Jesus in Context – One of the Most Helpful Biblical Background Books Around

JesusInContext-BockI recently came across the most helpful resources on the historical backgrounds to the Gospels that I have ever seen. It is called Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study by Darrell Bock. This book works through the synoptics and John and pulls just about any relevant extra-biblical text in full quotation to help you see what other ancient writers said about a topic, a city, a custom, etc. Reading the geneaology of Jesus? Look and see how other ancient Jewish writers did genealogies. Studying Jesus’ turning water to wine at Cana? You go to that miracle in this book and it first gives you a bit of historical background on eschatology and wine followed by relevant quotations from 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, Tobit, and the Talmud on wine and quotations from Josephus on Cana. Combine the content with Logos Bible software and you have an unbelievably powerful resource for your studies. This book concludes with multiple indices that include index by topic, by scripture, by extra-biblical reference and a huge list for further reading broken down by topic, If you are a student of the Gospels and want extra-biblical references all in one place this is the book for you. If you would use Logos and would like to have it at your disposal in a fully searchable, indexed format with clickable links with full references for you to use in your study or writing, you can get it here.

Two Questions that Are Essential For Discipleship

Last year we created an evangelistic study of Mark called Jesus 101. The study is designed to be used with seekers so that they can discover who Jesus is by studying Mark. Mark is the perfect book for that because it is a little bit of a mystery until chapter 8. At that point in Mark and in the study things start to crystallize about exactly who Jesus is. Before you can become a disciple you have to answer the question “Who is Jesus?”. What is more, this is exactly what Jesus asked his disciples in Mark 8:27-30…first Jesus asked who do people say he is and followed that up with “who do you say I am?”. We are working on a followup study on discipleship and its focus is going to be the second most important question that has to come after the first, “Who, then, am I?” In order to be a disciple you first have to figure out who Jesus is and then figure out, based on all of that, who you are. That is all very simple but for some reason it has taken a while for that to crystallize in my mind.

Matthew’s Explanation of the “Messianic Secret”

One of the big topics in the Gospel of Mark is what is known as the “Messianic Secret”. Over and over again in Mark, Jesus tells people not to tell others about who he is. This happens up until Mark 8 when Jesus asks his disciples who they think he is and Peter says he is the Christ or Messiah. It seems kind of strange for Jesus to tell others not to tell people about what they have seen until half way through the book. Some believe the reason for this is because Jesus didn’t want people to misunderstand his mission and follow him for all the wrong reasons (to receive food like when he fed the 5000 in Mark 6) (Jesus 101, p 22).

I was reading in Matthew today and it looks like Matthew actually gives an explanation as to why Jesus told people not to tell. It has to do with fulfillment of prophesy from Isaiah 42:1-4. Here is what Matthew tells us in Matthew 12:13-21,

13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

God’s Chosen Servant

15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, 16 warning them not to tell who he was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
21     In his name the nations will put their hope.”

Am I reading that right? Why haven’t I read anyone just offering Matthew’s explanation and why have so many tried so many other explanations if it is right there? Maybe this has been mentioned in commentaries dozens of times and I am just ignorant. This link seems to say the prophesy isn’t about the secret but instead points back to Jesus (in that instance) being unwilling to engage the Pharisees. I did a little more poking around and the Holman Bible Dictionary offers this as a possibility. Thoughts?

John The Baptist’s Baptism Was for the Forgiveness of Sins

You have undoubtedly heard that John the Baptist’s baptism was a baptism of repentance and that the difference between John’s baptism and Jesus’ baptism was that Jesus’ baptism took it a step further by adding the effect of the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Well, was anyone even reading Mark 1:4? “And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” I have read that verse a zillion times and never picked up on it until this week when a good friend of mine pointed that out.

What is more, Jesus’ disciples baptized people during his ministry. John 4:1-2 says, “Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.” I had always assumed this was the same kind of baptism John was doing and for the same purpose. Was this also a baptism for the forgiveness of sins? If that is what Jesus came to do it would only make sense that it was. Would Jesus baptize in a way less than what John was doing?

Honestly, this should come as no surprise. God constantly forgave sins under the old covenant. The sacrificial system itself came with the blessing of atonement and forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness of sins wasn’t a new idea in the new covenant. The means of that forgiveness certainly changed.

