THE BOOK OF JAMES
The author of this epistle (letter) is James, also called James The Just, who is thought to be the brother of Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3). James was not a believer (John 7:3-5) until after the resurrection (Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 1:19). He became the head of the Jerusalem church, and is mentioned first as a pillar of the Church (Galatians 2:9). The Book of James is probably the oldest book of the New Testament, written perhaps as early as A.D. 45, before the first council of Jerusalem in A.D. 50. James was martyred in approximately 62 A.D.
Some think that this epistle was written in response to an overzealous interpretation of Paul’s teaching that was never intended. This extreme view, called antinomianism, held that through faith in Christ one is completely free from all Old Testament law, all legalism, all secular law, and all the morality of a society. James was felt to be intensely Jewish and this epistle is directed to Jewish Christians scattered among all the nations. In this context the dissonance with Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, and his teachings fade. Martin Luther, who detested this letter and called it “the epistle of straw,” failed to recognize this very important context. While Pauline teachings concentrate on our justification with God, James’ teachings concentrate on our discourse and justification amongst each other. James was writing to Jews to encourage them in their continued growth in this new Christian faith. James emphasizes that good actions will naturally flow from those who are filled with the spirit and questions whether someone may or may not have a saving faith if the fruits of the spirit cannot be seen, much as Paul describes in Galatians 5:22-23.
THE BOOK OF 1 PETER
1 Peter 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of 1 Peter as the Apostle Peter. The Book of 1 Peter was likely written between 60 and 65 A.D.
Peter understood persecution. He was beaten, threatened, punished and jailed for preaching the Word of God. He knew what it took to stand strong. This knowledge of living hope in Jesus was the message and Christ’s example was the one to follow. Peter handed down rules for wives, husbands, slaves, elders and just all people in general.
THE BOOK OF 2 PETER
2 Peter 1:1 specifically states that the Apostle Peter was the author of 2 Peter. Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter has been challenged more than that of any other book in the New Testament. However, the early church fathers have found no good reason to reject it. We find no good reason to reject Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter. The Book of 2 Peter was written toward the end of Peter’s life. Since Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to AD 68. He very likely wrote 2 Peter between 65 and 68.
Peter was alarmed that false teachers were beginning to infiltrate the churches. He called on Christians to grow and become strong in their faith so that they could detect and combat the spreading apostasy. He strongly stressed the authenticity of the Word of God and the sure return of the Lord Jesus.
THE BOOK OF 1 JOHN
1, 2, and 3 John have from earliest times been attributed to John the apostle, who wrote the fourth gospel. The content, style, and vocabulary seem to warrant the conclusion that these three epistles were addressed to the same readers as the gospel of John.1 John was likely written between A.D. 85-95.
The Book of 1 John seems to be a summary that assumes the readers’ knowledge of the gospel as written by John and offers certainty for their faith in Christ. The first epistle indicates that the readers were confronted with the error of Gnosticism, which became a more serious problem in the second century. As a philosophy of religion it held that matter is evil and spirit is good. The solution to the tension between these two was knowledge, or gnosis, through which man rose from the mundane to the spiritual. In the gospel message this led to two false theories concerning the person of Christ- Docetisn, regarding the human Jesus as a ghost, and Cerinthianism, making Jesus a dual personality, at times human and at times divine. The key purpose of 1 John: to set boundaries on the content of faith and to give believers assurance of their salvation.
THE BOOK OF 2 JOHN
The Book of 2 John does not directly name its author. The tradition from the earliest days of the church states that the author was John the Apostle. There have been various conjectures over the years that another disciple of Christ named John may have been responsible for this letter. However, all the evidence points to the author as John the beloved disciple who also wrote the Gospel of John. The Book of 2 John would most likely have been written at about the same time as John’s other letters, 1 and 3 John, likely between 85-95 A.D.
2 John is an urgent plea that the readers of John’s letter should show their love for God and His son Jesus by obeying the commandment to love each other and live their lives in obedience to the Scriptures. 2 John is also a strong warning to be on the lookout for deceivers who were going about saying that Christ had not actually risen in the flesh.
THE BOOK OF 3 JOHN
The Book of 3 John does not directly name its author. The tradition from the earliest days of the church has been that John the Apostle was the author. There have been occasional doubts raised by those who thought it possible that this was written by another disciple of the Lord named John, but all the evidence points to the author being John the Apostle. The Book of 3 John would most likely have been written at about the same time as John’s other letters, 1 and 2 John, likely between 85-95 A.D.
To commend and encourage his beloved co-worker Gaius in his ministry of hospitality to John’s itinerant messengers who were going from place to place to preach the Gospel of Christ.
THE BOOK OF JUDE
Jude 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Jude as Jude, a brother of James. This likely refers to Jesus’ half-brother Jude, as Jesus also had a half-brother named James (Matthew 13:55). Jude likely does not identify himself as a brother of Jesus out of humility and reverence for Christ. The Book of Jude has a close relationship with the Book of 2 Peter. The date of authorship for Jude depends on whether Jude used content from 2 Peter, or Peter used content from Jude for 2 Peter. The Book of Jude was written somewhere between 60 and 80 A.D.
The Book of Jude is an important book for us today because it is written for the end times, for the end of the Church Age. The Church Age began at the Day of Pentecost. Jude is the only book given entirely to the great apostasy. The book of Jude writes that evil works are evidence of apostasy. He admonishes us to contend for the faith, for there are tares among the wheat, false brethren are in the Church, the saints are in danger. A small but important book worthy of study, written for the Christian of today.
THE BOOK OF REVELATION
Revelation 1:1,4,9 and 22:8 specifically identify the author of the Book of Revelation as the Apostle John. The Book of Revelation was likely written between 90 and 95 A.D.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave John to show his servants what must soon take place. This book is filled with mysteries and things to come. It is the final warning that the world will surely end and judgment will be certain. It gives us a tiny glimpse of Heaven and all of the glories awaiting we who keep our robes white. Revelation takes us through the great tribulation with all the woes and the final fire that all unbelievers will face for eternity. The book reiterates the fall of Satan and the doom he and his angels are bound for. We are shown the duties of all creatures and angels of heaven and the promises of the saints that will live forever and ever with Jesus in the New Jerusalem. I, like John, cannot find the words to describe what I read in the book of Revelation.