The Bible: Overview Book by Book

Whats new?

Book
Date
2 Thessalonians
12 September 2017
1 Thessalonians
3 September 2017
Galatians
31 July 2017
Zechariah
2 July 2017
Mark's Gospel
20 April 2017
Daniel
6 February 2017

This page is in preparation!

This is a very brief outline of the bible – preparation began July 2011, which will take quite some time to complete. Numbers in parenthesis indicate the verse for the particular item discussed.

To see the footnotes without having to go to the bottom of the page – place the cursor over the footnote number – the contents will pop–up.

 

Old Testament

Go to New Testament

Genesis

Genesis

Title: "beginnings" but also is the book of the generations: Adam to Joseph

Place in bible: Old Testament, first book of the Bible, first book of the Law, Torah or Pentateuch (from the Latin – because the law has five books)

Author: Moses for Israel and the world

Date: Written perhaps in about 1500 BC, concerning the period beginning c.4000 BC – c.1800 BC

Genre: Historical narrative, legal (part of the Law of Moses) giving the fundamental laws of life & death, sin and marriage.

Main idea: God the creator, who created the heavens and the earth, perfect, the consequence of sin, God intervening in the fallan work, and the beginning of God´s redemption of a remnant of people, through a chosen people, Israel.

Divisions:

Arno Gaebelein[1] divided Genesis into 12 sections and this appears to be a beautiful way to do it as the number twelve does have some connection with man. He used the following divisions:

  1. The Creation
  2. The Generations of the Heavens and the Earth – see Gen 2:4
  3. The Generations of Adam – Gen 5
  4. The Generations of Noah – Gen 6-9
  5. The Generations of Sons of Noah – Gen 10
  6. The Generations of Shem – Gen 11:10
  7. The Generations of Terah – Gen 11:27 – from this point onward Genesis deals with one family – the family from Terah – Abram and his descendants.
  8. The Generations of Ishmael – Gen 25:12
  9. The Generations of Isaac – Gen 25:19
  10. The Generations of Esau – Gen 36
  11. The Generations of son's of Esau – Gen 36:9
  12. The Generations of Jacob – Gen 37–50

Key events:

The creation of the world (1–2)

The creation of humans (2)

The sin of Adam leading to the fall of all of mankind until Jesus Christ (3)

The almost destruction of all humans because of their sin, with the family of Noah being saved (6–9)

The dispersion of humans due to their disobedience to God, the arise of languages (10–11)

The covenant of God to all people through Abraham (12, 15 & 17)

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the beginnings of the chosen people

Israel in the land of Egypt with Joseph

Key prophecies: (These are but a few)

Promise that the Son of God would crush Satan (3 cf Isaiah 53)

Covenant between God and Noah, on behalf of all mankind – the world would not be destroyed by flood (9)

The covenant of God to Abraham that the decedents of Abraham – Israel would be a great nation and a blessing to all people, fulfilled in Jesus Christ the Son of God (12, 18, 22, 26).

Jesus Christ would be of the Lion of the Tribe of Israel, who would hold the kingdom for all time (49)

Key verse: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"

Key characters: God (Elohim, plural), Adam (2), Noah (5), Abram (11) renamed Abraham (renamed 17), Melchisedec, king of Salem (14) Sari (11) renamed Sarah (17), Isaac (17), Jacob (25) renamed Israel (32), Joseph (30), twelve tribes of Israel

Key Places: Eden (2), River Tigris (2), Mount Moriah (22), Salem (14) (ancient Jerusalem ), Canaan (person 9 – also cursed, land 11), Egypt (12)

[1] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein´s Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros , USA , pp 15

 

Exodus

Exodus

Title: From the Greek to mean "way out" – reflecting the main story of the book– the translocation of the children of Israel out from Egypt. In Hebrew it has the name "these are the names" or just "names" arising from the first two words of the book.

Place in bible: Old Testament, second book of the Bible second book of the Law, Torah or Pentateuch (from the Latin – because the law has five books)

Author: Written by Moses for Israel and the world (Exodus 24:4, 34:27, completed by the entry of Israel into Canaan – Joshua 1:8).

Date: Written perhaps prior to 1440–1495 BC, concerning the period beginning from the death of Joseph to the erection and dedication of the Tabernacle, a period of 145 yrs, perhaps from 1526 BC (purported date of Moses' birth) to 1446 BC.

Genre: Historical narrative, legal (part of the Law of Moses) giving some of the ordinances making up the Mosaic Law pertaining to temple worship.

Main idea: The main emphasis of this book is salvation – that is, redemption, being the historical narrative of the birth of the nation of Israel, its enslavement by the Egyptians, followed by the wonderful redemptive power of God being displayed in his saving of Israel.

This book speaks to Christians as the redeemed of the Lord.

Key verses: Exodus chapter 6:5–8

And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.
Therefore say to the children of Israel :"I am the Lord;

I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,
I will rescue you from their bondage, and
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
I will take you as My people, and
I will be your God. Then you shall know that
I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (8) And
I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord .'"

To be continued..

Leviticus

Leviticus

Title: One of books of the bible forgotten by Christians – the title is from the class of Israelites who are priests – the Levites. In Hebrew it is called "And He called".

Place in bible: Old Testament, third book of the Bible, third book of the Law, Torah or Pentateuch (from the Latin – because the law has five books

Author: Written by Moses for Israel and the world (as verse 1 of chapter 1 indicates).

Date: Written perhaps approximately 1490 BC (the Jews may give a later date): between the first day of the month and the twentieth day of the second month, in the 2nd year after the exodus.

Genre: Mainly legal (part of the Law of Moses) giving part of the law pertaining to the holiness of God, loving one's neighbour, ceremonial: sacrifices, cleanness law along with social obligations and the rules of the priests, including the great high priest.

Main idea: The book emphasises the Holiness of God (holiness is mentioned 90 times) – its ideas cannot be understood in this day of grace without first reading the Epistle to the Hebrews. It has a myriad of types that characterise the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of his Sacrifice, his Office and the office of the Great High Priest. Its main idea relates to the outcomes of redemption, seen in Exodus – "holiness unto the Lord", that is "sanctification".

Key events:

Key prophecies : The antitypes of the elements found in the ordinances of Leviticus are mostly found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

To be continued..

 

Numbers

Numbers

Title: This book takes the English translation of the Greek word "Numbers", because the people are "numbered" twice in the book. The Hebrew title is "Be–Midbar" meaning "in the wilderness"

Place in bible: Old Testament, fourth book of the Bible, fourth book of the Law, Torah or Pentateuch (from the Latin – because the law has five books).

Author: Moses: from verse 1:

And Jehovah spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after their departure from the land of Egypt (JND)

Date: c. 1490 BC[1], some say a little later 1445–1405 BC[2]

Genre: Historical narrative of the children of Israel 's journey in the Wilderness, legal (part of the Law of Moses) with various ordinances pertaining to Sabbaths, and ceremony.

Main idea: The people are gathered around the Tabernacle and numbered, hence Jehovah's chosen people are gathered around him; Himself on the centre. The book concerns trial (wilderness journey) and emphasises service (that of the Levites) – it narrates the preparation of the people to conquer the land of Canaan.

It relates to Christians because it speaks of our life in the present evil age.

Key prophecies : The parables of Balaam (Chapters 22–24).

[1] Walter Scott (1879) Handbook of the Bible Old Testament, Edinburgh

[2] Josh McDowell

Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy

Title: "Deuteronomy" is from the Greek and taken from Chapter 17:18 but as Arno Gaebelein points out the translation is incorrect – this book is not a "second" law but a repetition of the law, hence it can be called "Ellech hadebarim" ("The words") which are the first few words of the book, else "Mishneh Torah" as Jews use, meaning the "Repetition or Review of the Law"; review is perhaps the best description.

Place in bible: Old Testament, fifth book of the Bible, fifth (and final) book of the Law, Torah or Pentateuch (from the Latin – because the law has five books).

Author: Moses, as a prophet (Deut. 18:15), wrote the majority of this book, but clearly did not write the last chapter, as it was written after he died and the Lord had buried his body. The notion that Moses did not write this book is false. See also Deut. 31:24, 32:46.

Date: The exact time and place when the words of this book were given is stated in the first few verses of the Book:

These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. It came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them.

The speeches of Moses took place in the few weeks leading up to entry to the Promised Land: Canaan. If Israel crossed into Canaan in 1406 B.C. then around this time. The Jews give an earlier date.

Genre: Overall the book is Law, but it also contains prophecy, and sets out a treaty between Jehovah and God's chosen people, Israel (Deut 6:13-15). The essence is similar to a marriage contract. The book is a series of speeches by Moses as prophet that reiterates the Law of Moses to the people of Israel and concludes the Pentateuch i.e. Torah.

Main idea:

This book is the covenant between Israel and Jehovah in relation to Israel being in the Land of Canaan. It is not a mere repetition of the Lawm but rather we find a distinct writing of the law, where obedience to Jehovah and His Word in love and godly fear is soundly encouraged, and God will establish the Children of Israel in Canaan. The book emphases Jehovah as being the one and only God; that He is sovereign and rules Israel, as a model for all other nations. The book sets out the blessings of obedience and the dangers of disobedience to Jehovah [Yahweh].

Divisions:

The book's structure is chiastic[1] which at the beginning examines the past and at the end examines the future. Below is Arno Gaebelein's outline[2] with the chiastic frames.

A. Outer frame - retrospective

1.    The first discourse of Moses and retrospect.

a.    Introduction (1:1-5): indicates the author (Moses, place and occasion of the speeches)
b.    From Horeb to Kadesh (1:6-46): The immediate past history of the Children of Israel.
c.    After the Forty Years: Conflict and Conquest (2-3)

B. Inner frame – Exhortation

"Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you.

d.    Exhortation that Jehovah is God (4:1-40): gives the exhortation to Israel to keep the commands, statues and judgements of Jehovah.
e.    The Three Cities of Refuge (4:41-43)

2.    The exposition of the Law and the statutes, exhortations and warnings, blessing and curse "And now this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel" (4:44).

a.    The Proclamation of the Decalogue (4:44-5:33)
b.    The First Commandment and What it Involves (6:1-25)
c.    The Possession of the Land and Their Separation (7:1-26)
d.    Thou Shalt Remember! Provision and Warning (8:20)
e.    Warning Against Self-Righteousness and Their Previous Failures (9-10:11)
f.     Jehovah's Love and His Requirements of His People (10:12-22)
g.    Israel 's Responsibility: The Blessing and the Curse (11:1-32)

C. Core: Main clauses of covenant:

These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. (12:1)

h.    The Place of Worship (12:1-32)
i.     Warning Against False Prophets and Their Punishment (13:1-18)
j.     The Children of God and Their Separation (14:1-29)
k.    The Year of Release and Liberation Of Hebrew Slaves (15:1-18)
l.     The Firstlings and the Three Feasts (15:19-16:17)
m.  Justice and the Choice of a King (16:18-17:20)
n.    The Rights of the Priests and Levites, the True and the False Prophet (18:1-22)
o.    Laws for Israel in the Land (19:1-21)
p.    Concerning Future Wars (20:1-20)
q.    The Expiation of an Uncertain Murder and Various Instructions (21:1-23)
r.    Against Inhumanity and Different Violations, False Testimony and Sins of Adultery (22:1-30)
s.    The Congregation of Jehovah: Its Constitution and Holiness (23:1-25)
t.    Concerning Divorce and Laws of Mercy (24:1-22)
u.    Various Laws and Responsibilities (25:1-19)
v.    First Fruits and Prayer (26:1-19)

C. Inner frame – Ceremony on crossing, recalling the blessings and curses

w.   The Memorial of the Law at Mount Ebal, Gerizim, and Ebal (27:1-26)
x.    The Blessing and the Curse (28:1-68)
y.    The Repetition of the Covenant and the Restated Curse (29:1-29)
z.    The Dispersion and the Return: The Final Appeal (30:1-20).

A. Outer frame – looking forward to the future

3.    The final words of Moses and the Vision of the Future

a.    Moses' final charge, the written law delivered, and Jehovah's word to Moses (31:1-30)
b.    The Song of Moses (32:1-43)
c.    The Blessing of Moses (32:43-33:29)
d.    The Death of Moses (34:1-12)

Key events/themes:

See the outline above which includes history, law, exhortation and prophecy.

Words of importance:

The Name of the Lord

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome (10:17a)

The Lord Your God or Lord God, that is, Jehovah or Yewah; 279 times in 239 verses (out of 959 verses) KJV.

Obedience

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (4:2)

Command: usually as "I command you" 41 times in 40 verses

Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. (8:1)

Obey: the voice of Jehovah or the commandments: 22 verses

Observe and obey all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you and your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. (12:28)

"You shall" some ordinance or command: 339 times in 270 verses

You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. (4:2)

Blessings and cursings

Blessings: the outcome of obedience (51 times)

Curses: the outcome of disobedience (35 times)

"Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; (11:26-27)

The Law

Law (26 times), often as 'this book of the law' (9 times), statutes (29 times), commandments (43 times) and judgments (33 times).

Others

Hear: mainly related to hearing what Jehovah has to say to Israel (e.g. Deut. 6:4)

Key prophecies:

The prophecies pertain to Israel and her relationship with Jehovah being dependent upon her obedience to the ordinances and commands of the God.[3]

The Messiah: (Deut 18:15,19), a prophecy repeated from Mount Sinai, and in this book, renewed.

He would be a prophet (c.f. Matthew 21:11, John 4:19, John 6:14, 12:48-50)

He would speak with the authority of God (John 12:48-50)

Those that do not listen to him will be judged (John 12:48-50)

The Messiah would be worshiped by angles (proving his divinity) (Luke 2:13-14)

Israel would cease to obey God (Deut 31:16-21), and due to the failure of children of Israel to obey the commands, statutes and judgements of God, the curses of Deuteronomy would fall upon them. This is why they were dispersed around the world for 2000 years and all nations have hated them.

Prophecy of the tribes of Israel (Deut 33): a blessing because of the manifestations of Jehovah in glory which will occur when Jehovah returns. It describes the blessings of Israel in their land.

Key verse[4]:

For the Jew (6:4) (The shama from the first word in Hebrew)

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

For the Christian 6:5, as commanded by Jesus in Matthew 22:37, mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

For Israel (30:19-20)

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

Key characters:

Few people are mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy.

Moses

Moses, was a servant of the Lord God most High; considered to the greatest leader and ruler of Israel, ruling from the Exodus until their arrival at the promised land. His name means "brought forth" since he was saved from death when his mother floated him in the Nile in a small boat, and was found by the pharaoh's daughter. He was a Levite, ruler (but not king) and a prophet, an educated man, trained in the house of pharaoh, but also humble and a servant, working 40 years for his father-in-law, as a shepherd. God considered Moses very humble – "more than all men who were on the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3)

Joshua the son of Nun

Joshua's birth name was Hoshea but changed on demonstrating faith in the ability of Jehovah of saving Israel. His name means "he will save us". He is first mentioned in Exodus 17:9, and was a eventually a commander and leader of Israel, and from whom the sixth book of the Bible is named.

Caleb

Joshua's contemporary, Son of Hezron, a spy that went with Joshua and 10 others to the Land of Canaan and agreed with Joshua that with Jehovah's help Israel could take the land. He became a commander under Joshua and due to his effort he was given a part with the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:13).

Ok king of Bashan

An Amorite king of Bashan, ruler over 60 towns, located in an impregnable part of the land – Argob (3:4, 3:13,14), a rock island, defeated by Israel

Sihon king of Bashan

King of the Amorites

Key Places:

The land is the key blessing – rather than being wanderers in the wilderness they would become possessor of land, if they obey Jehovah.

Three cities of refuge

Three cities of refuge were set aside for people who had accidently killed someone, where they could obtain refuge from the avenging families of the dead (4:41-49) – Bezer in the wilderness, Ramoth in Gilead, Golan in Bashan.

Mount Gerizim

The mountain on which Israel were to place the blessings of God (11:29)

Mount Ebal

The mountain on which Israel were to place the cursings of God (11:29)

The Land

The land Israel was to possess was: "from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory." (11:24)

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. (30:19,20)

 

[1] The writings have a concentric structure – essentially a core with "book ends" either side – on this case two sets.

[2] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein´s Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros , USA , pp 164

[3] Some have interpreted various ordinance as prophecy, such as the nature by which Jesus Christ would die, when rather than a prophecy they are ordnances that were complied with (whether intentionally or unintentionally) e.g. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 which deals with hanging a man on a tree if he curses God, and must be buried the same day.

[4] Not all books of the Bible can be characterised by a single verse, the purpose of the longer books is often much greater than what a fewn verses can contain.

 

Joshua

Joshua

Title: The Book of Joshua, the son of Nun, the disciple of Moses, the first book to bear as its title a name of a person because it was written by him (Joshua 24:26).

Place in bible: Old Testament, sixth book of the Bible, first book after the Law, considered to be the first book of the "former Prophets" by the Jews (Zechariah refers to the former Prophets three times in his prophecy.)

Author: Joshua the son Nun (24:26), whose name was originally Oshea (or Hoshea) Numbers 13:8), which Moses changed to Jehoshua or Joshua (that is, "God's salvation").

Date: Approximately 1400 – 1450 before Christ (BC). Many seem to indicate the crossing of Jordan was closer to 1400 BC than later.

Genre: Historical narrative, but has a dispensational aspect for Israel, and speaks to Christians of their walk in this world.

Main idea: This is a connecting book between Israel born as a nation and wandering for 40 years in the wilderness, and Israel in the Promised Land. The relationship between God and his People is epitomised: God's covenant and their obedience based on the relationship between God and his people (Chapter 24).

This book bears the name of Joshua, because it is about him and his actions in the land of Canaan. It tells the story of Israel doing what she should have done immediately after departing from Egypt, that is, crossing the Jordan into Canaan and taking the land, since God would have fought their battles, as promised. The book shows the power of God and the outcomes of the one who obeys the Lord.

Although an Old Testament book, it is rich in encouragement for Christians, their walk with the Lord, and their conflict with the world. In it Joshua, represents Christ ('Jesus' is the Greek of the Hebrew 'Joshua'), as the one who leads his people by the Holy Spirit and his power and of God who dwells in the midst of this people (Matthew 18:20 etc).

Arno Gaebelein[3] divides the book into three:

A. The entrance of the people into Canaan and the conflicts.

1. The entrance commanded and success promised (1:1–18)
2. The spies and Rahab's faith (2:1–24)
3. The passage of Jordan (3:1–17)
4. The memorial stones (4:1–24)
5. At Gilgal (5:1–15)
6. The fall of Jericho (6:1–27)
7. Achan's sin and Israel's defeat (7:1–26)
8. The overthrow of Ai (8:1–35)
9. The Gibeonites and their victory (9:1–27)
10. The victorious conquest (10–12)

B. The division of the land

1. Instructions given: the two and a half tribes (13:1–33)
2. Caleb's request and inheritance (14:1–15)
3. The portion of Judah (15:1–63)
4. The portion of Ephraim (16:1–10)
5. The portion of Manasseh (17:1–18)
6. The portion of the Rest of the Tribes (18–19)
7. The cities of refuge (20:1–9)
8. The portion of the Levites (21:1–45)

C. The final words of Joshua and the epilogue.

1. The two and a half tribes (22:1–34)
2. Joshua's two addresses (23:1–24:28)
3. The epilogue (24:29–33)

Key events/themes:

The two spies and Rahab's faith (2:1–24)

The crossing of the Jordan led by the Levites (3:1–17)

The memorial stones laid at the crossing as a reminder of God's grace (4:1–24)

Circumcising the men (at a place God called Gilgal 5:9), the first Passover in Canaan at Gibeath–haaraloth (5:1–12)

Joshua meets the commander of the Lord's army (Christ) (5:13–15)

The fall of Jericho (6:1–27)

Achan's sin and Israel's defeat (7:1–26)

The overthrow of Ai (8:1–35)

The Gibeonites and their victory (9:1–27)

The land is divided among the people of Israel, by tribe (13 – 21)

Key prophecies:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:8–9

Key verse: Joshua 24:14

"Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

"Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. Joshua 1:2–4

Key characters:

Caleb, a contempary of Joshua, also forsaw that Israel could take Canaan, since they had God on their side. He was a faithful man and is commended: "My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land where unto he went, and his seed shall possess it." Numbers 14:24. Some suggest he was not of the children of Israel, but was given a placed it by Joshua (hence God) (15:13).

Lord: God's name as Jehovah is repeated 229 times in 173 verses (out of 618 in total) (God 73 times in 63 verses)

Joshua, son of Nun, a commander of Israel was born when Moses escaped to Midian for 20 years. He came to the attention of Moses when he returned, and became his assistant (Exodus 24:13, Numbers 11:28). He also worked for a time in the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:11), and was one of the spies (with Caleb) who urged Moses to take the land. Due to disbelief, ten spies convince Israel that they could not take the land and God punished them by delaying their entry by 40 years – and in this time a whole generation died. Moses died prior to crossing the Jordan and God made Joshua commander of Israel. Joshua, like Joseph has very little to tarnish his record, learning to obey as a young man, he follows the Lord unceasingly.

Eleazar: Aaron's third son, a priest who helped Joshua divide the land (14:1).

Rahab: A prostitute who ran an inn that was located in the wall of the city of Jericho. She may have been a manufacturer of fine clothes, having flax drying on the roof, under which she hid the spies of Joshua. By her faith in the Lord God Jehovah and her unnerving desire to serve him, she was saved along with her father, mother and brothers. "By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies." Hebrews 11:3. She entered the lineage of Jesus by marrying Salmon who fathered Boaz, the husband of Ruth, who became David's great grandfather. (Matthew 1:5)

Key Places:

Ai:The first defeat of Israel due to the sin of Achan, which involved taking spoils from Jericho which God had cursed.

Jericho: Destroyed by the hand of God, utilising the priests and the whole tribe of Israel, and cursed by God (6:26).

Gilgal: The LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day." (5:9), where the first Passover was celebrated and renewed the rite of circumcision performed.

