Finding my way, sharing my finds
Welcome to the third blog in my Holy ScriptNotes series, where I give you a brief summary and review of each book in the Bible (along with one of my favorite quotes from each book), based upon my experience of reading the Bible in a year.
And since we’re starting the New Testament today and there are just so many quotable passages from this section of the Bible, I’m going to give two Quotables for each book.
In case you’re interested in catching up, here is what I’ve covered so far:
40. Matthew: Just like in all of the Gospels, this one focuses on Jesus’s three-year ministry as well as his death and resurrection. In this book, Matthew shares accounts of Jesus’s healing activities as well as his efforts in casting out demons. This book also covers some of Jesus’s better known teachings, including the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables of the Kingdom. This is also where readers will find the Beatitudes as well as the Lord’s Prayer. I found this book to be easy to read and follow and there were just so many well-known Jesus stories covered throughout. And talk about a lot of quoteables. Starting the New Testament was definitely a breath of fresh air after some of the drudgery I experienced in the Old Testament.
41. Mark: If you feel like you have deja vu as you’re reading Mark, don’t worry: It happened to me too! Basically, as I learned, a lot of the stories covered in one of the Gospels is also covered in other Gospels. Each person offers up their own unique perspective but the bones of the stories remain the same. It is quite a trippy feeling, however, when you realize you’re reading another account of the same story you just read. The Bible repeats itself a lot like that. I guess that’s good for credibility. Anyway, Mark really tries to emphasize in his book that Jesus is the Christ/The Son of God. Mark also brings the unique perspective of featuring the experiences of the disciples, the crowds and the religious leaders – none of whom fully understand Jesus until after he died on the cross.
42. Luke: Fun fact: The Gospel of Luke was actually originally a letter addressed to a man named Theophilus. Luke wrote this letter only after carefully investigating the facts about Christ, which makes sense given his scientific background as a physician. This gospel starts with the birth of Jesus and goes all the way through his ministry to his death and resurrection. Another unique feature about the gospel of Luke is that he is the only one to record the parables of the Good Samaritan as well as the Prodigal Son. luke is also the author of Acts, which you’ll see in two books.
43. John: Before I ever read the Bible, many recommended I start out with John. John is written in a different kind of way in that it was written to persuade people to believe in Jesus. This book focuses on seven of Jesus’s signs (miracles), which the author used to show his divinity. This book also includes such well-known moments in Jesus’s life such as when he washed the disciples’ feet and when he encountered Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. It also includes the most well-known summary of the gospel (John 3:16), which says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
44. Acts: Just like the book of Luke, this book (which was also written by Luke) was written in the form of a letter to his friend Theophilius. This book basically covers the actions of Jesus’s disciples shortly after he is crucified. This book provides accounts on how the disciples carried Jesus’s gospel from Jerusalem throughout Judea, Samaria and other parts of the Mediterranean world. By the end, this book has shifted to focusing on Paul and his missionary journeys. Paul was actually against the teachings of Christ but then had a spiritual awakening and became a staunch supporter and missionary for the teachings of Jesus Christ. It was pretty cool reading about his redemption in Christ and this book was easy to follow along to.
45. Romans: So basically, all of the following books in the rest of this blog entry are letters from Paul (formerly Saul, the former naysayer of Christ’s teachings) to various towns and communities as well as individuals. The purpose of Paul’s letter to the Romans was to show that the righteousness of God is found through faith for all who believe. Paul explains in this letter that we need faith because of the sin we all have. But he also laments that many of his fellow Israelites have not embraced the Gospel. He concludes the letter by describing how the Gospel should affect one’s everyday life. Seriously, read Romans 12: 9-21 , which describes the “Marks of a True Christian.” It has so much practicality for everyday living and is one of my favorite sections in the Bible.
46. 1 Corinthians: For historical background, Corinth was on a major trade route in the ancient world, which made it vulnerable to corruption, self-indulgence and immorality. Paul actually planted a church there but it was floundering because of all of these worldly influences. So Paul wrote this letter to address those practical issues that seemed to be dividing the church, such as spiritual gifts, marriage and the resurrection. He urged the members of this church to be unified so that they could do the worlk of God. This book also contains the well-known passage about the nature of and importance of love (Chapter 13), which is often read at weddings.