Then Why Did Jesus Have to Come?
When my friend shared this with me, he said the person who pointed this out to him then asked him “Why did Jesus have to die if John’s baptism brought forgiveness?” That is a question a lot of people would ask if you showed them Mark 1:4. I believe that question shows a gross misunderstanding of the ministry of Jesus. They might as well have pointed out the verses in the Old Testament where God said he would forgive their sins and ask why Jesus had to come if God could forgive sins any other way. The Gospel we have preached is too small when people ask questions like that.

Jesus certainly came to forgive sins but Jesus did more than wipe away the bad. Jesus came to bring us abundant life. Jesus came to give us his yoke. Jesus came to show us the inbreaking kingdom and reign of God. Jesus came to be victor of sin and death so that by his overcoming of those powers he would open the door to our having eternal life with God. Instead, we have chosen to boil down the ministry of Jesus to fixing our problem of sin only. We have preached it and taught that so much that people can’t even see why Jesus came once they understand forgivness of sins was already present prior to Jesus Christ. We have a lot of work to do in helping people have a biblical understanding of the message and mission of Jesus Christ and what the Gospel is all about.

Finished A New Evangelistic Bible Study – Jesus 101

Update – I just posted the pdf in this post – Download Jesus 101

I just wrapped up writing an evangelistic Bible study that works through the Gospel of Mark called Jesus 101. The reason I wrote this was to promote more Bible study with non-Christians at Northwest. We realize on the front end that one major hang up people have in studying with others is figuring out where to start. This book is simple and non-confrontational. Instead of blasting people with facts this study has them read Mark chapter by chapter and just asks questions that helps them open up their eyes to who Jesus is. Also, this study follows the pace of Mark. They aren’t asked who they think Jesus is until Jesus asks that same questions to his disciples in Mark 8. They are asked again at the end of the study where the study turns to a discussion of what God wants from us/what is our response to the Gospel. A few other nice features of this study include a Glossary of more difficult terms and further evidence in the back of the study.

We gave out 250 copies on Sunday and hope to give out hundreds more. I am curious to find out what studies you guys use when studying with non-Christians? What have you seen work and what doesn’t work so well?

Evangelistic Study of Mark

We are about to implement a better plan to increase the number of one-on-one Bible studies we are engaging in as a congregation. In doing so we are needing material to pull this off. So I have started writing an inductive study of Mark and it is really pretty exciting stuff. What I mean by inductive is, the case is being built for who Jesus is based on certain evidence in the narrative along the way. This culminates with Peter’s confession of Christ in Mark 8. Basically, the study isn’t going to assume people believe that but walk them through the build up of the evidence so that when we get to Mark 8 (lesson 3) people are on board and their faith is beginning to take root so they can believe what Peter believes. I think this is such an important approach because we can no longer assume people know anything. You really do have to start from scratch with people and work them to the solutions. I will let you know how it turns out!

Here are some of the evidences that will come up through the discussion of the narrative in the Bible study:

  • Authority of Jesus based on his miracles, his teachings, and the testimony of others about him (including John the Baptist, God and God’s Spirit in Mark 1).
  • The mission of Jesus and his disciples against the “strong man” (Satan) of Mark 3:27 and how that theme runs through much of what Jesus does and teaches in Mark.
  • Death and resurrection predictions and fulfillment

Any more you would add?

Jesus on Discipling Young Adults – Handing Over Responsibility

So far we have looked at two stories (here and here) in Mark 9 where we learned that Jesus used the shortcomings of his disciples to help them learn and grow through those mistakes. Now we are going to back up to the beginning of the chapter and look at another piece of how Jesus helped disciple these guys. We are going to examine how Jesus delegated responsibility to them even though they were going to mess it all up and how Jesus picked up the pieces and helped them grow.In Mark 9:1-13 we have the transfiguration. What we find out in Mark 9:14 is that when Jesus, Peter, James and John went up the mountain to experience that, Jesus left the other disciples behind to take care of things at the bottom of the mountain. When the four returned they didn’t find things going so well. A man had brought his son to be healed of an evil spirit but the disciples had failed to cast it out.

On a side note, I just find the scene described in 9:20-25 really strange. Jesus goes to see the boy, the spirit convulses him and you might expect Jesus to cast it out right then…it sounds like a pretty bad episode this boy is going through. Instead Jesus asks, “How long has he been like this?” The whole conversation that follows when read in just text and not actually standing there witnessing it really sounds pretty casual given the circumstances. But the point was, just like Jesus didn’t need to know how long Lazarus had been dead because he already knew…his question was not for his own information. His question was for those who were listening. The point was Jesus’ miracle was all the greater because this boy had suffered with this not just a day or two but since he was a small child.

