Read THE Book 2019

Welcome to RTB 2019, a place to read through the Bible in the year 2019 and stay in contact with others who are doing the same thing and have a little hand-holding as you go. Want to jump right in? You can click on the “Read THE Book 2019” tab above to find the most current weekly notes.

Some of my local friends know that I’ve been teaching through the Bible chronologically for many years. My goal was to help you sort out all that confusing timeline stuff so that when you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you have an understanding of where you are, when you are, and what was going on in the world at that time.

In 2017 I decided to do a trial run of a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year discussion group that met every week to discuss what we read as we followed a reading schedule using the traditional book by book order. Have I mentioned that “book by book order” does not flow chronologically? Nope – the books are grouped into sections, but they don’t always flow in the order that the events happened. So to help us along, I wrote a weekly reading guide with three sections: What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? And Who’s Who? This was a one page handout that gave you just a little head’s up about things I thought you might want to know at the beginning of each week’s assigned reading to help you keep your bearings. The trial run turned out to be a success for those who finished.

I have decided to go ahead and make those weekly notes available here on the website so that anyone can read along at their own pace. If you missed the January 1st start date, the notes are designed so that you can start at week 1 any time of year and begin your own journey to Read THE Book. Feel free to contact me and let me know how I can help get you started. It doesn’t matter to me how you use this information as long as it does what I always imagined it might do. If it helps you to Read THE Book, then I’m happy to know I’ve made it a little easier.

Want to be part of the local discussion group? There are two groups to choose from. One will meet in Scottsboro, AL at the First Methodist Church on Sunday nights at 5:00 PM. Another group meets at Jamoka’s Coffee shop in Guntersville, AL Mondays at noon.

And of course, I’ll be having several workshops throughout the year that give the overview of the whole Bible, known as “THE Bible Story.” I encourage anyone local to try to come to this workshop as it will really help you get all the chronology sorted out. You’ll even make your own timeline showing the major people and events from Genesis to Revelation and that will come in handy as you are reading. If you want to host a workshop at your church, just let me know

It is my prayer that anyone who is thinking about making a New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible in 2019 will join with me and let’s make a commitment to each other to do it together! It seems like everything is just a little easier when you have friends who can share the same experience with you. The reading schedule will begin on January 1, 2019 and I’ll have all the information you need well before that, so keep checking back as I post new information here.

Let’s Do This!

Daily Reading Schedule [Word][PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word][PDF]

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Group Guidelines & Reading Schedule

Daily Reading Schedule [Word] [PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word] [PDF]