Mount Gerizim: The mount of blessing (Deuteronomy 11:29), in contrast to Mount Ebal, perhaps Mount Moriah, the place Abraham offered Isaac where half the children of Israel met (8:33)

Mount Ebal: The mount of cursing (Deuteronomy 11:29), upon which the curse of the law was read (8:33), written (8:32) and where an alter was built by Joshua (8:30) as commanded by Moses (Deuteronomy 27:4)

[1] And these were their names: Hoshea the son of Nun; Numbers 13:4–8

[2] For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

[3] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein's Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros, USA, pp 15

[4] Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse Matthew 1:5

[5] Now it shall be, when the LORD your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Deuteronomy 11:29

[6] Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan, that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, and you shall whitewash them with lime. Deuteronomy 27:4

 

Judges

Judges

Title: The Book of Judges, in Hebrew Sepher Shoftim, in full: the Book of the Judges of the Children of Israel.

Place in bible: Old Testament, the seventh book in the Bible, and second book of the "former prophets" by the Jews (Zechariah refers to the former Prophets three times in his prophecy.)

Author: The author of this book is generally unknown; some suggest King Hezekiah, others to Ezra; but the Jewish writers generally agree that it was written by Samuel.

Date: Before the time of David, since Samuel and Psalms appear to quote from this Book. Since Samuel is the most plausible author, then 1050 – 1000 BC or thereabouts.

Genre: Historic narrative and prophecy containing Israel 's history after the occupation of the promised land and the death of Joshua up to Samuel, covering about 320 years.

Main idea:  

One of the saddest books in the Bible covering 320 years of Israel's history and her departure from the Lord and His ordnances, in a series of cycles of declension, followed by chastisement, and restoration due to God's patience and mercy. The cycles are described in Judges 2:16 – 23.  It contains evidence of the absolute total depravity of mankind.

Note that the book is not in chronological order: sections 1 and 2 follow the book of Joshua in sequence, but section 3 is an appendix that raises issues that occurred during the times of section 2.

The book can be divided into three divisions (according to Arno Gaebelein)

1.      The Introduction (1:1–3:10 and 3:12) giving a summary of the book of Joshua

  1. Israel 's failure in intermingling with Canaanites (1:1-36)
  2. The Angel at Bochim and the history of the entire Book (2:1-3:4)

2.      The Main Text (3:11–16:31), discussing the five great judges, Abimelech (Judges), and providing less detail for a few minor Judges

  1. The sin of idolatry and Othniel (3:5-11)
  2. Second declension: Under Moab: Ehud and Shamgar (3:12-31)
  3. Third declension: Under Jabin: Deborah and Barak (4:1-5:16)
  4. Fourth declension: Under Midian: Gideon, Tola and Jair (6:1-10:5)
  5. Fifth declension: Under the Philistines and Ammon: Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon (10:6-12:15)
  6. Sixth declension: Under the Philistines: Samson (13-16)

3.      The Appendices (17:1–21:25), giving two stories set in the time of the Judges, but not discussing the Judges themselves.

  1. Micah's idolatry and its punishment (17-18)
  2. Israel 's moral condition and the War on Benjamin (19-21)

Key events/themes:

The book contains a rich narrative that covers 320 years of Israel history focusing on her disobedience to Jehovah and his precepts. The most well renowned events pertain to Deborah, Gideon and Samson. An alternative way to describe the book is through the cycles of bondage and deliverance as shown in the table below.

Enemy
Years of Bondage
Judge (12 in all)
Deliverance and rest
Scripture

Mesopotamia

8

(1) Othniel

40

3:7-11

Moab

18

(2) Ehud (3) Shamgar

80

3:12-31

Canaan

20

(4) Deborah & Barak

40

4:1-5:31

Midian

7

(5) Gideon (6) Tola (7) Jair

40

6:1-8:28

Ammon

18

(8) Jephthah (9), Ibazn (10) Elon (11) Abdon

6

10:6-12:7

Philistines

40

(12) Samson

20

13:1-16:31

Words of importance:

Judged: mentioned 12 times in 11 verses; the Lord raised up judges to deliver the Children of Israel from their sin induced misery which resulted in their enemies spoiling them.

Evil: The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord (Yahweh) (7 verses), and evil in a further 6 verses, noting the evil is more often described than called, because it is obvious.

Hearken (listen or heed): 10 times in 9 verses, usually in regard the Children of Israel not listening to the Lord or their Judges.

Deliver: The Children of Israel were constantly being delivered from this or that enemy (49 times in 47 verses) due to their idolatry and apostasy.

Key prophecies:  

Deborah was a prophet (Jdg. 4:4) whose prophecies can be found in chapters 4:1 – 5:31.

Key verse: Judges 17:6 and 21:25

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Also

Nevertheless, the LORD raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them.  Judges 2:16

Key characters: (A few important people)

Barak:

A general under Deborah, from the tribe of Napthtali, defeated Sisera the commander of the army of Canaanite King Jabin of Hazor at the Battle of Kishon near Mt Tabor. Barak's name appears in the Hebrew chapter 11 hall of the faithful (Hebrews 11:32)

Deborah:

A prophetess, and wife of Lipidoth who lived under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim, and most likely of the tribe of Ephraim. Her disposition as a prophetess was used by Jehovah to judge the Children of Israel for 40 years, the only female ruler found in the lineage of Israel.

Ehud:

The son of Gera, of the tribe of Benjamin, the second judge of the Israelites, although he not called a judge but a deliverer, in the same way God raised up Othniel (Jdg 3:9). He destroyed Eglon, the king of the Moabites, who had occupied the place of Jericho (city of palm trees). He was ambidextrous, thus using his left hand with a conceived weapon, managed to kill Eglon (Jdg 3:22)

Gideon:

Youngest son of Joash, from near Shechem, a family and town of no distinction, was called upon by the Angel of the Lord to fight for Him. Gideon destroyed the altar of Baal with much valour, but needed to use a fleece of wool to test God's word twice. He raised an army of 32,000, which God made him reduce to 300 using two methods, the final being a test of how the men drank from the stream emanating from the well of Harod, and using the 300 routed the Midianite army. He took revenge on the men of Succoth and Penuel for not giving his army bread and he killed the Midianite kings Zebah and Zalmunna as revenge for the killing of his brothers. Unfortunately, in his weakness he made a gold ephod that led the people into idolatry. Gideon's name appears in the Hebrew chapter 11 hall of the faithful (Hebrews 11:32).

Jephthah:

Son of Gilead, by a prostitute who was driven out of his father's house by his half-brothers, but became a warrior and might man of valour. In some ways he emulated David, gathering together a collection of "worthless men" (Jdg 11:3) and grew strong and skilled in defending the land from enemies. Jehovah used him when he became captain of the Gileadite army, who routed the Ammonites. His unfortunate rash vow prior to battle cost his daughter's life. Jephthah's name appears in the Hebrew chapter 11 hall of the faithful (Hebrews 11:32).

Jael:

Wife of Heber the Kenite who killed the general of Israel's enemy by driving a tent peg through his head; few times in scripture do we read of women entering a battle.

Othniel:

Son of Kenaz and younger brother of Caleb became the first of judge of the Israelites. He was a commander and warrior, and was given Caleb's daughter Achsah as wife for defeating Kirjath Sepher (Jdg 1:12,13). He judged for 40 years.

Samson:

Son of Manoah who was from the town of Zorah in the tribe of Dan whose birth was miraculous and prophesied by an Angel of the Lord. Jehovah required him to deal with the Philistines who were troubling the Israelites due to their idolatry. It was commanded by Jehovah that he did not cut his hair, did not drink alcoholic beverages nor eat any unclean thing (Jge 13:5). He was fatally attracted to Philistine women, marrying a woman of Timnath who betrayed his riddle to the Philistines, and who subsequently was killed by the Philistines (Jdg 15:6). Later Delilah, a Philistine prostitute, also betrayed Sampson, leading to his imprisonment, blindness and subsequent revenge on the Philistines. He judged for 20 years. Samson's name appears in the Hebrew chapter 11 hall of the faithful (Hebrews 11:32)

 

Key Places: 

The Book is rich in place names as the Children of Israel wrestled with their enemies because they had not driven them from the land as the Lord had commanded (e.g. Jdg. 1:19, 1:32, 2:2 etc).

Ruth

Ruth

Title: The Book of Ruth, Megilath Ruth in Hebrew i.e. Scroll of Ruth. One of two books in the Bible named after woman, the other being Esther.

Place in bible: The Old Testament, 8th book in the Bible, part of the Writings and one of five of the Five Scrolls.[1]

Author: The author is not named in this book or any other. The genealogy provided includes David's name, indicating it could have been David, Samuel or someone after. This author disagrees that it was written post exile.

Date: "In the days of the Judges" which commenced after the death of Joshua approximately 1375 B.C. until Saul was crowned king of Israel in 1050 B.C.; some provide dates a little earlier or later.[2]

Genre: Historical narrative; legal discourse by example, traditionally read at the Feast of Pentecost. It is essentially a love story; concerns romance/marriage, destitution, redemption and finally romance/marriage (technically; romance and anti-romance, tragedy and comedy, that is, happiness[3]).

Main idea:

The book can be divided into four sections by chapter. Chuck Missler provides a useful summary of each chapter in terms of love[4].

Chapter 1: Prologue, death and destitution (1:1–22): Love's resolve; Ruth cleaves to Naomi.[4]

1.1 Prologue: death of Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion. (1:1–5)
1.2 Naomi returns home bitter with Ruth, but Orpah returns to her people (1:6–18)
1.3 Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem (1:19–22)

Chapter 2: Ruth meets Boaz, Naomi's relative, in the grain field (2:1–23): Love's response: Ruth gleans and provides food to Naomi.

2.1 Ruth works the field of Boaz, gleaning for grain (2:1–17)
2.2 Naomi blesses Boaz and Ruth instructed by Naomi (2:18–23)

Chapter 3: Naomi instructs Ruth of how to gain Boaz for her husband (3:1–18): Love's request: Ruth seeks Boaz as a kingsman-redeemer

3.1 Naomi instructs Ruth (3:1–5)
3.2 Ruth petitions marriage, inviting Boaz to become her kinsman-redeemer (3:6–15)
3.3 Ruth reports to Naomi (3:16–18)

Chapter 4: Boaz executes the law and he becomes the kinsman-redeemer; epilogue containing the off-spring of Boaz and Ruth (4:1–22): Love's reward: Redemption of both land for Naomi and a bride for Boaz.

4.1 Boaz with the town's rulers and transacts the redemption (4:1–12)
4.2 Marriage between Boaz and Ruth and a son is born to Naomi (4:13–17)
4.3 Epilogue genealogy (4:18–22)

Application to Christians:

We, like Ruth, are foreigners to the commonwealth of Jehovah, but have been redeemed by the Son of God, to become his Bride. This book is highly relevant to Christians and should be read prior to reading both the Gospels and Revelation.

Note that Ruth did not replace Naomi, where Ruth represents gentiles and Naomi represents Israel; the Church and Israel are two different classes – the Church has never, and will never replace Israel! A Christian accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the Lord God of Israel, as Ruth did; "your God will be my God".

The kinsman-redeemer pays all debts, and takes Ruth to be his wife. Jesus Christ pays in full our debt and redeems us from the curse of the law, which is death, with an outstretched hand (1 Peter 1:17-19).

A Christian is a beneficiary of the kinsman-redeemer (Jesus Christ); where the Church is the Bride of Christ, and we inherit as a first-born son inherits.

Key events/themes:

The redemption by Boaz: the redeemer had had to meet three conditions:

1.    He had to be a near kinsman.

2.    He had to be able to perform.

3.    He had to be willing because it was optional. If he chose not to, he had to give her his shoe, a symbol of shame; he had failed to do the kinsman's part.

Words of importance:

Gleaning is mentioned in 10 verses. Ruth a stranger gleans in order to obtain food, a right of the poor in harvest and vintage (Leviticus 19:9-10)

Redeem mentioned 8 times in 2 verses, forms the crux of the story: which is a process of purchasing back forfeited inheritance who had sold land due to poverty. Jesus Christ redeems, saving us from being disinherited forever – we become the children of God, the Father.

Key prophecies:  There are no prophecies.

Key verse: Ruth 4:9,10

And Boaz said to the elders and all the people, "You are witnesses this day that I have bought all that was Elimelech's, and all that was Chilion's and Mahlon's, from the hand of Naomi. Moreover, Ruth the Moabitess, the widow of Mahlon, I have acquired as my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead through his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brethren and from his position at the gate. You are witnesses this day." Ruth 4:9-10

Key characters:

Chilion

Means puny or pining one, the son of Elimelech and Naomi

Elimelech

Means God is my king, the husband of Naomi. (Interesting name during the time of the judges because they had no king)

Mahlon

Means unhealthy, the son of Elimelech and Naomi

Naomi

Means pleasant, the mother of Ruth, who wanted to change or name to Mara meaning bitterness.

Orpah

Meaning fawn, the wife of Chilion, a Moabites, who returned to her people when Naomi returned to the land of Israel.

Ruth

Meaning friend, beauty or desirable, the wife of Mahlon, and daughter-in-law of Naomi

Key Places: 

Bethlehem: where Boaz came from (Ruth 2:4) is in Judah, and where Jesus Christ was born, a descendent of Boaz through King David as prophesied by Micah (5:2).

Moab:  the people arising from the incestuous offspring of the union between Lot and his eldest daughter. The Moabites refused passage of Israel through her land, and but sold bread and water. Israelites were forbidden to marry Moabites.

[1] The Five Scrolls are the Song of Songs, the Book of Ruth, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and the Book of Esther, grouped together in Jewish tradition, but placed after Judges in the Christian Bible being in chronological order: Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. Ruth 1:1.

[2] Endless debate about dates is not helpful – the Bible uses relative dates, hence we can learn that Ruth lived in the time of the Judges when "every man did was right in his own eyes". An exact date would add nothing to this understanding!

[3] Note that comedy in the technical sense is not about making someone laugh, but is an uplifting and joyous time; tragedies deals with individuals that suffer some great fall or setback, the comedy is the opposite: individuals enjoy some great benefit or uplifting.

[4] Chuck Missler (2002) Learn the Bible in 24 Hours, Thomas Nelson, Tennessee USA, pp 73.

1 Samuel

1 Samuel

Title: The First Book of Samuel or 1 Samuel in the Christian Bible

Place in bible: Old Testament, 9th book of the Bible. In the Hebrew text, both books of Samuel appear as one, as do the books of the Kings, and belong to the 'Former Prophets". Thus the Jews class the books of Samuel as writings of the Prophets.

Author: Although the book is about Samuel (which in Hebrew means 'heard of God'), it cannot be entirely written by Samuel , the last of the Judges before the Children of Israel usurped God and made Saul their king, because many events (those after chapter 25) transpired after his death. He did write some it as 1 Samuel 10:25 explains: Then Samuel explained to the people the behaviour of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. (See also 1 Chronicles 29:29). The Chronicles passage indicates that Nathan the Prophet and Gad the Seer wrote the remainder of this book and the next two.

Date: c. 1100-1050 BC[1]. (Apostates propose much later dates)

Genre: Historical narrative of Samuel, Saul and David belonging with Joshua, Judges and Kings.

Main idea: It narrates the history of the last judge of Israel (13th), Samuel, followed by the choosing of a King by the people based on outward appearance, and his failure, followed by the choosing of a king by God based on his heart, and his success.

1 Samuel commences where Judges left off, and finishes with David being rescued by God from a false and defenceless situation.  Although David is the anointed one of Israel, Saul rules almost the entire book of Samuel, but we find Saul and his son's being buried in the final chapter, killed by Israel's main enemy, the Philistines.

This book contrasts those that are wicked and are judged by God and those that obey the voice of God; faithlessness and faithfulness.

Divisions
Arno Gaebelein divides the book into three divisions[2]:

I. Samuel the Prophet and Judge

1. The birth and Childhood of Samuel (1:1-28)
2. Hannah's Prophetic Song (2:1-10)
3. The Failure of Eli and His Sons (2:12-36)
4. Samuel's Call and Prophetic Ministry (3:1-21)
5. The Judgment of Eli and his Sons--Ichabod (4:1-22)
6. The Ark in the hands of Philistines and Its Return (5:1-7:2)
7. The Return unto Jehovah and the Deliverance (7:3-14)
8. Samuel Exercising His Office and His Failure (7:15-8:3)

II. King Saul- His Reign and Rejection

1. The King Demanded (8:4-22)
2. The Story of Saul and His Anointing (9:1-10:16)
3. The Open Acclamation of Saul as King (10:17-27)
4. The King's First Victory: the Kingdom Renewed at Gilgal (11:1-15)
5. Samuel's Witness and Warning (12:1-25)
6. The First Failure of Saul and Its Results (13:1-23)
7. Jonathan's Heroic Deed of Faith (14:1-52)
8. War with Amalek: Saul's Disobedience and Rejection (15:1-35)

III. David, the King After God's Heart- His Exile and Suffering

1. David Anointed King and the Departure of the Spirit from Saul (16:1-23)
2. David and Goliath (17:1-58)
3. Jonathan and David and Saul's jealousy (18:1-30)
4. Saul's Renewed Attempt and David's Escape (19:1-24)
5. Jonathan Protects David and Their Separation (20:1-42)
6. David's Varied Experiences (21-27)
7. Saul and the Witch at Endor (28:1-25)
8. David and Achish and Ziklag Destroyed and Avenged (29-30)
9. The Death of Saul (31:1-13)

Key events/themes:

Birth of Samuel to Hannah, and the giving of Samuel to God to serve Him in the House of God (Chapter 1)

Eli, a Levite and high priest, along with his family are rejected by the Lord, due to the disobedience of his sons, which mimics the events of Israel two generations after David; who in contrast is a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22).

Israel demands a king, like their neighbours and Saul is made king (Chapter 8 – 10).

David is chosen of God to be king, as a young man (Chapter 16)

David kills Goliath demonstrating the power of God working through his servant (Chapter 17)

David, due to hunger eats the holy bread of the tabernacle, for which he is not punished (noting the theme of obedience vs sacrifice or earthly worship) (Chapter 21). Jesus comments on this (Luke chapter 6: 1-5); on which J.C. Ryle writes – the passage demonstrates what excessive importance hypocrites attach to trifles.[3]

David the anointed leader of Israel (1 Sam 16:13), abstains from murdering his enemy (Chapter 24, 26) who is set on killing David out of jealousy (1 Sam 18:6f).

Saul is judged and rejected for disobedience by Yahweh (1 Sam 15:23). From the actions of Saul we see the Lord wants obedience over sacrifice (Hebrews 10). Indeed Saul is so far from the Lord, that he seeks Samuel through a Medium (Chapter 28), but judged by God he is killed in battle (Chapter 31).

Key verse: So Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

Key prophecies:

The prophecy of Samuel: The evil sons of Eli would die and the house of Eli destroyed (Chapter 3)

Key characters:


David

Youngest son of Jessie, a shepherd of sheep when he is first mentioned in 1 Sam 16, who was born in Bethlehem. David, is a type of Messiah, the king of Israel who saves them from their enemies and establishes a throne in Jerusalem, on which the Messiah will rule. Yahweh makes an everlasting Covenant with David (2 Sam 7:11-16) giving the throne of Israel to him for ever.

Eli

A high priest whose failure to keep his family in order mimics the state of Israel under the judges – each man did what was right in his own eyes.

Hannah

The mother of Samuel (Chapter 1), whose piety overcame the pain of being childless, and prays earnestly to the Lord who responds. She gives up her only child (and son) for the Lord's work – he works in the tabernacle, which is rewarded by the Holy Spirit, having a book of the Canon named after him.

Samuel

Last judge of Israel (Chapter 7), and widely known prophet (1 Sam 3:20, 21), the son of Elkanah and Hanna, born in Ephraim, dedicated by his mother (1 Sam 2:1-11) to the office of a Nazarite at 12 year of age (as tradition has it), before the people demanded (Chapter 8), and God allowed them to replace Samuel with Saul, as king (Chapter 9).

Saul

A tall and handsome man, whose heart was not with the LORD, a prophet (1 Sam 10:10) and who the people made king chosen because of his looks (Chapter 10) (contrast with the choosing of David – the Lord examined his heart 1 Sam 16:7). He did evil in the sight of the Lord and was rejected; proclaiming sacrifice was more important than obedience. For this reason alone the Lord rejected him.

Sons of Eli

The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were evil and caused the people to rise up against the governmental system of the day, demanding a king. The Lord killed them in battle against the Philistines when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant (Chapter 4), as 'a man of God', had prophesied (Chapter 2).

Abigail

A faithful servant of the Lord suffered domestic violence from her husband Nabal. Abagail understood the position of David who blesses her when she responds, in contrast to her husband, to David and his men's needs. God judges Nabal for his evil and Abagail becomes David's wife. We see the contrast here of Nabal, at peace and David hungry, hunted and in need. Abigail's faith saves David due to her appreciation of who David was.

Key Places:

Bethlehem:

The place of David's origin (1 Sam 17:12), one of the oldest towns in the land of Israel, and where the Lord Jesus Christ was born as was his ancestor, Ruth.

Valley of Elah:

Place where Israel and the Philistine arrayed themselves for battle, and where David killed Goliath.

 

[1] Halley's Bible Handbook, Zonderman, USA

[2] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein's Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros , USA , pp 237,8

[3] J.C. Ryle (1976 reprint) xpository Thoughts on the Gospels Luke. James Clarke & Co, UK, p 159, I relation to Luke 6: 1-5

 

2 Samuel

2 Samuel

Place in bible: Old Testament, 10th book of the Bible, also the Second of the Book of the Kings, since it narrates the story of the David. In the Hebrew text, both books of Samuel appear as one, as do the books of the Kings, and belong to the 'Former Prophets". Thus the Jews class the books of Samuel as writings of the Prophets.

Author: Second Samuel may have been written by David. The Chronicle's passage indicates that Nathan the Prophet and Gad the Seer wrote the remainder of this book and the next two.

Date: c.970 BC[1]. (Apostates propose much later dates)

Genre: Historical narrative belonging with Joshua, Judges and Kings.

Main idea: It narrates the history of King David after Saul's death, the establishment of the Davidic kingdom (which will have no end), his reign over all Israel, commencing with his reign of Judah. The book may not be in historic order with the last four chapters forming an appendix of the deeds of the king and his victories and failures.

Second Samuel records the sin of David, God's discipline and David's restoration, showing the judgement, mercy and grace of God, to a man after God's own heart.  It demonstrates the sinfulness of sin, the abhorrence God places on sin, and what grace is. The book shows that peace and prosperity becomes a snare to mankind, and even the most trustworthy disciple can be tempted to sin.

The book closes with the atoning sacrifice that appeases God, whose wrath had been kindled due to the pride of David and who in response (after a dialogue with David) caused a plague to breakout. Through grace is David saved, as are we.

