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2 Corinthians

2 CORINTHIANS

WHERE AND WHEN WRITTEN?:

From Macedonia on third missionary journey (9:2-4); sometime after 1 Corinthians, perhaps also 56 or 57 A.D.

A THEME FOR 2 CORINTHIANS:

“PAUL DEFENDS HIS MINISTRY”

THE CONTENTS OF 2 CORINTHIANS:

2 Corinthians is the most personal of all of Paul’s epistles. In this letter he tells much about himself. He “pours out his soul” to the Corinthians about his hardships, his distress and anguish, his weaknesses, his joys, and his love and concern for the Corinthian Christians. Throughout the letter Paul returns to his theme of defending his ministry before the Corinthians. It would be difficult to force a logical outline on 2 Corinthians. Perhaps it is enough to say that chapters 1-7 and 10-13 deal generally with Paul’s ministry; and chapters 8-9 encourage generous Christian giving.

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1 Corinthians

1 CORINTHIANS

THE CITY OF CORINTH

Corinth was a very important city in Greece during the time of the Roman Empire. It was the capital of the province called Achaia. It was a city with many visitors and much trade. Corinth was located on a narrow strip of land called an “isthmus” which connected northern and southern Greece. People passing between northern and southern Greece would have to pass through Corinth. Also people traveling between Rome and the eastern part of the empire would commonly pass through Corinth and carry their goods through Corinth. Because of its position, Corinth was known as the city of two seas. Corinth was a city of wealth but also a city of sin. The city had a reputation throughout the empire of being an immoral city. To tell someone that he was “living like a Corinthian” meant that he was living a rotten, sinful life. Drunkenness and sexual immorality thrived in Corinth. Corinthians worshipped especially the god Poseidon, the god of the sea, and Aphrodite, goddess of love. Heathen worship and immorality thrived together. Corinth was also known for its love of learning, philosophy, and oratory, the art of speech-making.

THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AT CORINTH

Paul visited Corinth for the first time on his second missionary journey. Acts 18 tells of his one and a half year stay in Corinth. He met Aquila and Priscilla there and worked for a while with these two Christians at tent-making. At the same time he preached to the Jews in the synagogue every Sabbath that Jesus was the Messiah. When Paul’s message was rejected by the Jews, he turned to the Gentiles. Many of the Corinthians who heard Paul’s preaching believed and were baptized. Besides Aquila and Priscilla, among the believers at Corinth were Justus, Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his whole family. Silas and Timothy also joined Paul in Corinth. Some of the Corinthian Jews made an attack against Paul, charging him with persuading people to worship God in an unlawful way. But the proconsul of Achaia, Gallio, refused to try Paul in court because the charges against Paul dealt with Jewish laws. After a year and a half of teaching the word of God at Corinth, Paul sailed for Syria. Sometime after Paul left Corinth, Apollos, a Jewish Christian from Alexandria, came to Corinth and was a great help to the church. When Paul was in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, he wrote a letter to the Corinthians urging them not to associate with immoral people who claim to be Christians (1 Cor. 5:9). This letter is lost to us. The Corinthians replied in a letter and asked advice on certain problems in the church. Paul then wrote a second letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus. This letter is our 1 Corinthians. Then it seems that Paul made a quick trip to Corinth and back to Ephesus. This would have been his second visit to Corinth (2 Cor. 12:14 and 2 Cor. 13:1). Paul then sent another “lost letter” to the Corinthians urging them to discipline one of Paul’s enemies in the church (2 Cor. 2:4,7-8). After Paul went on to Macedonia during his third missionary journey, Paul wrote a fourth letter to the Corinthians. This is our 2 Corinthians. Then after spending some time in Macedonia, Paul spent three months in Greece (Achaia) [Acts 20:2-3]. Most of that time was probably spent in Corinth. On this visit to Corinth, Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans. We do not know if Paul ever visited Corinth again.