  • You may use any Bible translation that you are comfortable with.
  • I have scheduled readings for Monday through Saturday with an average of about five chapters a day. Take Sunday off, use that day to catch up, or read some Psalms.
  • Each Sunday I will post notes about what you will be reading the next week. These notes will have three sections: What’s Going On, When and Where Are We, and Who’s Who. These notes are designed to guide you as you read through the Bible and my way of pointing out some things I wish someone had told me the first time I read through the Bible. For example, there are places the books don’t go in chronological order and there are times that when you begin a new book things have changed significantly in the world. I’ll try to help you keep it all straight.
  • You can Subscribe to the blog so that you will get an email notification when a new blog is posted by adding your email on the right side of the screen and hit “Subscribe”
  • I will be leading local discussion groups and encourage you to attend if you can. Or form your own discussion group with friends where you can share your a-ha moments, questions, and reflections with each other. If you are flying solo, please stay connected by following along on the website and use the comments section if you want to ask questions or share your own thoughts. One big advantage to this format is anyone can begin their reading journey at any point in the year and follow along at their own pace.
  • If you are part of the discussion group and you get behind or take time off for vacation, illness, or unexpected what-not, I suggest you rejoin the group when you are able and pick up with where the group is reading. You might miss stuff. That’s ok! Read the notes from the weeks you missed and don’t try to catch up. The goal is to stay with the group so that you can be current on discussions. You can read what you missed later.
  • I have decided not to include the Psalms in our reading schedule. Suggestions for how you might read through them:
    • Read one Psalm every day. There are 150 so you will read each one at least twice
    • Read 3-5 Psalms every Sunday
    • Wait until December (we finish our plan on Nov 30th) and then read all of the Psalms by reading five or six Psalms each day of December
    • Work your way through the book of Psalms any way that works for you
    • I don’t normally recommend the King James Version for daily reading. But the Psalms are at their most beautiful in the KJV. Consider reading them in several different translations
  • Consider keeping a journal as you read through the Bible for personal reflection. Everyone has their own style, but you might want to keep notes and random thoughts as you go along. I filled up a large 5 subject notebook in 2017 with my own a-ha moments and I’ve read through the Bible many, many times.
  • Some weeks will be lighter than others. I tried to keep the readings even throughout, but I want us to come to natural breaks in the story at the end of each week.
  • On the master schedule, there is a place to mark what you’ve read with an X. It feels good to mark things off as you accomplish them!
  • I’ve built in two breaks. One is halfway through the Old Testament and the other is between the Old and New Testaments. Use these weeks to catch up if you need to.
  • If you have never read all the way through the Bible before, your goal is just to keep up and finish! If you have read through the Bible before, I suggest that each time you read it through you find a different goal for that year. For example, you might read a different translation or use a study Bible with notes, or you might use the various maps to follow the story by location, learn the Names of God and see how they are used differently in different passages, etc. The last time I read through the Old Testament, I underlined all the words that God spoke in red. The words of Jesus are often in red in the New Testament and I thought it would be good to see the Words of the Lord in the OT the same way.
  • If at any time you read something that troubles you, ask Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding. You may need to set something aside and trust that as the Lord wants you to learn something from that passage, He will bring it up at the right time. Don’t let it upset you if you struggle with some of the things you read. Bring it to the group and let’s talk about it. There are things that I struggle with, too. It’s ok. God knows our struggles and loves us anyway.

I suggest you begin each day with a prayer that might go something like this…..

Thank You, Father, for Your Word. Please guide me as I read today and help me understand what YOU would have me understand and absorb what YOU would have me absorb. Hide the words and the message in my heart so that I may carry it with me into everything I do. Open the eyes of my heart to what You would have me see, learn, know, and remember. Take me by the hand and walk with me on this journey. Send Holy Spirit to be my guide, my teacher, my helper, and my shield. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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Conclusion

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”‘                                  Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus gave the disciples these instructions at the very end of the book of Matthew. This is commonly known as the “Great Commission.” We, too, are to follow these instructions. As we finish our year-long study of the Bible, it is my hope that you, too, will GO and make disciples. It is not enough for us to understand God’s Word; we must continue to study and spend the rest of our lives living by these Words of Truth and sharing them with all who are put in our path.

In order to fulfill our calling as Christians, we are to:

•        Read the Bible daily

•        Study the Word

•        Meditate on the Word

•        Pray in all things

•        Memorize Scripture

•        Share the Good News

•        Strive to grow on our Christian journey

When God called out to the men and women of the Bible, He gave them the command to GO! And they went. Imagine how different the story would be had any one of them said ‘no’ to God. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Samson, Gideon, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeramiah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, the 12 Disciples, Paul …

The list is long, but they all had in common one thing: They were part of God’s plan to bring His people back into perfect union with Him. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham almost 4,000 years ago that all the world would be blessed. We are part of that blessing and now we, too, are called to GO and make disciples. I challenge you to take that call seriously and go out as God’s ambassador, telling and retelling the Bible story until the whole word hears!

Dear Lord,

I thank You and I praise You for all that You have revealed to us during this study. I ask You to hide in my heart all that I have learned and bring it to mind in future reading and study. I ask that You continue to woo me, drawing me closer to You and giving me a hunger to read Your Word for the rest of my life. Thank You for calling out to me and giving me new life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

“Let the WORD of Christ dwell in you richly.” Colossians 3:16

Reading Assignment: Remember that the Psalms were not part of our assigned reading so take the next few weeks and read through them. You will surely be blessed through them!