Divisions

Arno Gaebelein divides the book into four divisions[2]:

I. David king of Judah and the events of his reign

1. David's Lamentation for Saul and Jonathan (1:1-2)
2. David Anointed King over Judah (2:1-7)
3. Abner's Revolt and the War which Followed (2:8-32)
4. Abner's Deeds and End (3:1-39)
5. The Death of Ish-bosheth (4:1-12)

II. David king over all Israel and the events of his reign

1. David Anointed King Over All Israel (5:1-5)
2. David's Conquest of Zion and Victory over the Philistines (5:6-25)
3. The Ark Brought to Zion (6:1-23)
4. The Lord's Promise to David and the Covenant (7:1-29)
5. The Extension of His Kingdom (8:1-18)
6. David and Mephibosheth (9:1-13)
7. The War with Ammon and Syria (10:1-19)

III. David's sin, chastisements and restoration

1. David's great sin of adultery with Bath-sheba (11:1-27)
2. The Message of God and David's Confession. The Beginning of the Chastisements (12:1-31)
3. Further Chastisement: Amnon, Tamar and Absalom (13:1-39)
4. David and Absalom (14:1-33)
5. Absalom's Conspiracy and David's Flight (15:1-37)
6. The Sorrows and Testings of the King (16:1-23)
7. Absalom, Ahitophel and Hushai (17:1-29)
8. The Civil War and Absalom's Death (18:1-33)
9. The Return of the King (19:1-43)
10. The Revolt of Sheba (20:1-26)

IV. The appendix to the history of David

1. The Famine and the Wars with the Philistines (21:1-22)
2. David's Song of Deliverance (22:1-51)
3. The Last Words of David and the Record of the Mighty Men (23:1-39)
4. David's Failure: the Altar on the Threshing Floor of Araunah (24:1-25)

Key events/themes:

The key events follow the divisions of the book. The following are a few of note.

  • David is made King after being usurped by Ishbosheth for two years, as king over Judah and Israel (1 – 3).
  • The Ark of the Convent is brought into Jerusalem, and David danced before the Ark during its journey (6).
  • Jehovah makes a convent with David and his decedents (7).
  • David subdued the Philistines, which lasted until the end of Solomon's reign.
  • David seduces Bathsheba who becomes pregnant, but the child dies because David had her husband killed in battle. The judgement upon David included having adversaries for the rest of his life – some from his own family (11, 12).
  • Amnon rapes Tamar (the beginning of sorrows for David subsequent to his adultery with Bathsheba), and is murdered by his brother Absalom (13)
  • Absalom tries to usurp the crown but is killed by David's men.
  • David undertake a census of Israel, against the Lord's will, and is punished by Jehovah (24).
  • David seeks to build a temple for Jehovah, but is denied by God, however, purchases the land to do so (24) – which Solomon undertakes after David's death.

Key prophecies: The Davidic Covenant (2 Sam 7)

"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever." ' " 7:12-16

Key verse:

No particular key verse, except perhaps 2 Samuel 7:12-16 – see key prophecies, above.

Key characters:

Abner

The son of Ner, cousin of King Saul, commander-in-chief and very astute politician. His marriage to Saul's concubine was the beginning of his downfall, seen as a threat by Ishbosheth, who was set up as king by Abner, then joined David (chapter 3), who showed favour, but was murdered by Joab, much to David's consternation (Chapter 3).

Absalom

Third son of David and usurper to the throne, and murder, killing his brother Amnon for raping his sister. He was subsequently killed in battle (against David's wishes) after having sexual intercourse with David's concubines while conspiring to take the crown, and requiring David to flee Jerusalem.

Bathsheba

The daughter of Ammiel, wife of Uriah the Hittite (11:3) whom David committed adultery with and who become pregnant. The child died soon after birth much to the grief of both parents. David then sent Uriah sent into the heart of battle and who subsequently died, and David marries Bathsheba. Jehovah then judges David and Bathsheba (their family would rise up against them, and David had to fight for the rest of his life 12:11) – their child dies, (11, 12), but the Lord comforted Bathsheba and she subsequently bore Solomon, the successor to David as King of Israel.

David

Youngest son of Jessie, a shepherd of sheep when he is first mentioned in 1 Sam 16, who was born in Bethlehem. David, is a type of Messiah, the king of Israel who saves them from their enemies and establishes a throne in Jerusalem, on which the Messiah will rule. Yahweh makes an everlasting Covenant with David (2 Sam 7:11-16) giving the throne of Israel to him for ever.

Ishbosheth

Youngest of Saul's sons, reigned two years over Israel, as King Saul's legitimate successor. He was murdered by two soldiers.  

Joab

David's nephew, the son of David's sister Zeruiah a commander of David's servants and later commander-in-chief (18:6), who joined in Absalom's rebellion. David's son Abner killed Joab's youngest brother, and revenges this when Abner is brought into favour by David, by killing him. He successfully brought Absalom into David's favour, who later rebelled, setting out to usurp the throne. When David replaced Joab as command-in-chief with Amasa (19) he kills him (20).

Mephibosheth

Saul's crippled grandson, son of Jonathan, who had a miserable life, losing both father and grandfather in wars at 5 years of age, and suffering the loss of his legs from childhood. David, to show kindness to Saul's house, brought Mephibosheth into his own house and treated him as a son. Further misadventure through mis-representation caused by Ziba occurred later in life.

Key Places:

Jerusalem is mentioned 30 times in 2 Samuel and was the place where David reigned over Israel and Judah 33 years (5:5) and near which David purchased the field in order that a permanent temple be built (24:18-25) which was carried by Solomon (see 1 Kings).

 

[1] Which is approximately the end of David's reign

[2] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein's Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros , USA , pp 259.

 

Esther

Esther

Title: The Book of Esther or Es'ther (meaning a star), to Jews the Volume of Esther i.e. megillath Esther (shortened to The Volume).

Place in bible: Old Testament, the eighteenth (18) book in the Bible belonging to The Writings, and in particular the Five Scrolls, and is read yearly by the Jews at the Purim feast on 14th and 15th Adar, (See the 9th chapter), the second and final book named after a woman (c.f. Ruth).

Author: The author of this book is not given. Traditionally Ezra is ascribed the authorship although many suggest Mordecai, such as Josephus. Other authors have been suggested but Mordecai or Ezra is most likely.

Date: The events of the book took place during the reign of Ahasuerus (485 to 464 BC). The events mentioned in Esther therefore happened between Ezra chapter 6 and chapter 7 and hence the presumption of Ezra as author.

Genre: Historic narrative of certain events, that were to be remembered by the Jews, which could have resulted in the annihilation of the people of God, but through God's providence He saves His people, noting that the Jews did not recognise God by name, and God does not reveal His glory to the Jews, who are His people, in this book. The book does not mention or even allude to God or His providence, although it is clearly evident.

Main idea:  

The providence of God toward His people who have remained in exile (King Cyrus of Persia had allowed the Jews to return to their homeland freely) rather than return home to the Promised Land, who are hated by pagans, and wish them utterly destroyed. God's people could not be recognised as such, assimilating themselves into the heathen ways of the pagan world, hence Jehovah was unknown to them, and He hid himself from them, so although His glory is not evident at this time but His work is; noting that God's work is not (nor can it ever be) hidden.

Divisions

I. Chapters 1-3: The plot to destroy the Jews

Chapter 1            Ahasuerus rejects Vashti, the pagan Queen, whose beauty she refuses to show

Chapter 2            Ahasuerus makes Esther, a Jewish orphan, Queen

Chapter 3            Haman promoted and his plan to destroy all the Jews on the 13th day of the twelfth month (Est 3:13), a date chose by lot.

II. Chapters 4-10: God's providence saves the Jews

Chapter 4            Mordecai advises Esther and Esther responds

Chapter 5            Esther's banquet and Haman's preparation

Chapter 6            Ahasuerus has Haman publically honour Mordecai, for saving the King

Chapter 7            Esther plead for her people, Haman's fall and execution

Chapter 8:1-9:16 The Jews' vengeance

Chapter 9:17-32 Institution of the Purim feast to celebrate the salvation of the Jews

Chapter 10          Epilogue

Relevance to Christians: Christians often avoid this book or read it merely has a good 'story'. It contains salient reminders to Christians and provides insight, through its types, of the work of Christ. It reminds Christians that God's providence is always present – coincidences do not occur. Vashti is the gentile wife who wants to be equal to her husband the King, fails to display her beauty to the world, and is rejected; Esther succeeds Vashti; a Jewess over all gentiles, and epitomises the one who honours and obeys, for it is the Jewess that will be the bride of the King on this earth; Haman the gentile is evil and seeks to oppress and destroy the Jews and is cut out, and Mordecai, the Jew, initially despised (though celebrated by the King) and rejected, but finally celebrated, is a type of Saviour. The types relate to this world; it is not a heavenly picture – Esther needs to be read with Romans 11.

Key events/themes:

Unfortunately, the world does not recognise, nor do they want the people of God. An evil prime minister (Haman) plots to annihilate the Jews, but through a set of God directed events, a Jewish orphan becomes queen to King Ahasuerus instead of the vain Persian queen, Vashti (representing the world). Hadassah, known to the Persians as Esther, is beautiful, intelligent and obedient to Mordecai. She was also brave, facing death (Est 4:11) rather than seeing her people killed, and petitions the King to let the Jews go. The subplot is about the wisdom of Mordecai, the cousin of Esther, who was his ward, and his treatment under the treacherous Haman. The feast of Purim (named after the method Haman used to choose the date for the destruction of the Jews) is instigated by Mordecai (Est 9:20-22) and authorised by Esther (Est 9:29,32).

Note three feasts:

1.       Feast of Ahasuerus at which Vashti is rejected due to disobedience (Est 1)

2.       Feast of Esther at which Haman is rejected by the King and executed (Est 7)

3.       Feast of Purim where the salvation of the Jews from the wicked Haman is remembered (Est 9)

Words of importance: None outstanding

Key prophecies:  

The Prophecy of the fall of Haman by his wife: When Haman told his wife Zeresh and all his friends everything that had happened to him, his wise men and his wife Zeresh said to him, "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him." (6:13)

Key verse: No key verse – the narrative needs to be read in its entirety.

Key characters:

Ahasuerus

King of Persia, mostly likely Xerxes in Greek history. Note that the name, like Pharaoh is a general one indicating kingship.

Esther

A beautiful Jewess from the tribe of Benjamin, whose Persian name 'Esther' means star, was called Hadas'sah (myrtle) by her parents, the daughter of Abihail, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite, both of whom had died, and was cared for by her cousin Mordecai.

Haman

An Amalekite, whom God rejected due to their disobedience (1 Sam 15), who was chief minister for the King, and who was hanged for trifling with the Queen (Est 7:8), although God use the occasion to save His people, whom Haman had orchestrated to have killed.

Mordecai

A Jew and cousin of Esther who was his ward, a Persian name, being an exile of Israel living in Shushan (Babylon). He was the chief minister of the King and orchestrated the salvation of the Jews using Esher as the messenger.

Vashti

Queen of Ahasuerus, who refuses to come to the King, and be displayed in all her beauty, and after the rulers of Persia advised the King, boldly, to dismiss her, she is thrown out, which became the first step in God's providence to secure His people.

Key Places: 

Shu'shan (Susa): Where the palace of King Ahasuerus, king of Persia lived, the capital of Elam most likely a province lying south of Assyria and east of Persia.

Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes

Title: The title is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew for "preacher"   הֶלֶת‎‎ ,קֹQoheleth

Place in bible: Old Testament, 21st book of the Bible, part of the Writings of the Hebrew Bible being one of five books of the scrolls, read by the Jews at Sukkot ie Feast of Tabernacles.

Author:  King Solomon, third king of Israel, the last king before the nation split into Israel and Judah; "The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem." (1:12)

Date: c. 970 – 930 BC ±1

Genre: Wisdom literature, "is practical direction for obtaining substantial wholeness out of the brokenness of natural life" and "is concerned with the application of truth (from creation and the Law) to daily life and choices" David Malick[1].

Main idea:

The problem Solomon could not solve was; given everything that a man could do, whether in material possession or in intellect, why live? Because, whether rich or poor, fool or wise, happy or sad you all die. Furthermore, no–one will remember you (v16). This is however resolved partially in chapter 12: "Remember now your creator" and in verse 13 of the same chapter "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man's all".

Life could be considered meaningless if we merely lived and died with no effect on anything or anyone. But because we can live and die and rise again to be with Christ life has all meaning. We live for the creator to do the purpose of the creator and merely pleasing Him gives us purpose. The meaning in our life comes about as we do the commands of God, love him, love others as he loved us and we go about telling others of that love. We will have eternal purpose when we tell the gospel of Christ.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water"  John 7:37, 38 (KJV) This solves the crux of the question posed by Ecclesiastes.

Key themes:

Part I: chapters 1–6

1. Prologue and searching begins: (1–2)

2. The results of the search: (3–4)

3. Exhortations on different vanities and conclusions: (5–6)

Part II: chapters 7–12

1. Good advice of the natural man, discouragement and failure: (7–9:12)

2.  Praise of wisdom and philosophy, the final word and the great conclusion: (9:13–12)

Key prophecies: There are no direct prophecies.

Key verse: Chapter 1:3

The book answers the question: "what profit [gain] hath a man of all his labour which he taketh [toils] under the sun?" (1:3)

 Key characters:

The Preacher who is King Solomon

 Key Places:

Earth, heaven.

The heart of a man.

[1] David Malick, An Introduction to The Book of Ecclesiastes; http://bible.org/article/introduction–book–ecclesiastes

 

Daniel

Daniel

Title: The Book of Daniel

Place in bible: Old Testament, Major Prophet (part of the third section of the Hebrew Bible), 27th book of the Bible. Note that the apostates deny this Book, yet Our Lord quotes from it freely.

Author: Daniel, an Israelite in exile from Jerusalem, taken to Babylon.

Date: The date is easily calculated – the first verse states the historic context: “third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah” (Dan 1:1), hence commences in 605 B.C. and ends about 536 B.C. (the 3rd year of Cyrus – Dan 10:1).

Genre: Prophecy, mainly to Gentiles, hence its use of Aramaic rather than Hebrew for the greatest portion where gentile kingdoms are dealt with, i.e. chapters 2 – 7.

Main idea: The Book 1) Encourages the Tribe of Judah, taken into captivity, that God is sovereign, and 2) shows the sovereignty of God to all peoples, in particular in the rise and fall of the Gentile dominions of the earth.

At a personal level this book is about enduring during a time of discipline achieved through the encouragement of Jehovah, who has all under control.

Application to Christians: Both the narrative and prophecy of Daniel teaches Christians how to live, behave and walk in the time of the gentiles, living in the land of the enemy (since Christians have their citinzenship in heaven). The book givess confidence in Jehovah's faithfulness to His people. Even under tyrannical rulers, God is in control – the rule of God will overcome all rulers. It provides an insight into the times to come.

Divisions

The Book needs to be careful studied for its form is unfamiliar to western readers. The majority of the Book is the form of an X – called a chiasm. The central portion is written in Aramaic, being to gentiles. The X comes from the correspondence in the chapters: Chapter 2 with 7, 3 with 6 and 4 with 5. This section is ‘book-ended’ with chapter 1, 8-10, which are written in Hebrew. Hence Chapter 2 cannot be read without reading Chapter 7 etc.

The book can also be divided into two sections – I. The historical events of Babylon at the time of Daniel, and II. The prophecies of Daniel

I. Narrative: Daniel In Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar's Dream, And Historical Events

Chapter 1      The disciple of God against his people: Daniel and his companions in Babylon

Beginning of Aramaic

Chapter 2      The Great Prophetic Dream of Nebuchadnezzar – Gentile History climaxing with God as ruler

Chapter 3      An attack on the faithful of God – fiery furnace

Chapter 4      Revelation to a gentile king - Nebuchadnezzar

Chapter 5      Revelation to a gentile king - Belchazzar

Chapter 6  An attack on one who is faithful of God – lion’s den

II Prophetic - the Prophecies of Daniel

Chapter 7      The Night Visions of Daniel – Gentile History climaxing with God (The Ancient of Days) ruling

End of Aramaic narrative

Chapter 8  The Vision of the Ram and the He-Goat: Persia and Greece

Chapter 9  The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks: Jewish History until the Second Coming of Christ

Chapter 10 Daniel is prepared for the final prophecy seen as a vision

Chapter 11 The Wars of Ptolemies and Seleucidae prophesied and the Coming Events of the End

Chapter 12 The Great Tribulation and Israel's Deliverance

Key verse: Note that this book is part prophetic and part narrative; all provide evidence of the sovereignty of God.

Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. Daniel 2:20-21

A verse of importance from a Gentile

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?" Daniel 4:34-35

Key Events/themes:

The key events relate to men of God who stood by their faith, whatever the consequence:

  1. Attempted forced idolatry and the casting of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego into the furnace and their survival (chapter 3).
  2. The fall of Darius as prophesied by God, who announced his fall in writing on the wall of the banqueting hall, which was interpreted by Daniel (chapter 5).
  3. The attempted forced idolatry on Daniel ordered not to pray to God, accepting the fate of being thrown to the lions, but spared by God (chapter 6).

The other narratives surround the various prophecies that were foretold, and Daniel’s state of mind (e.g. Chapter 10).

Words of importance:

Most High God

The acknowledgment of the supremacy of Jehovah above all other gods, in particular “your God (the God of Daniel) is God of gods” Dan 2:47, thus dealing with the polytheistic gentiles who did not know the Lord God Most High. Used 14 times in 13 verses.

 

God (Elohim)

Mentioned 59 times in 52 verses (out of 12 chapters and 357 verses), as Most High God, God of heaven, God of gods, Son of God, Holy God, God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, Spirit of God, the living God, Jehovah (i.e. Yahweh) God, Jehovah My God, Jehovah Our God, God of his fathers. The idol gods of Babylon are mentioned 22 times.

Key prophecies:

Sequence of kingdoms of this world, from the time of Babylon to the second coming of the Messiah: Babylon, Medes and Persia, Greece, Rome. The strength of each kingdom is given.

Chapter 2: First dream of Nebuchadnezzar – the image of different metals

The fall of Nebuchadnezzar, his humiliation, acknowledgement of the God of Heaven, and return to power.

Chapter 4: Second dream of Nebuchadnezzar – the tree.

The fall of Babylon under the Medes and Persians

Chapter 5: Handwriting on the wall.

Prophecy of the kingdoms of this world seen as four beasts – expansion of the prophecy from chapter 2.

Chapter 7: Daniel’s visions of four beasts, the little horn and the ten kingdoms.

The coming Messiah represented as the Ancient of Days, who is the Judge and will rule the earth; the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.

Chapter 7: Daniel’s vision of the coming and the reign of the Messiah.

The prophecy of Persia and Greece where Greece overthrows the Medes and Persians, the division of the Greek empire and its downfall. The prophecy looks further than just the immediate time – (Dan 8:23-25) but to the Last Days referenced as ‘latter time’.

Chapter 8: Daniel’s vision of the Ram and Goat.

The seventy weeks determined for the Jews; referred to as the ‘Seventy Weeks of Daniel’. The 70 weeks is portrayed in three parts; 1) Seven weeks for rebuilding of Jerusalem, 2) 62 weeks – the time from the rebuilt Jerusalem to the death of the Messiah, and 3) one week - the tribulation of the Jewish people and judgements of the whole earth.

Chapter 9:24-37 Daniels prophecy after his pray and confession for the sins of Israel (9:1-23).

Prophecies of the wars of Ptolemies and Seleucidae, the wars in the Last Days.

Chapter 11

Prophecy of the Great Tribulation – “the End Time”, the deliverance of Israel.

Chapter 12

Key characters:

Daniel

Meaning, God is my judge, renamed Belteshazzar (keeper of Bel’s treasures) by the Babylonians, an Israelite taken into exile by the Babylonians at a young age

Hananiah

Meaning, God is gracious to me, renamed Shadrach (king’s messenger) by the Babylonians

Mishael

Meaning he who is as God, renamed Meshach (of Shach a goddess) by the Babylonians

Azariah

Meaning (God is my help) renamed Abed-Nego (servant of Nego) by the Babylonians

Nebuchadnezzar

The ruler of Babylon, greatest of all the Babylonian kings, who took Jerusalem in the 3rd year of Jehoiakim. He was the son of Nabopolassar, the founder of the Babylonian empire.

Belshazzar

The final king of Babylon, a man of sensuality, profanity and idolatry, felled by God using the Medes and Persians.

Darius

A Medo-Persian King over the realm of the Chaldaeans.

Key Places: 

Note the four empires have not ceased to exist; in various forms and without any real world influence they all exist today.

Babylonian empire

Head of gold (chapter 2), like a lion with eagles wings (chapter 7)[1]

Media and Persian empires

Chest and arms of silver (chapter 2), like a bear, raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth (chapter 7), represented as ram with two unequal horns[2] (Chapter 8).

Greek empire

The thighs of bronze (chapter 2), like leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back and had four heads (chapter 7), represented as a he-goat (chapter 8)

Roman empire

Legs of iron and feet of iron and clay (chapter 2), a terrifying beast with teeth of iron, with 10 horns, another one arises and replaces three (chapter 7), representing 10 kings (Dan 7:24), followed by the beast who puts down three kings.

Alternative attribution of the symbols to powers

There is a growing move to represent the fourth kingdom, or at least its toes, as the Islamic state; not as a uniformed state, but one divided, represented by the ten toes, strong but brittle. This presumes the literacy of the place names in Revelation 14:8 etc., hence Babylon is the place in Iraq not an analogy for Rome (there are good arguments why this must be the case). However, few commentators have followed this trend thus far. There is no space to elaborate here.

Endnotes

[1] Note that the lion represents Babylon in the book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:7; 49:19; 50:17), and eagles symbolize Babylonian armies (Jeremiah 49:22).

[2] The shorter horn represents the weaker of the pair; Media and the longer Persia. The combined two are found within the ram itself.

Hosea

Hosea

Title: Hosea

Place in bible: Old Testament minor prophet, 28th book of the Bible, 1st of the minor prophets (although not the first minor prophet to be written[1]).

Author: Hosea the son of Beeri (verse 1:1).

Date: Hosea prophesised in "in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel" (1:2); sixty years in all, from approximately 786 BC to approximately 722 BC.

