Rich Jones – Titus

The book of Titus is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). The author is Paul who wrote it approximately 66 A.D. Key personalities include Paul and Titus. It was written to guide Titus, a Greek believer, in his leadership of the churches on the island of Crete, €For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you€ (1:5). As was the case with the letter of 1st Timothy, Paul writes to encourage and guide young pastors in dealing with opposition from both false teachers and the sinful nature of men.

The Apostle Paul writes the longest of his letters to a community of Christians in Rome, announcing that he plans to visit them, to be mutually encouraged, and to be sent on by them to Spain. To accomplish the goal of having the support of the Roman Christians, Paul sets forth an account of the gospel that he preaches–particularly about the saving work of God in Christ–and spells out its implications for the Christian life. In addition, he writes concerning the salvation of the Jewish people, discusses some particulars of Christian conduct (life under the Roman government, living together in the midst of disagreements, and fulfilling the law of love). He speaks of his plans for travel as an apostle and sends greetings by name to some twenty-six persons known to him in Rome.

The Apostle Paul writes the longest of his letters to a community of Christians in Rome, announcing that he plans to visit them, to be mutually encouraged, and to be sent on by them to Spain. To accomplish the goal of having the support of the Roman Christians, Paul sets forth an account of the gospel that he preaches–particularly about the saving work of God in Christ–and spells out its implications for the Christian life. In addition, he writes concerning the salvation of the Jewish people, discusses some particulars of Christian conduct (life under the Roman government, living together in the midst of disagreements, and fulfilling the law of love). He speaks of his plans for travel as an apostle and sends greetings by name to some twenty-six persons known to him in Rome.

The book of Revelation calls Christians to remain faithful to God and Christ and to resist the powers of evil in the conviction that God will prevail and bring salvation in the New Jerusalem. The book consists of six cycles of visions, each of which warns of the dangers arising from sin and evil. Yet each cycle concludes by showing readers the glories of worship in God’s presence, which gives reason for hope. The visions make vivid contrasts between Christ the Lamb and Satan’s agent, the beast. The visions help to alienate readers from powers of idolatry and oppression, while strengthening their faith in the salvation God provides.

The Gospel of Mark focuses attention on the last week of Jesus’ life and his death in Jerusalem. Frequent appearances of the adverb immediately in this Gospel express the urgency of Jesus’ journey to the cross. This journey begins at the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry, commencing right away with his baptism and testing in the wilderness. As Jesus repeatedly announces his coming suffering, death, and resurrection, the Gospel of Mark draws its readers into the unfolding drama of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Beginning with angels announcing the conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, and concluding with the resurrected Jesus being carried up into heaven, the Gospel according to Luke offers an account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Luke presents the story of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises. Jesus is Christ, the Lord, the redeemer sent by God to the people of Israel, the one who declares God’s salvation to all people. Jesus proclaims God’s reign, heals the sick, raises the dead, casts out oppressive spirits, restores people to full participation in society, and teaches his followers through vivid parables.

Beginning with angels announcing the conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, and concluding with the resurrected Jesus being carried up into heaven, the Gospel according to Luke offers an account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Luke presents the story of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises. Jesus is Christ, the Lord, the redeemer sent by God to the people of Israel, the one who declares God’s salvation to all people. Jesus proclaims God’s reign, heals the sick, raises the dead, casts out oppressive spirits, restores people to full participation in society, and teaches his followers through vivid parables.

The Gospel of Mark focuses attention on the last week of Jesus’ life and his death in Jerusalem. Frequent appearances of the adverb immediately in this Gospel express the urgency of Jesus’ journey to the cross. This journey begins at the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry, commencing right away with his baptism and testing in the wilderness. As Jesus repeatedly announces his coming suffering, death, and resurrection, the Gospel of Mark draws its readers into the unfolding drama of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus the Messiah whose signal genealogy and miraculous birth are the sign and promise that “God is with us” (1:23). Jesus the Messiah proclaims God’s continuing righteous reign in his words of blessing and deeds of healing. Jesus calls his followers to experience God’s mercy anew, constitutes them as a new community of faith, and then, as crucified and resurrected Messiah, claims all power and authority as he commissions these disciples for mission with the promise that he will be with them until the end of the age (28:18-20).

