Scripture Reading: I Peter 2:1-10
We see the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Jesus Christ:
Luke 4:17-22 is one of the most direct passages of Scripture where Jesus declares that He is the prophesied Messiah:
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him.
He began by saying to them,
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:17 – 22 (NIV)
By saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus is saying that the Messiah prophesied years ago in the book of Isaiah has now been fulfilled in Him. So, because Jesus is the promised Messiah, understanding who He is, is extremely important. That is why the authors of the New Testament give us not just one book documenting the life and ministry of Jesus, but four. However, although all four gospels are similar, they are also very different. Each gospel was written for a specific purpose, to a specific audience, and gives us a slightly different perspective and viewpoint into who Jesus was, and still is, today.
Let’s look. . .
The Gospel of Matthew:
The Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience and focuses on how Jesus is the King of the Jews. It was written primarily for believers, which is why you’ll find that it is teaching heavy, highlighting to the reader how we are to live in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
Matthew’s gospel spends a lot of time recording Jesus’ preaching. If you have a red-letter Bible, you’ll see a lot of red in this gospel because it focuses on what Jesus said, including some of His most famous sermons like the Sermon on the Mount.
The Gospel of Mark:
The Gospel of Mark is written primarily for a Roman audience (Gentiles) and focuses on how Jesus is the Son of Man. Mark is shorter than the other gospels and is a nice little snapshot of what Jesus did.
You’ll find that Jesus is always in action in this gospel, highlighting His miracles, His death, and His resurrection.
The Gospel of Luke:
The Gospel of Luke is written primarily for the Greeks (Gentiles) and portrays Jesus as the Savior of the World.
This portrayal of Jesus is most noted in the opening of Luke’s gospel where he traces Jesus’ genealogy back to the first man, Adam. What Luke is doing is showing that salvation through Jesus is available to the whole world, regardless of whether you are Jew or Gentile.
The Gospel of John:
The Gospel of John is personally my favorite gospel. It is the most distinct and unique gospel and stands out from the crowd by emphasizing the identity of Jesus.
The other three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are called the “Synoptic Gospels” because they present and describe the events of Jesus from a similar point of view. However, the Gospel of John is different.
The Gospel of John has universal appeal, meaning it is written for believers and unbelievers alike, and focuses on Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
This gospel digs deeper into the person of Jesus, zeroing in on who He was as a man, and what motivated Him. In it we see insights into Jesus’ character and personality, helping us understand what Jesus was like as a person.
In this gospel we also read more one-on-one conversations Jesus has with people individually, versus Him preaching to large crowds.
The Gospel of John is also unique in that we have a clear take-away for the exact reason John wrote his gospel.
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
John 20:31 (NIV)
Believing is a major theme in the Gospel of John. The reason John wrote his gospel is so through our belief we will have life in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
One of the most significant things that should be included in this New Testament summary is the establishment of God’s new covenant through the person of Jesus.
The Old Testament tells us how God’s old covenant with the Israelites was established through the Law. However, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, and the New Testament represents the greater covenant that is now established in its place.
The Gospel of Matthew says:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17 (NIV)
The Law was never meant to lead us to salvation but was instead meant to show us how we need a perfect savior who can save us from sin and death.
Now, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, everyone who believes in Him is given eternal life. Jesus did what we could not do, live a life without sin so He could overcome sin and death for all who believe.
The Book of Acts:
The Book of Acts is the book of the Bible that documents the birth of the early church. It follows the life of Peter, Paul, and a small group of disciples who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the good news of Jesus across the Roman Empire.
We begin by reading about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, and then the book Segway’s into the story of Paul and his conversion to Christianity. The second half of Acts focuses primarily on Paul’s missionary journeys and his trials and efforts in spreading the gospel to the countries in-and-around the Mediterranean Sea.
What we see is as the Good News spreads, new believers spring forth and churches begin to pop up creating the need for centralized teachings and discipleship. So, in answer to this need we have the Epistles, or the letters, of the New Testament.
The Epistles (or Letters)
Now let’s look at what is honestly the bulk of the New Testament. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 21 of them are epistles, or letters.
Many of these letters were written by the Apostle Paul to the churches he
founded throughout his missionary journeys. As you can tell, Paul is recognized as being one of the most energetic and influential interpreters of Jesus’ life and teachings.
In his letters Paul explains the gospel of Jesus, gives instruction on proper forms of worship, and even reprimands the early church for heretical, or immoral behavior. Most importantly Paul clarifies that the only way to salvation and eternal life is to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not through obedience to the Old Testament Law.
Although 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament are traditionally accredited to Paul, many scholars agree that he could have written only seven or eight of the epistles. These books of the Bible go by a few names, namely the Pauline epistles, the Epistles of Paul, or the Letters of Paul.
The epistles that are unanimously agreed upon to be written by Paul are:Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Each of the epistles addresses valuable wisdom and advice.
Ephesians teaches on how-to walk-in grace, peace, and love
1 Timothy teaches on how to lead a church
Hebrews teaches on Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and on how to cling to Christ despite persecution
Colossians teaches on how believers are to identify ourselves by who we are in Christ and much more!
Revelation is like the sci-fi book of the Bible leaving many Christians fascinated, puzzled, stumped, and ultimately divided on how to interpret it. A key part in understanding the book of Revelation and end times theology (“Eschatology”) is understanding the different views regarding the return of Christ, His millennial reign, and the Great Tribulation.
All of which I am grossly unqualified to teach on or explain. However, what I can share with you are the main viewpoints.
First you have the Millennial views:
Postmillennialism:is an end-times view that focuses on the progressive victory and expansive influence of Christianity.
Premillennialism: is the view that Christ’s second coming will occur prior to His millennial kingdom, and that the millennial kingdom is a literal 1000-year …
Amillennialism: I truly believe this need to be study more to understand it.
Then there’s the Tribulation views:
Pretribulationism – the view that Christ will take the church to Himself prior to the tribulation
Posttribulationism – the view that Christ will take the church to Himself after the tribulation
Midtribulationism – the view that Christ will take the church to Himself mid-way through to the tribulation
Each of these views are highly debated, leaving a giant question mark in the body of Christ on what the end times will look like.
Trying to figure God out is something I gave up on a long time ago, so when it comes to an end time, I thoroughly enjoy researching and studying the Bible, but ultimately my life and the world is in God’s hands, and I have peace in letting things play out according to His perfect will.
This gives me peace and comfort. That is why I enjoy studying the Word of God.