Genre: Prophecy to Israel that announced the captivity and dispersal of Israel, due to her idolatry, immorality and unrepentant state, which was God's judgement; but the prophecy includes allusions to mercy, a prophecy yet to be fulfilled, when Israel will acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and live in peace in the Land of Israel.

Main idea:  

This book is mainly made up of one long monologue (10 chapters) of woe pronounced by God (note the absence of "thus says the Lord (Yahweh)". The aspect of the writing is that of God speaking, using short clipped sentences, without any embellishments. The book outlines the absolute unfaithfulness Israel, their awful immorality and unceasing adultery (that is idolatry) trumped by their belief of their own righteousness, interwoven with the outline of the punishment that Jehovah requires to be meted out on her. However, the book is more than just a monologue. Hosea was required by Jehovah to put himself in the same position that He was in regard Israel, and suffer the same emotional and intellectual abuse of a spouse that leaves and openly commits adultery and shows love to many other men.

In contrast the prophet highlights the compassion of Jehovah and His love for His people, and shows the glorious place for the remanent of Israel, that Paul speaks of in Romans, who quotes Hosea (Romans 9:27, 11:5). In some ways it highlights Christendom that has mostly turned her back on God, replacing the truth with the idol of self, and commits adultery with material wealth, yet a small remnant remain, who will be saved.

The book can be seen as three sections:

  1. A wife that has sexual relations with multiple men– a picture/metaphor for Israel (Hosea 1-3).
  2. Contrast of the wife as Israel, a sinful people, who deserve judgement (4-13:8), judgements proclaimed.
  3. The glories of the remnant who believe in the Lord (13:9 – 14:9)

Key events/themes:

1:2-5 Hosea marries Goma, a prostitute, which is a picture of the corrupt and adulterous Israel, and something Hosea, a man of God, would have found repugnant. Jezreel, a son, is born to them.

1:6-7 Lo-Ruhamah is born, named by God, meaning "not having obtained mercy", but is later contrasted with the fact a remnant remains to whom mercy will be given.

1:8-9 Lo-Ammi is born[2], named by God, meaning "not my people", which Israel had become – they preferred a god made of stone, not one He who saved them from Egypt and protected them in the wilderness and gave them Canaan.

1:10-11 A glimpse of the future glory of Israel, when they become "my people".

2:1-5 The moral state of Gomer

2:6-18 How the immoral Gomer is to be punished.

2:14-23 The blessings of a relationship with a wife whose betrothal vows are upheld.

3 The history of Israel, past, present and future

4 Jehovah's judgement remarks

5. Judgement of Israel's leaders; priests, people & royal house

6:1-3 Blessings of returning to the Lord

6:4-11 Ephraim and Judah: Jehovah pours out His heart as a father would for sinful and wayward children

7 The depth of human depravity among Israel

8 – 9:9 Judgement of Israel

9:10 – 11:11 Israel, once beloved, guilty, rebuked and punished contrasted with the mercy of God

11:12-13 Ephraim's indictment and judgement

14 Redemption of repenting sinners

Words of importance:

Mercy (1:6, 1:7, 2:1, 2:4, 2:19, 2:23, 4:1, 6:6, 10:12, 12:6, 14:3)

The import of "mercy" is found in 6:6 "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice". Indeed mercy and truth go together (4:1). Those that acknowledge God will have mercy shown them (2:23 – read also Romans 9-11).

Knowledge (4:1, 4:6, 5:15, 6:3, 6:6, 8:4)

The land of Israel, including all tribes and foreigners had no knowledge of God. They had failed the most basic law: "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren." Deuteronomy 4:9 NKJV

In their lack of knowledge – they did not know God, and did not comprehend their sin (5:15).

Knowledge is more desirable than offerings – see also Psalm 40:6-8 and Hebrews 10:8.

Key prophecies:  

This is very important Book for understanding why Israel is in the state she is in today (2014) and needs to be read with at least Romans chapters 9-11. It outlines marriage (pictured by Hosea and Gomer, unfaithfulness (much of the monologue in the second section), and prophesises the "devorce" where Israel is dispersed.

Israel has rejected God, and God has rejected Israel (as per Deuteronomy). The time will come when a remnant will believe in God:

Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!' " Hosea 2:23 NKJV

Key verse: Hosea 13:4 NKJV

Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no saviour besides Me.

The verse's key is the first word – it connects back and makes the reader want to find out why God had to declare himself in such away. It is obvious that Israel had swapped God for a stone, worshiping baals rather than Jehovah. The verse is true; it gives the one fact all need to know – there is no saviour besides God. All will die; all humans need to present God with a sacrifice to deal with sin. No sacrifice is suitable, except that of the perfect Lamb, this being the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was obedient, unlike Israel. Contrast this verse with Romans 10:8-11.

But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME." Romans 10:8-11 NKJV

Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days. Hosea 3:5 NKJV

Key characters:

Ephraim

Second son of Joseph, the patriarch, who receives the blessing of the first born, whose name means "for God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction; in the prophecies represents 10 tribes of Israel – the northern kingdom (Judah the other two).

Gomer

The daughter of Diblaim a prostitute who continued her prostitution even though married to Hosea.  Her name means "completion or ripeness" – one full of wickedness

Hosea

The prophet who wrote the book, name means salvation, and many believe was an Israelite (rather than of Judah). He ministered for 60 years which is quite remarkable given the hostility towards prophets, and shows the protective power of God. On God's orders marries a prostitute.

Jezreel

Eldest son of Hosea and Gomer, meaning "seed" or "to scatter" – is also a place name where Jehu massacred the house of Ahab and where Armageddon will take place.

Judah

The fourth son of Jacob by Leah and means "praise", and who took the lead of the family and is blessed with everlasting the throne of David (1 Kings 8:25 etc).

Lo-Ammi

Son of Gomer meaning "not my people". The father is not stated by the parable; it is likely a man other than Hosea (see 2:1 – 4).

Lo-Ruhamah

Daughter of Gomer, meaning "not having obtained mercy".

Key Places: 

Israel, both the land and the tribes collectively: where Ephraim represents 10 tribes and Judah the other 2 tribes.

As the history is recounted in the oracles, many placenames of Israel are recalled, which with their poignant meaning or past history tells the story and contrasts Israel & Judah's state of unfaithfulness with the faithful merciful God. These include (but not limited to):

Beth Avon (4:15) means house of nothingness, Gilgal (4:15, 9:15, 12:11) the first encampment by Josuah,  Mizpah (5:11) a place in Gilead meaning "hill of testimony" where the first Passover was kept (Joshua 5:1), Samaria (7:1, 8:5, 8:6, 10:5, 10:7, 13:16) meaning "watch tower" and who failed (8:5) etc. along with nations such as Egypt  which epitomises all things worldly.

[1] Note the adjective 'minor' has no bearing on the severity of the situation that the prophet deals with; indeed the entire national of Israel is prophesised to be sent into exile until 1948 when a small recovery commenced, by a so called 'minor prophet'. The 'minor' relates to its word length compared with the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. 

[2] It is never quite stated whether the children are Hosea's or of strangers Goma had sexual relations with: Hosea states in his righteous anger aroused due to her gross immorality: "I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry" Hosea 2:4 NKJV.

 

Joel

Joel

Place in Bible: Old Testament minor prophet, 29th book of the Bible, 2nd of the Minor Prophets[1].

Author: Joel the son of Pethuel (1:1). The name means 'Jehovah is my God' (or Jehovah is whom I worship), however, there is nothing else known about this prophet

Date: Perhaps written during the reign of Joash (8th King of Judah) 870-865 B.C. but not outside of 890 - 840 (2 Kings 13:10). Amos quotes Joel, who prophesied in the middle of the 8th Century before Christ which gives some idea of when it was written. Gaebelein gives a number of sound reasons for an early date for Joel.[2]

Genre: Prophecy concerning Judah but God in dealing with Judah uses the opportunity to judge the nations (Joel 3:12).

Main idea:  Joel covers an enormous period of time, from the time of Joash (King of Judah B.C. 884) with Judah in apostasy and oppressed by their enemies, through to the glorious Day of Jehovah, with the Messiah ruling from Mount Zion (Joel 3:16) and Israel worshipping their God in a land of plenty (Joel 2:19). The principal theme is the "Day of Jehovah", whereby God raises the awareness of the impending coming of this great and terrible day by causing massive scarcity of food through locus plagues (Joel 1:4) that had stripped the land bear, along with drought (and bushfires burning the crops Joel 1:19). This great calamity leads to the repentance of the people (Joel 2:12-14) and they call upon His name who comes and delivers them. The second chapter delivers the wonderful prophecy of blessings yet to be fulfilled: God comes into the centre of His people, and he prospers and protects them.

The key divisions mark out the key events.

  1. The plague of locusts destroys the land (1:1 – 1:12)
  2. The people are called to repentance, and destruction ensues (1:13 – 1:20)
  3. The Day of Jehovah (The LORD), peoples response required (2:1 – 2:17)
  4. Restoration of the people, those who call upon the name of the Lord are saved (2:18 – 2:32)
  5. The Lord judges the nations (3:1 – 3:16)
  6. Judah is restored, the establishment of the Messianic kingdom: Christ rules from Jerusalem. (3:17 – 21).

Application to Christians:

The Church escapes the tribulation, being taken up into heaven prior to the commencement (John 14:1-3, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10), thus this prophecy does not pertain to Christians. It is however a prophecy of hope – judgement against those that hate God, and blessings for the believer.

Key events/themes:

The key events and themes follow the main divisions of the book (see above).

Words of importance:

"Day of the Lord" (5 times); chapters 1:15, 2:1-2, 10-11, 30-31, and 3:14-16.

Key prophecies: 

The overall prophecy is in relation to the restoration of Israel 

  • The entire book is a prophecy concerning the Day of The Lord, whereby judgement will befall the earth; there will be unparalleled scarcity of food, with locusts (1:4), grain crops, vines and fruit crops failing (1:2-12), and in general, due to lack of crops, animal production also will be ruined (1:15-19), and drought will ensue (1:20).
  • All people, and in particular Israel is warned of the impending judgement and those that do not believe in Yeshua, the Messiah (Joel 2:1).
  • A remnant of believers will survive the tribulation (2:12-17).
  • The Day of the Lord (2:1-11); is a time of darkness for the unbeliever and a time of light for the believer. God's army along with earth quakes and a shaking of the heavens will herald the Lord's coming.
  • Possession of the Land by Israel is promised (2:18-27).
  • Regeneration by the Holy Spirit (2:28-32), whereby nation Israel is brought into communion with Jehovah.
  • The Nations are to be judged during the tribulation (3:1-16) – it will be a period of darkness for the unbeliever (3:15).
  • Yeshua, Jesus Christ, will rule from Zion in the Millennial period of a 1000 years (3:17-31) and the land of Israel will return to full productivity (3:18).

Key verses:  Each deal with the three main sections of the prophecy 1:15, 2:32, 3:16

Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; It shall come as destruction from the Almighty. Joel 1:15

And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls. (2:32)

In relation to Judah

The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem; The heavens and earth will shake; But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, And the strength of the children of Israel. (3:16)

Quotes in New Testament

Acts 2:16-21 (Joel 2:28-30),  Romans 10:13 (Joel 2:32)

[1] Note the adjective 'minor' has no bearing on the severity of the situation that the prophet deals with; indeed the entire national of Israel is prophesised to be sent into exile until 1948 when a small recovery commenced, by a so called 'minor prophet'. The 'minor' relates to its word length compared with the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.

[2] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein´s Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros , USA, pp 665-670

Reference

Outline of Joel - FA Blair

 

 

Jonah

Jonah

Title: The Book of Jonah, although some versions use "The Prophet Jonah".

Place in bible:  Old Testament minor prophet, the 32nd book of the Bible and 5th of the 12 minor prophets.

Author:  Jonah, the son of Amittai (1:1), see also 2 Kings 14:25[1].

Date:  Jonah lived in the time of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC), king of Israel (2 Kings 14) which places the time of the events. In general it must have been written between 8th  and 3rd centuries BC.

Genre:  The book is neither an allegory nor a parable, but a narrative of three events in the life of Jonah. The events in this book are true – one cannot possibly believe the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead after being killed by crucifixion if one cannot believe Jonah was resurrected from the belly of a great fish. Jesus himself draw this analogy; see Matthew 12:39,40[2]; 16:3, 4[3].

Main idea:  God's grace is sufficient for all – his mercy is not limited to the children of Israel but is extended to all nations. Even the most wicked of nations (See Nahum to understand the depth and breadth of Nineveh's "great wickedness") who repent can be forgiven by God. This the prophet Jeremiah expounds:
If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. Jeremiah 18:7-8.

This concept is of utmost importance in understanding the character of God. He is not capricious as some would have, but full of grace and mercy, extending to providing a propitiation for our sin[4]; the Lord Jesus Christ. The main idea also fits with concept of Romans 9 – 11; in order for God to draw his people Israel back to himself, that they might obey and be a blessing to all nations, the gentiles will have the good news [gospel] preached to them and they will respond [see the Book of Acts – Cornelius is the archetype of the gentile saved]:

But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." Romans 10:19-21.

Jonah does not want to deal with the enemies of Israel although God does. God is a righteous judge; He gives time for repentance, which Nineveh had (After about 120 years they fell back to their old wicked ways, did not repent and was wiped from the face of the earth as Nahum prophesied)[5]. The attitude prevails right through the Bible. However, the Jews hated anyone who was accepted by the Lord God Jehovah (Yewah), and persecuted the Christians most harshly.

Divisions – by chapter

Chapter 1: Jonah is commanded by God to go to Nineveh, a command he disobeys, and consequences ensues.

Chapter 2: Jonah prays from the fish's belly (2:1) and God delivers him, safely on dry ground.

Chapter 3: Jonah obeys God, Nineveh repents and God saves the city.

Chapter 4: Jonah is very disappointed with God's mercy towards the repentant city; God responds to Jonah with a practical illustration, in that God provides a plant that shaded Jonah which is killed by a worm.

Key events:

1: Jonah is commanded by Jehovah [Yewah] to go to Nineveh and preach against its "great wickedness" (1:1). But Jonah flees in the opposite direction on a boat to Tarshish, a place in Spain (most likely).

2: God prevents Jonah from reaching Tarshish by stirring up a great storm; the mariners throw Jonah overboard to prevent all hands being lost, and Jonah is swallowed by a "great fish" for three days and three nights.

3. Jonah is resurrected, and is returned to dry ground by the fish, alive. Jonah goes to Nineveh and speaks God's word; the city repents and Jonah is grieved.

Key prophecies:  The destruction of Nineveh if they did not repent (3:4,5).

And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. (3:4-5)

Sets a type: in the death and resurrection of Christ and alluded to by Christ (Matthew 12:40) and like Jonah was a sign to Nineveh so is Christ to the nations (Matthew 12:41; 16:4; Luke 11:29,30).

Key verse: 4:11

And should not I [Lord Jehovah – see 4:10] spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Key characters:

Jonah: A prophet of the Lord, who could not bring himself to speak to gentiles who had and would persecute the Jews, knowing that the grace of God would abound if they repented.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalms 145:8-9

Key Places: 

Tarshish:

According to Fausset[6] "Tartessus (as Asshur became Athur, Bashan, Batanoea), a Phoenician city South of Spain; the portion of Spain known to the Hebrew Psalmist (Psalm 72:10)."

Ninevah:

The capital of the ancient kingdom and empire of Assyria from Sennacherib's time on, on the east bank of the Tigris opposite modern Mosul, Iraq. The Bible indicates that Nineveh was established in Mesopotamia in the days of Nimrod (Genesis 10:10–12).

[1] He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher. 2 Kings 14:25

[2] But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Matthew 12:39-40

[3] [I]n the morning [you say], 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed. Matthew 16:3-4

[4] Easton's Bible Study states: Christ is "the propitiation," because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations [due to our sin] he expiated our guilt [in full], covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured.

[5] Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard. Nahum 2:13

[6] Fausset's Bible Dictionary by A.R. Fassett (1821 – 1910): available on line from many web sites.

 

Zephaniah

Zephaniah

Title: The Book of Zephaniah after its author, although some Bibles add the words "the prophet".

Place in bible: The 36th book of the bible (fourth to last in the Old Testament) and 9th of the 12 Minor Prophets.

Author: The authorship is given in verse one of chapter one: "Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah." His name means 'Jehovah hides' – as Zephaniah must have been hidden from the atrocity of King Manasseh.

Date written: The date is given in the first verse: "in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah". Since he also assumes the Temple is in use, it can also be assumed he prophesied during Josiah's reform which took place in Josiah's 12–18 th year of reign, say 630 to 625 BC, but before Nineveh had fallen (612 BC) (see 2:13 [1]).

Genre: Prophecy focused on the LORD's coming and His great day, extending beyond Judah including the surrounding nations: "And he [Yahweh] will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and he will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert. "The prophecy has a close range vision – in that it has been fulfilled, and a long range in that the LORD'S coming is still pending

The Day of the Lord (Jehovah, ie Yahweh) is mentioned seven times in six verses. (1:7, 1:8, 1:14, 1:18, 2:2, 2:3), but also mentioned in 1:10 and 3:8.

Main idea: The main idea needs to be contextualised within the political climate of the time: for as with any great reformation, that moves the spirituality of a people towards God, there comes the eventual declension away from God – this happened to Judah, reformed by Josiah, but who fell away to apostasy. She would end in apostasy, be taken captive and eventually be scattered to the four corners of the world (see Isaiah 11:12), because she would not deal with her idols – it was easier to worship stone than the true living God.

The main idea is that "God acts in sovereign grace when man has failed in his responsibility" in that God announces judgement, and then exhorts repentance.

The book has three chapters, but in essence is one prophecy

Application to Christians: Repentance is required by all people, else God will judge you. Jesus Christ speaks of the wrath to come (Matthew 3:7), and Paul announced to the world:

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. (Acts 17:31).

What will surprise some so called Christians is that, like Judah, they will be judged because their faith is of themselves, not God – they worship idols of self, money, position, status etc. Jesus Christ said: repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47).

Repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Key events: The great day of the Lord (1:14), the day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress (1:15).

Key prophecies:

The Day of the Lord (1:14 – 18).

Judgement of the Philistines (2:4 – 7), Moab and Ammon (2:8 – 10) and other nations (2:11 – 15).

A pure language

"For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they all may call on the name of the LORD, To serve Him with one accord. (Zephaniah 3:9)

Key Verses: 2:3 & 3:5

Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, Who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the LORD's anger. (2:3)

The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, But the unjust knows no shame. (3:5)

Key characters:

Judah

Key Places:

The Temple, Jerusalem

References:

Reflections on Zephaniah (FA Blair)

 

[1] And he will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria, and he will make Nineveh a desolation, a dry waste like the desert. (2:13)

 

Haggai

Haggai

Title: Haggai, the writer of the book

Place in bible: The 37th book and part of the Minor Prophets (in that it is short; only 2 chapters).

Author: Haggai which means to 'keep a feast', or perhaps literally 'festival' or' merry', a returnee of the Jewish exiles who returned under Zerubbabel, who was the head of the people.

Date written: The date is fixed by Haggai in verse 1 of chapter 1 being the second year of Darius, that is, Hystaspes; which, according to Bishop Usher, was 519 B.C. or in the 65th Olympiad which is about 520 B.C.; and about seventeen or eighteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus for the Jews to return to their own land which was 534 B.C, and appears to write from Jerusalem.

Genre: Prophecy of the restoration of Judah who had been taken captive by the Babylonians for 70 years. The restoration (as did the captivity) did not occur in one action, but a series of returns of groups of people. The first return consisted of 42,360 people (Ezra 2:64) which included Haggai.

Main idea: This book needs to be read with Ezra, who was part of the second return from captivity and who deals with the spiritual drought of the people. The principle issue at the time was the first group of returnees were expected to re–build the Temple, but they had become complacent. There had been some opposition, but in essence their focus was elsewhere. However, although God's grace had orchestrated the return, the people needed to build the temple and re–establish their worship of God – at their peril – the alternative was assimilation into the pagan culture of the day and eternal separation from God. That is, the focus of the hearts of the people needed to be God centred – hence the need for a temple. Haggai's task was to revive the spirit of the flagging people in order they return to diligently rebuild the temple and to place their confidence in God in the face of opposition. The prophecy is really about the exercise of faith – their hearts needed to believe God and trust in Him.

The book essentially has five addresses in two chapters.

Application to Christians: The prophecy was required because the people wanted to live at ease but God required their diligence and their trust whatever the opposition. We require a believing heart and a faith of action. Even from the ruin state we are in we can see the blessings of God. Christians must lean of God for their support and strength.

God knows his own, and his own need to keep themselves pure. Being assimilated into the world is not an option.

Christians are considered 'living stones' and are being built into a spiritual house. This requires diligence and a trust in God. (1 Peter 2:4–5).

Key events: The return of Judah from captivity, the lack of progress in the building of the Temple.

Key prophecies:

I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, everyone by the sword of his brother. (Haggai 2:21b, 22 ESV)

The Persian monarchy was destroyed by Alexander the great, but this prophecy speaks of the time when God will establish his kingdom, as spoke of by Daniel (2:22),

Key Verses: 1:4

"Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this [Temple or House of God] house lies in ruins"?

Key characters:

The Lord of Hosts (1:2, 1:5, 1:7, 1:14, 2:4)

The tribe of Judah in Jerusalem returned from captivity

Key Places:

The Temple, Jerusalem

References:

The Message of Haggai (FA Blair)

 

Zechariah

Zechariah

Title: The Book of Zechariah

Place in Bible: The 38th book of the bible (second to last in the Old Testament) and 11th of the 12 Minor Prophets.

Author: The author is named in the first verse as Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, a captive who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem, and was a contemporary of Haggai. The name Zechariah means one whom Jehovah remembers which was a fairly common name at the time.

Date: At the time of the rebuilding of the temple, then the last portion some time later commencing in approximately 518 BC.

Genre: Prophecy including apocalyptic prophecy, speaking about the coming Messianic Kingdom noting the book is arranged in a chiasm (as is Daniel).

Main idea: One needs to read 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles to fully appreciate the context of the Book of Zechariah.  The main idea is repentance with encouragement to follow the precepts of God. It however does not contain the rebukes that Haggai contains, but rather it concerns the restoration of Israel from a very close position to one beyond the horizon where we find the Messianic Kingdom, which is preceded by the rejection of Christ and the repentance of the remnant who will look upon him whom they have pieced (chapter 12).

