Week 52: December 24-30
Topic: 1 & 2 Peter, Jude, 1 2 3 John
Today we’re celebrating Christmas Eve as we joyously welcome the baby Jesus into our homes and our lives again this year! In our study, we are looking at some of the shorter letters written by three different apostles each of whom claim the title of the book.
Peter wrote two letters to the Christians in modern day Turkey. These were some of the same places that are mentioned in the book of Revelation. Peter is writing to encourage them in their faith from possibly the capital city, Rome (aka Babylon). Peter talks about many of the different basic topics that would have been impacting the Christians of the first century. He encourages them to stay strong in the face of adversity and even persecution. He talks about teaching different levels of faith and the types of teaching that is needed relating it to the development of babies and kids. We have to start off with pure milk because we’re not able to handle the substance as newborns, but the goal such as growing up is to be able to eat a healthy diet as we have tasted that the Lord is good! Peter introduces the role of all believers in the priesthood as each Christian has the ability to share and minister to the people that God places into their lives. I find it interesting reading through the different sections about the way that Paul and Peter encourage married couples to interact with each other. So many times in our culture today, these words get taken out of context and are molded to fit the worldview of the person who is using them. For men that want to have a dominant relationship with their wife they may try make these into a full submission issue. However, on the opposite side for women that want their independence and freedom they at times throw out some of these passages in favor of the choices they would like. However, we see a balanced view of give and take in each of these passages where God encourages both partners to sacrificially give of themselves to their partner. It doesn’t work if only one person is the compromiser…both have to be involved. The second letter from Peter takes on more of an end times feel as Peter looks towards the end of his life and then tries to reach out with encouragement and warnings to the Christians who will follow him. The main teaching in chapter two is to test the teaching that you’re hearing. Go back into the word to make sure that it is correct. Finally a great last line talks about time in God’s perspective where a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.
Jude starts off his letter by describing himself as the brother of James which would also make him a brother of Jesus. Both of Jesus’ brothers in their letters don’t use their familial status as something to proclaim. Instead, they humbly approach the task of writing to the church to encourage it through some difficult times. Jude is writing to a specific group of friends that faced false teachers most likely starting to cause some questions in their minds about what was true versus false. Jude references many things that would be more familiar to a Jewish Christian such as the exodus from Egypt and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The overarching theme of this letter is one of perseverance and holding to the faith much like the people of Israel did in the times of the Old Testament.
John has three letters that were written towards the end of his life and each one has a different intended audience. 1 John is a letter that would have been sent out to the churches as an encouragement. This is coming from the last living disciple and first hand witness of the time that Jesus spent in ministry before ascending back into Heaven. One of the major challenges in terms of false teaching was Gnosticism which sounded similar to Christianity, but didn’t see Jesus as God. It also had a goal of departing from the earthly body as the spirit was more pure and true than the physical. John’s overarching message is one of love to the people that are reading this. He wants to encourage them to love just as God has loved them. This is a response to the lavish love that God gives to each of us throughout our lives, and especially through faith. 2 John is a letter addressed to a specific family, a lady and her children, that John knew well and was very fond of. The purpose of the letter is to warn them to stay away from teachers that don’t continue to point back to Jesus throughout their teaching. 3 John is a letter addressed to Gaius. This letter is to encourage Gaius in his own faith, but also to instruct him to stay away from some of the false teachers that were becoming more prevalent the farther that we are getting away from Jesus being present with his disciples.