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Monday, June 10, 2013

(70) The Books of John

The books of fellowship.

Perhaps the same man who wrote a gospel and the man who wrote the book of Revelation also wrote these three small letters.  Some think it may have been a different John since he refers to himself as an elder not an Apostle.  But as a technicality, the two terms could be used interchangeably given the right circumstance.  These were written between 85-95 AD from the city of Ephesus.  Although they are grouped together they tend to talk about three different themes and probably were not meant to be grouped together.
The first letter deals with our fellowship with God Himself.  This letter has two themes throughout:  light versus dark and love versus hate.  The second letter deals with our fellowship with false teachers.  The third letter deals with our fellowship with other believers.  Fellowship is our bond between each other.  Bond does not necessarily mean a good thing.  The second and third letters are the shortest books in the Bible
John at this time was not the same man he was during the time of his fellowship with Jesus the man.  He had stayed in Jerusalem unlike the other Apostles.  He stayed because Jesus had told him at the cross to take care of Mary (John 19:25-27).  Although he had a few appearances in Acts (all of them with Peter), he is never heard of again after the 8th chapter.  That is approximately 35 AD.  Paul mentions him in Galatians (49 AD).  Peter and James, the other two of the inner circle, had problems.  James was martyred in 42 AD and Peter was consistently thrown into prison.  John had the duty to take care of Mary on his own.  Assumable after Mary had died John then goes on to Ephesus once Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans and Nero.  Tradition says that John dies of old age, perhaps the only one of the 12 that did so.  Other books are credited as John but not accepted by the Church.
Some of the main points are:
  1. What you do in the dark always come out in the light. (1 John 1:6-10)
  2. Jesus being our advocate is the only way to God (1 John 2:1-2)
  3. Being children of God has more in store for us than we can comprehend (1 John 3:1-2)
  4. Love is an action verb (1 John 3:16-18)
  5. Love is a command (2 John v 5-6)
  6. Good deeds are a sign of a true believer (3 John v 11)
These books were written to reassure that faith is a real thing.  Faith is part of the truth we hold onto and love is part of that faith.  There are some side themes in the 3rd letter that talk about hospitality,  John was stressing how Christians must walk in the light if we have fellowship.  One of the main important ideas written in this set is that truth and love need to go together.  Truth without love leads to harshness, yet love without truth leads to insincerity.  A Christian should not be alone.  We are here for each other.  Unfortunately it is also said that Christians are the only army that shoot heir wounded.  How can we show love to the world if we do not show love towards one another?  Nowhere in history is so much said in so little words.  The books of John say it all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

(69) The Book of Jude

The man who explains how to stand firm.
Jude is a shortened form of Judah, or in Hebrew Y'hudah which can be translated as "praise Yahweh".  It is also a form of Judas.  There were six men associated with New Testament times named one of the three ways.  Judas Iscariot; but this is 100% sure he did not write this book since he hung himself even before Jesus gave up His spirit.  There was Judas of Galilee who led a revolt during the time of Christ but died in it in 6 AD (Acts 5:37).  There was Judas, the man who Paul went to go see on Straight Street that remains a possibility.  There was a man named Judas Barsabbas who was a traveler with Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:22) which is a possibility.  Thaddeus was also known as Judas.  And then there is the most widely accepted author of Judas, the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3).  It says in Jude that he was also a brother of James (who was also a brother of Jesus).  It was written in 65 AD but no one is really sure from where.
Jude is the only NT book with a direct reference to the Apocryphal books.  It says that Michael and satan argued over what to do with Moses' body, a reference only found in the book called the Assumption of Moses.  Because of this reference it was hard for many in the early church to accept its authenticity.  It also references a book called Enoch.  The number three pops up all over the letter; many of his examples are in groups of three.  Ex)  To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.  The book tends to take on a prophetic feel to it, making it a perfect lead into the book of Revelation.
As mentioned earlier Jude was a brother (half) of Jesus and full brother of James, the leader of the Church in Jerusalem.  Jude was not a believer at first (John 7:5), but as we can see he eventually became a trusted brother IN Christ and not just OF Him.
Main point of this book is:
  1. Persevere (vs 17-22).
Just from this one context we get what the whole book is about.  In the future the Church needs to stay strong in their faith because in the end there will be many false teachings that will steer many away.  Many will be divided by earthly ideas and follow their natural instincts like animals instead of following their spirit like humans should.  One of the shortest books in the whole Bible but perhaps one with the most truth to it.  Even today the Church itself seems to follow earthly ideas and live amongst the culture instead of trying to change it.  PC will destroy the Church.

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