Letters From Other People

Hebrews

To Jewish Christians. They must stand firm in their faith: then follow numerous supporting quotations from the prophets and psalms. Jesus had brought many into God's family. To do this he took human form like them and with it death in order to destroy the Devil, the bringer of death, and release those whose lives were ruled by the fear of death.

The restfulness God provides
Moses was a great man but Jesus, the Son of God, is greater: they must not rebel through unbelief as did those who were with Moses in the desert, and so were not allowed to enter the promised land to live there. In the same way, only those who believe would enter into a life of rest.

Respect for their privileges
God saw everything, and to him everyone would give account of themself. Jesus acts like the Jewish high priest in providing a safe approach to God. They must not abandon their faith: those who did so were impossible to restore because they had experienced all God's goodness and power and yet turned away from it - like crucifying Jesus all over again.

Faith in Jesus's sacrifice superior to Jewish law and rituals
They could be completely secure in God's promise to allow their approach to him. Jesus was said to be the real high priest of whom the Jewish high priest was an imperfect copy; and the religious law was imperfect, too: now each person would know God and his ways for themself. This binding agreement, or covenant, of God's was new, and superseded the old agreement, made through Moses. The outward purification rituals were replaced by God purifying their hearts. The sacrifices to pay for wrongs against God had to be made repeatedly because they were imperfect and were now unnecessary because Jesus, who was perfect, in offering his own life, provided a single sacrifice sufficient for everyone for all time. Chapter 11 follows: a famous catalogue of many from ancient times who did extraordinary things because of their firm trust in God. These were watching, hoping that they would do similarly great things. They must live good lives but not worry about such things as food1, and their lives were to be conducted in accordance with belonging somewhere more permanent than this world.

1Whether food was kosher or had been offered to idols.

Quotes from Hebrews
2:14-15He also himself likewise took part of (flesh and blood), that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
4:12The word of God is quick (living) and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit ... and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
5:15(Jesus) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
9:27-28As it is appointed to men once to die, and after this the judgement, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.
10:4It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.
13:14Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.




James

James called for better behaviour from Christians, especially towards each other. They should care for those without a breadwinner. He warned against discriminating in favour of the rich: he warned the rich that God would destroy them as punishment for exploiting the poor. He also emphasised that faith is of no value if it does not lead to action.

Quotes from James
1:8A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
4:17To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.




1 Peter

Peter writes to Christians in Asia Minor. They were to keep in mind the hope God had given through bringing Jesus back to life, and look forward to the treasures of a future life. Everyone would be judged by God (that was why, while Jesus's body was dead, Jesus went to tell God's message to the imprisoned spirits of those drowned in Noah's flood.) There was nothing unusual about their present sufferings: they were refining them like gold, and should be accepted as Christ accepted his. It was a way of sharing with Christ and they would be rewarded. God's salvation had been anticipated through the ages by the prophets. Consequently, they must live for God and love each other, as they were like stones being built together, with Christ as the cornerstone. They must obey, first God, then the law of the land. They did not belong in this world and must be separate from the ways of those who didn't believe. They must use their gifts fully and be hospitable.

Quotes from 1 Peter
3:3-4... whose (the wives') adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel, but let it be the hidden man of the heart ... even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5:8-9Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith.




2 Peter

A general letter to Christians. Peter writes that they had God's power for living and so must be always increasing their good qualities, thus establishing themselves. Their faith was founded on fact: Peter was one of those who heard God's endorsement of Jesus when he was baptised and saw how great he was. He warned against false teachers and said God would judge them, just like the angels who rebelled1 and like Sodom and Gomorrah.

1There was a rebellion of a third of the angels against God: they were expelled from heaven and are now imprisoned, awaiting judgement.

Quotes from 2 Peter
1:16We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
3:8One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
3:9The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.




1 John

John started by saying he himself had seen and heard the word of life. God was light, so they who share his life must live in the light and truth. They must not pretend they had done nothing wrong but confess it to God and he would keep his promise and forgive them. They shouldn't do wrong, but if they did Jesus Christ would plead their case. God's real children would not continue to do wrong, nor did they have any affinity with worldly things. John warned against anyone who told them Jesus is not the Messiah. They must love and care fully for each other in practical ways, just as God loved them. Their love for each other assured them that they had passed from death to life.

Quotes from 1 John
3:9Whatever is born of God does not commit sin, for his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
3:14We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren (brothers and sisters).
3:23This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another.
4:19We love him because he first loved us..




2 John

John appeals to a group of Christians to love one another and to beware of false teachers.

Quotes from 2 John
v 7Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.




3 John

John writes to Gaius how pleased he is that Gaius is faithful to the truth and to fellow believers. John said he would deal with someone who had snatched power within the church.

Quotes from 3 John
v 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.




Jude

A warning against false teachers who were defrauding and taking advantage of Christians.

Quotes from Jude
vv 22-23 ... of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.


Next section: Revelation
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Introduction and Index     Books of Moses     Books about the time of the Judges     History of the Era of the Kings      The Exile in Babylon     Songs and Wisdom     The Major Prophets     The Minor Prophets     The Gospels     Acts of the Apostles     Letters (Epistles) from Paul the Apostle     Letters (Epistles) from Other People     Revelation     Ten Commandments     Selection From Psalms     Selection From Proverbs     Jesus's teachings and sayings

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