Jesus had given them responsibility and they had failed. Don’t you think Jesus knew this was going to happen when he left them behind? But notice that didn’t keep him from doing it anyway. Sometimes those in leadership positions don’t delegate because they fear someone will mess things up. The problem is the one delegating often gets more focused on the task to be done and done right than the person they can grow and develop by giving them responsibility. Which is more important to kingdom priorities…flawlessly performed ministries (which paid staff can’t do either) or people growing in their faith because they had responsibility delegated to them?

One of the problems many churches face is that the face of involvement is limited to what one can do one hour a week on Sunday morning. That is thinking too small. If all the church accomplishes or all we offer for people to plug into is leading a prayer, presiding over the Lord’s supper, ushering people into seats or reading scripture on Sunday we have missed the point. This involvement crisis can be seen when people place membership. Here at Northwest we have a sheet of things people can do and the vast majority of those take place on Sunday. That communicates something and it may not be healthy. It is not out of evil intent or anything like that…it just doesn’t take into consideration the bigger picture of what we are saying discipleship and involvement are all about.

Our young people today want to make a difference. If we are going to grow and our young people grow we have to hand some things over to them and accept the fact that things won’t always go perfectly. If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize they don’t go perfectly when we do them either! If Jesus was willing to delegate, accept failure, and teach them through it all we can and should as well. One thing that makes this hard is the cultural gap. The culture of the leadership and the culture of our 20 somethings is very, very different.It is hard to delegate responsibility to someone you don’t understand. So we have to get to know each other. It is important that the generations have venues to spend time with each other. I am big about creating an healthy environment for our 20 somethings where they can discuss topics relevant to their position in life but we also need to recognize their need to be rubbing shoulders with Christians older and more experienced than they are so they can learn and grow.

Jesus on Discipling Young Adults – Enthusiasm and Patience

Often our greatest strengths in one situation can be our greatest weakness in another. I would like to think this is only true of others but I am guilty of it myself. I love to process things. I can analyze things to death. Sometimes that is a great strength because I am able to understand difficult things. Other times that tendency or talent becomes a burden as I end up just processing through something but never move it to action. When it comes to our young adults some of their greatest strengths can also be their weaknesses. This is true today and this was true in Jesus’ day. I want to focus in on two examples where this was the case and then look at how Jesus handled each. When we see how Jesus disciples them through their mistakes we can be better equipped to disciple our young adults.

Mark 9:30-37 is a section of scripture that suffers from one of those terrible heading breaks in the NIV (I just noticed that the 2010 NIV corrected this…good going guys!). Jesus is talking about how he is going to Jerusalem to be crucified and to raise from the dead. Meanwhile, the disciples are discussing who is the greatest. Jesus is revealing the mystery of the ages and they are caught up in which one of the disciples is the best. How do you even have an argument like that? The guys know what that sounds like…they are “one up’ing” each other. I did this better than you or I cast out the most demons. You healed a guy too but he still seemed like he had a limp going there when we left. The irony is, Jesus was telling them who the greatest was. He was the greatest and the reason he was the greatest was not because he could boast about it but because he was a servant and humbly obedient to the Father.

These disciples were full of enthusiasm. They were ready to get things done. They wanted to be great! Jesus never said being great was a bad thing…you just had to understand greatness and clearly, they did not. We can learn something from how Jesus didn’t respond to them…He didn’t blast them, scold them, or harshly rebuke them. How did he respond? He responded with patience. Their enthusiasm was a good thing…even a great thing. But it was being pointed in an unhealthy direction. Jesus was patient enough with them to use their mistake as a learning opportunity about what greatness was all about.

When it comes to discipling young adults their enthusiasm has to be matched with our patience. Don’t we want our young people to be great in God’s sight? If we do we are going to have to have the patience of Jesus because as enthusiastic as our young people are, there are going to be times their enthusiasm leads them into making poor choices. Let me be really honest about this one…it is easy to be impatient with people we don’t really care about. Where does impatience come if it doesn’t come from being unconcerned for that person? If we really love our young people and want to see them grow it is going to take patience. They are going to need older, more mature Christians to walk along side them and help them make wise decisions. And when they mess up, they need to know that there is room for mistakes. Jesus allowed room for his young disciples to make mistakes. Should our standards be stricter than his? Or, like Jesus, do we use those times as opportunities to teach? We will only be able to do so if we have the patience of Jesus.