F.A Blair, in part, sums the main idea up as[1]:

Zechariah touches the past history of Israel, but gives in greater detail the future events from the return of the remnant to the end. He sets out a complete picture of the happenings which are consequent on the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, reaching right on to the days of ultimate blessing when Jehovah in the Person of the Messiah makes Jerusalem His dwelling-place, and reigns there in righteousness and peace, bringing blessing to Israel and to all the world through them. …

The occasion of all this prophecy was not a time of great outward revival, or when God was changing the government of the world and preparing to own Israel publicly. It was when a disheartened and self-occupied remnant of the people whom God in grace had brought back to the land, were roused a little from their self-absorption to do the work of the LORD, that there might be a testimony to His name in the world from His recognized centre. Although a Gentile power still ruled, and Jerusalem was a ruinous heap, and the house of the LORD was scarcely habitable, yet the Spirit of the LORD remained with them. The Spirit of God by the mouth of the prophet was not ashamed to reveal to the feeble remnant the whole counsels of God concerning Israel and His earthly government, when their hearts had been made responsive to His word. He fully announces the glory of Zion in the day when the Messiah reigns there.

Application to Christians: Of the minor prophets, Zechariah has more to say about the Messiah (Yeshua - Jesus Christ) than any other.

  1. He speaks of Christ as “the Branch”, a title conferred on the Messiah by Isaiah (4;2) and Jeremiah (23:5). Zechariah speaks of Him twice under this title in chapters 3 and 4 and once in chapter 6.
  2. The crowning of the Messiah as King-Priest is found in the sixth chapter, when the prophet is commanded by Jehovah to order the crowning of the high-priest, symbolical of our Christ, who will be crowned King-Priest.
  3. Zechariah 9:9-10 prophesies Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem – the passage has a much longer horizon extending to the coming Messianic Kingdom when all Israel’s enemies will be defeated.
  4. The Messiah is spoken of as the Shepherd, and the price of His betrayal being the thirty pieces of silver, quoted in the New Testament; Zechariah 11:12-13 and Matthew 27:9-10.
  5. Zechariah 12:10 records the future death of Christ on the cross, and that He is the pierced One, on whom they shall look, on account of whom they shall yet mourn – ushering in the full restoration of Israel (See John 19:1-42, and Revelation 1:1-20.)
  6. Zechariah 13:7 relates to further sufferings of Christ - the sword is to awake ‘against the Man’, who is the ‘Companion of Jehovah’; that sword is to smite Him and the sheep would be scattered, which is exactly what happened.
  7. Zechariah describes Christ as coming for the salvation of His waiting people (the remnant), and that His feet in that day shall stand on the Mount of Olives (14:4). He was last seen standing on the Mount of Olives, with the promise of His return 'in like manner' (Acts 1:11)

Divisions

One can divide Zechariah into four parts

  1. Introduction (1:1-6)
  2. The eight visions – all of symbolic character (1:7 – 6:15)
  3. An answer to a query (7 & 8)
  4. Prophecy from Alexander the Great to the Messianic Kingdom, with a focus on the restoration of Judah, and the Davidic Kingdom (9 – 14)

Arno Gaebelein has three divisions;[2]

  1. Eight Visions Encouraging the Rebuilding of the Temple, Chapters 1-6 including the introduction
    1. The horseman among the myrtle trees, 1:7-17.
    2. The four horns and four carpenters, 1:18-21.
    3. The man with the measuring line, Ch. 2.
    4. Joshua, the High Priest, and Satan, Ch. 3.
    5. The Golden Candlestick, Ch. 4.
    6. The Flying Roll 5:1-4.
    7. The woman and ephah, 5:5-11 end.
    8. The four war chariots, 6:1-8.
    9. Appendix: Joshua crowned as a type of Christ, 6:9-15.
  2. Requirement of the Law and the Restoration and Enlargement of Israel, Chapters 7-8.
    1. Obedience better than fasting. 7:1-7.
    2. Disobedience the source of all their past misery, 7:8-14 end.
    3. The restoration and enlargement which prefigure Christ "The Jew," Ch.8.
  3. Visions of the Messianic Kingdom. Chapters 9-14.
    1. The Messianic King, Ch. 9-10.
    2. The rejected Shepherd, Ch. 11.
    3. The restored and penitent people, Ch. 12-13.
    4. The divine sovereignty, Ch. 14.

Key verse: Note that this book is prophetic; all provide evidence of the sovereignty of God.

The future

And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be "The LORD is one," And His name one. Zechariah 14:9

This complements the Law: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Deuteronomy 6:4

From a contemporary point of view

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.” Zechariah 12:2

The reality of this verse is played out in the Media each and every day – Jerusalem occupies the minds of very many all the time.

Key Events/themes: The possession of Judah as the inheritance of Jehovah in the Holy Land, meaning that Israel will be restored to the Land that Jehovah has declared as being His. (2:12).

 

Words of importance:

Branch

The prophetic term for the Messiah: In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing For those of Israel who have escaped. Isaiah 4:2

Zion

The house of Israel, the remnant who will return to the Lord – the chosen people of God. In reality it is Jerusalem – “the city of God’s mercies on earth.” Note that Zion is not the Church (the church does not distinguish Jew from gentile), but represents the Messianic chosen people.

 

Key prophecies:  (there are more within the Book)

1. The Vision of the Man upon the Red Horse Among the Myrtles (1:7-17)

The providential government of God while the Babylonian empire was in power – the man is Alexander the Great.

2. The Four Horns and the Four Smiths (1:18-21)

The four horns represent the four kingdoms holding sway on the earth while Israel and Judah are reckoned Lo-ammi (not my people) (Hosea 1:9)

3. The Man with the Measuring Line (Chapter 2)

In all her trouble, Jerusalem is not forgotten: the angel of the Lord sends a man to announce the future blessing for Jerusalem.

4. The Vision concerning the Cleansing of the High-Priest (Chapter 3)

Joshua, the representative of the people; Christ the Messiah is the root and the off-spring of David, will come being the promised Christ the Branch, with the perfect government of Jehovah set up in Jerusalem.

5. The Vision of the Candlestick with the Two Olive Trees (Chapter 4)

Encouragement for Zerubbabel that the temple would not only be started, but completed – and shows God knows the beginning from the ending.  Zerubbabel is a type of the ‘true Governor’ who will finish the work He begins.

6. The Vision of the Flying Roll (5:1-4)

The vision highlights the evil that besets Judah (the mat has the dimensions of the holy place in the tabernacle) and shows the judgement of Israel in the last days.

7. The Woman in the Ephah (5:5-11)

Again the prophecy concerns the wickedness of the people in the Holy Land, which will be done away with: two evil systems that developed will be judged – apostate Jewry under the antichrist and the apostate Christendom who will follow the beast will be joined together to oppose the coming Messianic Kingdom; God will destroy both.

8. The Vision of the Four Chariots (6:1-8)

The world’s empires are in view in this prophecy; God governed through them.  The four coloured horses symbolize the four empires known in the world, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman.

9. Future blessings of Israel (8)

The fasts will someday be turned into feasts of gladness for the house of Judah

10. The Messianic King (9-10)

Christ will rule from Jerusalem in the restored Kingdom as promised in the Davidic covenant.

11. The rejected Messiah portrayed as the Shepherd (11)

Israel doomed after rejecting her Saviour – “I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land”. Prophecy covers the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD

12. The death of the Messiah and the scattering of the people (13)

Christ is struck down – the Shepherd is killed and the flock (Israel) is scattered. God will judge them – 2/3 will be killed. The remnant will be ‘tried’ and restored.

13. Israel restored (12-13)

Davidic kingdom restoration after the sheep were scattered when Israel rejected her Christ.

14. The coming Day of the Lord (14)

The final judgement of the nations at Jerusalem and their total destruction, the restoration of the remnant of Israel, the rearrangement of the landscape and the worship of the King by all people. Israel will no longer have enemies.

 

[1] Blair, Frederick A. The Word Came to Zechariah (1948) – on line at < http://www.life-everlasting.net/pages/messages/MinorProphets/The Word Came to Zechariah (FA Blair).php  > (Also as PDF)

[2] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein's Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros, USA, 736-757 (Also online at http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/zechariah-0.html ) Accessed 2 July 2017.

Malachi

Malachi

Title: Malachi, the writer of the book

Place in bible: The 39th book, being the last book of the Minor Prophets (Neviim) and last of the New Testament, part of the Minor Prophets (in that it is short, only 3 or 4 chapters). It is the last prophetic voice for nearly 400 years, after which we see John the Baptist (prophesied in 3:1) followed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Author: Malachi a prophet of the Lord; we know nothing more. The word Malachi means "my messenger".

Date: The exact date is unknown, although it was during the captivity that the prophecy was written, and certainly after Haggai and Zechariah since the temple is finished and priestly worship commenced. The time is mostly likely after Nehemiah, since the reform of temple worship had been abused, perhaps 420 BC.

Genre: Prophecy against the children of Israel , announcing the impending coming of the Messiah and alludes to the final judgement

Main idea: Malachi looks at the state of the people after their return from their captivity at Babylon where their worship did not now glorify Him. The Prophet's heart was filled with sorrow because the people and priests were unaware of their departure from their first zeal, and they were indifferent to his rebuke though he was a prophet of God. The book shows the great insensitivity of the people for Jehovah (Yahweh) and their lack of understanding that their deeds were wicked – there were beholden to formalism that was without merit and idolatrous (they had robbed God, but did not recognise it 3:8) – and they failed to honour God (e.g. 1:6). Malachi also sees the chosen remnant (3:16–18) – they are His; his precious jewels. (3:17).

The moral condition of the Jews in the time of Malachi is the moral condition of the so–call Christians in this age. The Church is dead, they have no need of the councils of God, yet there remains a small number, a remnant who are faithful to God, which are His jewels.

Divisions:

The book has four chapters in the modern Bible, but in the Hebrew and Greek, only three where chapter's 3 and 4 are amalgamated. Arno Gaebelein[1] divides the book into six:

  1. 1:1 – 1:5 – The love of Jehovah for His chosen people
  2. 1:6 – 2:9 – A rebuke of the priests
  3. 2:10 – 2:16 – Rebuke of the social injustice
  4. 3:1 – 3:6 – The coming Messenger (John the Baptist) and the Day of the Lord
  5. 3:7 – 3:15 – Rebuke for robbing God
  6. 3:16 – 4:6 Remnant and concluding prophecy (also refers to the Law and the Prophets)

Key prophecies:

John the Baptist "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the Lord of hosts. (3:1)

Coming of Elijah the prophet

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." (4:5–6).

Compare with:

"And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist." (Matthew 17:10–13).

Judgement at final day

"For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven (perhaps climate change – see also Deuteronomy 32:22, Revelation 16:9) And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," Says the Lord of hosts (4:1)

Key Verses (4:4–6)

4 "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,
Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
With the statutes and judgments.

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

6 And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."

Key characters:

Jehovah (Yahweh)

The Jews

References:

Meditations on Malachi (FA Blair)

 

[1] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein's Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros , USA , pp 738

 

New Testament

Go to Old Testament

Matthew - (incomplete)

Matthew - (incomplete)

 

Mark's Gospel

Mark' Gospel

Title: The Gospel According to Mark, or simply Mark’s Gospel

Place in bible: Second book of the New Testament, 42nd book of the Bible, second of four gospel books of the Bible.

Author: The evangelist John Mark (who was not an apostle like Matthew or John) - see Acts 12:12. Some have disputed this; nonetheless the book takes the name of the author.

Date: Written in about 65 A.D., and covers the period of Jesus Christ from his baptism to his resurrection.

Genre: Gospel – with the active service of Christ in the good news as a servant in focus. The book is a narrative of the life of Jesus Christ as an active and obedient servant (Zechariah 3:8), written notably for Gentiles. Given this, there is no mention of his birth or lineage.  It is supposed the book was written for the Romans.

Main idea:  

Zechariah announced the Branch and Saviour of the world was to be 'The Servant', whose characteristics are expanded upon by Paul in the Epistle to the Philippians 2:7 – being the obedient one, and Son of God. Mark’s Gospel speaks about the prophets who prophesied concerning the coming Messiah, from Malachi 3:1 and as told by Isaiah 40:3. Overall the Gospel of Mark establishes Jesus Christ as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

It speaks deliberately to both Jews and Gentiles. The narrative tells us what Jesus did rather than what Jesus said, unlike John’s gospel – it is important to remember who Jesus is speaking to or about when reading this gospel. The symbolism is important. For example, the sea which represents the Gentile nations is mentioned in 15 versus. Jesus goes to the borders of Tyre and Sidon – two places that had been prophesied about and that were gentile - and heals a Greek, Syrophenician woman commenting particularly about her faith. In particular the woman, an enemy of Israel, knows her place before the Messiah, and finds his grace.

Being servant focused, the gospel is about the other person: for whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:35).  Christ is announced as the Son of God (1:1) and it ends with a gentiles recognising this fact; “Truly this man was the Son of God” (15:39). The only others to recognise him as the Son of God were the demons, who Jesus demanded to remain silent to this fact (3:12).  It is only in Mark we hear Jesus refer to his father as “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36), yet Mark does not recount the use of the term “father” any other time – unlike John’s more than 100 references to God the Father.

On the other hand Mark presents Our Lord as the Son of Man (14 verses), a title Jesus uses of himself (Mark 2:10, 2:28, 8:38, 9:31, 10:33, 10:45, 13:26, 13:34, 14:21, 14:41, 14:62).  Indeed the narrative of Jesus’s betrayal and crucifixion uses the term Son of Man three times in chapter 14, which is alluded to in the Old Testament – Daniel 7:13-14.

Application to Christians:

This Gospel has direct application to all people both Jew and Gentile; thus applicable to all peoples. This gospel is short and concise, an ideal book to study the life and works of Jesus Christ. Mark presents the Messiah in three ways – the king, the servant and as one hidden from the unbeliever. The mystery of the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11) is revealed to some, commencing his work “preaching the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14), revealing the gospel in term of the Messianic Kingdom (Mark 10:15, 11:19 etc).

Divisions

Arno Gaebelein divides the book into four[1]:

Part I. The Servant; who He is and how He came. Chapter 1:1-13.

Part II. The Servant's work; not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Chapter 1.14-10:52.

Part III. The Servant in Jerusalem. Presented as King and rejected. Chapter 11-13.

Part IV. Giving His Life a ransom for many. Chapter 14-15:47.

Part V. The Servant Highly exalted. Risen and Ascended; His commission to His servants and working with them. Chapter 16.

Key verse: Chapter 10:45

But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45

Words of importance:

“And”

The gospel is short and is developed by short and concise description of events. Four hundred and sixty (460) times in the KJV does the sentence commence with “and” even for Greek is a very high count, but shows the continuous nature of the narrative in the Gospel of Mark.

“Immediately”

Used (36 times), straight away (KJV). The Book concentrates on the action of Jesus, rather than what he did, as in John’s gospel

“Kingdom”

In 16 verses is the kingdom mentioned, being the Messianic Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14, 15, 10:15 etc.) Indeed in this gospel Jesus begins his ministry by preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God; where Christ testifies that the time has been fulfilled; there was no need for any further prophecy on the subject – God was going to set up His kingdom, and therefore the Jews should repent (Mark 1:15, 6:12) and receive the good news,

“Gospel”

In 8 verses is the gospel mentioned; as something Jesus preached (Mark 1:14), something all should heed, and thus should repent (Mark 1:15), something for all nations (Mark 13:10, 14:9, 16:15)

Key events/themes:

The gospel is sown by the Lord, and the seed springs up and grows in the believer, without any action by the sower; showing how the gospel will spread across the world without the king being present. On harvest the sower (Jesus Christ, the Messiah) returns. Only Mark tells the parable of the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29)

Key prophecies:

The Book is not prophetic in the sense of the Old Testament, but rather a testimony of the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament. Indeed Jesus goes further, and rebukes the leaders of Israel because they looked for a sign of the coming Messiah – Mark 8:12.

Key characters:

Mark is very particular about naming people, including the following

The Lord Jesus Christ: Christ, Son of God, Son of Man, Teacher or Rabbi, Prophet, Lord or Master, Sone of David, King of the Jews or Israel.

Five of the great prophets of the Old Testament; Moses, Abiathar, David, Elijah & Isaiah.

People of prominence at the time including John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, Herod Philip – Tetrarch, Herodias, Pilate, Barabbas.

Jesus Family; Mary, James, Joses, Judas, Simon, sisters of Jesus, Mary mother of James the Less

The twelve apostles: Simon Peter (Peter), James (the sone of Zebedee), John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas Iscariot

Other disciples: Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, a blind, Jairus, a synagogue ruler, Joseph of Arimathea, Levi, son of Alphaeus, a tax collector, Mary Magdalene, Salome, woman at the tomb, Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, Simon the Leper.

A number of anonymous individuals, Jewish groups such as Pharisees, Sadducees etc are mentioned.

Key Places: 

Judea and Environs:

Jordan River (1:5, 9)

Idumea – or “beyond Jordan (3:8; 10:1),

Judea, as a region (3:8; 10:1; 13:4)

Jericho (10:46)

Galilee:

Bethsaida (6:45; 8:22)

Caesarea Philippi (8:27)

Capernaum (1:21; 2:1; 9:33)

Galilee, as a region (1:14, 39; 9:30; 14:28; 16:7; etc.)

Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown (1:9, 24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6), and its synagogue (6:1-6)

Sea of Galilee and its shores (1:16; 2:13; 3:7; 4:1, 35; etc.)

Outside of Israel:

Decapolis a district with 10 cities (5:20; 7:31)

Gadarene region (5:1)

Tyre & Sidon (3:8; 7:24, 31)

The other side” of the Sea of Galilee (4:35; 5:1, 21; 6:45; 8:13)

Near and In Jerusalem:

Bethphage (11:1), and a nearby village (11:2)

Bethany (11:1-12; 14:3), the house of Simon the Leper (11:3)

Gethsemane (14:32)

Golgotha of Place of the Skull (15:22)

Jerusalem (3:8; 7:1; 10:32; chapters 11 - 16), including:

the temple (11:11, 15, 27; 12:35)

the treasury (12:41)

the "upper room" (14:13-15)

the High Priest's house (14:53)

the praetorium or Roman Governor's residence (15:1-20)

Mount of Olives (11:1; 13:3; 14:26)

The Tomb, where Jesus was buried (15:46-47; 16:1-8)

[1] Gaebelein A.C. (1970 revised 1985) Gaebelein’s Concise Commentary of the Whole Bible, Loizeaux Bros, USA, pp 15

 

John's Gospel

John's Gospel

Title: 'The Gospel According to John', or more usually John's Gospel

Place in bible: New Testament, 43rd book of the Bible, 4th book of the New Testament, and fourth gospel.

Author: The Apostle John, an eye witness of the life of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1, 2), the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of James the greater, a disciple of Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah.

Date: Dating this book is not altogether clear. Various attempts have been made, often to bolster human preconceived ideas. Most likely the book was written prior to The Revelation (also written by the Apostle John) perhaps around the year 90 AD.

Genre: Gospel of unique character, in that it is not a synoptic gospel, that is, is not an historic record of Jesus's life, but rather, it extracts concise excerpts from the life of Jesus Christ, in order to show that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (20:31).

Main idea:  

The main idea conveyed is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and over all the book concerns salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

It is hard to divide the book into sections, although there are three clear sections, with the second being some 15 chapters, or most of the book.

Division I: 1:1 – 2:22 The Son of God, the Eternal Word, is Glory is made manifest

Division II: 2:23 – 17 Jesus Christ, the Son of God; eternal life

Division III: 18 – 21 Jesus Christ lays down his life for the sheep, that he may take it up again

Key events/themes:

Chapter 1

Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, the Light of the World, come to save His own, but was rejected; indeed, come to save the world, not condemn it. He made it possible to become a child of God.

Chapter 2

The first sign is performed demonstrating although he was born of a woman he was the Son of God. He afterward threw the thieves and robbers out from the temple.

Chapter 3

The essence of salvation is in new birth, and the old has to be done away with; the corrupt is to be replaced by the incorruptible, not by the hands of man, but by the resurrection of the Son of Man. If you believe in Christ you will be saved. Christ came to save, He will return sometime soon to condemn.

Chapter 4

Christ also revealed he was far greater than the Jew's forefathers – for Christ came to provide an everlasting spring of living water, which if drunk will render a person thirstless. Eventually both Jew and Gentile will worship the Lord, not in a temple made of earthly hands but in the Spirit and truth.

Chapter 5

The wickedness of the Jews is exposed, for although outwardly pure, their hearts were corrupt. Jesus also presents abundant evidence – a fourfold testimony – when three would have sufficed – that he was the Son of God. Jesus came to do His fathers will.

The chapter shows that a person believing the words of Jesus will pass from death into life.

Chapter 6

Only by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus will you have life. That is, only by believing the words of Jesus and obeying his precepts will you know Jesus. Only through the Holy Spirit will you be sustained.

Chapter 7

The words of Jesus are of the Father. Becareful about unspiritual advisers - if one thirsts, go to Jesus, for nothing else will satisfy. The wicked attempt to persecute Christ.

Chapter 8

The wages of sin is death – and everyone deserves death, for all have sinned. Jesus states "I am the light of the world" and darkness is in every one's heart, until he or she has been reborn. Christ is able to free us from slavery of sin, and bring us into the light. Chapter 8 also tells us emphatically that before Abraham was, I AM meaning that Jesus was indeed God.

Chapter 9

A theme in the gospel is light and darkness, epitomised by blindness and sightedness demonstrated in the miracle of the restored site of a blind man. The newly sighted blind man is contrasted with the blind Pharisees, who could not see they required salvation, and hence were metaphorically as blind as this man was when he was born.

Chapter 10

The chapter introduces us to Christ the Good Shepherd and to the concept that there is one way to heaven. There is no use trying any other route except through the Father, for all others will fail. This Shepherd loves his flock so much that he is willing to lay down his life for them.

Chapter 11

Introduces us to two themes: 1) Christ was truly man with all human emotions – he had friends who he grieved when they suffered, and thus shows the true perspective of the ravages of sin, and, 2) Christ was truly the resurrection and life.

Chapter 12

Jesus triumphantly rides into Jerusalem: all in all Christ came to glorify His Father – this should be our chief end: to bring glory to the Father.