The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus the Messiah whose signal genealogy and miraculous birth are the sign and promise that “God is with us” (1:23). Jesus the Messiah proclaims God’s continuing righteous reign in his words of blessing and deeds of healing. Jesus calls his followers to experience God’s mercy anew, constitutes them as a new community of faith, and then, as crucified and resurrected Messiah, claims all power and authority as he commissions these disciples for mission with the promise that he will be with them until the end of the age (28:18-20).

The book of Philemon is a Prison Epistle (letter written while in prison), which Paul wrote circa 61 A.D. The key personalities of Philemon are Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus. It was written to Philemon as a plea to request forgiveness for his runaway servant Onesimus, who was a new believer in Jesus Christ. The book of Philemon consists of only one chapter.

This artfully composed letter centers around two early Christian hymns (or confessions) that proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Around these two centers, the Apostle Paul identifies the reality of life in Christ for the Philippian Christians who will soon experience persecution for the sake of the gospel, just as Paul experiences this reality in his own imprisonment. The letter also emphasizes the joy that life in Christ brings to all believers in spite of the outward circumstances of persecution and life in the world.

Paul writes to the Galatian Christians out of deep concern that they are forsaking the gospel that he has preached and are listening instead to the message of certain Jewish Christian evangelists who are arguing that Gentile Christians must be circumcised according to Jewish law. Paul insists that people are justified by faith in Christ rather than by keeping the requirements of Torah. By faith, they participate in the death and resurrection of Christ and now live as God’s children and heirs of God’s promises. By the Spirit’s leading, this life of faith is no longer marked by sinful works of the flesh but bears fruit in freedom that serves the neighbor through love.

A pastoral leader in the early church delivers a constructive but firm warning to a community under his care to be prepared and vigilant in confronting false teachers. Selfish in their motivations, distorters of sound doctrine, and immoral in character, these teachers are to be vigorously opposed and resisted, rather than listened to or welcomed. Vivid examples of similar challenges from the past are cited from both canonical and non-canonical literature, with the aim of providing models of constancy, faithfulness, and resilience within the community. The author lifts up the love, mercy, and steadfastness of God as a foundation for hope and celebration.

The Gospel of John begins by announcing that God’s Word, which brought all things into being, became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. During his ministry, Jesus reveals the power of God by performing seven miraculous signs, including turning water into wine, healing the sick, and raising the dead. In his preaching he identifies himself as the bread of life, the light of the world, and the good shepherd. Through his crucifixion, Jesus lays down his life, giving God’s love to the world. By rising from the dead he shows that those who believe in him have everlasting life.

The Gospel of John begins by announcing that God’s Word, which brought all things into being, became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. During his ministry, Jesus reveals the power of God by performing seven miraculous signs, including turning water into wine, healing the sick, and raising the dead. In his preaching he identifies himself as the bread of life, the light of the world, and the good shepherd. Through his crucifixion, Jesus lays down his life, giving God’s love to the world. By rising from the dead he shows that those who believe in him have everlasting life.

The book of James is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). James the half-brother of Jesus wrote it approximately 48-49 A.D. It was likely the first New Testament book (letter) to be written. The key personalities of this book are James and Persecuted Christians. James wrote this book to Jewish believers to encourage them to endure and live bold Christian lives. James is a book about practical Christian living that reflects a genuine faith that transforms lives. In many ways, it is similar to the OT book of Proverbs.

The book of Hebrews brings a word of encouragement to discouraged Christians. The intended readers once had a vivid sense of God’s presence and later showed bold support for others during an outburst of persecution. Yet as time dragged on, some began drifting away. The author emboldens them by telling of the way Jesus the pioneer went through suffering into glory, making a way for others to follow. As high priest, Christ offered himself as the atoning sacrifice, bringing others into a new covenant relationship with God. People are therefore called to persevere in faith, knowing that God will be faithful.

Ephesians proclaims the unity of Jew and Gentile in one household of God and spells out real-life implications of the gift of reconciliation with God and with one’s fellow human beings. After announcing the priority of God’s action with the news that “by grace you have been saved through faith,” the letter exhorts readers to live mature Christian lives by speaking the truth in love, by separating from pagan influences, and by being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The book of 2 Thessalonians is a Pauline Epistle (letter from Paul). The Apostle Paul wrote it about 52-54 A.D., several months after his first letter to the church in Thessalonica. The key personalities in this book are the Apostle Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Paul wrote this letter to reemphasize the coming return of Jesus Christ. Some of the people in Thessalonica had thought that Jesus had already returned, this letter was written to correct any misunderstandings.