47. 2 Corinthians: In this second letter to the Corinthians, Paul reviews some of the issues discussed in the first letter but also talks about new issues, such as ensuring that the believers in this planted church were unified in Paul’s mission. Also, at this time, many of Paul’s critics were claiming that because Paul was suffering, he must not be a true apostle. But on the contrary, Paul said, his summering highlighted his dependence on Christ, to the point where he could no longer rely on his own strength but had to turn to Christ’s strength. This letter also has some great insight on such matters as gospel ministry and giving to others.
48. Galatians: The catalyst for writing this letter to a group of churches in Galatia where Paul used to preach was the fact that there were people there who wrere trying to teach that Christians must be circumcised in order to be accepted by God. In this letter, Paul talks about how complete salvation in Christ can be enjoyed by all believers. He also talked about how the gospel of grace is what leads to true freedom and godly living. Basically, the central message of this letter is that one is justified when one has true faith in Jesus Christ.
49. Ephesians: Paul wrote this letter to the churches around Ephesus as a way of sharing God’s eternal plan for all of humanity. While the first three chapters focus on what Christians should believe (such as one in Christ and the mystery of the Gospel), the last three chapters explain the implications of God’s grace for the church, for individuals and for families. Paul likely wrote this letter while he was in prison in Rome.
50. Philippians: Paul actually wrote this letter to the church in Phillippi after they sent him a gift. Paul shared in this letter that he had learned the secret to being content in any situation, even as he sat in prison. And he was quite joyful that people were hearing about Christ. Paul ends the letter with a call the action, asking the members of the church of Phillippi to be unified and to serve as Jesus served.
51. Colossians: Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae in an effort to ward off the temptation to believe false teachers of the Gospel. In this letter, Paul talks about the superiority of Christ and the reconciliation he accomplished in his resurrection. Paul also explains that the right way of living in this world is to focus on heavenly (rather than earthly) things. Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison, likely around the same time that he wrote Ephesians.
52. 1 Thessalonians: Paul wrote this letter as a way of encouraging new believers in the faith as well as to encourage them to embrace godly living. Although Paul wanted to connect with the people of Thessalonica (which was the capital of Roman Macedonia), he was forced to flee because of Jewish opposition. Thus, he sent Timothy to work with the mostly Gentile church there. When Timothy brought Paul good news of their faith, Paul wrote this letter.
53. 2 Thessalonians: Paul wrote this letter shortly after his first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Paul was really proud of how this church was so faithful and how they loved each other so much. He wrote this letter in part to remind them that God would repay their persecutors. Also, Paul wrote this letter to address two ongoing concerns in the church: First, the fear that the Lord had already returned and second, the concern that idleness was spreading in the church.
54. 1 Timothy: An aging Paul wrote this letter (along with 2 Timothy and Titus) to those who would continue his work after him. Timothy had been assigned ot lead the church at Ephesus, which had been plagued by false teachers and which was in need of some order. In this letter, Paul counsels Timothy on church leadership. He closed the letter with a challenge to Timothy to live a life beyond reproach so that he could provide believers with a standard to live by.
55. 2 Timothy: Paul actually wrote this letter while he was awaiting execution. Even though Paul was facing such a terrible fate, he continued to direct Timothy to focus on the hope that is in Christ. He also praised Timothy for being such a great spiritual leader and also emphasized the importance of sound doctrine. Paul also expressed a believe that older believers should be eager to pass on what they know to those younger in the faith.
56. Titus: In this letter to Titus, Paul seeks to offer encouragement and wisdom as Titus is facing ongoing opposition from the ungodly in his congregations. Paul also offers Titus some advice on how to choose overseers (elders) in the church and what qualities to look for. This is one of the shortest books in the Bible but it still had plenty of nuggets to offer.
57. Philemon: This book chronicles a tale of reconciliation and relationships among Christians. Basically, there was this man named Onesimus who was a slave of a believer named Philemon. Well, Onesimus stole from Philemon and fled. But then, Onesimus became a Christian and met Paul. Paul wrote this letter to Philemon, encouraging him to accept Onesimus back into his household, not as a slave, but rather as a brother. Paul even promised to pay whatever debt that Onesimus owed Philemon.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Join me next time as I close our this series on HolyScriptNotes by providing summaries of the final books of the bible: Hebrews to Revelation.