“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 John – These 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