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Week 48: Revelation

“He who has ears to hear – let him hear”

What’s Going On?

I’d like to point out the book is called “Revelation”, and not Revelation‘s’. Technically, it’s called “The Revelation to John.” It is commonly accepted that the author, who simply calls himself “John, a servant of Jesus” is John the Apostle, writing about 95 AD from the Isle of Patmos where he was in exile after the fall of Jerusalem. Revelation is a very specific style of writing called “apocalyptic” and while is seems very strange to us, the literary style was common at the time it was written. Revelation is the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament. Daniel and Zechariah are also considered apocalyptic and there are elements of apocalyptic writing in Ezekiel, Isaiah, Joel, and 2 Thessalonians as well as some sections of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. There were also MANY other apocalyptic writings, not only within the Jewish and Christian communities, but there are also writings from Babylon, Assyria, and Greece. So, while it may not be as familiar to us as other forms of literature, Revelation isn’t really unique as a form of writing. The word apocalypse is based on the Greek word “apokalysis” which means to reveal, uncover, or unveil. The word often brings up images of scary movies of the end of the world, zombies, and evil things. But the writings were actually meant to be very hopeful in a time when the world seemed to be falling apart.

Within apocalyptic writings, symbolism was used almost as a secret code that the audience understood, but the authorities didn’t, or least they had no proof of the meanings. John is “revealing” visions that were shown to him but the way the visions are revealed are veiled in images that the first century world would have understood much better than we can. In trying to understand all of the symbolisms, trust your instinct to know the difference between good and evil. The beast, the dragon, the prostitute – all represent the Roman authorities. Revelation contains quotes from 32 of the Old Testament books and when you understand those passages, the new ones make more sense. My guess is, as you read through Revelation this time, you will recognize many of these references and direct quotes from the Old Testament.

John begins by saying that Jesus’ story isn’t over. Although John would probably be the last remaining witness to the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, he starts off by telling the readers that Jesus was going to be active in the future, just as He had been in the past. Of course there were many in that day (and this one) that believed that Jesus had been real but they did not necessarily believe He had anything to do with their lives in the present, much less in the future. The book is John’s response to that – He is real. He is present. He is coming back. It will cause trouble in the world. He has an enemy. There will be warfare. He wins in the end. Stay strong. The reward will be great.

John sends out seven letters to seven churches. Only the church at Ephesus is familiar, the other churches aren’t mentioned by Paul or the other early missionaries but they form a clockwise circle and were probably a common “circuit.” The letters were meant to be copied and shared with all seven of the churches. The message is clear – there has been persecution and it will continue and will even get worse – BUT – there is a future that involves Victory for those who stay strong in their faith and do not fall under the influence of false teachers and false prophecies. John is shown things by an angel, or perhaps a series of angels, and uses vivid imagery to describe the future battle between good and evil. But, after a time of judgment, it is the Lamb who overcomes and reigns in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Mankind will come full circle back to Paradise, under the Tree of Life. Our relationship is finally restored and the earth is once again as it was ……. in the beginning.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Revelation 22:20-21

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Revelation 1-5
  • Tuesday: Revelation 6-10
  • Wednesday: Revelation 11-15
  • Thursday: Revelation 16-18
  • Friday: Revelation 19-22
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Week 47: 1,2 Peter. 1,2,3 John, Jude

To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Jude 24-25

1 -2 Peter – The last time we heard from the apostle Peter was in Acts 15 when he spoke at the Council at Jerusalem. Even though we don’t read much about Peter after that, he was busy leading the church in Jerusalem while Paul was out on his missionary journeys. He and Paul worked together in very different ways to accomplish the same goals. They supported each other. We know that both Silas and Mark spent time with Peter and likely even acted as his scribe for his letters. Peter was martyred between 64 and 68 AD under the reign of Nero. Non-Biblical writings record that Peter was crucified upside-down, saying he wasn’t worthy to die in the same way as Jesus.