The book of 2 Timothy is a Pastoral Epistle (letter from Paul to a church leader). The author is the Apostle Paul who wrote it approximately 67 A.D. and is probably his last letter. After Paul’s release from his first imprisonment in Rome in AD 61 or 62, and after his final missionary journey (probably into Spain), he was again imprisoned under Emperor Nero c. 66-67. The key personalities are Paul, Timothy, Luke, Mark, and many others.

Its purpose was to give direction to Timothy and urge him to visit one final time. From the somber nature of this letter, it is apparent that Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end (4:6-8).

The book of 3 John is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It is written by the Disciple/Apostle John around 85-95 A.D. The key personalities in this book are the Apostle John, Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. This book is the shortest book in the New Testament and was written to praise Gaius and Demetrius for their faithful service.

The Acts of the Apostles portrays Jesus’ followers from their days with the risen Jesus in Jerusalem to Paul’s mission in Rome. Initial chapters focus on the life of the early community of believers in Jerusalem and the work of the Holy Spirit among them. Called, inspired, and even driven by the Holy Spirit, the apostles spread the gospel throughout northern Mediterranean lands. The story of Paul’s call to spread the news of Jesus is the central emphasis of the second half of Acts. The final verse of Acts summarizes the book’s themes: welcome of all, bold proclamation and teaching about the kingdom of God, and God’s plan as unstoppable.

The Acts of the Apostles portrays Jesus’ followers from their days with the risen Jesus in Jerusalem to Paul’s mission in Rome. Initial chapters focus on the life of the early community of believers in Jerusalem and the work of the Holy Spirit among them. Called, inspired, and even driven by the Holy Spirit, the apostles spread the gospel throughout northern Mediterranean lands. The story of Paul’s call to spread the news of Jesus is the central emphasis of the second half of Acts. The final verse of Acts summarizes the book’s themes: welcome of all, bold proclamation and teaching about the kingdom of God, and God’s plan as unstoppable.

This carefully composed letter centers on the theme of Christ’s sovereignty over all rulers and powers in the universe. The letter is structured in a way that draws its hearers or readers into its center point through a literary pattern resembling a set of concentric circles. It begins and ends with opening and closing greetings. Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession come after the opening greetings and again before the closing greetings. At the structural and thematic center, the letter proclaims Christ’s sovereignty over rulers and powers and promises its audience that God “made you alive together with him,” that is, with Christ himself.

Ephesians proclaims the unity of Jew and Gentile in one household of God and spells out real-life implications of the gift of reconciliation with God and with one’s fellow human beings. After announcing the priority of God’s action with the news that “by grace you have been saved through faith,” the letter exhorts readers to live mature Christian lives by speaking the truth in love, by separating from pagan influences, and by being subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In response to a letter from the Corinthians making various inquiries about worship practices and ethics, as well as a personal report from “Chloe’s people” (1 Corinthians 1:11) that the congregation Paul has founded has fallen to quarreling, Paul writes to the Corinthians, directing them to approach their ethical dilemmas and resolve their interpersonal conflicts on the basis of their unity as members of the body of Christ. The letter recasts themes apparently popular among the Corinthians, such as knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual gifts, in light of the reversal of status implied by the news of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

The book of 2 Peter is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It was written to all believers in general. The author is Peter who wrote it about 63-64 A.D. The key personalities are the Apostles Peter and Paul. Its purpose was to warn against the increasing number of false teachers attacking the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The book of 2 John is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). It is written by the Disciple/Apostle John around 85-95 A.D. Key personality is John. It was written to encourage all Christians not to lose focus of Jesus Christ and to warn against persistent heresy. His key purpose is that his children (the children of God) may abide in the truth and the truth may abide in them.

Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian congregation has deteriorated. In 2 Corinthians, the apostle seeks to rebuild his relationship with the Corinthians, to defend his own integrity as a trustworthy and competent servant of Christ, and to refute what he perceives as the claims by other evangelists of background and gifts that are superior to his own. Paul also encourages the Corinthians to continue collecting funds for the Jerusalem churches. To do these things, Paul makes extensive use of autobiography, writing both about hardships and mystical experience. His tone changes dramatically throughout this letter, shifting from well-reasoned argument, to appeals for affection, to attacks on opponents. Because of the changes in tone as well as puzzling jumps between topics, many interpreters believe that what we call 2 Corinthians is actually a combination of multiple letters from Paul to the Corinthian church.