The book of Hebrews is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It was written mainly to the Hebrew believers. The author is anonymous, although either Paul or Barnabas was traditionally accepted as the author. It was written approximately 67 A.D. Its purpose was to present the Lord Jesus Christ as perfect and superior in comparison to anything Judaism and the old covenant had to offer. The author was writing to a group of Christians who were under intense persecution and some were contemplating a return to Judaism. He admonished them not to turn away from their only hope of salvation. • In chapters 1-10:18, the author repeatedly demonstrates Jesus Christ as preeminent over the angels, “let all the angels of God worship Him” (1:6); over Moses, “He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (3:3); over the Old Testament priesthood, “being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (5:10). The writer explains that the New Covenant is greater than the Old Covenant because Jesus was the perfect, permanent sacrifice, rather than the Old Testament sacrifices. The author also presents the power and authority of the Word of God, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (4:12). • In chapters 10:19-13, the writer explains that Faith is superior to the work of the Old Covenant. He writes, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). Chapter 11 is Faith’s Hall of Fame where all of the faithful individual’s from the Old Testament are highlighted in this chapter. Faith in Jesus Christ is our source of salvation because He is “the author and perfecter of faith” (12:2). All are able to trust in Jesus Christ knowing that He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8).
The book of James is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). James the half-brother of Jesus wrote it approximately 48-49 A.D. It was likely the first New Testament book (letter) to be written. The key personalities of this book are James and Persecuted Christians. James wrote this book to Jewish believers to encourage them to endure and live bold Christian lives. James is a book about practical Christian living that reflects a genuine faith that transforms lives. In many ways, it is similar to the OT book of Proverbs. • In chapter 1, James teaches believers to test their faith and “prove yourselves doers of the word” (1:22). James encourages believers to put their faith into action and to be servants of Jesus Christ. • Chapters 2-3, James describes the relationship between faith and works. He teaches that a person of faith without works demonstrates useless faith. What good is a person’s faith if they don’t present it to the world? A believer’s good works are evidence of their faith in Jesus Christ. He also teaches that everyone is a sinner and that if one of the 10 Commandments are broken, then that person is guilty of breaking every one of them, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (2:10). • In Chapters 4-5, James gives wise instruction to believers. He said, “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you” (4:7). A faithful believer will desire to follow hard after God in service, obedience, and prayer. In the last chapter, James stresses the weight and magnitude of prayer for every believer. He uses the word “Prayer” 7 times, signifying its importance. In the final verse of his book, James expresses the magnitude of living faith in action saying: “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (5:19-20).
The book of 1st Thessalonians is a Pauline Epistle (letter from Paul). The Apostle Paul wrote it about 52-54 A.D. and it was one of his earliest written letters. The key personalities in this book are the Apostle Paul, Timothy, and Silas. Paul wrote this letter to strengthen and encourage the church in Thessalonica. To encourage and hearten the believers, Paul chose to emphasize the second coming of Jesus Christ. Throughout this letter, Paul focused on the principles of Faith, Hope, and Love. • In chapters 1-3, the first principle is seen as Paul accentuates and commends them for their faithfulness to the Lord. He wrote, “thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (2:13). • In chapters 4-6, Paul highlights Love and Hope. He encourages the church to walk in love; to (excel still more). He then expounds on the return of Jesus and “the day of the Lord”. Paul teaches the church about the resurrection on the last day and that Christ will return in the clouds, this was exactly the encouragement that the church in Thessalonica needed. Lastly, before Paul finishes his letter he does not forget to add that they must pray constantly and “examine everything carefully’. In today’s world of lies, deception, and carnival mirrors, everyone must apply these truths daily.
The book of 2nd Thessalonians is a Pauline Epistle (letter from Paul). The Apostle Paul wrote it about 52-54 A.D., several months after his first letter to the church in Thessalonica. The key personalities in this book are the Apostle Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Paul wrote this letter to reemphasize the coming return of Jesus Christ. Some of the people in Thessalonica had thought that Jesus had already returned, this letter was written to correct any misunderstandings. • In chapter 1, Paul highlights the great hope of Jesus’ future return although the exact time is unable to be known by anyone. He commends the church in Thessalonica for their perseverance in the midst of persecution, “we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure” (1:4). Paul teaches that God will punish those who are persecuting on the last day. “Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (1:8-9). • In chapters 2-3, speaking of the return of Jesus Christ, Paul was sure to include the signs and setting that “the man of lawlessness” (the antichrist) had to arrive. For that to occur the “restrainer” (Holy Spirit) must be removed from restraining him. The Holy Spirit indwells all believers and when He is removed, all believers will be “caught up” in the clouds with the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Paul pushes them to pray and serve until this all transpires. “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ” (3:5).