Chapter 13

A new command is given, demonstrated amply by Jesus who washes the feet of his disciples – the master is the servant of all.

Chapter 14

The discourse of Jesus continues with a new theme, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). This chapter details again the fact that we have the Holy Spirit as our Counsellor, our Helper, and our Friend.

Chapter 15

Believers are grafted onto a new vine. The mystery of the Church is not yet revealed, but this is the core essence of this chapter. Abide in Christ and he will abide in you. This is contrasted with the hatred of the world, firstly for God, then for believers.

Chapter 16

Jesus came forth from the Father to overcome the world which he did, through overcoming death. Jesus also gives hope to all – he is gone for a little while but he will be back soon – in the between time the Holy Spirit will be a witness to believers. He encourages his disciples.

Chapter 17

The prayer of Christ the Advocate (1 John 2:1) to his Father on the eve of his crucifixion. Surely Christ glorified God, and the Father will glorify the Son. The mystery of the church is unveiled a little– the unity that epitomises the bride waiting for her bridegroom and the fact there is no Jew or Gentile, servant or free in the Church – we are all one in Christ.

Chapter 18

Scripture is fulfilled to the letter – Christ was falsely accused, arrested and handed over to be crucified. He was truly a bond-servant, for there was no legion of angels called to save Him (Matthew 26:53).

Chapter 19

Christ became sin for our sake; He came to his own, but his own knew him not. Mankind crucified the king. Christ finished the work that His father had sent him to do – to bear the sins of many (Hebrews 9:28).

Chapter 20

Christ arose; death could not hold him down and he appears first to his disciples then to many others. The purpose of the book is revealed (30, 31).

Chapter 21

Not only did Christ arise as a man, truly the Son of Man, but he ensured that we would know.

A few words of importance:

Abide

Occurs 17 times in 12 versus, always concerning the believer abiding in Christ, e.g. John 15:5

Commandment

Jesus 6 times speaks of either the new commandment or the commandments. The new commandment was to love one another as Christ had love us e.g. John 13:34, 15:12.

Life

The gospel of John is very much about life (light), in contrast to death (darkness). It is mentioned in 39 verses, 47 times, e.g. John 17:3)

Love

Occurs in 20 verses and when spoken of by Christ is agapé, (the love that lays down a life) else phileó (a friend – see John 21 – discourse between Christ and Simon Peter).

Sign(s)

Occurs in 18 verses – as part of the evidence of Christ's divinity he did many signs and wonders (John 4:48), so many, John writes, that they could not be written in the book (John 20:30).

Witness

John demonstrates the divinity of Christ, therefore evokes a number of witnesses, nonetheleast, Christ himself and his Father. Eighteen verses speak of his witnesses e.g. John 1:17 where he comes as the light.

Key prophecies:  

This books is not prophetic in the sense that we see in some Old Testament books, but rather, it is the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Messiah, the Son of God. Throughout the book Jesus prophecies his own death and resurrection in order to add weight to the over whelming evidence he was the Son of God, e.g. John 2:19.

Key verse: Chapter 20:30, 31

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Some Key characters:

John the Baptist

 

Son of Zacharias and Elisabeth (tribe of Aaron), the greatest prophet according to Jesus (Luke 7:28), and forerunner to the Messiah (John 1:19-28. He preached and baptised under the banner of repentance (Matt 3:1, Mark 1:4) and heralded Jesus Christ (John 1:29). Due to the jealousy of Herodias, the wife of the brother of Herold Antipas, whom he had taken for his own, John was beheaded.

Disciples

Men chosen by Jesus, in whom the Holy Spirit would work mightily to testify to the fact the Jesus Christ was the Son of God (John 14:26; John 15:26-27; John 16:13-14).

Nicodemus

A member of the ruling class and secret believer – who comes to Jesus in the night (chapter 3), who clearly was an enquirer of the truth, but timid. However, in John we see his growth so by chapter 7 he is remonstrating with the bigoted crowd. Finally we find him boldly and publically caring for the body of Jesus (19:39), where John notes his spiritual growth. 

Lazarus

A friend of Jesus and brother or Mary and Martha (John 11:1) who dies, and is raised by Jesus four days later (John 11:38-44).

Woman of Samaria

An adulteress, but with an open heart, comes to an understanding and conviction that Christ is the Messiah, unlike the Jews, who ought to have believed; yet this Samarian woman, despised by the Jews, believes. This is a forrunner of the make up of the church (See Romans 9-11).

Man with illness for 38 years

Many of John's characters are not names, but form part of the narrative that provides evidence of the Messiah-ship of Jesus. This man had no way to enter the Pool of Bethesda, because he was crippled with no friends, and thus was not be healed. (this alone speaks to us of our responsibilities towards others less fortunate)Jesus heals him on the Sabbath, being the Lord of the Sabbath, much to the wrath of the Pharisees (chapter 5).

Man born blind

He was blind because Adam had sinned, not because he had been punished due to some particular sin he had committed (John 9:3-5); Jesus heals him on the Sabbath, for which the Pharisees persecute him (chapter 9).

Some Key Places:

Cana

A small town not far from Capernaum which was on the Sea of Galilee. Four times Cana is mentioned, the first time when Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine. Nathanael, a disicple, came from Cana.

Capernaum

The most populous and prosperous town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee mentioned five times in John. Jesus spent a lot of time in Capernaum along with his disciples. (Much of the ruins can be seen today).

Galilee

A province of Palestine, an area in the north eastern region of Israel that was centred on the Sea of Galilee. The area can be divide into Lower Galilee and Upper Galilee – which was also called the Galilee of the Gentiles. Jesus spent much of his ministry in Galilee.

Jerusalem (Zion)

The centre of religious fervour - but without knowledge of Jehovah. As required by law, Jesus went to Jerusalem three times a year, the final time for Passover and his crucifixion. The city is mentioned 14 times in John.

Judea

Compared with Samaria, Judea was a dangerous place for Jesus, and he avoided the area (John 7:1). The area was west of the Jordan and south of Samaria.

Samaria

Samaria a city, sat on a mountain, which became desolate, in accordance to prophecy (2 Kings 21:13, Micah 1:6) due to idol worship. But they slowly moved away from idol worship, built a temple on Mount Gerizim, and learnt the rudiments of Jehovah, enough for the woman at the well to understand who Jesus was. Samaritans were ostracized by Jews, and lay somewhere between Judea (Jews) and Galilee (Gentiles) physically and spiritually. John mentions them seven times.

 

Romans

Romans

Title: The Epistle (Letter) to the Romans

Place in bible: New Testament, 45th book of the Bible, first book by Apostle Paul, written to the Christians in Rome

Author: The Apostle Paul, who considered himself a bond servant of Jesus Christ, and was set apart to the Gospel (1:1), written to Roman believers, from Corinth. The letter was written by a scribe or amanuensis called Tertius (16:22), and delivered to the church by Phoebe (16:1).

Date: AD 57

Genre: Doctrinal and instructional; some say, forms the centrality of the gospel, and is certainly the greatest treatise of the righteousness of God.

Main idea:  God is righteous. The book is the doctrinal foundation of Christianity, outlining the gospel of God, which due to His righteousness provided a propitiation to deal with sin, and hence redemption for those who believe, thus saving sinners from death, without anything on the part of the sinner.

The book can be divided into three divisions and seven parts:

I Doctrine of salvation

1.      Salutation (1:1-17)
2.      Sin (1:18–3:20)
3.      Salvation (3:21–5:21)
4.      Sanctification (6–8)

The sovereignty of God, or proof God can be trusted

5.      Sovereignty (9–11)

Exhortation and conclusion

6.      Service (12:1–15:13)
7.      Conclusion (15:14–16:27)

Key events/themes: The key theme is the righteousness of God.

Only God is righteous (3:10) and His judgements/degrees are righteous (1:32, 2:5).

People who are considered righteous by God, have had that righteousness imputed to them by God, though faith (1:17, 4:4,5, 4:22-26). Righteousness cannot be attained by working/doing for God, but by confessing Christ with your mouth and believing Christ was raised from the dead (10:9,10; 14:11). Righteousness is available to all who believe (10:13).

God demonstrated His righteousness through Jesus Christ's death on the cross (3:25) and His righteousness is manifested in the one who believes in Jesus Christ (3:21,22; 5:17).

God's righteousness will not fail (9:6); although it looks as if Israel is abandoned, He will save Israel (chapters 9-11), because He cannot go back on his promises to Abraham (11:29)  (nor any other) – this provides the proof to the Gentiles, that if we believe Christ rose from the dead, we will be saved – there is nothing else to do, and we can trust God in this, because He will save Israel.

The letter to the Romans outlines the Gospel of Christ: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (1:16) Where the Gospel is a declaration and revelation of salvation by Christ, through faith, not under law.

Words of importance

Believe (20 verses)

The essence of the satisfying God is through faith in Him and believing in your heart the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead (9:10).

"And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (4:22-25)

Christ 68 verses

As Christ, Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Son Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:1)

Faith 35 verses (40 times)

Faith is the essence of the claiming the gospel – Israel failed because they did not use faith but works to approach God. Gentiles (and Jews) are being saved and can be saved if they believe in Christ Jesus. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." (3:28)

Justification 16 verses (17 times)

Justification arises from the Old Testament and quoted in Romans (the just shall live by his faith Habakkuk (2:4). One requires justification if one is to be imputed righteous – the converse is one remains in condemnation. Justification is the declaration that a person is righteous. "But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (4:5)

Law 52 verses (78 times)

There is a great contrast between the law that can only show how sinful sin is (3:20) and therefore cannot save you (3:28) and grace that brings salvation (5:17 etc). "For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law" (2:12).

Grace 20 verses (24 times)

It is not of ourselves that we are saved, but it is God's grace – free gift to us – that we can be saved. By grace we are no-longer subject to sin.

For a Christian "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (6:14)

Peace 10 verses

Romans contrasts sin as causing our enmity with God (eg 5:10) and righteousness that leads to peace with God. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:1).

Righteousness 34 verses (43 times)

The key element of the book of Romans – God is righteous. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets" (3:21)

 Unrighteousness 6 verses

Unrighteousness is the domain of Satan and humans. "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!" (9:14)

Key prophecies:  

Israel will be restored when the time of the gentiles are fulfilled (11:25) and they acknowledge Christ as Saviour (10:9,10; 11:5, 11:24 etc). There will be a time when the gentiles will cease from being saved (11:25) and after that the end time will befall the earth.

Key verse: Romans 3:21-26

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Key characters:

Epaenetus:

The first Christian in Asia (16:5)

Paul:

In this book, Paul outlines his Jewishness (9:1-5) and the weakness of the flesh that befalls us all – we do the things we don't want to do, and not the things we ought (7).

Phoebe:

Delivered the letter (16:1), who was a servant of the Lord, of the church at Cencheeae (Acts 18:18), a deaconess, with the role to minister to the women of the church.

Key Places: 

Israel:  Mentioned in 12 verses, and is the nation of Israel consisting of the small remnant (9:27, 11:5 ) that will confess with their mouths and believe with their heart the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead (10:9,10, 14:11).

 

Galatians

Galatians

Title: Epistle (or letter) to the Galatians, or simply Galatians.

Place in Bible: Ninth book of the New Testament, 48 th book of the Bible.

Author: The Apostle Paul, who considered himself an apostle appointed by Christ Jesus (1:1), and thus by divine authority authored this letter to the churches at Galatia . He had visited Galatia where he had preached the gospel (Acts 16:6), and sometime later re-visited them in order strength them (Acts 18:23).

Date: The date is unsure – it was not written from Rome as some contend, but more likely from Ephesus (Acts 19).

Genre: Epistle or letter of admonishment written to Christians, in order to deal with those who wanted to add the Law of Moses to the Gospel of Christ.

Main idea: The Gospel of Christ requires only belief in the Lord Jesus Christ – no additional knowledge or action is required. The Galatians were denying the grace of God by introducing the rites of Judaism, such as the need for circumcision, (see also Acts 15:1), into their gospel . Since grace it a favour, it cannot be earned by 'doing' anything, least of all performing rites such as circumcision.

Application to Christians: The letter is written to Christians (churches of Galatia ), and is as applicable to day as it was on the day it was written. Too many churches introduce additional actions (e.g. giving up vices in order to be saved such as smoking) rites (e.g. speaking in tongues), notions, ideas (e.g. purgatory) and errant knowledge (e.g. Lordship Salvation) into Christ's gospel making it of non-effect. The 'new gospel', 'kingdom now', and 'lordship salvation' along with any form of legalism and dogma of orthodoxy all render the simple gospel of sola scripture impotent, leading to churches being full of unregenerate people destined to hell. The Catholic Church has always epitomised the error of the Galatian churches, but most modern churches of this country also are incapable of preaching or teaching the gospel, due failure to preach salvation by faith alone, being the grace of Christ. Christ Jesus reminded the Jews of their abject failure to preach the truth thus:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:15

The book emphasises that it is by faith alone one is justified, and the law taught the need for justification by grace, for humans can never be made right through the law. Overall, letter teaches that the law can never justify – we cannot reach God by any effort of our selves.

[K]nowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Galatians 2:16

Divisions

•  Paul defends his apostolic authority (1-2), hence his authority to admonish the wayward Galatians – see 3:1, 3.

•  The defence of the truth of the Gospel, contrasting law with grace (3-4).

•  How a believer should walk, being one who is justified by faith, and therefore is no longer under the Law of Moses, and thus by grace should be walking according to the Holy Spirit.

Key verse: Chapter 1:6-7

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

The Book concerns itself with evil men who have perverted the Gospel with elements that renders it in-operative. Essentially the letter concerns the doctrine of Grace and its practical aspects found in having faith in Christ Jesus – which does not require the law, or any additional knowledge. The efficacy of Christ's crucifixion is not linked in anyway to what humans can do!

Words of importance:

Faith

Found in 19 verses and is the key verb of the letter – faith with works produces a false gospel leading to its ineffectiveness. This is not a new doctrine, but rather, quoting the Old Testament: 'no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."' (Gal. 3:11)

Flesh

Paul highlights the wretched weakness of humans by referring to them as flesh (15 verses) which is incapable of producing 'good' under law; the reason why salvation only comes by faith alone through grace. Flesh is the person, rather than the actual body; and is thus the carnal person or natural person.

Law

The law (25 verses) cannot produce righteousness, but rather it was given to teach why we need to be justified by the blood of Christ. The law cannot justify us, but rather it was our teacher (tutor) to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24).

Live

One third of the book is practical (e.g. 5:1 'stand firm', 5:16 'walk in the spirit')– we need to learn that all dogmas are false leading to hell, but also the doctrine of Christ needs to be applied. In this Paul uses the word 'live' (six verses) – to live by faith (2:20, 3:11), live to God (2:19) and to live in the [Holy] Spirit.

Promise(s)

The Jews were very concerned about the promises of God, which they tied to keeping of the Law. Paul shows that the promises (10 verses) of God looked beyond the Law to the Messiah (3:16, 3:19, 3:22), the perfect keeper of the Law (Hebrews 7:28).

Note also the contrasts used: "crucified" applies to Christ who was crucified (3:1) contrasted with "I" who must crucify the flesh.

Key events/themes:

The letter concerns the doctrine of Christ, rather than entering into narrative of events.

Key prophecies:

None

Key characters:

The book is about the doctrine of the Gospel of Christ, rather than a letter about people.

God Mentioned in 30 verses, the giver of the promises.

Christ The promised seed (36 verses) in whom the efficacy of the gospel rests (Romans 1:16). Christ is our redeemer (3:13), the one in whom we believe (3:22, 3:27) and who is our justifier (2:16, 17) and in whom we live (2:20).

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Key Places:

Not relevant

Ephesians

Ephesians

Title: The Epistle (letter) to the church at Ephesus (verse 1), also known as "Pros Ephesious".

Place in bible: New Testament, 49th book, the 5th Pauline epistle, written to Christians in general and those of the Church of Ephesus[1] in particular.

Author: Paul, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, who also wrote at the same time to Philemon and church at Colossi: the letter was taken to Ephesus by Tychicus (See 6:21, Acts 20:4).

Date: Between 61 and 62 A.D, written from Rome evidenced by the fact he was a prisoner (3:1, 4:1, 6:20).

Genre: Epistle or letter to a group of people, a letter of encouragement to Christians.

Main idea: The redemption of sinners by the work of Christ alone and the revelation of the body of Christ called the church (which was a mystery) with the elevation of Christ to the highest possible position. Followed by an exhortation of how one should conduct his or her life as a Christian (believer).

The book essentially speaks of the believer's wealth given us, as an inheritance (1:11) and our responsibility to live according to this wealth.

Divisions:

The book can be seen as two contrasting halves

Chapters 1 – 3
Chapter 4 – 6
Our relationship with God   
Our responsibility towards God
Our Position
Our Practice
Our Privileges
Our Responsibility
Correct Belief
Correct Practice
Knowledge
Wisdom
Instruction
Imperative

The book can be divided into two divisions

I. The grand work of God – the redemption of sinners

  1. The work of the Godhead
  2. God's grand work and its purpose (2:1–10)
  3. The Mystery of the Church now made Known (2:11–3:21)

II. How a believer should conduct his or her life in a practical manner (walking worthy)

  1. Walking worthy of the calling (4:1–6)
  2. The purpose of ministry (4:7–16)
  3. Walking in holiness and righteousness (4:17–5:21)
  4. Exhortations to servants and masters (6:5–9)
  5. Conclusion (6:21–24)>

Key events: Being a letter it outlines some key events rather than narrates them:

  • Christ died for all sinners (gospel of salvation), reconciling Jews and Gentiles to himself, and dealing with the gulf or wall of separation between God and us (2:11–14 etc).
  • Redemptive work of Christ eg 1:7
  • Sealing with the Holy Spirit 1:13
  • Mystery made known – Gentiles would be fellow heirs with Jews 3:2–7
  • The Church made known – 1:22 etc
  • Establishment of the Church – 5:23b, 5:24, 5:27 etc.
  • Prayer 1:16 & 6:18

Key prophecies: Does not provide future prophecies but speaks of the fulfilment of the prophecies of the OT where the mystery of the Church is revealed.

Key verse: Chapter 2:10

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Why? In Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (1:7)

How? But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 2:4–8

Note that "grace" is used seven times in this book

Key characters:

The preeminence of Christ is shown by the remarkable number of times His title "Christ" is used:

Christ is mentioned 42 times, 7 times as Lord Jesus Christ, 12 as Jesus Christ of which 7 is Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus once, Lord Jesus once.

Paul the author

Tychicus (6:21) who carried the letter from Paul to Ephesus

Key Places: Ephesus

Eastons' Revised Bible Dictionary States:

Ephesus is was the capital of proconsular Asia, which was the western part of Asia Minor. It was colonized principally from Athens. In the time of the Romans it bore the title of "the first and greatest metropolis of Asia." It was distinguished for the Temple of Diana, who there had her chief shrine; and for its theatre, which was the largest in the world, capable of containing 50,000 spectators.

Many Jews took up their residence in this city, and here the seeds of the gospel were sown immediately after Pentecost

At the close of his second missionary journey (about A.D. 51) when Paul was returning from Greece to Syria Act 18:18–21 he first visited this city. He remained, however, for only a short time, as he was hastening to keep the feast, probably of Pentecost, at Jerusalem; but he left Aquila and Priscilla behind him to carry on the work of spreading the gospel. During his third missionary journey Paul reached Ephesus from the "upper coasts" Acts 19:1 i.e., from the inland parts of Asia Minor, and tarried here for about three years; and so successful and abundant were his labours that "all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" Acts 19:10.

Probably during this period the seven churches of the Apocalypse were founded, not by Paul's personal labours, but by missionaries whom he may have sent out from Ephesus, and by the influence of converts returning to their homes. On his return from his journey, Paul touched at Miletus, some 30 miles south of Ephesus Act 20:15 and sending for the presbyters of Ephesus to meet him there, he delivered to them that touching farewell charge which is recorded in Act 20:18–35.

A part of the site of this once famous city is now occupied by a small Turkish village, Ayasaluk, which is regarded as a corruption of the two Greek words, hagios theologos; i.e., "the holy divine."

[1] Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary: Ephesus: The capital of proconsular Asia, which was the westernpart of Asia Minor. " – see last paragraph.

[2] 6:21 Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you;

[3] Acts 20:4 Paul .he came to Greece and stayed three months ., he decided to return through Macedonia. accompanied [by] Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia.

[4] 3:1 "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles"

[5] 5:1 "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you"

[6] 6:20 "I am an ambassador in chains"

[7] 2:11–13 11Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh–who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands–12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

[8] 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

[9] 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

[10] 3:2–7 revelation He made known to me the mystery. revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

[11] 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

[12] 5:23b Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

[13] 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ,

[14] 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

[15] 1:16 I..[Paul] Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

[16] 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

Philippians

Phillippians

Title: The Epistle (letter) to the church at Philippi [1], also known as "Pros Philippesious".

Place in bible: New Testament, 50 th book, the 6 th Pauline epistle, written to Christians in general and those of the Church of Philippi (which was a Roman Colony (Acts 16:12) in particular (A church planted by Paul, with Silas and Timothy).

Author: Paul with Timothy (verse 1), however, since it is written in the first person singular eg: "I implore Euodia" or "I implore Syntyche" (4:2); it is clearly Paul speaking. The letter is not apostolic in nature, in that Paul is not presented as an Apostle unlike some other letters eg: 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians or Timothy, but as a servant of Christ along with Timothy (1:1).

Date: Some date the letter at 61–63 A.D, written from Rome when he was a prisoner (testified by the early church fathers: Polycarp, Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria) and Acts 28:30,31.

Genre: Epistle or letter to a group of people

Main idea: The main idea of the book is the experience of one who walks in the power of the Spirit of God. In doing so it assumes the reader knows what salvation is (that is the reader is saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ), and indeed, has experienced some of this walk: pressing forward, being the principal idea. It is interesting to note that the word sin or sins cannot be found in this book &endash; the Christian is viewed in his state of salvation, and it does not enter into salvation as an act of grace, since a true believer knows that his sins are put away for ever &endash; blotted out before God. It also does not speak of justification, peace with God, or indeed the assurance of salvation &endash; this is assumed knowledge &endash; hence the need to read Ephesians and Colossians first before this letter. It does however speak of joy: t he words "joy" and "rejoicing" are used eighteen times in the epistle. Hence the Epistle sets out the real experience of a Christian, along with his or her resources notably the Spirit of God (3:3), or as Paul puts in 1:1 the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Πνεύματος ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ.).