Our young people aren’t perfect and they know it. They desire people in their lives who are willing to accept imperfections and not getting it right all the time. As the cultural separation between young and old widens this becomes increasingly difficult. But if the mature really are mature, they will be able to look past the difference and help these young people grow closer to God and it may just be that a mistake is exactly what needs to happen to open up the door of opportunity to help them grow.

Last, let me humble the more mature for a moment. Jesus example of greatness was not gathering together a group of the community elders. Instead, he used a little child as the example of greatness. Innocence and total dependence is great in God’s sight and as we get older and our accomplishments grow (as do our mistakes) it can become easier and easier to forget that. We need each other. The old need the enthusiasm of the young and the young need the patience of the old. When we work together in that manner God will certainly be glorified!

Summaries of the New Testament Books

To follow up on this post summarizing the books of the Old Testament, here is the list for the New Testament. Here is this list in pdf. These are just quick helps to help people get a feel for these books and see how they connect with each other.

Bible Study Helps – New Testament

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament is also divided into sections that help keep similar writings together. Here are the four sections that divide the Old Testament:

1 – Gospels

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
  • The Gospels are ordered by the date some people believed they were written. You don’t have to put a name on a Gospel until there are more than one and only Luke is the only one of the four to identify himself. A few hundred years after these were written false teachings entered the church that forced the church to decide which writings were inspired/from God and which were not. It was during this process that the New Testament was laid out in its current form.

2 – Historical

  • Acts of the Apostles
  • Acts is the history that all of Paul’s letters fit into. You read about Paul visiting the churches he wrote letters to in the book of Acts (the cities of Ephesus, Galatia, Corinth, etc)

3 – Paul’s Letters

  • Romans – Philemon
  • These are ordered from longest to shortest with Romans being the longest and Philemon the shortest of Paul’s letters
  • These are some of the earliest writings in the New Testament with Galatians being the earliest book written (48 AD)

4 – General Letters

  • Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, and Jude
  • These are all the letters written by people other than Paul

5 – Apocalypse

  • Revelation
  • This is the last book of the New Testament to be written, nearly 60 years after Jesus’ ministry

Gospels

Matthew

Date written – 60s

Author – Matthew

Summary – All four gospels tell about the life of Jesus from the time before his birth to the time after his death and resurrection. Yet each Gospel has a distinct emphasis. It is like hearing the same story from four different points of view. Each writer is remembering and focusing on different aspects of who Jesus is and what he came to do.

Matthew’s emphasis – Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy. Matthew also emphasizes Jesus as King as prophesied Messiah and descendent from David’s throne.

Mark

Date written – 50s

Author – Mark

Summary – Mark is about who Jesus is. At first Jesus is more secretive about who he is because he doesn’t want to fulfill the wrongly directed hopes of who the Messiah was supposed to be and what he was supposed to do. In the first half of Mark (1-8) It is not uncommon in Mark for Jesus to tell people to keep who he is a secret. Once Peter confesses Christ in Mark 8 Jesus speaks much more freely about who he is and what he came to do. Like Matthew, Mark ends with Jesus commissioning his disciples to spread the Gospel all over the world.

Mark’s emphasis – Jesus as Redeemer

Luke

Date written – 60s

Author – Luke

Summary – Luke and Acts are both written by Luke and tell the story of Christianity from the birth of Jesus through the growth of the early church. There are many teachings and miracles in Luke that points us right to the heart of God and just how compassionate he is toward mankind.

Luke’s emphasis – Jesus as compassionate and uplifter of the oppressed

John

Date written – 80s

Author – John

Summary – The Gospel of John tells the story of the life and ministry of Jesus through an insider point of view. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus but not in his “inner circle” like Peter, James and John were. Luke and John were not part of Jesus’ 12 disciples. So John holds a special place in teaching us about God and Christ as an “insider.” One things you will notice in John are a lot of double meanings that often leave people confused (being born again is one example from John 3). Like the other three Gospels, John shows Jesus on his way to a cross. Like the other Gospels Jesus defeats death through his resurrection and shows us that there is hope beyond the grave.

John’s emphasis – Jesus as the Son of God and his unique relationship with His Father.

History

Acts of the Apostles

Date written – 62

Author – Luke

Summary – Luke wrote the book of Acts to tell the rest of the story. Acts covers the first thirty years of the church and tells how the Gospel went from being believed by just a few disciples waiting in Jerusalem to the Holy Spirit inspiring them to convert thousands and take the message all over the world. In the book of Acts we see missionaries including Paul, Barnabas, Mark and Luke (who both wrote the Gospels) travelling around the world, spreading the message of Christ to Jews and Gentiles. They travel to many of the cities Paul later writes the letters that follow.

