NT Session 7 General Letters


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Hebrews & James slides for Foundations Bible School (copyright Don Palmer).

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NT Session 7 General Letters

  1. 1. Foundations (Year Two)“Encountering the New Testament” Session #7. Encountering HEBREWS & JAMES.
  2. 2. Written earlier: The NT Writings Letter of James (40’s/50’s)Letters of Paul: Written later:Galatians (48/49 CE) Letters of Peter (64-66)1 & 2 Thessalonians (51-52) Mark (68-70 )1 & 2 Corinthians (53-57) Matthew (70-80)Romans (56-57) Luke-Acts (70-80)Prison letters (61-62): Hebrews (50’s/60’s?) (Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon & Philippians) Letter of Jude (50’s ?)Pastoral letters (64-66): Writings of John: (1, 2 Timothy & Titus) Gospel, Letters & Revelation (90-96)
  3. 3. “To the Hebrews”An enigmaWho wrote it?When was it written?To whom was it written?Why was it written (the circumstances)?Where was it written from…to? Why did it take so long to be accepted?
  4. 4. Robert Jewett“Although the letter to the Hebrews is ranked as the most sophisticated writing in all the NT…and despite the fact that it contains several eloquent texts for sermons, the message of Hebrews as a whole has never played a decisive role for the Christian community throughout history.” Why?
  5. 5. Interpretative problemsWho was the author?It requires a thorough knowledge and familiarity with OT history, religion & cultureCryptic references (angels, heavenly sanctuaries, cloud of witnesses, Melchizedek, Mt. Zion)What was the danger facing the readers & were they even Christians?Why the emphasis on the superiority (& humanity) of Jesus?Major question: has Christianity replaced Judaism?
  6. 6. Authorship?The favorites:PaulBarnabasLukeApollosPriscillaOthers: Silas, Epaphras, Clement
  7. 7. “To the Hebrews”?“Jewish Christians” (cf. James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1)In Jerusalem (Mt Zion), Alexandria, Rome, in general?“Those from Italy greet you” (13:24)“This covenant…will soon disappear” (8:13) Are the Temple services still going on? Pre. 70 CE?Nero’s persecution 64 CE (cf. 10:32-34; 12:4) The danger: Falling back into Judaism, not going on to maturity.
  8. 8. HebrewsA sermon…not a letter! “my word of exhortation” (13:22 cf. Acts 13:15)Themes: Discipleship (“go on to maturity”) Persecution (10:32; 12:4) Christianity vs Judaism Who is Jesus Christ for us today?
  9. 9. Hebrews – A sermon outlineTHEOLOGICAL: Intro: Jesus Christ = God’s final revelation1. Christ – superior messenger to angels 1:4-2:18 First warning (2:1-4)2. Christ – superior deliverer to Moses & Joshua 3:1-4:13 Second warning (3:7-19)3. Christ – superior priesthood to Aaron 4:14-7:28 Third warning (5:11-6:8)4. Christ – superior covenant (old vs. new) 8:1-10:39 Fourth warning (10:26-31)PRACTICAL: A faithful life 11:1-40 A disciplined life 12:1-29 Fifth warning (12:14-29) Conc: A holy life 13:1-25
  10. 10. Hebrews1-2 3-4:13 4:14-7 8-9 10 11-13 Jesus is always better… Than Than As a Providing a Offering Moses As a way the High better a better or of Livingangels Priest Covenant sacrifice Joshua How to Hold to Jesus… live as aWarning #1. Don’t ignore him! result ofWarning #2. Don’t harden your heart! holdingWarning #3. Don’t turn away! to JesusWarning #4. Don’t reject him!Warning #5. Don’t refuse his offer!
  11. 11. Intro. An amazing propositionIn the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe…the Son is the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…after he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven! (now take a breath)
  12. 12. What’s so special about Jesus?He’s the final revelation of GodHe’s the creator & sustainer of the universeHe is the exact representation of GodHe has provided salvation for our sinsHe sits at the right hand of God in heaven “There is no greater one” SUPERIOR
  13. 13. Sermon #1: Jesus is superior to angelsJesus is the Son of GodJesus is worshipped & served by angelsJesus is king/ ruler in God’s kingdomJesus is the creator (& redeemer) of heaven and earthJesus is LordAngels are ministering spirits sent to serve us!