PAUL’S CONTACT WITH THE CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS

All of these letters and visits may seem a bit confusing at first. Perhaps this summary of Paul’s contacts with the church at Corinth will help clear up matters: 1.Paul establishes the church at Corinth on his second missionary journey, as related in Acts 18. 2.Paul writes a letter to the Corinthians telling them not to associate with immoral church members (see[1 Cor. 5:9]). This letter is lost. 3.While on his third missionary journey at Ephesus, Paul writes a second letter to the Corinthians. This is our 1 Corinthians. 4.Paul makes a quick trip from Ephesus to Corinth and back to Ephesus. This “quick trip” is not mentioned in Acts, but is implied from 2 Cor. 12:14, 13:1 .  5.Paul sends a third letter to the Corinthians concerning disciplining one of Paul’s enemies at Corinth. This letter is lost to us. [2 Cor. 2:4, 7-8]. 6.Paul writes a fourth letter to the Corinthians while in Macedonia. This is our 2 Corinthians [2 Cor. 7:5-6]. 7Paul visits Corinth for the third time [Acts 20:2-3].

THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS

WHERE AND WHEN WRITTEN: from Ephesus on third missionary journey; about 56 or 57 A.D.

PAUL’S PURPOSES FOR WRITING 1 CORINTHIANS:

1.Paul wanted to respond to a letter which the Corinthians had sent him. Their letter is referred to in 7:1 and 8:1. They had asked Paul questions that needed answers. 2.Paul had received verbal reports about the condition of the congregation in 1 Corinth (7:1; 16:17). Some of the reports told of problems in the church that needed addressing.

THE CONTENTS OF 1 CORINTHIANS:

1.The problem of divisions in the church at Corinth (1-4) Some were saying, “I follow Paul”; others, “I follow Apollos”; and others, “I follow Peter.” Paul had to remind them that Christ alone is the Lord of the church and that Christian teachers are only his servants. The church is united under Christ and must not divide itself over Christ’s servants. 2.The problem of an immoral brother living in incest (5) A member of the church was living in sin with his stepmother. Paul writes that the man should be expelled (excommunicated) from the church so that he may see his sin and repent. 3.The problem of lawsuits among believers (6) Paul says that disputes among Christians should not have to be settled by heathen judges. It is better that a Christian be cheated by his brother rather than bring a lawsuit against him. 4. Questions about marriage (7) Paul answers a number of questions about living a single life, marrying, divorcing, remarrying, etc. 5.Questions about the believer’s freedom (8-10) Paul writes that there are many things which a believer has the Christian freedom to do; but love for a weak brother will sometimes keep him from using his Christian freedom. Everything is permissible, Paul says; but not everything is beneficial for others. The question of whether a Christian should eat meat sacrificed to idols will have to be answered through love and consideration for weak Christians. 6.The problem of disorder in the public worship services (11) The proper dress for women in public worship and the proper celebration of the Lord’s Supper are discussed. 7.The use of spiritual gifts (12-14) Paul discusses especially the use of the gift of tongues. He says that Christian love is the gift that should especially be cultivated. 8.The question of the resurrection (15) Some in the Corinthian church had said that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul writes clearly that just as Christ rose, so Christians will rise with glorified bodies. 9.The question about a collection (16) Paul writes instructions about gathering the special offering for Christians in Jerusalem. Then he closes with some personal requests and his final greetings.

THEME AND OUTLINE

As is true with most letters, it is difficult to give a logical outline for 1 Corinthians. The nine points listed above may serve as a “rough outline.” Perhaps this theme would cover 1 Corinthians: “PAUL ADDRESSES THE PROBLEMS AND QUESTIONS OF THE CHURCH AT CORINTH.”

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Romans

ROMANS

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT ROMANS

Romans was not the first New Testament letter to be written, but it comes first in our Bibles for two reasons: It is one of the longer letters, and the longer letters were placed first; and it can be called the most important of the letters because of its very clear presentation of the Gospel. There is no question about who wrote the Letter to the Romans. The Apostle Paul names himself as the author in the very first word of the letter. His first chapter in verse 7 also tells clearly to whom the letter was first addressed: “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” In other words, the letter was sent to Christians in Rome. Evidence within Romans also helps us determine quite certainly when and where the letter was written. It was probably written toward the end of Paul’s third missionary journey when Paul was in Corinth. The year would be 57 or 58 A.D. On what evidence do we base this? In 15:25-27 Paul says that he is about to go to Jerusalem with an offering he had collected in Macedonia and Achaia for the Christians in Jerusalem. This corresponds with what we hear about Paul’s travels at the end of his third mission trip in Acts 20. Acts 20:3 says that he stayed in Greece for three months at that time before going on to Jerusalem. At least some of that three months must have been spent in Corinth. Corinth is also pointed to as the place of writing by the following passages. In 16:23b Paul sends greetings from “Erasmus, who is the city’s director of public works.” An inscription found at Corinth mentions an Erasmus who was a city official there. In 16:23a Paul sends greetings from Gaius, at whose house he seems to be staying; [1 Cor. 1:14] mentions a Gaius in Corinth; this may well be the same Gaius.

