Thursday, July 12, 2018

New Testament Survey - Chapter 4

Continuation from my class notes:

The Book of Hebrews

The author of Hebrews is unknown.  Many would surmise it was written by Apostle Paul, but it would be unusual for Paul not to identify himself in this letter, since he did in his other 13 epistles.  Since my studies in seminary, I lean toward an author no one else has mentioned...Priscilla.  Paul often stayed with Priscilla and Aquila, and they were under his teaching as they did tent making together.  The theology in Hebrews is very much Pauline, but presented in a different manner.  

Priscilla, being a woman, did not dare mention her authorship of the letter as it would have been discarded by her culture, as well as ours.  She knew women were not respected for their knowledge or skills.  She was very wise in withholding her identity, while presenting one of the strongest writings in a book intended for reestablishing the Jewish Christians in their faith.  They could not go back to Judaism and remain established in their salvation experience.

The arguments made in Hebrews are that Jesus Christ is better:
- than angels
- than Moses and Joshua
- as a high priest than the Levites

The New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant, as the Laws are written on the heart, not on a tablet of stone.  Faith is the key to salvation and results in practical Christian conduct.

The Book of James

James, the brother of Jesus, is responsible for authorship of this book.  The crowd he addresses is the Jews in the Diaspora.  He puts strong emphasis on practical Christian living.

James stresses doing more than believing, unlike Paul.  True Faith does not discriminate; is always complemented by good works; controls the tongue; does not argue with his neighbors; and remains in open communication with God.  Key verse in James:

James 1:22 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New Testament Survey - Chapter 3

Continuation from my notes:

Paul wrote three letters which are considered the Pastoral Epistles:  I and II Timothy and Titus.

The first letter of Timothy is addressed to Paul's devoted disciple who was pastoring in the church at Ephesus.  Paul focused on the administration of the local church.  The epistle is divided into four major sections:  personal greetings; qualities of the laity; qualifications for church leadership; and admonitions to Timothy concerning the ministry.

The second letter to Timothy continued admonitions to him concerning his conduct and ministry.  The two most notable challenges:

2 Timothy 2:15 New Living Translation (NLT)

Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 New Living Translation (NLT)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Paul's second letter to Timothy is considered to be Paul's last epistle written.  However, before writing II Timothy, Paul wrote a pastoral letter to Titus, who was also a young pastor struggling with the difficulties of church administration.  In this epistle Paul focused on qualifications of leadership and content of sound doctrine.

Titus, more than any other epistle, emphasizes grace and good works:

Titus 3:4-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.[a] He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.
This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

This completes the 13 letters written by Apostle Paul, which comprises almost half of the 27 books included in the New Testament writings.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New Testament Survey - Chapter 2

Continuation from my notes:

The 13 epistles that Paul wrote which were included in the New Testament, were not put in chronological order.  Instead, they are in order by size...from the longest (Romans) to the shortest (Philemon).  Here's an overview of each of them:


Paul wrote this book to the church in Rome.  It contains theology and the theme is "The Just Shall Live by Faith".   It gives the doctrinal discussion of salvation and how it relates to the Jews.  Practical applications of Christianity are given, such as responsibilities to God, to the Body of Christ, to adversaries, to government, to weaker Christians, and to others.

I have often said that if our Bible was taken from us and we could only keep one book...the book of Romans has all we need to find salvation and live and grow as a Christian.  Very good book for use in a Bible Study or personal study.

I and II Corinthians

These letters were written in reply to an inquiry from the church in Corinth.  Some of the topics covered are marriage, spiritual gifts, love (The Love Chapter - Chapter 13 of I Corinthians), and resurrection.  II Corinthians gives a defense of Paul's ministry and apostleship, and instructions for giving.

The Prison Epistles - Ephesians, Colosians, Philippians, Philemon

After Paul's third missionary journey he went to Jerusalem.  He was arrested and beaten.  Since Paul was a Roman citizen, he had the right to receive a fair trial, so he was put in prison in Ceasarea for two years to await the trial.  During this time he wrote his Prison Epistles.

Ephesians - was written to mature Christians at the church in Ephesus to encourage their faith and growth.  Paul expounded on salvation was by God's grace, and the responsibility of Christian conduct.  

Colosians - sent to a church in Colossee that Paul did not establish, and containing much of the same material as the letter to the Ephesians.