Divisions:

The book is divided into four chapters which fits the content (Per Arno Gaebelein).

Chapter 1.       Christ, the controlling principle of the believer's life

Chapter 2.       Christ, the believer's pattern or model

Chapter 3.       Christ, the object and the goal

Chapter 4.       Christ the believer's strength, sufficient for all circumstances.

Key events/themes: This is a letter of exhortation not one of narrative or events &endash; however it does some indicate key events in the life of a Christian:

Prayer and remembrance of brothers and sisters in Christ eg 1:2, 1:4, 1:9, 1:19 and 4:6 &endash; prayer for others, the church and for himself (who is in prison).

Press forward of strive for Christ eg 3:14, 3:17

Rejoice or be joyful &endash; the attitude of a Christian living in Christ eg 1:25, 2:18, 3:1 (commend), 4:4 (command).

Beware of those that use religion to gain access to the hearts of believers and tear them apart live dogs (3:2).

The giving and receiving of gifts by Paul while in ministry eg 4:16.

Christ, who left is place in heaven, to come to this world as a bondservant, who died for our sins on the cross, and who God exalted above all and eventually every living thing will need to acknowledge this eg 2:5–11.

Key prophecies:

Does not provide future prophecies but articulates people who live within the fulfilled prophecies of the mystery of the OT &endash; the Church.

Key verse:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8–11 NKJV

Paul counts those things of the world as rubbish (3:8), and encourages the believers of Philippi to also see and seek Christ; from whence Paul obtains his joy. That is Paul's communion with God is what gives him joy &endash; not the things of this world. This letter speaks of the Christian in his or her journey through life, a true Christian experience, as they press on toward Christ Jesus in glory. It articulates the life of a Christian as epitomised by the actions of the Christians in Philippi and of Paul. The Christians had saved and given aid to Paul for his temporal needs (eg 4:16, 17), and Paul ministers to their spiritual needs encouraging them in their walk with the Lord:

Key character: The Lord Jesus Christ which sets the tone of the letter &endash; one needs to know Christ to fully understand what Paul writes. Jesus Christ is mentioned 10 times, Christ Jesus 10, Jesus 2, Christ 17, God 23 times in 22 verses, Lord 15 times, God our/the Father 3

Key Places: Philippi

 

[1] Easton 's Revised Bible Dictionary: Philippi Formerly Crenides, "the fountain," the capital of the province of Macedonia . It stood near the head of the Sea, about 8 miles north–west of Kavalla . It is now a ruined village, called Philibedjik. Philip of Macedonia fortified the old Thracian town of Crenides, and calledit after his own name Philippi (B.C. 359) In the time of the Emperor Augustus this city became a Roman colony, i.e., a military settlement of Roman soldiers, there planted for the purpose of controlling the district recently conquered. It was a "miniature Rome ," under the municipal law of Rome, and governed by military officers, called duumviri, who were appointed directly from Rome . Having been providentially guided thither, here Paul and his companion Silas preached the gospel and formed the first church in Europe .

 

Colossians

Colossians

Title: The Epistle (letter) to the church at Colossae, also known as "Pros Colossaeis", and in English the Epistle to the Colossians.

Place in bible: New Testament, 51st book, the 7th Pauline epistle, written to Christians in general and those of the Church of Colossae (1:2) and Laodicea (4:16) in particular.

Author: Paul, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ (See 1:1, 4:18), with Timothy (1:1), who also wrote at the same time to Philemon and the church at Ephesus: this letter was taken to Colossae by Tychicus (4:7).

Date: The letter was written during Paul's imprisonment in Rome in 61 or 62 AD after being visited by Epaphras (1:7) who brought good and bad tidings of the church.

Genre: Epistle or letter to a group of people, a letter of 1) doctrine of the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ, and, 2) encouragement to Christians.

Main idea:

This letter to the Colossians is a counterpart to the Letter to the Ephesians. Ephesians has a focus on the body of Christ, the Church. The letter sets out clearly and unambiguously that:

  1. Christ is God as he claimed to be – e.g. John 14:6, John 10:33-38 etc, and,
  2. Christ is true Divinity (2:9) because "in him dwells the fulness of the Godhead". This is more than what Romans 1 verse 20 has to say, where Paul indicates Christ revealed the divine nature of the Godhead to all of creation. In Colossians, it is the essence and nature of the Godhead revealed in Christ, not merely the attributes (perfections) of the divinity revealed.

Colossians has a focus on the head of the Church, Christ. In essence the letter covers four points.

  1. The supremacy and majesty of Christ (1:13 etc.)
  2. The absurdity of the false teaching that attempted to add various notions to the perfect Godhead, in particular mysticism, asceticism[8] and Judaism, which is also known as Gnosticism, where an 'additional mystical knowledge' is combined with the gospel.
  3. Encouragement to the Church at Colossae (or Colosse) and Laodicea
  4. The return of Onesimus (4:9), of whom the letter to Philemon is written (Philemon 1:10) – some suggest Philemon was a Colossian.

Divisions

1. The person of Christ, his glory and work

a. Salutation 1:1-2
b. Thanks giving and Prayer 1:3-12
c. The Supremacy of Christ Jesus, the head of creation 1:13-18
d. The work of reconciliation and ministry: reconciliation of all things, and reconciliation of believers (1:19 – 29)

2. The Mystery of the Father and of Christ, warnings

a. The mystery of God (2:1-8)
b. Completeness in Christ (2:9-15)
c. Warnings and exhortations (2:16-23)

3. Being Christ like: living as risen with Christ

a. Life hidden with Christ in God (3:1-4)
b. The old man and the new man (3:5-11)
c. Showing forth Christ in conduct (3:12-17)
d. Conducting relationships properly (3:18-4:1)

4. Final greetings

a. Prayer and ministry (4:2-4)
b. Walk in wisdom (4:5-6)
c. The fellowship of the saints in their service (4:7-17)
d. Salutation (4:18)

Key events/themes:

The key theme is the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ: "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead (θεοτητος) bodily" (2:9). In relation to the believer, it examines a Christian risen with Christ; who has his or her hope laid up in heaven, with affections on things above not on things of this earth. And there lay a grave danger that the things of this earth, namely false doctrine, earthy philosophy and deceit, were about to shipwreck (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:19) the faith of the Colossians and Laodicians. The things of this word died when a Christian accepted Christ.

Words of importance:

The book is full of imperatives: "Beware" (2:8), "Let", "Continue", "Walk"

Christ: Since the book portraits the supremacy of Christ, His name is mentioned in 24 out of 95 verses; as the Lord Jesus Christ in three verses, Jesus Christ in 6 verses and the Lord Jesus in one verse, never as "Jesus".

Heaven (or "above") compared with earth: earth has no future, for it is wicked (3:5); heaven is the place a believers mind needs to be (3:2).

Let: no one judge you; no one cheat you; the peace of God rule; let your speech always be with peace.

Key prophecies:  

None except the Book is heaven looking. Eg 3:24 assumes the coming of Christ, for it indicates our reward may not be evident on this earth, indeed will be absent, but will be compensated by the reward in heaven.

Key verse: 2:6-10 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

The crux to Gnosticism is to know that we are complete in Christ because Christ is all in all. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ; there is no need for any other, whether spiritual or mystical. "This we have received, being taught for there is no other gospel." Note the verse gives the Son his full title – Christ Jesus the Lord. We are, to the exclusion of all others, walk in Him. There is no need for any other – our roots are in him, he nourishes us, he builds us up, and he has confirmed our faith. In all this we are to walk with thankfulness. The gospel is the good news – there is no need for any other, else it would not be good at all; and in any case we will be amply rewarded in heaven (3:24).

Key characters:

Christ Jesus the Lord: mentioned in 24 out of the 95 verses. The letter shows that Christ is superior in all ways (see also Hebrews for a similar theme). It gives the fullest understanding of the perfection, beauty and place of Christ in the Godhead and his work.

Archippus

A member of Philemon's family, perhaps a son (4:17).

Aristarchus

Referred by Paul as "my fellow prisoner" (4:10), is a native of Thessalonica, and companion of Paul, a missionary of Christ.

Demas

Probably the contracted form of Demachus or Demetrius (Fausset), a fellow missionary with Paul, Mark and Luke (4:14). He left Paul, returning to Thessalonica, rather than staying and helping Paul on his missionary journeys (2 Timothy 4:8).

Epaphras:

A servant of Christ (missionary) who works with Paul, and indeed, is imprisoned with Paul (Philemon 1:23), whose father was Greek, and mother, Eunice, was Jewish and grand-mother, Lois, both Christian and who taught him the scriptures. (1:7, 4:12)

Onesimus

A "useful" (after his name) slave who, after robbing his master Philemon at Colossae, fled to  Rome, where he was converted by the apostle Paul, who sent him back to his Philemon (see this epistle for the details) (4:9).

Nymphas

How had a house church in his home (4:15), a disciple of Christ living in Laodicea. Some suggest this person is a woman.

Paul

An apostle of Jesus Christ, a missionary to the Gentiles, a Jew, taught by the Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a Pharisee, who was converted by Christ, by an encounter with the Lord. A full account of his genealogy is given by Paul in Romans 11:1, Philippians 3:9 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.

Timothy

A young Christian church leader and close friend of Paul's who was given the task of dealing with the troubled church at Ephesus (1:1).

Tychicus

A true friend and companion of Paul, who went with him on his missionary journey from Macedonia to Jerusalem (4:7). He was in Rome with Paul and was sent to Ephesus (2 Timothy 4:12).

Key Places:

Colossae:

Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary: Colossae, a city of Phrygia, on the Lycus, which is a tributary of the Maeander. It was about 19 kilometres above Laodicea, and near the great road that ran from Ephesus to the Euphrates, and was consequently of some mercantile importance.

Laodicea:

Easton's Revised Bible Dictionary: The city that lay on the confines of Phrygia and Lydia, about 40 miles east of Ephesus (Rev 3:14), on the banks of the Lycus. It was originally called Diospolis and then Rhoas, but afterwards Laodicea, from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus II., king of Syria, who rebuilt it. It was one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. At a very early period it became one of the chief seats of Christianity but is now a deserted place, called by the Turks Eski-hissar or "old castle."

[1] 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse.

[2] 4:16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

[3] 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God

4:18 This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen

[4] 4:7 Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me.

[5] John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

[6] John 10:33-38 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I SAID, "YOU ARE GODS" '? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

[7] Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead

[8] The practice of selfdenial where the person seek righteousness through works of denying self or training. It is a self-centred method of spirituality that replaces God with self-achievement and self-worth (2:16).

[9] 3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

 

First Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians

The First Letter (Epistle) to the Thessalonians

Title: 1 Thessalonians

Place in bible: New Testament, 52nd book of the Bible, written to the church at Thessalonica from Corinth (not Athens as some Bibles add, erroneously), and most likely the first Epistle from the Apostle Paul.

Author: The Apostle Paul along with two helpers, Silvanus, and content (1 Thes. 1:1).

Date: Approximately 50 or 51

Genre: A letter to a church to encourage, instruct and exhort believers in the face of persecution and false information.

Main idea: The main idea is encouragement.
Encouragement because Paul and others have the Thessalonian Christians in their prayers, because they have been a witness to many (1:8); encouraged to walk in a manner worthy of God (2:12), to be imitators of God; encouragement in persecution (2:14-16); encouraged by Paul’s longing to see them; encouraged because of the good report from content of them (3); encouragement to abstain from immorality, but to be holy, (4:1-12); encouraged because Christ will return for his Church and take believers to be with Him (4:13-18) – they would not pass through the Tribulation; encouraged in the knowledge of the Day of the Lord – as Christians they live in light not in darkness whom Christ in the Day of the Lord will overcome (5) and finally encouraged in the practical day to day living as children of God.

Key divisions – by chapter

  1. Salutation and thanksgiving for the faith of the church of at Thessalonica
  2. The ministry of Paul and the response of the Christians in Thessalonica
  3. Encouragement and comfort in time of affliction
  4. Pleasing God, walking separately, the rapture (taking away) of the church to be with Christ
  5. The Day of the Lord, and encouragement to walk pleasing to God

Key events/themes: these typically follow the chapters

  1. Encouragement
  2. Rapture
  3. Day of the Lord

Key prophecies:

  1. The physical return of Christ: 1:9-10, 2:19-20, 3:13, 4:13-18, 5:1-11.
  2. The taking away (or catching up) of believers from this earth (rapture) prior to the coming wrath of God falling on this world (4:14-18, see also John 14:1-3). This overlays what Paul tells the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15) – the resurrection of the saints involves changing of our corruptible body to a new body, incorruptible. It is important to note that church saints are saved by grace – there is no further judgement, hence they escape the Tribulation. The seven stages of the rapture are (4:16 – 17):

    1. The Lord will descend from the Heaven of heavens
    2. There is a shout – like one from a military commander
    3. And with the voice of the archangel
    4. With the trump of God – as used to summon soldiers to battle.
    5. The dead in Christ shall rise first – Christians that have died (not Old Testament Saints, who rise prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom)
    6. Believers who are a live rise next
    7. Church believers meet the Lord in the air, and will be forever with the Lord
  3. The Day of the Lord, when Christ comes to judge Israel and the Nations for rejecting the Son of God (5:1-11).

    1. Comes or creeps upon the world unseen (like a thief in the night) (5:2)
    2. Arises when the world believes they are at peace (5:3)
    3. War and environmental catastrophe will occur suddenly; there will be no way to escape (5:3)
    4. It is a time of darkness – no spiritual discernment will occur (5:4-5)
    5. The world will be asleep to the way of the Lord (5:6-7) – there will be bi faith or love or hope of salvation (5:8)
    6. The day is for wrath (5:9), but not for the church saints – who have been taken to heaven.

Key verse:  1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Words of importance:

Lord, God, Father

40 times in 30 verses, noting God is also referred to by pronoun as well

Jesus, Christ, son

32 times in 18 verses: Jesus Christ 9 times, Christ Jesus 2 times, Lord Jesus 12 times, 8 as Lord Jesus Christ

sleep

7 times in 6 verses: meaning those that have died (1 Thess 4:13, 4:14, 4:15), those that slumber and do not recognise the signs of the times (1 Thess. 5:7, 5:10)

night vs day, dark vs light, awake vs asleep

Night vs day (1 Thess. 2:9, 3:10, 5:2, 5:5), light vs darkness (1 Thess. 5:5), sleep vs awake (1 Thess. 5:6, 5:10).

To indicate the difference between believers, saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and those that are lost – heathen – and separated from God.

Key characters:

Not applicable

Key Places:

The Church at Thessalonica: a town of Macedonia on the Thermaic Gulf (Gulf of Salonika), originally called Therma. It was made a capital of a Macedonian area by the Romans and eventually became the principal city of the area. It was a port connected commercially with Asia Minor. Thessaloniki is apparently the second largest city in Greece currently.

Second Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

The Second Letter (Epistle) to the Thessalonians

Title: 2 Thessalonians

Place in bible: New Testament, 53rd book of the Bible, written to the church at Thessalonica.

Author: The Apostle Paul along with two helpers, Silvanus, and Timothy (2 Thes. 1:1).

Date: Approximately A.D. 51

Genre: A letter to a church to encourage, instruct and exhort believers in the face of persecution and false information.

Main idea: Encouragement with truth – the Thessalonians were being persecuted, in part through acting upon wrong teaching, leading them to believe the second coming of Christ was upon them or had past. Some believed this lie and forsook all work and business assuming they would be taken by Christ very soon – relying upon charity.  That Christ had not returned had to be appreciated – one waits for his coming – not in idleness, but standing firm (2 Thess 2:15), getting on with life - avoiding idleness (2 Thess 3) which leads to disorderly conduct (2:37, 11), and working for a living (2 Thess 3:7-12), in particular working for ones own food (3:12).

Divisions:

  1. Salutation, faith, the righteous justice of God
  2. The coming of the Antichrist – evidence that the rapture has not occurred
  3. Thanksgiving, prayer, encouragement and benediction.

Key events/themes: these typically follow the chapters

Key prophecies: The coming of the Man of Lawlessness – the Antichrist who will deceive the world (2 Thess. 2:1 – 12) offering a false peace: he will be a great orator, able to deceive with miracles, mimicking the Messiah resulting in a short lived uniting of nations politically, economically, and religiously under his leadership.

This prophecy occurs in view of the argument by Paul that the Day of the Lord cannot have occurred, because Christians would be in heaven due to the rapture and the Antichrist would have been revealed.

Key verse:  1

Words of importance:

God

19 times in 14 verses

Father

5 times in 4 verses

Christ

13 times in 12 verses, usually as the Lord Jesus Christ in 10 verses

Key characters:

The Antichrist

First spoken of by Daniel (7:8, 7:25, 8:23-25, 9:27 and 11:36-39), has supernational origins (Genesis 3:15), being, as Arnold Fruchtenbaum states, the counterfeit son and will imitate the true Son of God, including his death and resurrection[1].

In the case of 2 Thessalonian, Paul points out that the Antichrist will be revealed before the Tribulation but after the rapture. (The 2nd revelation will be midway through the Tribulation to the nation of Israel who he has deceived.)

Key Places:

The Church at Thessalonica: a town of Macedonia on the Thermaic Gulf (Gulf of Salonika), originally called Therma. It was made a capital of a Macedonian area by the Romans and eventually became the principal city of the area. It was a port connected commercially with Asia Minor. Thessaloniki is apparently the second largest city in Greece currently.

[1] Arnold Fruchtenbaum (2005) The Rise and Fall of the Antichrist (MBS010). Available from < http://www.ariel.org > (accessed 3 September 2017).

First Timothy

1 Timonthy

Title: 1 Timothy

Place in bible: New Testament, 54th book, part of the Pastoral Epistles (which were written to men in charge of various churches), written to Timothy who was at the Church of Ephesus.

Author: The Apostle Paul[1], although the writer (amanuensis) may have been Luke or some similar calibre man: as some contend that the words & grammar are not typical of Paul, although the personal details are Paul's.

Date: This has been disputed, but between his first and final imprisonment (unlike 2 Timothy which is written from goal), perhaps AD 62–63

Genre: A personal letter to Timothy[2], although written to be read by the Christians in the church at Ephesus – a letter of instruction and warning.

Main idea: Paul writes to Timothy, to strength him and encourages him in godly leadership in the face of internal strife (Judaisers) – to fight the good fight of father (6:11–12); so Paul urges Timothy, giving him apostolic authority, to deal with heretics in the church at Ephesus, to rebuke them and if needed removing false teachers.

Divisions:

The book can be divided into five:

1. Basic instructions concerning sound doctrine and motivation to fight it (Chapter 1)

2. Direction for prayer, direction for roles of women (Chapter 2)

3. The house of God, and instructions for its leaders (Chapter 3)

4. Recognising false teachers and apostasy (Chapter 4)

5. Exhortations on matters of money, authority, order and commitment (Chapter 5)

Key events/themes

The general theme is sound doctrine, touching on what people say and what people do with their time and money.

Timothy charged to stay in Ephesus to stop false teaching (1:3, 1:18) and to deal with men like Hymenaeus and Alexander.

Paul instructs on prayer and the role of women in the church, giving the reason women do not have authority (2:13–15)

Church leadership was the biggest issue; Paul provides a comprehensive list of qualifications of elders and deacons (3:1–12).

There is a theme of how one should conduct oneself in the house of God, noting that at the last times some will leave the faith (4:1–3), but a Christian will practice the true doctrine (4:16) .

Churches with people who are not busy and are therefore idle and prone to gossip, and in the case of the church at Ephesus these were the widows, Paul warns Timothy to deal with (5:3–16). Indeed following in chapter 6 and prior in chapter 1 Paul warns against idle chatter, conversations that are envious, evil etc. There is a constant theme that the speech of a Christian must be Godly at all times (6:6)

Leaders in the church are important people, but must adhere to sound doctrine and rule well (5:17f)

Relationships must reflect the character of godliness, whether employer or employee (slave) (6:1–2).

A second important theme is money – those working need to be paid the appropriate wage, and the love of money is contrary to sound doctrine.

Key prophecies: The book has no prophecies, although the letter confirms the prophecy of Jesus and Paul:

Jesus states: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." Matthew 7:15 NKJV

Paul stated when in Ephesus: "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." Acts 20:29–30 NKJV

Key verse: Chapter 1 verse 19

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

Supported by

1 Timothy 1:3

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia––remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine

1 Timothy 1:18 – 20

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Key characters:

The Apostle Paul who writes to Timothy as if he is a son: 1:2 "To Timothy, a true son".

Timothy a young Christian man, whose father was Greek and mother was Jewish (Acts 16:1) left by Paul to deal with false teaching in the church at Ephesus. Timothy was taught by his grandmother and mother who evidently were Christian.[13] "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also." 2 Timothy 1:5.

Hymenaeus and Alexander are two men who were teaching a false gospel and whom Paul turned over to Satan to be disciplined

Key Places:

The Church at Ephesus

 

[1] 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

[2] 1:2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

[3] 6:11–12 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

[4] 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia––remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

[5] 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,

[6] Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

[7] 2:13–15 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self–control.

[8] 4:1–3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

[9] 4:16 Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

[10] 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

[11] 6:1–2 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

[12] Acts 16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

[13] 2 Timothy 1:5 Then I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

 

Second Timothy

2 Timonthy

Title: 2 Timothy

Place in bible: New Testament, 55th book, part of the Pastoral Epistles (which were written to men in charge of various churches), written to Timothy who was at the Church of Ephesus.

Author: The Apostle Paul[1], although the writer (amanuensis) may have been Luke (4: 11) "Only Luke is with me") or some similar calibre man: as some contend that the words & grammar are not typical of Paul, although the personal details are Paul's.

Date: It is supposed by some that this letter was written about 65–67 AD; and most believe it was in this decade, at least. It is definitely towards the end of Paul's life because he is in prison in Rome and waiting to die (1:16 and 2:9).

Genre: A personal letter to Timothy[4], exhorting him to be strong in the faith – having a tough job to do, and in this it is different from the first letter – it's more personal. However, the book like the first and champions the doctrine of Jesus Christ – exhorting Timothy to deal with false doctrine; nothing else must be allowed to substitute it.