THE CHURCH AT ROME

Rome was the capital city of one of the world’s greatest empires – an empire that reached from Britain to Arabia. How did the Christian church get established in the great city of Rome? Paul did not start the Roman church, since it is clear that he had not even been to Rome when he wrote his letter to the Roman Christians. There is no real evidence that any of the apostles started the church in Rome. Romans were in Jerusalem on Pentecost Day and hear Peter’s sermon [Acts 2:10]. Some of these Roman visitors were evidently converted to Christ; and when they returned to Rome they established a Christian church. About 25 years later when Paul wrote to them there was a large group of Christians consisting of both Jews and Gentiles.

PAUL’S PURPOSE FOR WRITING TO THE ROMANS

We can name at least four purposes of Paul in writing to the Romans. 1) Paul intended to visit Rome while on his way to Spain (15:23-24). His letter would prepare the Roman Christians for his visit. While in Rome, Paul perhaps intended to seek the support of the Roman Christians for his missionary journey to Spain. As Antioch had been the starting place for his mission journeys in the east, perhaps he thought Rome could be the starting place for mission journeys in the west. 2) More complete instruction in doctrine was needed among the Roman Christians. Perhaps an apostle had never been present to thoroughly instruct them. A letter from Paul could do much to instruct the Romans thoroughly in an understanding of the Gospel. 3) There seems to have been some problems between the Jews and Gentiles in the Roman church. Through his letter Paul wanted to show both Jews and Gentiles that they are united by faith in Jesus Christ (3:27-29). 4) By his letter, Paul also intended to encourage the Romans in their Christian living (Chaps. 13-15).

THE SPECIAL EMPHASIS

In Romans Paul seeks to emphasize especially one all-important truth: MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. When Christ died on the cross and paid for all sins, God justified the whole world; that means that He declared the whole world to be righteous or holy. As individuals we receive this gift of justification through faith in Christ. The law could justify no one, because everyone has broken it; that is true of both Jews and Gentiles; the law has no power to declare anyone holy. But both Jew and Gentile are justified freely by God’s grace through Jesus’ great work on the cross. This is the great and comforting truth that Paul emphasizes in Romans. The doctrine of justification is the central doctrine of the whole Bible. A church either stands or falls with the doctrine of justification. If a church announces justification through faith in Jesus Christ, that church is a Gospel church and offers life and salvation. If a church pushes aside the Bible’s teaching of free justification, that church is a law church and has nothing to offer to sinners. A church that loves the Book of Romans with its clear and beautiful teaching of free justification through Christ is a church that stands firmly on the Gospel; it is a church that can hand life to sinners.

THEME AND OUTLINE

Theme: “MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST” 1. Paul explains the doctrine of justification (1-11). 2. Paul encourages holy living from those who are justified (12-16).

SOME IMPORTANT PASSAGES FROM ROMANS

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (3:23-2). “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (3:28). “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8). “Just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (5:19). “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6:11). “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – which is your spiritual worship” (12:1b)

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Acts

ACTS

THE BOOK’S TITLE

The author of Acts perhaps did not put a title at the beginning of his book. But one early copy of the book gives it the title “Acts,” meaning “accomplishments” or “works.” Whose acts or accomplishments are referred in the title? “The Acts of the Apostles” is one answer to the question. In fact some early copies give the book that more complete title. The Book of Acts indeed tells of the acts of the Apostles Peter and Paul and others. But a more accurate title of the book would be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” It is the Spirit’s work that the book relates. The Holy Spirit is mentioned directly in the book about 70 times. It is the Spirit who caused the church to grow through the Gospel of Christ. It is the Spirit who made Peter and Paul and the others bold to witness of Christ. It is the Spirit who caused the book’s human author to write of His work in the infant years of the Church. “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” would therefore be a fitting title for the fifth book of the New Testament.