Philippians - is the most personal of all of Paul's epistles to the churches.  They had supported Paul financially and were dear to his heart.  They were exhorted to live by the example of Jesus Christ and be steadfast in their faith, unified in love, and be humble, putting the needs of others before their own.

Philemon - was not a church, but a person, a businessman in Colossee.  Paul asked Philemon to receive his former servant Onesimus back without punishment.  The Christian principle of forgiveness was the purpose of this epistle.

Friday, May 18, 2018

New Testament Survey - Chapter 1

From my notes, second summer session 1989


Israel, the land of the New Testament, is a small country...about the size of the state of Vermont.  It's approximately 150 miles long and 45 miles wide.  Israel contains the lowest point on the earth, the Dead Sea, which sits 1,400' below sea level.  There are two seasons in this small country:  the wet season from November to April, and the dry season from May to October.  The Arabian Desert on the east influences the climate, which is subtropical and produces citrus fruits.

Overview of the New Testament

The New Testament is comprised of 27 books written to fill specific needs of the church at the time of their writing.  As more than 27 books were actually written, a process, called canonization, determined which books were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit and accurately represented the teachings and doings of Jesus Christ and the early church.

A.  The Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the Acts of the Apostles were written as the disciples began to die off, and no one would be around to tell what Jesus had done and eye witnesses.  It was 25-30 years after the ascension of Jesus that the Gospels were written.  Mark was the first to be written, and John was the last.  The Gospels were both historical and "good news" books.

B.  The Epistles were letters written by Apostle Paul to churches to keep unity as the gospel message spread.  We get our church doctrine from these epistles.  The letters were written to correct false teachings and to encourage and build up the faith.

The Four Gospels

1 - Mark was the first gospel written, and also the shortest.  John Mark, a comrade of Apostle Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, was not a disciple.  Most of his knowledge came from Apostle Peter.  One third of his gospel focused on the passion and resurrection of Jesus.  Unique to Mark's gospel is fast action.  The word "immediately" occurs 42 times in his gospel.  Mark was written more for the Gentile audience.

 2 - Matthew was written by the disciple Matthew, also known as Levi.  He was a tax collector, and he wrote his gospel for the Jewish audience.  He wrote to defend the truth that Jesus was the Messiah by relating Jesus' life with the Old Testament prophecies.  The genealogy includes Abraham and David, describing how Jesus came from royal bloodline...Son of David (King).  Also the genealogy was from Joseph's perspective, through the male line (the father of Jesus.) Matthew used Jesus' reference to Old Testament scriptures being fulfilled.

3 - Luke was also a gospel written by a non-disciple.  Luke was a Gentile aristocrat and a physician.  He was also a companion of Apostle Paul, and the only Gentile writer in the New Testament.  He wrote to Theophilus, a Roman official, who wanted a chronological order of the life of Jesus.  Luke gives the most comprehensive coverage of Jesus' life.  His genealogy was from Mary's perspective, the female line (the mother of Jesus).  He emphasized prayer and the Holy Spirit in his writing. 

4 - John was the last gospel written, and the author was a disciple of Jesus Christ.  He was referred to as the beloved disciple.  He and his brother James were fishermen from Galilee.  John was actually a disciple of John the Baptist first.  As the disciple of Jesus, he was one of three of Jesus' inner circle (Peter, James, John).  John was the last disciple to die, and wrote five books total (the Gospel of John, 1,2,3 John, and Revelation).  He wrote to reach the Jews by referring to Jesus as the Messiah, and to reach the Gentiles by referring to Christ as the Son of God.  John was more theological than the other gospels and emphasized belief, which occurred 98 times in his gospel.


Acts was was by Luke as a sequel to his gospel, and was also written to Theophilus.  It was written with a historical purpose, giving the early church history for the first 30-35 years.  It tells us how the disciples of Jesus changed from fearful to bold and empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which was the beginning of the early church.  Whereas the gospels were a record of what Jesus began to do and teach before the cross, Acts records what Jesus continued to do through His gift of the Holy Spirit after His ascension.

The conversion of Saul (Apostle Paul) and the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas are written in detail.  The letters, or epistles, that Paul wrote, which comprise 13 books of the New Testament, stem from those three missionary journeys.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Aspects of Christian Literature - Class Presentations

Love Comes Softly, Janette Oakes

This sounds like an interesting author to read when I'm looking for easy-reading, fantasy escape type reading.  I have trouble reading love stories at this time because of the longings within me.  It tends to make me focus on what's missing in my life instead of living grateful for the blessings in my life.

