General Letters and Revelation
September 29, 2021
General Letters & Revelation
Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, 3 John, Jude, Revelation
The General Letters
-Hebrews through Jude are called “general letters” because they were written to a general audience. Some of them were addressed to a large group of churches, and some do not give details about the readers. We know only that their readers were people in many cities who needed advice and encouragement in the Christian life.
Jesus is Superior (Hebrews)
-Hebrews is unique in that it doesn’t name the sender or addressee.
-It reads more like an essay than a letter and shows how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament law.
-The content of Hebrews shows us that it was written to Jewish Christians who had a solid understanding of the Old Testament.
-Because this understanding is assumed, it is good for today’s Christian to read Hebrews contextually with the Old Testament in hand.
-Theme: Hebrews shows the believer in Christ that Jesus is better than the old covenant.
-1:1-2, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…
-The writer of Hebrews wanted his readers to know that Jesus brought the great message from God that the Old Testament promised. God no longer needs many prophets and many methods. He has spoken once and for all through Jesus Christ.
-Our response to our Superior Savior:
• pay close attention to His Word so we don’t drift (2:1).
• consider (fix our eyes on) Jesus (3:1).
• choose not to harden our hearts and to encourage others not to harden their hearts through unbelief (3:12–13).
• draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (10:22).
• hold fast to the profession of our faith (10:23).
• spur on (or provoke) one another toward love and good deeds (10:24).
• meet together to encourage each other (10:25).
• praise God with our words and good deeds (13:15–16).
You Can Do It! (James)
-Likely author: James, brother of Jesus, leader of the church at Jerusalem
-Because of persecution, Jewish Christians wondered if serving Jesus was really right. James wrote to encourage them in Christian living. “No matter what happens to you,” James was saying, “you can live like a Christian.”
- 1:2-3: Consider it joy when you suffer because trials produce patience
- 1:12: Realize that God will reward you for your suffering
- 1:22-23: Obey the Word
- 5:7: Be patient until Christ’s coming
-James urges his fellow Christians to learn self-control. (1:12-14)
• Control your temper by being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (1:19–20).
• Control your tongue by saying the right things (1:26; 3:3–12).
• Control your desires by asking God for things with right motives (4:1–3).
• Control your pride by submitting to God (4:7), by humbling yourself (4:10), and by not boasting (4:16).
-Another theme: A changed lifestyle is the evidence that our faith is genuine. (1:22-25; 2:21-24)
It’s Going to Be Okay! (1 Peter)
-Peter wrote his first letter to Jewish and Gentile Christians who were scattered throughout various provinces.
- 1:3-6: Rejoice in your inheritance
- 2:13-14: Submit to the government
- 3:9: Repay evil with good
- 3:13-15: Do not be afraid. Be ready to explain what you believe
- 4:1: Arm yourself with a Christlike attitude
- 4:12-16: Rejoice that you suffer for the cause of Christ
- 4:19: Commit the keeping of your soul to your faithful Creator
- 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on the Lord because He cares for you
True or False? (2 Peter)
-Peter writes his 2nd letter to warn believers about false teachers (2:1).
-“Jesus is coming back!” Peter says. There will be a judgment day. The false teachers and their followers will be revealed and destroyed. Those who follow truth will be rescued from a world of lies.
-He’s coming! Just be patient. God is patient too. According to 2 Peter 3:9, God waiting before He sends His Son back to earth because He wants everyone to repent and be saved.
-As we await the 2nd coming of Jesus, with God’s enablement, we are to seek to be peaceable, spotless, and blameless. (3:14)
Keeping Jesus Central (1, 2, 3 John)
-Through these three letters, John shared wisdom gleaned from many years of experience. He summarized the Christian life and told how we can walk closer with God.
-First John was written to a church (or churches) in Asia Minor. It was circulated among these churches and became popular reading material for worship services.
-John’s second letter was directed to a specific church that John hoped to visit soon (vs. 12). He called this church “the elect lady.”
-Gaius, a close friend of John, received the third letter.
-In all three letters, John has three themes:
• 1 John 1:6; 2 John 1–2; 3 John 3–4: Truth
• 1 John 2:3–6; 2 John 6; 3 John 11: Obedience
• 1 John 3:11; 4:7; 2 John 5–6; 3 John 1: Love
*Jesus is the Source of truth and the Example and Enabler of obedience and love.
The Gospel is Worth Fighting For (Jude)
-Jude, a brother of Jesus, wrote this letter to warn and encourage believers to watch out for false teaching that perverted the grace of God and denied the Lord Jesus Christ (4).
-He points out that the true Gospel if Jesus Christ is worth fighting to maintain amongst ourselves (3).
- Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
-In vv. 5-7, he points out that God does not tolerate distortions of His Word.
-Believers are told to be careful of false teaching, (17-19), grow in faith and the love of God (20-21), and to mercifully point others away from false ways of thinking (22-23).
The End is the Beginning (Revelation)
-Revelation 1:1 says that this last book of the Bible is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. God gave this book to show His servants what must soon take place (1:1). He made it known by sending His angel to His servant, John (1:1). This is the apostle John who also wrote the fourth Gospel and three letters.
- Revelation: uncovering; revealing; making something known
-This special message from God came to John in a vision. John put it in the form of a letter to the seven churches in Asia (1:4).
-When he wrote this letter, John was on the island of Patmos (1:9) because about A.D. 95, the emperor Domitian banished John from Ephesus to this island because he preached the gospel.
-Through John, Jesus sent a message for seven of His churches (2-3).
-Revelation is a book of warning. Jesus is coming to judge the world. He will reward His followers and punish His enemies.
-Chapters 4–18 issue the warning of judgment to nonbelievers and the message of comfort to Christians. He used beasts, a dragon, angels, plagues, and many other symbols to describe the terrible days when God will judge the earth.
-Chapter 19 describes the great rescue of God’s people.
-Chapter 20 tells of the judgment of Jesus Christ, the Book of Life, and the lake of fire.
-Chapter 21-22 describe the “New Jerusalem” where God and all saints will dwell forever.
*Study from Route 66: Travel Through the Bible by Mark Reed, Positive Action for Christ, Inc.