THE AUTHOR OF ACTS

We have already discussed the authorship of Acts in connection with the Gospel of Luke. See New Testament Lesson 6, page 111, for that discussion. It is commonly accepted that Luke, the doctor, is the author of Acts as well as the third Gospel. From the “we sections” of Acts we know that Luke was an eyewitness of many of the events he relates. He was with Paul at Philippi (ch.16); he accompanied Paul to Jerusalem (chs. 20-21); he sailed with Paul on the shipwrecked voyage to Rome (chs.27-28). The events that he did not witness himself he had opportunity to hear about first-hand from Paul, Barnabas and the other church leaders. We can be sure that he “carefully investigated everything” before he recorded it in Acts, just as he did before writing his Gospel [Luke 1:3].

WHERE, WHEN, AND TO WHOM WRITTEN?

The place of writing is not mentioned in Acts, but many scholars think the book was written in Rome. Acts ends with Paul awaiting trial in Rome. Since this is told in one of the “we sections,” Luke was with him in Rome. This may suggest that Luke wrote Acts while still in Rome. Acts was probably written about 61-63 A.D. These are the approximate years of Paul’s Roman imprisonment while awaiting trial as told in the last chapter of Acts. The sudden ending of the book makes it sound like the book was written at the end of his imprisonment. Acts, like Luke’s Gospel, was written first to Theophilus. It was probably intended first for Gentile readers.

SOME SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF ACTS

  1. The work of the Holy Spirit is stressed in Acts. Jesus’ words in 1:8 already prepare us for this emphasis on the Spirit’s work in Acts: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” Pentecost, the Holy Spirit’s great day, is told of in ch. 2. It is the Spirit who fills the disciples and makes them able to witness (4:8; 13:9 etc.). It is the Spirit who causes the young Church to grow by creating faith in hearts (2:47). It is the Spirit who chooses men for His work (13:2). It is the Spirit who continuously guides the Church (15:28; 16:6-10).
  2. The Book of Acts is all about mission work. One of its main purposes is to tell how the Christian Church grew from a small group of Jewish believers in Jerusalem into a world-wide Church.
  3. The Book of Acts contains many speeches. Many of the speeches are sermons telling the Good News of Christ and urging faith in him. Others are speeches defending the Christian faith. It is important to notice that the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is often the main theme of these speeches. Without his resurrection, the apostles would have nothing worth talking about.

A THEME AND GENERAL OUTLINE FOR ACTS

Theme: “THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE APOSTLES” 1. In Jerusalem (1-7) 2. In Judea and Samaria (8-12) 3. Around the Mediterranean world (13-28) Notice that this theme and outline is derived from Jesus’ words in 1:8.

A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE CONTENTS OF ACTS

The Book of Acts covers a period of about 30 years, from the Ascension of Jesus to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. This would be about 30-63 A.D.

1.IN JERUSALEM (1-7)

Luke first summarizes what he wrote in his Gospel. The disciples wait for the coming of the Spirit and choose Matthias as the successor Judas. The Holy Spirit is poured out on Pentecost. After Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the “mustard seed” Church begins its growth. A crippled beggar is healed by Peter. The Sanhedrin tries to stop Peter and John from teaching in the name of Jesus. But the young Church prospers. The Church is generous in its giving, but Ananias and Saphira lie to the Holy Spirit. The Apostles heal many. When they are persecuted for preaching of Christ, they are happy to be considered worthy of suffering for their Savior. They never stop telling the Good News that Jesus is the Christ. Seven special men are chosen to help distribute food to the poor. One of them, Stephen, is seized and stoned to death. He becomes the first Christian martyr. A young enemy of the Church named Saul is present at the stoning of Stephen.