  14. 14. What has Jesus ever done for me?1. Was made a little lower than angels (incarnation)2. Subjected himself willingly to God3. Became like one of us/shared in our humanity4. Shared in our suffering5. Suffered death (“tasted it for everyone”)6. Made atonement for our sins7. Has defeated & will destroy the devil8. Sets us free from slavery, fear & death9. Helps us when we are tempted
  15. 15. Warning #1. NEGLECTTherefore we must pay the most careful attention (guard/ hold on to), to what we have heard, so that we do not drift (slip) away.How shall we escape if we ignore/ neglect so great a salvation (cf. Matt. 22:5)?This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
  16. 16. Sermon #2: Jesus is superior to Moses & JoshuaGod’s former house God’s current houseMOSES JESUSBuilder BuilderFaithful as a servant Faithful as a son
  17. 17. Salvation (saved from…saved to…)MOSES JOSHUADeliverer WarriorLed them out of Egypt Led them into CanaanExodus from slavery (Sabbath) rest from warKEY: Delivered from the world… Entered into the kingdom!
  18. 18. Warning #2. UNBELIEF“Today, if you hear his voice, (3:7-8) do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.”“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” (3:15)“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (4:7)cf. Numbers 13-14; Psalm 95:8-11
  19. 19. Antidote to unbeliefFaith in who God is, trust in what he has done and obedience to what his word says:“For the word of God is living (filled with breath) and active (energes), sharper than any double-edged sword: ...it penetrates (pierces) even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; ...it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.Nothing in all creation is hidden from Gods sight. Everything is uncovered (naked) and laid bare (seized by the throat) before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  20. 20. Sermon #3. Jesus is a superior priestSummary: Jesus our great, high priest. (4:14-16)Has gone through the heavens (ie. the tabernacle)Was tempted in every wayWas without sinIs able to sympathize with our weaknessIs ready to dispense mercy & grace Offered himself as the perfect sacrifice (7:27; 6:19-20) Offers eternal salvation as the permanent priest (5:9; 7:4, 17, 21, 24-25)“Let us approach (draw near) the throne of grace with confidence (boldness, assurance)…”
  21. 21. Jesus the superior priestBetter than AARON Compared to MELCHIZEDEKChosen by God (Levi)Selected from among men Priest/ King (Judah) (but…) Without genealogySuffering servant/ son Blessed Abraham  Abraham (& Levi) paid himSource of eternal a tenth salvation (7:23ff) Permanent priesthoodOffered the perfect Always makes intercession sacrifice (7:26ff) “You are a priest forever…”
  22. 22. Melchi-zedek?“king of righteousness”Then Melchizedek, king of Salem (peace), brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High (el elyon), and he blessed Abram, saying: "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand."Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. (Gen. 14:18-20; Psalm 110:4)
  23. 23. Warning #3. APOSTASY Falling away  Going on (to maturity)It is impossible for those who Therefore let us move beyond have (1) once been the elementary teachings enlightened, who have (2) (lit. beginning/ first words) tasted the heavenly gift, who about Christ and be carried have (3) shared in the Holy forward to maturity, not laying Spirit, who have (4) tasted again the foundation of: the goodness of the word of (1) repentance from acts that God and the powers of the lead to death, coming age - and who have fallen away, to be renewed and of (2) faith in God, to repentance. (3) instruction about baptisms,To their loss they are crucifying the (4) laying on of hands, the Son of God all over again the (5) resurrection of the dead and subjecting him to public and (6) eternal judgment. disgrace. (6:4-6) (6:1-2)
  24. 24. Evidences of a genuine faith“Land that drinks in the rain...produces a crop...is blessed by God.” (ie. evidences of salvation) – 5:7-12 Your work (deeds)& Your love...unto his name Your ongoing support (for others) Your perseverance Your imitation (mimites) of the faithful“We are confident (have been persuaded) of better things in your case, things that accompany (lit. are belonging, holding to) salvation.”
