Welcome to the General Epistles – Day 3 of our New Testament Overview
Writing about the General Epistles has opened my eyes to a whole new understanding of the New Testament. I have faith it will do the same for you.
Our goal is to not only have the knowledge of how to apply the Bible to our every day lives but to immerse ourselves in it so that we can’t help but reflect the love, peace, and grace of Christ in us. What I mean by that is that I don’t want to just spout of knowledge. I want to automatically live the Word.
However, I believe that before we can fully live the Word, we have to know the basics. That’s why I’m sharing with you this overview of the New Testament.
The General Epistles
The epistles (letters) not written by Paul are called the General Epistles. They’re also known as the Catholic Epistles. This isn’t Catholic as in the specific religion but instead means the church as a whole or the ‘universal’ church.
These letters are all named for the one who wrote them. The only exception to this is Hebrews. It’s not really known who wrote Hebrews and even though I’ve studied several different thoughts on this, I’m not confident enough in that specific research to say who wrote it. If you have researched thoughts on this, I’d love for you to share in the comments at the end of the post.
The general epistles were written to everyone.
Summaries of Each Epistle (in the order they appear in the Bible)
Hebrews mainly tries to demonstrate to the Jewish-Christians of the time that Jesus Christ is the culmination and fulfillment of the Old Testament.
James focuses on living a life full of faith. James encourages us to examine our own faith to determine if we are truly living as Christ calls us to live. He provides biblical methods for praying, having faith, controlling our tongues, comforting the poor, acquiring wisdom and what religion truly is. James is one of my favorite books because it shows us how to apply our faith.
In 1 Peter, Peter encourages us as Christians to trust in God. He wrote to believers scattered all around who were being persecuted. He wrote that they (we) should consider it a privilege to suffer for Christ and that we should continue to stand up for what we believe in despite what others tell us.
In 2 Peter, Peter writes to warn us of false teachers and to follow apostolic teaching.
Like Peter, John also warns against false teachers. He writes about the difference between someone saying they’re a Christian and actually being a Christian. He wants believers to know they are saved and don’t have to worry about salvation. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14)
In 2 John, John writes to warn us against false teachers and says we can know they are false teachers if they abide in the teachings of Christ. (And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” (2 John:6)
In this book, John writes to tell us we should be imitators of God by doing good. He refers back to 1 John 3:10 where he writes, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”
Jude also warns against false teachers. and he encourages the church to persevere.
Each of the general epistles provides encouragement and tells of of the love and faithfulness of Christ. They teach believers to guard against false teachers and to stay strong in their faith. They remind us to live our lives as imitators of God, doing good and loving others as Christ did.
In the next New Testament Overview, we will wrap up with a look at Revelation. I’m excited to share with you the hope it brings as it’s often looked upon with ‘doom and gloom’. We’ll see it with new eyes.
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If you have questions about this lesson or have information about the General Epistles, please share in the comments below.