2.IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA (8-12)

Because of the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem, many of them scatter throughout Judea and Samaria. This helps the Church to grow. Saul works at destroying the Church. Philip proclaims Christ in Samaria and later to an Ethiopian in the south. Miraculously, Saul is converted to Christ when he is on his way to Damascus to imprison Christians. The former enemy of the Church begins to speak boldly about his new-found Savior. At Caesarea Peter receives a vision showing that the time of “clean” and “unclean” meats is finished. The Old Testament ceremonial laws no longer apply. At the home of Cornelius Peter explains that God now accepts Jews and Gentiles alike. Jesus is the Lord of all. The Judean Christians accept the fact that Jesus is Savior of both Jew and Gentile. The church in Antioch of Syria grows. Saul (Paul) and Barnabas minister to the church in Antioch, where disciples of Jesus were first called “Christians.” The Christians of Antioch help the Christians in Judea during a time of famine. Herod Agrippa I put to death James, the brother of John. He also imprisons Peter, but Peter miraculously escapes.

3. AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN WORLD (13-28)

Paul begins his first missionary journey. The church at Antioch sends off Paul, Barnabas and John Mark, their helper. They go to Cyprus, Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, and finally back to Syrian Antioch for furlough (13-14). After a council in Jerusalem Paul again leaves from Syrian Antioch on his second missionary journey. Silas goes with him. At Lystra Timothy joins them. At Troas Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Paul goes, and the Gospel is preached on European soil. Paul proceeds to Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. From there he goes to Ephesus and on to Jerusalem and Syrian Antioch (15:40 – 18:22). Paul begins a third missionary journey. He travels throughout Galatia and Phrygia to strengthen the disciples. He returns to Ephesus and then journeys through Macedonia and Greece and on to Troas. From Troas he travels back to Jerusalem (18:23 – 21:16). At Jerusalem Paul is arrested after some Jews from Asia stir up a crowd against him and a riot follows. In Caesarea Paul appears before Felix, Festus and Herod Agrippa II. Because Paul is a Roman citizen, he appeals to be taken to Rome for trial before Caesar. Festus gives permission and says “To Caesar you will go!” (12:17 – 26:32). Paul sails to Rome, suffering shipwreck on the way. Acts closes with Paul awaiting trial in Rome. He never stops teaching about Jesus Christ (27-28).

SOME CHAPTER NUMBERS FROM ACTS TO MEMORIZE

2The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost 5Ananias and Saphira 7The Stoning of Stephen 8Philip and the Ethiopian 9Saul’s Conversion 13-21Paul’s Three Missionary Journeys 27-28Paul’s Journey to Rome for Trial

A TIME-CHART OF ACTS EVENTS

(Note that dates are only approximate) A.D. 30Pentecost 32/35Paul is converted 46/47First Missionary Journey 48-51Second Missionary Journey 53-58Third Missionary Journey 58Paul Arrested in Jerusalem 58-60Paul Imprisoned in Caesarea 60-61Paul’s Journey to Rome for Trial 61-63Paul’s Imprisonment in Rome (end of Acts)

EMPERORS, GOVERNORS, AND HERODIAN KINGS DURING NEW TESTAMENT TIMES

ROMAN EMPERORS Augustus(27 B.C. – 14 A.D.) Jesus’ birth and youth Tiberius(14-37) Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection Caligula(37-41) Paul converted Claudius(41-54) Paul’s missionary trips Nero(54-68) Christians persecuted; Peter and Paul martyred Galba, Otho, Vitellius(68-69) Vespasian(69-79) Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Titus(79-81) Domitian(81-96) Christians persecuted; Revelation written

GOVERNORS OF JUDEA AND PALESTINE MENTIONED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Pontius Pilate (26-36 A.D.) Jesus’ trial and crucifixion Antonius Felix (52-60) Paul’s trial in Caesarea (Acts 24) Porcius Festus(60-62) Paul’s trial in Caesarea (Acts 25)

HERODIAN KINGS MENTIONED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.) Jesus’ birth Archelaus(4 B.C. – 6 A.D.)son of Herod the Great; ruled in Judea Herod Antipas (4 B.C. – 39 A.D.)son of Herod the Great; killed John the Baptist; Jesus’ trial in Galilee and Perea Philip (4 B.C. – 34 A.D.) in Iturea and Trachonitis Herod Agrippa I (37-44)killed James the brother of John and imprisoned Peter (Acts 12); ruled all of Palestine; grandson of Herod the Great Herod Agrippa II (50-93)great-grandson of Herod the Great; Paul’s trail in Caesarea (Acts 25-26)