One major dividing line in the book is Acts 10 where God allows the message of Christ to be preached to the Gentiles for the first time. This had been God’s plan all the way back to Abraham when he promised Abraham he would be the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:5).

Paul’s Letters

Romans

Date written – 55

Author – Paul

Summary – Romans was written to a racially divided church. The Jew and Gentile Christians were struggling to find unity. Paul writes Romans to reconcile their relationships and to understand that the message of Christ should act as a common bond across all nations just as God planned for it to do from the beginning.

1 Corinthians

Date written – 54

Author – Paul

Summary – Corinth is a town in Greece where Paul visited in Acts 18. The Corinthian church was also very divided (1:10-17). Paul sets them straight by talking about how true leaders should bring unity and not division but that ultimately our leader is Christ and not any earthly leaders. Paul also deals with many of their specific concerns as a congregation including marriage (chapter 7), the eating of food sacrificed to idols (chapters 8-11) and issues in worship (chapters 11-14).

2 Corinthians

Date written – 55

Author – Paul

Summary – 2 Corinthians seems to be about Paul’s defense of his ministry to those hostile toward him at Corinth. He upholds his integrity and commission from God and defends many of his travel plans in this letter.

Galatians

Date written – 48

Author – Paul

Summary – Galatians was written to address a specific concern among the Christians in the region of Galatia. It seems those who were Jewish Christians were beginning to enforce various aspects of Judaism (circumcision for one) on the Gentile Christians. Paul writes this letter to assure them of the sufficiency of Christ apart from the Law of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and to help mend the broken relationships left behind between the Christians in the Galatian churches.

Ephesians

Date written – 60

Author – Paul

Summary – One of four letters Paul wrote from prison. Normally Paul’s letters have a specific occasion that prompted him to write these churches. Ephesians is the hardest to pin down. What stands out in Ephesians is the connection between knowing God and what he has done for us (Chapters 1-3) and the resulting actions that should be in our lives in response to all God has done for us (Chapters 4-6).

Philippians

Date written – 61

Author – Paul

Summary – Paul invites the Philippian Christians to live their lives for Christ even if it includes suffering (Phil 1). He encourages them to imitate Christ’s humility (Phil 2) and to keep in mind the importance of Christ (Phil 3). Even though in jail, Paul has found contentment (Phil 4:11-12).

Colossians

Date written – 60

Author – Paul

Summary – One of four letters Paul wrote from prison. Colossians was written to help combat some false teachings that were taking place in the house churches of Colossae. It seems some believed that it was necessary to appease angels by doing certain religious ceremonies in order to gain entrance to the presence of God (see especially Col 2). Paul assures them, as he did the Galatians, that we don’t need anything more than Jesus Christ to be in the proper relationship with God.

1 Thessalonians

Date written – 50

Author – Paul

Summary – 1 Thessalonians may have been written to Christians in Thessalonica who struggled with understanding the second coming of Christ and what that meant for Christians who died before his return. Some believed in the early church that Christ would come back within a generation due to some of Jesus’ teachings (like John 21:22). Paul encourages them toward purity, love and responsibility.

2 Thessalonians

Date written – 51

Author – Paul

Summary – Paul wrote this letter to alleviate even more concerns they had about the return of Christ. It seems some had taught Christ has already come back (2 Thess 2:1-2) and that there were false teachers in their midst (2:3-15). Paul writes this letter to inform and encourage them toward faithfulness so that they will not be led away from God through false teaching.

1 Timothy

Date written – 62

Author – Paul

Summary – 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus are called the “Pastoral epistles”. They were written by Paul to help equip these men of God toward a more productive ministry. They were also written to help these ministers of the Gospel (Timothy and Titus) to effectively lead in the congregations they were a part of. These three letters are very practical covering everything from how to dress to qualifications of elders and deacons and how to treat others in the church.

2 Timothy

Date written – 63

Author – Paul

Summary – Written as Paul nears the end of his life in Roman prison. He writes this to ensure the faithfulness of Timothy and to encourage him to finish strong just as Paul is doing himself. The most famous verse in this book is found in 2 Timothy 3:14-17 where Paul encourages him to study the scriptures and explains the extent of their usefulness.

Titus

Date written – 62

Author – Paul

Summary – The last of Paul’s pastoral letters, this letter is written to give instruction to Titus on how Christians are to live and what should be taught to those in the church. Another very practical letter.

