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I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude

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New Believers Study
An Overview of the New Testament
by Pastor Ron Beckham


Ninth Study:
I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude

I Peter

All in the Early Church regarded the Apostle Peter as the author of the letter we call 1st Peter.  Critics of the 19th century began questioning his authorship, especially because the Greek of this epistle (letter) was rather good.  But those of Galilee, like Peter, were usually bi-lingual, speaking and writing in both Greek and Aramaic.  Also, Peter admittedly used an "amanuensis" (a secretary) named Silvanus (1 Peter 5:12), who was also called Silas.

Peter wrote to a people "called out of darkness" (2:9), that "were once not a people but are now the people of God (2:10).  These and other verses suggest that Peter was writing to a predominantly Gentile (non-Jewish) audience.  Peter was indeed an apostle to the "circumcision" (Galatians 2:9), but he also ministered to Gentiles (Acts 10:34-48).

Peter wrote from "Babylon" (5:13), but that place had very few inhabitants at the time and the city of Rome was often called "Babylon" as a symbol of its sinfulness.  He probably wrote this letter in Rome.  The letter was likely written before the persecution under Caesar Nero, which began in 64 AD.  But those in the church had great difficulties and Peter's message in this letter is: What is the Christian's proper response to suffering?

II Peter

By the 4th Century, this letter was widely regarded as having been written by the Apostle Peter.  Third Century writers like Origen and Clement of Alexandria, quoted this letter, but it was still considered in doubt as to authorship.  There were other documents at the time which were purportedly by Peter, but were not, such as the "Apocalypse of Peter."  This letter is far superior in content to the writings that falsely used his name.

There are differences in style and vocabulary between 1st and 2nd Peter.  The fact that Peter referred to Paul's letters (3:15-16) suggests a later date for this epistle.  This letter was written shortly before Peter's death (1:14) and it was probably sent from Rome.  His murder occurred somewhere between 64 and 66 AD.  A theme in this letter is truth vs. falsehood.  How can you spot false teachers and guard against them?  How as Christians are we to respond?  How are we to live?

I John

This letter was accepted by the Church from the beginning.  Polycarp who knew John in his youth, later quoted this letter.  Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp in his youth, quoted this letter and specifically attributed it to John.  Everyone knew John and it was unnecessary for him to use his name.  He used similar modesty in the Gospel of John, where he spoke of himself as the "one leaning on Jesus' bosom" (John 13:23).

Early Christian tradition indicates that John left Jerusalem not long before its destruction in 70 AD and ministered in the area of Ephesus.  This letter was probably written in that place, after the writing of John's Gospel.

Major themes in 1st John include love and fellowship with God.  He also writes to refute false teachers.  Because we are in God, we are to walk in His light, His love, and His life.

II John

Some believe the recipient of this letter is an actual lady with children, and others feel John wrote to a specific local church, probably in the Roman Province of Asia, near Ephesus, where John was a key elder in the church. 2nd John was probably written at the same time or shortly after 1st John, around 90 AD. 

He advised walking in the truth, which to live a life based in love.  To do so is to keep the commandments of God.  Included in the letter is a warning about deceivers who deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.  John concludes with a hope that he might soon be with this "lady" and her "children" in person.

III John

Both 2nd and 3rd John identify the author as the "Elder."  He was so well known to his recipients that he did not have to identify himself further.  Both 2nd and 3rd John are so similar in style and content, there is little doubt they were written by the same author.  What little internal and external evidence there is, points to John as the author of both letters.

The letter is written directly to "Gaius," but was no doubt intended also for those who were with Gaius.  John had heard that the recipients of this letter had been walking "in the truth."  He commends and encourages them. 

John had concerns about other local person named Diotrephes, which provides an interesting contrast between the two men.  He concludes with a good word for Demetrius, who probably delivered all three letters of John to the area of Ephesus.

Jude

"Iouda" in the Greek (Of Jude), comes from the masculine name Ioudas, which is seen in verse 1.  It was a popular name at the time - Many were named after Judas (Ioudas) Maccabaeus (died 160 BC), who was a leader of the Jewish armies against Syria, during the Maccabean wars.

This small book was accepted and quoted by the early Church and was included in the Muratorian Canon in 170 AD.  Some, however, disputed its inclusion, because it quotes the Apocrypha, or as some call these sources, the Pseudopigrapha. 

Jude is a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.  The traditional view is that Jude was one of the Lord's half-brothers, called Judas in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.  His older brother, James, was the leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13-21).  Jude did not believe in Jesus before the Resurrection (John 7:1-9, Acts 1:14).  Jude was likely written in the 70's AD.

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You are encouraged to test yourself after the completion of studying I & II Peter, I, II & III John, and Jude, using an essay (written) format.  The section for testing is entitled “Questions” and you may 1) answer one or more of the questions in that section, and 2) send your answers to Ron@FridayStudy.org If you would like, your answers will be “graded” and responses given.