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Luke

LUKE

THE WRITER OF THE THIRD GOSPEL

Very early Christian tradition says that Luke is the author of the third Gospel. Already in the Second Century A.D., Christian church fathers pointed to Luke as the author. We also have further evidence of Luke’s authorship. It is evident that the third Gospel and the Book of Acts were written by the same person. This is commonly accepted for the following reasons: 1) Both books are dedicated to the same man, Theophilus (Luke 1:3 & Acts 1:1). 2) The writer of Acts refers back to his first book written to Theophilus. 3) The style of writing in the two books seems to show that the same man wrote both books. If we can learn who wrote the Book of Acts, then we will know at the same time the author of the third Gospel. By carefully studying the Book of Acts and certain passages from three of Paul’s Epistles, we can discover that Luke must have been the author of Acts. It is the so-called “we sections” in Acts that point to Luke as the author. In these sections, the author shows that he is with Paul since he writes in the first person. He says, “We got ready … we put to sea … we traveled” etc. (The “we sections” of Acts are 16:10-17; 20:5 – 21:18; 27:1 – 28:16). Three passages from Paul’s Epistles say that Luke was with Paul at various times. (These passages are Col. 4:14;Philemon 24; and 2 Tim. 4:11). It seems that of all the various people who were with Paul on his journeys, only Luke could have possibly written the “we sections.” Since Luke wrote Acts, and Acts and the third Gospel were written by the same man, then Luke must have also written the third Gospel. We therefore have two good reasons for saying that Luke wrote the third Gospel: early Christian tradition and evidence within Acts and the Epistles. Luke’s name is mentioned just three times in the New Testament – in the three Epistle passages listed above. Those passages together with what we learn in the Acts “we sections” tell us all that we know for certain about Luke. Col. 4:4 tells us that Luke was a doctor and a dear friend of Paul. It seems that Luke was a Gentile; we gather this from the context of the Colossians passage. (Read Col. 4:10-14 where Paul sends greetings first from Jewish friends and then Gentiles.)

WHEN, WHERE, AND TO WHOM WRITTEN?

Luke probably wrote before 70 A.D., since he does not mention the actual fall of Jerusalem in that year but does prophesy it in his 21st chapter. He probably wrote his Gospel after Matthew and Mark, as the words in his introduction in 1:1-4 show. Sometime in the 60s A.D. might be a reasonable guess for when Luke wrote his Gospel. Many scholars think that Luke wrote his Gospel from the city of Rome, since Luke was staying with Paul while Paul was in prison in Rome. Other guesses have been Greece and Caesarea. From Luke’s introduction we know the first person for whom his Gospel was written – Theophilus. This man is called “most excellent,” a title showing that he was in a high position. He was probably a Gentile who was converted to Christianity sometime before Luke addressed his Gospel to him. It is commonly understood that Luke’s Gospel was intended first for Gentiles.

SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF LUKE’S GOSPEL

1.Luke stresses the theme that Christ and his Gospel are for all people. His genealogy in chapter 3 traces Jesus all the way back to Adam, the father of all nations. (Compare Matthew’s genealogy.) He dates Jesus’ life according to things in world history and not just Jewish history (2:1; 3:1-2). Special references are made in Luke relating to the Gentiles (2:32; 3:6; 4:25-27; 14:15-24). 2.Luke has the longest and most detailed account of Jesus’ Nativity. 3.Luke often presents Jesus as one who prays, suggesting the importance of prayer in the life of Christians (3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18; 11:1; 22:39-46 23:34 & 36 and others). 4.Luke gives special consideration to women in his Gospel (1:26-56; 7:11-17; 8:1-3; 8:43-48; 10:38-42; 13:16: 23:28 and others).