The first letter was probably written in the early 60’s. Peter claims that he is writing from “Babylon” which most scholars agree was a symbolic reference to the Roman Empire. He spent much of his ministry in Jerusalem but was also in Rome at some point so it’s not certain where the letters were written. The theme of the first letter seems to be holiness, perseverance in the face of suffering, and encouragement to live for God and God alone. The second letter was written a few years later and deals with the problem of false teachers and false doctrine from inside the newly established Christian church. He clearly states that he was an eye witness to the events of Jesus life, death, and resurrection and his word is therefore trustworthy.

1-2-3 JohnThese three letters were written by the Apostle John, the one whom Jesus loved (John 13:23). We know very little about the life of John after his time with Jesus and a brief mention in Acts 4 when he and Peter went before the Sanhedrin and again in Acts 8 when he and Peter visit the newly converted in Samaria. Later, we’ll learn that he is on the Island of Patmos, off the coast of Ephesus, that likely served as a penal colony, when he writes the book of Revelation. We really don’t know where he was for the years between Jesus’ lifetime and the end of John’s life but it is safe to assume he was somewhere in Asia Minor because he mentions some of these places by name. None of the three letters identifies its author, but there is little doubt they were written by John because the style is very similar to the Gospel of John. In the second and third letters, he simply identifies himself as “the elder.” It is likely that all of John’s writings came much later than the other books of the Bible. Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and most scholars agree John wrote his letters after that, possibly as late at 85-95 AD.

The first letter is simply addressed to Believers. He states clearly that he was a witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and lovingly tells his followers, calling them his children, that they must hold fast to their faith and love one another always. He also warns them of false teachers. The second letter is addressed to a “dear Lady” that may have been an actual person, or it may have been symbolic of a particular church group. Either way, his message is clear – Love one another. The third letter is addressed to Gaius, a Christian in one of the churches in Asia Minor and encourages the believers to show hospitality to those who come to share the true Gospel message.

Jude – The book of Jude was probably written by Jesus’ brother, even though he calls himself a brother of James, also a brother of Jesus and the author of the book of James who was a well-known apostle in the church at Jerusalem. The letter was probably written around 65-80 AD, although there is no way to be sure. Jude is once again addressing the problem of false teachers teaching false doctrine. The letter is his attempt to encourage believers to hold fast to the teachings of Jesus and to be vigilant against the evil of those teaching these false teachings. The message is remarkably similar to 2 Peter. It is likely that whichever letter was written first is being validated by the second letter. The two authors are standing in agreement with their message. Jude reminds them that it is God Himself who will give them the strength to persevere, that He will hear our prayers and answer them. He quotes from the Old Testament, but he also references some legendary stories and quotes The Book of Enoch, which is not a book of the Bible but was an accepted Jewish historical book.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: 1 Peter 1-5
  • Tuesday: 2 Peter 1-3
  • Wednesday: 1 John 1-3
  • Thursday: 2 John
  • Friday: 3 John
  • Saturday: Jude
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Week 46: Philemon, Hebrews, James

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

What’s Going On? / When and Where Are We? /  Who’s Who?

Philemon – “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Paul writes this letter to Philemon while he is in prison in Rome. Paul had met Philemon during his third missionary journey. Philemon was one of Paul’s converts and they had apparently worked together and become very close. Philemon, from Colosse, was a slave owner. One of his slaves, Onesimus, had stolen from him and then escaped from Philemon and somehow connected with the imprisoned Paul, who teaches him about Christ and convinces him to return to Philemon even though his crime was punishable by death. He sends this letter with him asking Philimon not only to forgive Onesimus, but to send him back to Paul so that he can help him in his ministry. This letter was probably written at the same time as his letter to Colossians about 60 AD and sent through Tychicus who accompanies Onesimus on their journey. Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to Onesimus after returning to Philemon. His name is not mentioned after this letter so we don’t know if he was able to return to Paul or what became of him.