  25. 25. Sermon #4. Jesus has made a superior covenantJesus, the mediator of a new covenant (9:15, 12:24)/ guar- "This is the covenant I will make antee of a better covenant with the house of Israel after that (7:22). time," declares the LORD.The promise: "I will put my law in their minds"The days are coming," declares and write it on their hearts. the LORD, "when I will make I will be their God, a new covenant and they will be my people." with the house of Israel "No longer will they teach their and with the house of Judah. neighbors, or say to one another,It will not be like the covenant Know the LORD,’… I made with their ancestors because they will all know me, when I took them by the hand from the least of them to the to lead them out of Egypt, greatest," declares the LORD. because they broke my "For I will forgive their wickedness covenant, though I was a husband to them," and will remember their sins no declares the LORD. more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
  26. 26. The new covenant, through JesusLast supper/ Lord’s supper (Matt. 27/ Mark 14/ Luke 22)“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many – Mark (...for the forgiveness of sins” – Matt.)“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” – Luke“In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lords death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:25-26)
  27. 27. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar (& Ishmael). Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai...and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above (Sarah & Isaac) is free, and she is our mother. (Gal. 4:24-26)Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life...for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:4-6, 14-16)
  28. 28. A better covenant (7:22) Old covenant (Jer. 31) New covenant (9:15) Broken & obsolete Established & relevant A shadow The reality Earthly sanctuary Heavenly sanctuary High Priest only Christ (Messiah & King) Once a year Once, for all time Blood of animals His own blood Covered sins Forgave/ removed sins Temporal Eternal Guilty consciences Cleansed consciences“He has made the first one obsolete...it will soon disappear.” (8:13)
  29. 29. Warning #4. REJECTIONLet us… If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have receivedDraw near to God the knowledge of the truth, noHold on to our hope sacrifice for sins is left, butSpur one another on only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire 10:19-25 that will consume the enemies of God……How much more severely do you think those deserve to be punished whoRemember the former days have trampled the Son of GodPersevere to better days underfoot, who have treated as an unholy thing the blood of 10:32-39 the covenant that sanctified them, and who have insulted the Spirit of grace? (10:26-31)
  30. 30. Practical application (of the sermon)The Call:To a life of faith 11:1-40…in ChristTo a disciplined life 12:1-29…focused on ChristTo a holy life 13:1-25…out of love for Christ & others
  31. 31. The gallery of faith (Ch.11)The definition…(v.1) 9. Moses (Part 1 & 2)1. The universe 10. (Joshua)2. Abel 11. Rahab3. Enoch 12. (Judges) Gideon,4. Noah Barak, Samson &5. Abraham (Part 1, 2 & 3) Jephthah6. Isaac 13. David7. Jacob 14. Samuel8. Joseph 15. The Prophets “The world was not worthy of them…these were all commended for their faith.” (vv.38-39)
  32. 32. The disciplined lifeSelf-discipline: God disciplines us:Let us throw off everything…  Because we are his trueLet us run with children perseverance…  As a loving father whoLet us focus on Jesus only wants our good  That we may share in his(Let us) endure suffering holiness (cf. v.14)  So that we enjoy (12:1-5) righteousness & peace (12:7-12) “The LORD disciplines those whom he loves.”
  33. 33. Warning #5. REFUSINGMake every effort to: Illus: Mt Sinai vs Mt ZionLive in peace (God thru Moses vs GodBe holy (mandatory) thru Jesus - 12:18-24)Not miss the grace of God  Do not refuse when heNot allow bitterness to take speaks root (& defile us)  Do not refuse what heAvoid sexual immorality offers (a kingdom)Be like God (not godless) (12:25-29) (12:14-17)
  34. 34. The holy (& happy) life – Ch.1312 golden rules:1. Keep on loving one another 8. Hold on to sound2. Entertain strangers teaching3. Remember the captives 9. Suffer disgrace for Jesus Christ4. Honour marriage 10. Don’t put your roots5. Don’t love money down too deeply6. Be content with God 11. Life a life of worship7. Remember, imitate & obey 12. Pray for others your leaders & may God bless you!