Excellent websites are on the internet, where you can enter words like “Bible Commentaries”  for some really great Bible thoughts from the past, include the following suggested locations:

bullet Go to Google as a Search Engine.  (Try others but this materials came from Google).  Look up Bible Commentaries (there is no
cost to download or copy much of the material)
 
bullet A suggested address is
 http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries
bullet Another is
http://bible.christiansunite.com/commentary.shtml
bullet And 
http://www.gospelcom.net
bullet You might try our Bible Studies at www.fridaystudy.org

Matthew Henry, who wrote about 250 years ago (“Matthew Henry’s Commentary”), is strongly recommended, along with others of that time, such as John Calvin, John Wesley, and John Gill.  You will find wonderful material in those writings.  Also recommended is Dr. J. Vernon McGee (but there will be a small charge for his materials).


Questions

  1. Who was Peter and who did he write to?
  2. Is Peter's theology different from John, James, Jude and Paul?  How?
  3. 1 Peter 1 - What causes faith to grow?  How does this happen?
  4. Verse 11 - The Spirit of Christ was "IN" (Greek "en") the Old Testament prophets.  Does this mean they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit?  How could this be?
  5. How can we be "holy," according to Peter?
  6. What does "born again" mean to you?
  7. Chap. 2 - How is the Word like "pure milk?"
  8. Is Peter saying that we are ALL "priests", when we trust in the Lord?  Discuss this idea.
  9. Discuss submitting yourself to "every ordinance of man."
  10. How can you "submit" to "harsh" masters?
  11. Discuss how Jesus acted when he was reviled.
  12. Chap. 3 - What do you think of "submission?"
  13. Should women wear makeup?  Why? Why not?
  14. What should husbands be like?
  15. Discuss suffering for the believer (Chaps. 3 & 4).
  16. In Chap. 4, what is Peter's attitude toward the spiritual gifts? 
  17. Chap. 5 - Discuss leadership and submission in the church.
  18. How do we "cast... cares" on the Lord.
  19. How do we "resist" the devil?
  20. 2 Peter 1 - How do we obtain and live within the attributes listed in this chapter?
  21. Chap. 2 - Where are we likely to find false prophets?
  22. How is Lot a "righteous" man?
  23. Discuss Balaam son of Beor, including a look at Old Testament references.
  24. Can a donkey talk?  How is this possible?
  25. Chap. 3 - How does God view time?
  26. Does God want ALL to be saved?  How do you know?
  27. How does 3:10 & context fit with the rest of Scripture?
  28. Discuss Peter's attitude toward Paul.
  29. 1 John 1 - Describe Jesus Christ in the light of these words.
  30. How do we walk in the "light"?
  31. Are we sinners even though we're saved? How?
  32. How do we rid ourselves of sin?
  33. 1 John 2 - What are God's commandments? How do we keep them?
  34. How does someone know they are in "darkness"?
  35. What does it mean to love the world?
  36. Discuss the Antichrist(s) of this world.
  37. Can you deny the Son and accept the Father?
  38. 1 John 3 - What are the "children of God"?
  39. How does one "practice righteousness?
  40. How can "hate" be "murder"?
  41. In what way can your own heart "condemn" you?
  42. Again, what are His commandments?
  43. 1 John 4 - Discuss false prophets?
  44. What is God, in the light of 1 John 4:8?  How?
  45. How does "perfect love cast out all fear"?
  46. How important is it when you hate your brother?
  47. Chap. 5 - Who is Jesus Christ? How does He benefit us?
  48. What is the victory that overcomes the world? Why?
  49. How do we have "life"?
  50. Discuss prayer, in relation to 1 John 5:14 & forward?  Are our prayers always answered in the way we ask?
  51. What is sin?  What is idolatry?
  52. 2 John - Does this letter seem similar to 1st John? Why?
  53. Who are the "Elect Lady" and her "children"?
  54. Is 3 John verse 2 a statement that all of us will prosper and be in good health at all times?  Why? Why not?
  55. John "judges" Gaius' behavior and then he "judges" Diotrephes.  How does this fit with Matthew 7:1?  How does it relate to 1 Corinthians 6?
  56. Jude - How do we "contend" for the faith?
  57. Does God have the right to destroy groups of people?  To keep angels in everlasting chains?
  58. Discuss Michael the Archangel in relation to Moses' body.
  59. Look for Balaam in Numbers 22, 23 & 24 & 31:16.  Discuss his error.
  60. How are we to spot false teachers? How are we to live?
  61. Who can keep us from stumbling?

Your assignment is to read the letters of I & II Peter, I, II & III John, and Jude, with the above Questions in mind.  Go into the Internet at the places cited, and read the theologians offered, especially Matthew Henry-and you can find his excellent writings as “freeware” on the Internet.

The next New Believers Study will be in the book of Revelation.

Write with any questions:
Pastor Ron Beckham 
Ron@FridayStudy.org

                      

 

 
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