Hebrews – The author of this book doesn’t identify himself. Most agree that Paul didn’t write the book of Hebrews although a case could be made for his authorship. It is more likely that someone who worked closely with Paul wrote the letter, perhaps Barnabus, Apollos, or Aquilla. I tend to lean towards Barnabus as being the most likely candidate because he was highly educated and from the tribe of Levi and would have been able to build a solid argument for the Hebrew people to accept Christ as the true Messiah. The letter unfolds in a classic format for rhetoric and the author used his knowledge to lay down a very persuasive case for his audience. The theme of the letter is Christ’s supremacy. Christ is superior to the angels, to Moses, and to Aaron and the line of Levite priests, even the great High Priest. He offers a better covenant, a better sanctuary, and a better sacrifice than any other ever could.

You’ll see references to Melchizedek in chapters 5-7. He was a king in Salem (Jerusalem) who offered a meal to Abram after he rescues Lot in Genesis 14. He is called a priest of God Most High and after the meal he blesses Abram, receives his fair portion of the spoils of the battle, and sends him on his way. We don’t hear anything else about him until we get to Psalm 110:4, which references an order of priests in the name of Melchizedek, who predated the Levite priests by five hundred years and yet was called to act as a priest in addition to his role as king. In Hebrews, the case being made is that there is a line of priests called by God that is superior to the line of Levi. Jesus is the NEW High Priest, not in the line of Levitical priests, but in the line of priests appointed by God Himself. 

He shows how the Hebrew forefathers were saved by their faith and chapter 11 is what I often refer to as “The Parade of Saints” whose faith should be the example for them. The letter is not addressed to a specific person or even a specific place, but to all the Hebrews who were struggling to hold fast to this new theology of Jesus Christ as God’s provision as the perfect sacrifice and the fulfillment of all of His promises. The early Christians were suffering horrible persecution, but for the most part, the Jews were left alone. How easy it would have been to stay safe by rejecting Christianity. But the author compels the readers to stay strong and persevere in their faith. The book of Hebrews paints a picture of Christ in light of Old Testament understanding, where the book of Romans offers the same theology to a people who didn’t have the knowledge or personal history of the Old Testament.

James – We now begin a new section of what is often called “The General Letters.” While the letters before the book of Hebrews were all written by Paul, this new group of letters will bear the name of the author as the book title. James was written by James, the brother of Jesus. He writes about the behaviors of Christians and how they should reflect those of Jesus. Deeds are more important than words, faith should be apparent by our actions, and true wisdom comes only from God.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Philemon 1
  • Tuesday: Hebrews 1-3
  • Wednesday: Hebrews 4-7
  • Thursday: Hebrews 8-10
  • Friday: Hebrews 11-13
  • Saturday: James 1-5
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Week 45: 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus

“I have been sent to bring faith to those God has chosen and to teach them to know God’s truth—the kind of truth that changes lives—so that they can have eternal life, which God promised them before the world began—and He cannot lie. And now in His own good time He has revealed this Good News and permits me to tell it to everyone. By command of God our Savior, I have been trusted to do this work for Him.” Titus 1:1-3 NLT

What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? / Who’s Who?

1 Thessalonians – About 51 AD – In Acts 17 we read about Paul’s visit to Thessalonica during his second missionary journey after leaving Philippi. Apparently, the unbelieving Jews in Philippi caused the Gentiles to question their beliefs and stirred up some trouble, causing Paul to leave suddenly during the night. This letter was then written to the new believers/converts after Paul had sent Timothy to check on things in Thessalonica before meeting back up with him in Corinth. Timothy has delivered a good report and Paul is thankful to hear it and reminds the new pagan converts that their old ways of idol worship can’t compare to the love of God and encourages them to be steadfast in their new Christian faith. He also answers some specific questions concerning death.

2 Thessalonians – Also written by Paul from Corinth about 51-52 AD, this second letter to the Thessalonians offers encouragement and instruction for the new Christian converts. In both of the letters, we are introduced to “eschatology” which is the study of end times. Apparently there were many questions about what happens to believers after death that Paul is trying to answer and refers back to conversations they had when he was with them about the tribulation and the rapture. He tells them that God will give rest to the faithful believers and bring judgment on those who make the CHOICE not to follow Christ.