Philemon

Date written – 60

Author – Paul

Summary – One of four letters Paul wrote from prison. This letter was written to reconcile the relationship between a slave and a slave master who were both Christians in the church in Colossae. The slave, Onesimus, came to Paul so he could help him make things right again with his master, Philemon. Paul put the pressure on Philemon to make things right, even if it wasn’t easy.

General Letters

Hebrews

Date written – between 60 & 70

Author – Unknown

Summary – Hebrews reads more like a sermon than a letter and that may have been how the book of Hebrews started out. Hebrews is about the sufficiency of Christ and his exaltation above all others in all creation. The book proves that by showing his fulfillment of many things found in the Old Testament including the priesthood, sacrificial system, and many other things. This letter was undoubtedly written to a Jewish audience, who would have readily seen the connections the writer of Hebrews makes with the Old Testament.

James

Date written – 44

Author – James

Summary – James was the half brother of Jesus, sharing the same mother, Mary. James is often thought of as the Proverbs of the New Testament. It is very practical and easy to understand. This is a great place to start studying the Bible if you are looking for something practical and easily applicable.

1 Peter

Date written – 65

Author – Peter

Summary – 1 & 2 Peter were written to remind Christians of their special status with God so that they could endure some pretty intense persecution. Peter speaks to unjust suffering and living as a Christian in a hostile world.

2 Peter

Date written – 65

Author – Peter

Summary – 2 Peter was written near the end of Peter’s life and he is calling them to the truth and reminding them of the legitimacy of the Gospel, that what Christ had done for them was real. As an eyewitness who is about to die defending his faith, he wants to make sure those he is leaving behind will hold true to the Gospel because Christ will return and Christians are called to live with that in mind.

1 John

Date written – 90

Author – John

Summary – If Timothy and Titus are pastoral letters to individuals, 1-3 John read like pastoral letters written in love to help them grow closer to God and to other Christians. In 1 John, John tells us what it means to walk in the light and just how connected our love of God is with our love for others (1 John 3). We also get more “insider” facts about who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

2 John

Date written – 90

Author – John

Summary – This letter is addressed probably to a local congregation in order to help them combat false teaching. That false teaching had to do with whether or not Jesus really came in the flesh. John, who knew Jesus first hand, assures them that he did.

3 John

Date written – 90

Author – John

Summary – 3 John is written toward a specific problem in a specific church. A man named Diotrephes was causing a problem in the church and John writes to Gaius, a leader in the church, in order to help him deal with this issue.

Jude

Date written – 70

Author – Jude

Summary – Jude is very much like 2 Peter and is written to combat wickedness in the church. Jude uses several examples from scripture and Jewish tradition who did the same things and were punished by God.

Apocalyptic

Revelation

Date written – 90s

Author – John

Summary – Revelation is an often misunderstood book. It was written to Christians who were undergoing some severe persecution in order for them to have the courage to hold to their faith, even if it meant they would die for Christ. Much of what is found in the book has already taken place but a few things still have not. The book concludes the New Testament with a beautiful picture of how this world will end up. Everything will be made right and whole again and there will be no more pain, tears or death as we live in perfect relationship with God.

Books of the Bible and Application to 20 Somethings

In teaching 20s & 30s on a regular basis I am finding the need to be relevant more and more important. It is not that relevance didn’t used to be important. It just seems theology disconnected from real life application tends to fall on deaf ears a lot quicker in young adults than in my experience in teaching older adults. Can anyone relate?

While all the books of the Bible have relevance and application there are several that stand out to me that seem to resonate very quickly with where many in their early adult years find themselves. Here are a few. What would you add?

  • Gospel of Mark – action packed, to the point, and it doesn’t get any better than studying about Jesus when it comes to spiritual and identity formation. Today’s young adults are people of action and Mark tends to resonate well with them.
  • Joshua – Trusting God’s lead & promise going into uncertain circumstances.
  • Ephesians – I love them emphasis on where God has brought us from and where he is taking us to. This is spiritual formation and transformation at its best. So many of our young adults have not grown up as Christians, just like many in the first century, and can relate well with letters like Ephesians.
  • Psalms – Are young adults aren’t afraid to express their emotions, much like David in the psalms. The full range of emotions and the since that the psalms are very real is appealing and attractive to young people.
  • James – oh, so practical. Straight to the point with no beating around the bushes. So why not add Proverbs too.
  • Proverbs – See James.

There are so many one could add to the list (again, all are relevant in their own way). What would you add and why?