AN OUTLINE FOR LUKE

Theme: “JESUS IS THE SAVIOR OF ALL PEOPLE”

  1. The Savior’s Birth and Childhood (1-2)
  2. The Savior’s Ministry (3-18)
  3. The Events of Holy Week, the Resurrection and Appearances of the Savior (19-24)

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Mark

MARK

THE WRITER OF THE SECOND GOSPEL

The second Gospel does not name its author. But very early Christian tradition says that the author is Mark. Papias (ca. 60-130 A.D.) tells us that Mark wrote what the Apostle Peter had told him. “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord.” We have no good reason to doubt that Mark was the human author whom the Holy Spirit led to write the second Gospel. Mark’s name is mentioned 10 times in the New Testament. His full name is John Mark. “John” is a Hebrew name for “the Lord is gracious;” and “Mark” is a name from the Latin that means “a big hammer.” Some scholars think that the first reference to John Mark is found in [Mark 14:51-52]. This strange incident is mentioned only by Mark. John Mark is mentioned by name for the first time in [Acts 12:12]. There we hear that his mother’s name was Mary and that her house in Jerusalem was a place where early Christians gathered to pray. [Acts 13:5] tells us that John Mark went along with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary trip. He served as their “helper.” John Mark went with them as far as Perga in Pamphylia and then went back to Jerusalem (13:13). When Paul and Barnabas were about to start their second missionary trip, Paul refused to let John Mark come with them because he had deserted them on the first trip [Acts 15:37-38]. Paul then took Silas with him, while Barnabas and John Mark sailed for Cyprus. It is evident that Paul and John Mark were later reconciled with each other. See these verses: [Philemon 24]; [Col. 4:10] (John Mark is called “the cousin of Barnabas” in this verse); [2 Tim. 4:11]. Peter also makes reference to John Mark. In [1 Peter 5:13] Peter calls him “my son Mark.” This is probably an expression of Peter’s close relationship with him. If the early Christian tradition is true, Peter would be the elder Apostle and John Mark is his dear young friend who wrote down what Peter told him about Jesus.

WHEN AND WHERE WAS THE GOSPEL WRITTEN?

Many scholars think that Mark’s gospel was the first Gospel to be written. They think that Matthew and Luke may have used Mark’s Gospel as their outline. About 95 percent of what Mark writes can be found in Matthew and Luke; this seems to indicate that Mark’s Gospel may have come first. If Matthew wrote his Gospel in the 60s A.D., then perhaps Mark wrote his Gospel sometime in the 50s A.D. We have no way of knowing for sure just when any of the Gospels were written; and obviously the date of writing is not important for our faith. Christian tradition says that Mark wrote his Gospel from Rome. In [1 Peter 5:13] Peter indicates that John Mark was indeed in Rome, called “Babylon” in this verse. He may well have written his Gospel when in Rome.

TO WHOM WAS MARK’S GOSPEL FIRST WRITTEN?

From the contents of Mark’s Gospel, it seems certain that he was writing originally for Gentile readers, specifically for Roman Gentiles. We can make this assumption for a number of reasons: 1) Mark uses 10 Latin words in his Gospel that would easily be understood by Romans but perhaps not by Jews. 2) He translates Aramaic expressions for his readers; Jews would understand them without translation (see 3:17; 5:41; 7:34; 14:36; 15:34). 3) He explains Jewish customs and beliefs which would not be understood by Gentiles (see 7:2-3; 14:12; 15:6; 15:42; 12:18). When we put these thoughts together with the tradition that Mark wrote his Gospel from Rome, it makes good sense to say that he was writing for Roman Gentiles.

SOME SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MARK’S GOSPEL

1.Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the Four Gospels. 2.It is “the Gospel of action” instead of a Gospel with long spoken sections like Matthew’s Gospel. Expressions like “at once,” “immediately,” “suddenly,” or “just as he was speaking” serve to keep the action moving along. He does not tell of Jesus’ birth but prefers to get quickly into the action of Jesus’ works. 3.Mark’s Gospel stresses the miracles of Jesus, and thereby shows Jesus to be the powerful son of God. Mark relates 18 miracles of Jesus, but tells only four of His parables.