The next three books are often called “The Pastoral Letters” because they are giving specific instruction to both Timothy and Titus about their role as pastors of their churches.

1 Timothy – Timothy had been Paul’s travel companion and assistant for many years as we saw in Acts 16-20 and was apparently able to visit him during Paul’s time under house arrest in Rome as he is mentioned in Paul’s letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon. Paul had sent Timothy to be the pastor of the church in Ephesus. He probably wrote this letter after his imprisonment in Rome about 61 AD, during his fourth missionary journey while in Philippi. This first letter addresses church organization, behaviors appropriate for the times, and warnings against false doctrine.

2 Timothy – It appears that Paul has been sent back to prison but this time he is not just under house arrest as he had been earlier. He writes this letter about 67 AD from what seems to be a cold and dreary dungeon where he is in chains. He asks Timothy to bring him his coat and we don’t know if the two men actually ever saw each other again but we do know that Luke is with him. As far as we know, this was Paul’s last letter.

Titus – Titus is leading the church in Crete when Paul sends this letter, likely between 1-2 Timothy, about 66 AD. While Titus isn’t mentioned in the book of Acts, he has apparently been working with Paul for some time because he is mentioned 13 times in Paul’s letters. The two men had been preaching the Gospel together in Crete shortly after Paul’s house arrest. Paul asks him to stay and lead the church there while Paul continues on his way.

“May the Master of Peace Himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you!” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (The Message)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: 1 Thessalonians 1-5
  • Tuesday: 2 Thessalonians 1-3
  • Wednesday: 1 Timothy 1-3
  • Thursday: 1 Timothy 4-6
  • Friday: 2 Timothy 1-4
  • Saturday: Titus 1-3
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Week 44: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians

“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the Earth.’” Acts 13:47 / Isaiah 49:6

What’s Going On? / When and Where Are We? / Who’s Who?

Paul wrote the next four letters as a way to keep in touch with the new Christians in places he had already visited. Often, he is responding to specific questions or concerns from the leaders in these newly established “churches” which were really nothing like the churches we think of today. They were more likely home groups where believers formed communities and would gather to support each other in their faith. Paul would visit a place and preach the Gospel message, most likely in the format that we read in the letter to the Romans which was written to a people he had not met yet. He would train up leaders, and then move on to a new place. He stayed in touch with these new leaders and would guide them as concerns arose. So, many of these letters are his response to letters written to him where the leaders were looking for guidance in a specific situation. If your Bible has subheadings within the chapters, think of these like bullet points as he addresses specific issues. While Galatians was probably one of the first letters written, about 48 AD, the other three letters were all written about 60 AD while Paul awaited his trial in Rome.

Galatians – This letter was written by Paul to the people of Galatia, which would include Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe in central Turkey, all churches that Paul founded on his first missionary journey that we read about in Acts 13-14. Paul taught that faith and repentance were all that was needed for salvation, but apparently others were teaching that new believers must be circumcised and follow Jewish laws and customs. You may remember that there was a huge meeting that addressed these issues in Acts 15 – the Council at Jerusalem. This letter was likely written before that event when there were still many unanswered questions. Paul’s views differed from those of Peter, who stayed in Jerusalem and founded the church for Jewish converts who were unsure about how to incorporate their new beliefs with their old traditions. Paul believed that faith trumped works and the Old Testament Law, which was ultimately fulfilled through Christ, was not required for new Gentile believers. Don’t worry, while Peter seems to be opposed to Paul, they are actually more on the same page than it appears. We’ll hear more from Peter later.

Ephesians – Paul had visited Ephesus on both his second and third missionary journeys. Since there is no specific recipient and this letter, unlike the others, does not seem to address a specific question, it’s entirely possible that this letter was circulated throughout many of the early churches as encouragement and general instruction about Christian unity and Godly conduct. This is one of the few places that addresses spiritual warfare and teaches the believer how to stand against the strategies of the enemy.