Main idea: The main idea is encouragement so Timothy will be confident of the reward at the end because he has fought the good fight ).(4:7) Timothy is timid and has the difficult job of dealing with false doctrine in the Church at Ephesus, and his mentor, Paul is in goal in Rome. The letter is full of contrasts which give rise to a stark vision and realisation that following Christ is one of separation – good from evil, truth from lies, light from darkness. In particular it contrasts the triumph of Paul (I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race), who writes from prison, but who has been successfully done the will of the Lord, with those that are ungodly and have deserted the Lord. (Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some 2:17,18).

Divisions:

This book can be divided into five divisions

1.      Salutation by Paul to Timothy (1:1–2)

2.      An exhortation and encouragement to hold fast (1:3 – 1:18)

3.      An exhortation to be strong in endurance in the time of conflict (have stamina) (2:1 – 26)

4.      Exhortation to be faithful in the last days which will be full of peril (3:1 – 4:8)

5.      The last words of the Apostle Paul, with greetings to friends (4:8 – 4–22).

Key events/themes

Suffering: for which Paul is not ashamed (1:12), suffering requires endurance, knowing that the preaching of the gospel will lead the elect to come to the saving knowledge of Christ (2:8–12), Persecution will occur to all those that love Christ Jesus (3:12).

Loyalty to God: loyalty in suffering (chapter 1), loyalty in service (chapter 2), loyalty in the days of apostasy (chapter 2 to 4:5), loyalty of the servants of God (chapter 4: 6 – 22), and in particular Paul himself.

False Teachers: Our basis of our knowledge of God, the gospel and the way in which we ought to conduct ourselves, is on the Bible (2:15, 3:16); endless arguments are useless and will lead to some turning away from the truth, the minutia is to be put aside. (2:15,16); our approval is before God, not men (2:15).

Faithfulness in: fulfilling duties (2:14), handing the gospel truthfully (2:14), conducting oneself (2:20–23) and in carrying out duties in the church (2:24–26) – which applies to all Christians everywhere

The Coming Apostasy (Chapter 3:1–17) – The modern worldly church is described by "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power" (3:5).

The Bible is our teacher, rod and correcting agent (3:16,17) – we must continue in the Bible – don't deviate from it.

Final glory – there is a crown of righteousness laid up for the ones obedient to God – which are those that love his appearing (4:8), and for this Paul has fought the good fight and finished the race, being an encouragement to Timothy and us.

Key prophecies: The book has no prophecies, although the letter confirms the prophecy of Jesus and Paul:

Key verse: Verse 7, Chapter 1

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Tim 1:7

1 Timonthy 1:13

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 4:7

And then you will be able to say I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Supported by

2 Timothy 3:16, 17

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 4:1,2

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Key characters:

Alexander

A Jew and coppersmith of Ephesus who took a prominent part in the uproar raised there by the preaching of Paul doing Paul much harm. Paul asks that the Lord repay him according to his works and warns Timothy to be beware of him, for he greatly resisted Paul's words (4:14).

All the brethren

Sent their greetings to Timothy (4:21) – these a probably local Roman Christians, given that three of the names in the list are Latin.

Aquila

A native of Pontus, by occupation a tent–maker, whom Paul met on his first visit to Corinth (Acts 18:20) whose wife was Priscilla. A friend of Paul to be greeted by Timothy (4: 19)

Carpus

A Christian of Troas, where Paul had left his cloak, books and parchments. (4:13)

Claudia

Sent her greetings to Timothy (4:21)

Crescens

Perhaps a disciple of Jesus himself, departed for Galatia (4:10).

Demas

Forsook Paul, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica (4:10). A companion and fellow–labourer of Paul during his first imprisonment at Rome (Philemon 1:24 Colossians 4:14)

Erastus

A companion of Paul at Ephesus, who was sent by him along with Timothy into Macedonia (Ac 19:22). He lived in Corinth (4:20)

Eubulus

Sent his greetings to Timothy (4:21)

Eunice

Timothy's mother (1:5)

Hermogenes

Turned away from Paul (1:15)

Hymenaeus

Taught false doctrine, uttered profane and idle babblings, words that spread like cancer, overthrowing the faith of some, an ungodly man who strayed from the truth (2:16, 17)

Jambres

As he resisted Moses, so did he resist the truth, a man of corrupt mind, disapproved concerning the faith and will progress no further, for his folly was manifest to all (3:8,9).

Jannes

As he resisted Moses, so did he resist the truth, a man of corrupt mind, disapproved concerning the faith and will progress no further, for his folly was manifest to all (3:8,9).

Linus

Sent his greetings to Timothy (4:21)

Lois

Timothy's grandmother, genuine faith first dwelt in her (1:5)

Luke

A biblical author who was with Paul at the penning of 2 Timothy (4:11)

Mark

A disciple who was useful to Paul in Ministry; Timothy was instructed to bring him to Paul (4:11b)

Miletus

A seaside town of Ionia were Trophimus lay sick (4:20)

Onesiphorus

A Christian who often refreshed Paul and was not ashamed of his imprisonment. (1:16, 4:19)

Philetus

Taught false doctrine, uttered profane and idle babblings, words that spread like cancer, overthrowing the faith of some, an ungodly man who strayed from the truth (2:16, 17)

Phygellus

Turned away from Paul (1:15)

Prisca

Friend of Paul to be greeted by Timothy (4: 19)

Pudens

Sent his greetings to Timothy (4:21)

Timothy

A young Christian man, whose father was Greek and mother was Jewish (Acts 16:1) left by Paul to deal with false teaching in the church at Ephesus. Timothy was taught by his grandmother and mother who evidently were Christian.[10] "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also." 2 Timothy 1:5.

Titus

A companion of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, and who accompanied them to the council at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:1–3, Acts 15:2). Here he departed for Dalmatia – the reason is not given (4:10).

Trophimus

Ephesian who accompanied Paul during a part of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:4 21:29) and was with Paul in Jerusalem, Paul left him in Miletus because he was sick (4:20).

Tychicus

A Christian, and "faithful minister in the Lord" (Ephesians 6:21,22) who Paul sent to Ephesus (4:12).

Key Places:

Asia (1:15)

Proconsular Asia, a Roman province which embraced the western parts of Asia Minor, and of which Ephesus was the capital (Easton)

Rome (1:17)

Where Paul was being held prisoner

Antioch (3:11)

A city in Syria about 26 kilometres from the Mediterranean, and approximately 480 kilometres north of Jerusalem. It ranked third, after Rome and Alexandria, in importance, of the cities of the Roman empire. A place were Paul was persecuted and afflicted (3:11)

Iconium (3:11)

Capital of ancient Lycaonia.

Lystra (3:11)

A town of Lycaonia, in Asia Minor,

Dalmatia (4:10)

A mountainous country on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, a part of the Roman province of Illyricum (Easton).

Galatia (4:10)

The Roman province of Galatia may be roughly described as the central region of the peninsula of Asia Minor (Smith).

Thessalonica (4:10

A large and populous city on the Thermaic bay. It was the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia (Easton).

Ephesus (4:12)

Where Timothy was told to stay and deal with false doctrine, the capital of proconsular Asia, which was the western part of Asia Minor

Troas (4:13)

A city on the coast of Mysia, in the north–west of Asia Minor, named after ancient Troy (Easton)

Miletus (4:20)

A seaport town and the ancient capital of Ionia, about 36 miles south of Ephesus (Easton).

Corith (4:20)

A Grecian city 77 kilometres west of Athens.

 

Bible Verses (NKJV)

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus

1:2 To Timothy, a beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1:5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

1:16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain;

2:9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains;

2:17–18 Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Acts 16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

 

Titus

Titus

The letter to Titus

Title: The Epistle (or letter) to Titus

Place in bible:  New Testament, 56th book, part of the Pastoral Epistles (which were written to men in charge of various churches), written to Titus who was at the Church in Crete.

Author: The Apostle Paul[1].

Date: Perhaps A.D. 62 or 63

Genre: A personal letter to Titus[2], although written to be read by the Christians in the church at Crete – a letter of instruction and warning.

Main idea:  

The Pastoral epistles (Timothy and Titus) have a focus on departure from the faith, as taught by Paul, with the introduction of false doctrine by Judaisers, although less evident in Titus. The main idea is that truth must be according to godliness, and the manifestation of godly walking is fruit emphasised in this book as being good works (3:14). Overall the Epistle is one of practical guidance to a pastor of a church whose leaders are anything but good or godly.

The book can be considered in three divisions – each being one chapter:

  1. Reasonings and instructions to Titus and warnings
  2. Sound doctrine (See verse 2:1)
  3. Dealing with false teachers and the avoiding worldliness

Paul gives Titus the apostolic authority to rebuke false doctrine (related in part, if not in the most, to the re-introduction of elements of the law) ungodly living and passion for things of the world (2:15) in order to bring the church back to the truth.

Key events/themes:

Godliness

There is a God ordained structure of authority in this world, which all need to be subject to. This is manifest in the conduct of Christians: all are to show humility, in order that the Church might conduct itself in a manner that does not bring the word of God into disrepute highlighting the aspect to loving one another and loving that which is good, eg 1:8, 2:2, 2:4 & 3:4. The opposite to godliness is worldliness (2:12), lawlessness (2:14), being quarrelsome (3:2), led astray by passions & pleasures (3:3) etc.

Truth

Godliness requires acknowledgment of the truth (1:1). Failure to keep the truth needs to be rebuked sharply. Nothing is more dangerous to an assembly (congregation) than the introduction of untruthful or false elements – whether in prayer, sermons, devotions etc. and often missed, in the songs that are sung (1:13). Often these are subtle unobservable at first, but eventually one moves from using the Bible as the guide to all church conversations to using it when convenient, if at all.

In Titus 3:10,11 Paul sets out the procedure to deal with false teachers who are warped and sinful (3:11) in order to cleanse the church of false doctrine.

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.  Titus 1:16 NKJV.

Love

The conduct of a Christian is one of love, but also one that loves good: 1:8, 2:2, 2:4, 3:4 and as an example 3:15.

Works

Paul alludes to works at least seven times – like the Letter of James – it is what we do and how we behave that manifests the love of God in us.

See also 2:7 – good works; 2:14 zealous for good works, 3:1 be ready for every good work; maintain good works 3:8; and again in 3:14.

Paul is careful to show that we are not saved by works but by grace: "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us" Titus 3:5 NKJV

Key prophecies:  

None evidence: this book is a subsequence of the fulfilment of prophecies that were foretold concerning the coming of the Messiah, who brings grace.

Key verse: Chapter 1:9 An instruction to church leaders.

Hold[ing] fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

The basis of a Christian's doctrine (that is, the basic rules that describe the relationship of humans with God), is the Scripture. Departing from Scripture departs from truth, causing the Church to fall into apostasy. This is especially so for the church's leaders, hence Paul devotes one whole chapter to the qualifications of believers and in particular leaders or churches.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:7-8 ESV

Key characters:

Titus: The letter was written to Titus, which was to be read to the church. Titus was a Greek convert of the apostle Paul (Titus 1:4; Galatians 2:3).  He accompanied Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to attend the Jerusalem council that examined the issue of the Jewish law and Gentiles (Acts 15:1-41).

Key Places: 

Crete:  The Epistle shows that Titus was in the island of Crete, and the letter pertains to the church on the Island. Paul had visited the island with Titus, and Titus remained behind when Paul continued on in his journey to Rome (Acts 27).

[1] 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness

[2] 1:4 To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviourr.

 

Philemon

Philemon

Title: The Epistle (or letter) to Philemon

Place in bible: New Testament, 57th book, part of the writings by Paul

Author: Paul, as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and delivered to Philemon by Onesimus. Paul also wrote at the same time letters to the church at Ephesus and Colosse (which were delivered by Tychicus).

Date: During the imprisonment of Paul in 61 or 62 AD.

Genre: A personal letter (or epistle) addressed to Philemon, and members of the assembly (congregation) in his house, a gentile believer in Jesus Christ, who lived in Colosse (Colossians 4:9), who had a church in his house (1:2).

Main idea: The action of love within an assembly (congregation). The book shows how to action love, giving instructions and explaining reasons why one needs to forgive the one who was once lost (Onesimus) and in this case, a slave who had run away and stolen (from Philemon), and like all unsaved (as we once were), was once unprofitable, but is now saved and is now profitable (the meaning of Onesimus's name), and indeed, "not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved" (1:16). Paul puts in action his own command and is willing to pay for any loss Philemon has suffered due to Onesimus (18).

The book demonstrations how one puts into action the following command to love:

"Beloved let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (1 John 4:7, 8).

Key events/themes:

1 – 3:
Paul greets Philemon and fellow believers, indicating he is in prison.
4 – 7:
Paul recognises the faith and love found in Philemon, and his ministry.
8 – 21:
Paul appeals to Philemon (he commands Philemon, "in boldness") for the sake of love (9) and for the sake of Onesimus (10), "who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me."
22 – 15:
Paul greets fellow Christians with Philemon and concludes the letter

Key prophecies:

None given: it is a book of exhortation – the practicalities of putting love into action.

Key verse: (verse 6)

"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one."

Love is evidenced by what we say, and how we say it – the "how" needs to be seasoned with salt, because although our words (the "what") may be truthful, grace must abound – undeserved favour must flow through us as it flowed to us from the source, Jesus Christ.

Note also a believer is to be accepted "in full" or "forever" (ἀπέχω meaning to receive in full) – verse 15. That is, acceptance is not negotiable; God accepts us through the blood of Christ Jesus – the acceptance will never need to be negotiated again – we are saved in full because our debt has been paid in full. The Greek indicates "having in full by separating or letting go of something else".

Key characters:

Apphia
A female believer in Colosse; without evidence is supposed by some as the wife of Philemon
Archippus
A member of Philemon's household, probably a son, also mentioned in Colossians 4:17.
Epaphras
A fellow prisoner of Paul, and a believer
Onesimus
Means "profitable" a slave[1] who ran away from the believer Philemon, steeling perhaps money, but in any case something from him, and going to Rome in order to enjoy the delights of that once great city. Somehow he is saved and meets up with Paul (or perhaps the words of Paul brought him to the saving knowledge of Jesus Chris). Paul encourages him to return to Philemon with this letter.
Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke:
Fellow Christian workers of Paul

Key Places:

Paul writes from a Roman prison. Philemon is from Colosse.

 

[1] Note that slavery was not unethical or immoral, as was the case in England and America, and today with the sex slavery. It was not based on being captured as the African Negros were and deported, or due to race, but by birth.

 

Hebrews

Hebrews

Title: Letter or Epistle to the Hebrews or simply "To Hebrews". There is no evidence that the title needs the Apostle Paul's name in it as the King James Versions does.

Place in bible: New Testament, 58th book, a letter written to Christians who were Hebrews (ie Jews) (1:1, 3:1).

Author: Many will say "no–one knows" but the early Church fathers and many today, including this author, ascribe the text to the Apostle Paul, written from prison.

Date: Certainly written before 70 AD, perhaps in AD 61–63.

Genre: Epistle or letter to a group of people; a technical and legal argument or treatise, (quotes many times from the Old Testament Law), an exhortation – see Chapters 13 onward.

Main idea: That Jesus Christ is superior to all, and hence Judaism had been superseded by Christianity – that is, following the Law was to be substituted for following Christ in grace who is the saviour of Jew and Gentile.

It is one of the two great treatises of the New Testament, the other being Paul's writing to the Romans. It speaks to Christians who within a few short years have been extracted from 1500 years of Judaism, based on the Law, and where the temple was still standing and operating causing a dilemma – how do they reconcile the work of Christ with the ongoing system of priesthood and sacrifice. Halley suggests it was to prepare Jews for the fall of Jerusalem, because the physical elements of the law were to be destroyed, no–longer needed, because Christ was far superior.

Divisions:

The book can be divided into four sections (The following according to A Gaebelein):

1. Christ, the Son of God and His Glory (1:1 to 2:4)

2. Christ, the Son of Man, His glory and His salvation (2:5 to 4:13)

3. Christ as priest in the heavenly Sanctuary (4:14 – 10)

4. Instructions to Christians and exhortations (11 – 13).

Key events/themes:

Seven main ideas can be found in the Book of Hebrews.

  1. The old Law and Prophecies were a foreshadow of the things to come: the substance of the new is found in the New Covenant.
  2. The old was a shadow of the new, meaning the old needs to be put aside and new taken hold of – put on – a hard undertaking for Jews
  3. The shadows (things practiced in Old Testament times) were types of the new, the new antitypes of the old; the old prefigured the real, the real has now come.
  4. Judaism was good, but Christ is far better: we see the word or idea of 'better' (or superior) is used 12 times. Note that that author is not disparaging of the old, but shows the new is far better. Comparison is made of Christ and his work to angels, Moses, Aaron (The High Priest who could not sit down) and The Law (Noting that chapter 11 is for exhortation). Compare this with the mount of transfiguration – Christ is compared with Moses (i.e. the Law) and the Elijah (the Prophets) but these were to be superseded by Christ (This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him).
  5. The Law is shown not to be incomplete but the new is perfect – perfected in Christ.
  6. Ordinances are temporary but the new covenant is eternal; the earthly sanctuary (where men stood) is contrasted to Christ seated in his.
  7. The conditional promises of the Old Testament are contrasted with the unconditional promises of the New Covenant. The old and new are contrasted, with the perfectness of Christ emphasised. This he does with the emphasis on the Heavenlies (16 times in 15 verses) – noting that the Law emphasises the earthly.

Key prophecies: In essence the Epistle is a prophecy in the author writes with authority what God has spoken – revealing fully the mystery of Christ the Saviour of all.

Key verse: (chapter 10 versus 5 – 10)

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'" When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5–10 ESV

Key characters:

Aaron 5:4, 7:11, 9:4

Jacob 11:21

Abel 11:4

Jephthah 11:32

Abraham 11 times in chapters 2, 6, 7 & 11

Jesus Christ 15 times

Abraham 11:8

Lord 15 times

Angels (13 times in 12 verses) eg chapters
1, 2 & 13

Melchizedek (king of Salem) 8 times in chapters 5, 6 & 7

Barack 11:32

Moses 11:23

David 11:32

Noah 11:7

Egyptians 11:29

Rahab 11:31

Enoch 11:5

Samson 11:32

Gideon 11:32

Samuel 11:32

God 78 times in 72 verses (but not Saviour)

Sarah 11:11

Isaac 11:20

The prophet 11:32

Key Places:

Earth: 7 times in 6 verses

God's house: 3:2, 3:5, 3:6

Heaven(s): 9 – 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11 & 12

House of Israel: 8:8

House of Judah: 8:8

Mt Zion & Jerusalem: 12:22

Salem: 7:1

The Holy Place and Most Holy: chapter 9

The place of rest: chapter 4

 

 

Revelation

The Revelation

Title : "The revelation of Jesus Christ", all shortened to The Revelation. It is never "Revelations" being a revelation of Christ Jesus. In Greek:ΑΠΟΚΑΛΥΨΙΣ ΙΩΑΝΝΟΥ ie Revelation – John

Place in bible: New Testament, final book of the Canon, the final book of Prophecy, the only book where the reader or hearer of the book is promised a blessing (1:3)

Author: The Apostle John, who is writing from the island of Patmos (1:9)

Date : Irenaeus[1] dates the book AD 95.

Genre : Direct speech from the Holy Spirit to John, letters to seven churches of Asia , prophecy – direct speech and visions seen by John, written

Main idea: The text deals with the current state of seven churches of Asia, warning and encouraging them to remain faithful to Him; reveals God´s final dealings with his people, the church, Israel and the world at the last days when He judges the world – the consummation of the times . Essentially it deals with what John sees and what is and what will come (1:19), outlining the fulfilment of many Old Testament prophecies.

Divisions:

I The things which thou hast seen : Jesus Christ in Heaven (1)

II The things which are: The churches (2,3) – letters to the seven churches

III The things hereafter (4:1)

Key events:

1 Jesus Christ, the Son of Man

2,3 History of the seven churches of Asia : the prophecy of all churches

4,5 Rapture of the church, the scene in Heaven, the exaltation of Messiah

6–8:5 Opening of the seven seals – judgement

7 Between the sixth and seventh seal: a parenthetical vision

8:6–11:18 The sounding of the seven trumpets, woe 1 and 2, two witnesses

10–11:14 Between the sixth and seventh trumpets: parenthetical visions

11:19–13 Satan's Power, signs

14 The Power of God over evil powers: grace and judgment

15–16 The Seven Angels having seven plagues and the vials of wrath

16:13–16 Between the Sixth and Seventh vial, parenthetical vision

16–18 The Great Harlot, Babylon , and her judgment

19–20:6 The Manifestation of the King and the Millennium

20:7–22:5 After the thousand years and the vision of the new heaven and earth

22:6–21 The final messages

Key prophecies: (Too many to list here – a good place to start is with Arnold Fruchtenbaum charts of Revelation < http://www.arielm.org/outlines/o–rev–charts.pdf > accessed 8 September 2014).

Key verses:

Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (1:17)

"Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." (5:5)

Key characters: (where first mentioned)

Jesus Christ:

Alpha and the Omega (1)

Beginning and the ending (1)

Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (4)

The Lamb (5:8)

Christ (11:10)

Faithful and True (19:11)

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (19:16)

The Churches (up to and including chapter 3)

Lord God Almighty (4:8 etc)

Apostle John (referred to as "I" – eg "After these things I looked")

12,000 each of the tribes of Israel (7) ie Israel (21:12)

The Nations (7:9)

Two witnesses (11) who die and come back to life

The woman who gave birth to a man child (12)

Michael and his angels (12:7) – indeed many angels are mentioned

The beast with 10 horns and 7 heads, from the sea (13:1)

Another beast 2 horns like a lamb, spoke like a dragon, from out of the earth, whose number is 666 (13:11)

Key Places: (where first mentioned)

Island of Patmos[2] (1), Churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea (2,3), Heaven – (4,22 etc), Abyss (9), Great lake of fire (20:10), whose king was "Hebrew = Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon" (9:11), Mount Zion (14:1), The Temple (11, 15:2), Babylon (14:8 etc), Armageddon (16:16), The great prostitute (17), New Heaven and New Earth (21,22)

 

[1] Irenaeus (ca. 125–202) was the Bishop of Lyons, and a great advocate of the truth, a true early father of the Church. He spent much of his energy refuting the Gnostics whose false teachings nearly destroyed some churches. It is believed that the teacher of Irenaeus was taught by the Apostle John.

[2] Wikipedia states: is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea . One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,984 and an area of 34.05 km2.