OUTLINE FOR MARK

Theme: “JESUS IS THE POWERFUL SON OF GOD”

  • Preparation for the Work of the Son of God (1:1-13)
  • The Powerful Works of the Son of God (1:14-10:52)
  • The Events of Holy Week and the Resurrection of the Son of God (11-16)

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Matthew

MATTHEW

THE WRITER OF THE FIRST GOSPEL

The First Gospel does not give the name of its author. But earliest Christian tradition says that the Apostle Matthew is the author. The early Christians were in a much better position than we are today to say who wrote the book. We have no good reason not to take their word for it. Matthew was one of the twelve disciples. He is also known as Levi. He is mentioned in all four of the lists of the Twelve given in the New Testament [Matthew 10:3]; [Mark 3:18]; [Luke 6:15] and [Acts 1:3]. The call of Matthew (Levi) to be a disciple is recorded in each of the Gospels [Mat. 9:9]ff; [Mark 2:14]ff and [Luke 5:27]ff. In the accounts of the calling of Matthew we learn that he was a tax collector or “publican.” He was probably employed by Herod Antipas to collect taxes on goods passing through Capernaum. Tax collectors were generally hated by the Jews and put in the same class as other “sinners.” Jesus therefore shows himself a true friend of sinners by calling Matthew to be one of his Twelve Disciples. Since Matthew immediately followed Jesus when called at Capernaum, we assume that Matthew had some acquaintance with Jesus earlier. After his calling by Jesus, Matthew gave a banquet for Jesus. Matthew also invited other tax collectors and “sinners.” By this action Matthew shows himself to be a real evangelist, since he wants other sinners to learn of Jesus also. Apart from Matthew’s name in the lists of disciples and the accounts of his call by Jesus, we learn nothing more about him in the New Testament. His name “Matthew” means “gift of the Lord.” He perhaps changed his name from Levi to Matthew after he became a disciple. [Mark 2:14] tells us that his father’s name was Alphaeus.

WHEN AND WHERE WRITTEN?

We do not know exactly when Matthew wrote his Gospel. He evidently wrote quite some time after Jesus’ death and rising. This is assumed because he uses the expressions “to this day” and “to this very day” in telling of passion events and resurrection events. Those expressions suggest that some years had passed before Matthew wrote his Gospel. But Matthew evidently wrote before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. He makes no mention of that destruction, even though his chapter 24 prophesies it. If we want to guess when Matthew wrote his Gospel, perhaps we could say sometime in the 60s A.D. We do not know where Matthew was when he wrote his Gospel. Some early church fathers assumed he wrote from Judea; other scholars say Antioch in Syria; still others have mentioned Egypt. We do not know.

WRITTEN FIRST TO WHOM

It is evident from Matthew’s Gospel that he was writing originally for Jewish readers. We say this for the following reasons: 1) Matthew is very careful to point out that the New Testament events he describes are a fulfilling of the Old Testament. Jews, who knew the Old Testament well would especially be interested in hearing this. 2) Matthew is especially interested in showing that Jesus is indeed the Messiah that the Old Testament had prophesied. Jewish readers would have to identify Jesus with the Messiah if they were to put their faith in him. (Go to Matthew 1:1 to see how Matthew immediately connects Jesus with Old Testament messianic prophesies.) 3) Matthew mentions Jewish laws, customs, and locations without explaining them to his readers. Jewish readers would know these things already. Gentiles would need explanations. More than the other Gospels, Matthew serves to connect the Old Testament with the New Testament. He says that the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus’ words and works. He says that Jesus is the Messiah that the Old Testament long prophesied. Of course the other Gospels say this too. But Matthew very much stresses the connection between the Old and New Testaments. It is fitting that Matthew’s book should come immediately after that of Malachi. Matthew joined the two Testaments beautifully for the original Jewish readers and for readers of all nationalities today.

SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MATTHEW

1.He shows Jesus to be the Messiah and King. 2.He shows Christianity to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. 3.He relates long discourses or sermons of Jesus, while the other Gospel writers tended to relate shorter sections of what Jesus said. (As examples, note “The Sermon on the Mount” where Jesus speaks for three whole chapters in Matthew 5-7. Note also chap. 10 when Jesus sends out the Twelve. Note the parables all grouped together in chap. 13.) 4.He emphasizes “The Kingdom of Heaven,” an expression that he uses 32 times. 5.There are a number of accounts and parables of Jesus that only Matthew relates.

OUTLINE FOR MATTHEW

Theme: “JESUS IS THE MESSIAH – KING”

  1. The Nativity of the Messiah-King (1-2)
  2. The Ministry of the Messiah-King (3-25)
  3. The Death and Resurrection of the Messiah-King (26-28)

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

View topics



New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

View topics



About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

Learn more

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.