Philippians – Philippi was a Roman colony in northern Greece and was one of the main cities of Mesopotamia. Paul visited there on his second missionary journey and the Philippian people had supported Paul while he was in Thessalonica and Corinth later in that journey. Luke had accompanied Paul and Silas there and stayed behind when the others left. The theme of the letter seems to be encouragement, in addition to several personal messages.

Colossians –Epaphras was the founder of the church in Colosse in Asia Minor (Turkey) and had gone to Rome to visit Paul with some questions and concerns of heresy within the church. This letter addresses some of the common – and false – teachings that were circulating during the early years of the church. Paul gives specific examples of Christian conduct and instructions for carrying them out. Paul insists that Christ’s preeminence was not to be questioned but was sufficient and required the response of holiness by His followers. Later we’ll meet Philemon, who is from Colosse.

“For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” Acts 28:30-31

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Galatians 1-4
  • Tuesday: Galatians 5-6
  • Wednesday: Ephesians 1-3
  • Thursday: Ephesians 4-6
  • Friday: Philippians 1-4
  • Saturday: Colossians 1-4
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Week 43: 1-2 Corinthians

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 NIV

What’s Going On?

Paul wrote these two letters to a church in Corinth, Greece in response to specific questions and reports he has received. We read about Paul’s stay in Corinth in Acts 18:18 during his second missionary journey. Later, the people of that newly established church are having problems that Paul addresses in these two letter/books. Corinth was a major port city and was buzzing with opportunity, filled with people of many different nationalities and cultures. There was a huge statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of love (think of her when you read the “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13), and where there are Greek goddesses, there are usually temple prostitutes. No wonder these people needed some instruction about living a new kind of life based on God’s kind of love.

1 Corinthians will address several main concerns: divisions within the church, court cases between church members, Christian “freedom” (remember that a large majority of the people in Corinth are actually slaves), marriage, sacrifices to idols, and general immorality – including sexual immorality. There are also questions about proper worship behaviors including the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, offerings, Christian love and unity within the church. The question also arises about the resurrection, of both Christ and His followers.

We learn in 2 Corinthians that there have been some false teachers challenging Paul’s gospel. He will continue to answer some specific questions and address concerns within the Corinthian church. This letter contains some insight to Paul’s burden to not only share the Gospel message, but to care for these early churches and their members. He loves them deeply and is concerned for their spiritual progress. Paul discloses how hard his mission is and that he is willing to suffer humiliation, but his faith carries him on to do the work he felt called to do. So often a teacher is in front of his student, but Paul makes it clear that he is walking side by side with his fellow believers, sharing in their hardships and frustrations. He defends his ministry against those who oppose his teachings, boasting about his sufferings as one who so strongly believes in what he is teaching that he is willing to endure the hardships for the sake of the Gospel message.

Both books include a call for unity. There was much division within the early church and Paul urged them to work together for the common cause. Factions were beginning to arise: followers of Paul, or of Peter, or Apollos. Paul encouraged them to set aside their differences and follow Christ. I can’t help but notice, however, that the teachings of Paul can easily become quite legalistic if we allow ourselves to become wrapped up in following his advice to these early churches more so than to follow the teaching of Christ. Paul was, after all, a former Pharisee. As always, keep your eyes on the Big Picture and know that Paul is always pointing to Christ. This, above all else, is what we can learn from Paul.

When and Where Are We?

Paul wrote the first letter about 55 AD while he was staying in Ephesus which is where he went when he left Corinth. The second letter was written shortly after that while he was in Macedonia (Philippi is the capitol of Macedonia) on his third missionary journey.

Who’s Who?

Paul – the author of both letters

Titus – One of Paul’s Gentile companions who delivers the letter to the church in Corinth and spends some time as an early church leader there before joining Paul on some later mission trips

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: 1 Corinthians 1-6
  • Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 7-11
  • Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 12-16
  • Thursday: 2 Corinthians 1-4
  • Friday” 2 Corinthians 5-9
  • Saturday: 2 Corinthians 10-13
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