My choice of reading for now seems to be that which is beneficial to building the inner life, strengthening the character, preparing me for the ministry God has chosen me for.

The Valliant Papers, Calvin Miller

The powers behind the scenes - guardian angels.  Sounds like a very interesting book/author.  The angel is Valiant.

Phantasies, George McDonald

Fantasies of main character.  Main goal to get back to real life (search for God).  Deep reading, lots of poetry.

Patricia, Grace Livingston Hill

Christian romance series - easy reading.  She had such a spiritually rich background that the influence carried over in her writing.  I've read several of her books, and find her very enjoyable to read.

Two From Galilee, Marjorie Holms

Romantic love story about Mary & Joseph.  I have read this book several years ago, and would like to read it again.

The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Lady is adulterous - letter A to represent it
Has secret lover - minister
Symbolism in his writing

In His Steps, Charles Sheldon

This is an excellent book - leaves one changed in priorities and worldview.  I have read the book and seen the movie.

Pilgrim's Progress, Paul Bunyon

Major works of all times.   Story is of a man's search for eternal life (Christian).  Characters are allegories.  Names of characters portrayed their characters.  Christian is John Bunyon, and the characters re people he had met.  Written from prison.  This is a book I would like to read since it is a Christian Classic.  
(Professor's note:  You will love it!)

Utopia, Sir Thomas Moore

Lots of dialog.
Narrator (Moore, author) and sailor
Utopia - land of no existence, new world based on Christian values

War In Heaven, Charles ?

Struggle between good and evil

Swiss Family Robinson, ??

Family shipwrecked on island

Tilly,   ??

About abortion

Friday, May 11, 2018

Aspects of Christian Literature - Chapter 10


I'm working at Cleveland Helpline today and I just finished preparing my book/author presentation for tomorrow's class.

Joyce Landorff Heatherly has suffered a lot in her life, mostly from rejection.  I sometimes wonder if those who write for the Lord are the ones who have to carry the heavier crosses, and have depended upon God more.  The lessons they learn are so valuable to us.

It is my hope to publish something some day in the form of inspiration reading.  But it may mean traveling through the deep valleys to "gather data".  I've been in two of them thus far, but God is so faithful to bring me through, deeper in love with Him.  

C.S. Lewis captured my attention, and I bought his book The Screwtape Letters, which I'm now reading.  There's so much truth in that book, it takes time to absorb what all is being said.  Lewis, I have respect for, but O'Connor and I exist in two different world.  (I recognize both of these authors are deceased, and we do live in different guess is three different worlds.  (Oops, too judgmental on my part.  For give me.)


Today I gave my oral presentation to the class.  I presented Joyce Landorff Heatherly, He Began with Eve

In all my searching for facts on this author, I really didn't come up with much.  Prior to class I stopped at Nelda George's office and Betty Baldree was there.  She noticed my book and mentioned she had net Joyce last summer when she stopped in to see the Lee campus.  (She had attended when it was Bob Jones University).  So Betty was able to share more details on Joyce's life.  I see that as God's personal touch, not as coincidence.  

God is so never knows how, when, or where He's going to act.  Unpredictable, but always faithful.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Aspects of Christian Literature - Chapter 9

What happens after the end of the novel?

Rayber was found dead by the woman at the Cherokee Lodge.  He had collapsed and died when he realized Bishop was drowned and Tarwater was going on to meet his fate.  He was left alone.  No son, no nephew, no God, no one to care.  There was no hope, just dullness...nothingness.  His spirit left him.

The woman at the lodge suspected foul play.  She had not trusted Tarwater from the moment she saw him, and had told him not to do the devil's work there.  When they dragged the lake and found Bishop's body, after discovering Rayber's body, she knew her worst fears had come true.  Tarwater had put his address down, Powderhead, Tennessee.  The police found Buford in the cornfield and forced the story from him of the strangeness of Tarwater and all he had done to his great uncle and his home and land.

Back in the city Tarwater was prophesying and was easy to pick out on the street because of his strange dress and speech.  There was no difficulty whatsoever in reducing his charge of double homicide to not guilty by reason of insanity.  He was then locked away in the state mental institution where the attendants had to keep him away from all forms of water so he could not baptize people.

(Professor's note:  Talk about realism!  This brings it down to the grass roots!)