ that they will suffer. Paul states that compared to eternity with Christ the sufferings of this world are temporary and have a purpose for us: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” • In chapters 8-9, He urges the Corinthians to give the offering to the believers in Judea, as they had promised. He taught that if they gave generously they would also “reap generously” (9:6). • Chapters 10-13 Paul defends his ministry and responds to attacks about his Apostleship. They had been questioning his authority and opposing him. Paul declares that if anyone preaches a different Gospel or a different Jesus, other than what Paul and the Apostles were preaching, they are false teachers and deceitful workers and should not be accepted. In chapter 12 7-10, Paul explains a theology of his own suffering. He asks God to remove a suffering from His life but God refuses. God responds to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness”. Paul understood that God is sovereign and in control over even his sufferings. Therefore, Paul embraces his suffering because God allows them into his life for a purpose regardless of how difficult they may be. In times of calamity, he understood that these were times when he depended on God’s strength and mercy the most. Paul responds, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”. Paul knew he was the strongest when he felt the weakest because he depended on God, the one who has infinite strength. The last thing Apostle Paul teaches in 2nd Corinthians is how to test yourself. If you want to know if you are a Christian if you want to know if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then you must test yourself, “to see if you are in the faith”; examine yourself with Scripture (13:5).
The book of Colossians is a Prison Epistle (letter written while in prison). Paul wrote it circa 60-62 A.D. The key personalities include Paul, Timothy, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, and Epaphras. It was written to counter and respond to heretical teachings and encourage believers to serve with fervor and passion. The basic problem was a Judaic-Gnostic heresy that sought to mix Greek philosophy with Christian theology. Gnostic philosophy taught that matter was evil. In order to avoid having their pure god create evil, they had created a system of lesser deities that overflowed from their god. These lesser gods were far enough removed from the pure god that they were able to create the universe (which was composed of evil matter). They named this lesser deity the Jehovah God of the Hebrews. • In chapters 1-2, Paul sends words of thanks to the faithful believers “who are at Colosse”. Paul did not establish the Colossian Church and had never visited there. He teaches one of the most powerful passages attributing the divinity of Jesus Christ who is God in flesh. It is apparent that false teachers were spreading heresy by rejecting the deity of Jesus Christ, probably teaching that He was just a “unique man”. Paul warns not to allow anyone to lead them astray with Philosophy, trickery, or by traditions of men. Paul then assured the church that Jesus is God, “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (2:9), and that He, “reconciled all things unto Himself’ (1:20), and He did it by, “having nailed it to the cross” (2:14) referring to our sins. Because Jesus Christ is God, He was able to pay the penalty of sin in order to rescue mankind. • In chapters 3-4, Paul encourages the church to focus on God, and keep their eyes on the goal, “set your mind on the things above” (3:2). He teaches believers how to live at home, how to manage family matters, and how to get along with other believers in Christ. His approach is for believers to put aside the petty situations that become obstacles in our lives, ultimately slow us down, and prevent the spread of the Gospel. Paul then explains what it means to forgive, “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (3:13). Paul declares, “Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (3:14-15)