  35. 35. Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written you only a short letter!Grace be with you all.
  36. 36. JAMES
  37. 37. The Message of James“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may become mature and complete.” (James 1:2-4)
  38. 38. A faith that is real (lessons from the book of James)Who was James?A brother (of Jesus)A leader (in the Church)A servant (of God) “old camel knees”
  39. 39. “James”The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” (Mark 6:2-4)After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus brothers said to him "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him (John 7:1-5)
  40. 40. Now Jesus mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear Gods word and put it into practice." (Luke 8:19-21/ Matt. 12/ Mark 3)After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles...(1 Corinthians 15:6-7)Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers what happened,” he said. (Acts 12:16-18)
  41. 41. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lords brother. (Galatians 1:18-19)When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. (Acts 15:13-14)When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (Galatians 2:11-13)The next day Paul went with us to meet with James, and all the elders of the Jerusalem church were present. (Acts 21:18)James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. (James 1:1)
  42. 42. JAMES: An OutlineA LIVING FAITH……revealed in the face of trials and temptations (1:1-18)……revealed by its response to the word of God (1:19-27)……revealed in its reaction to social distinctions (2:1-13)……revealed by its production of good works (2:14-26)……revealed in the control of one’s tongue (3:1-12)……revealed in the demonstration of true wisdom (3:13-18)……revealed by its reaction to the world (4:1-5:12)……revealed by resorting to faithful, persistent prayer (5:13-18)
  43. 43. FAITH revealed……in the face oftrials & temptations (1:1-18)peirasmos = trial or temptation “Consider it joy “When tempted,when you face trials of no one should say many kinds” God is tempting me”
  44. 44. Embracing trials/ resisting temptationTrials: Temptations: What are they like?  Step 1… How do I cope? Recognise the source  Step 2… What do I need? Is it really worth it? Stop the process  Step 3… Use the escape exit
  45. 45. The process of temptation (Genesis 3/ Matthew 4)
  46. 46. “No temptation has come to you which everyone else has not faced. But you can trust God who will not let you be tempted more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way of escape.”1 Corinthians 10:13
  47. 47. FAITH revealed… …by its response to the word of God. (1: 19-27)• Receive the word• Obey the word• Apply the word
  48. 48. Responses to the word1. Receive it… 2. Obey it…Open your ears  Look!Shut your mouth  Remember!Control your anger  Do!Prepare your heart 3. Apply it…  …in speech  …in compassion (for those in need)  …in purity
  49. 49. The person of a genuine faith will…Look intently into the word of GodListen readily to the word of GodLive fully by the word of God
  50. 50. FAITH revealed……by its reaction to social distinctions (2:1-13)Favouritism = contrary to faith in Christ contrary to the ways of God contrary to the word of God
  51. 51. “Rich man – poor man” Contrary to faith in Jesus Christ The command The illustration The application Contrary to the ways of God What God thinks vs. What we think Chosen Oppress Rich Condemn Heirs Blaspheme Contrary to the word of God Love God with all your heart – love others made in the image of God. (Deut. 6:4-5; 10:12-13, 17-19; 15:7ff.)
  52. 52. FAITH revealed……in its production of good works (2:14-26) Faith without works is powerless! Faith without works is empty! Faith without works is dead!
  53. 53. Putting faith into actionFaith without works is powerless (illus.The poor & the demonic)Faith without works is empty (lit. barren) (illus. Abraham)Faith without works is dead (illus. Rahab)
  54. 54. Faith revealed… …in the control of one’s tongue (James 3: 1-12)Importance of the tonguePower of the tongueInconsistency of the tongue
  55. 55. Proverbs about the tongue“The tongue has the power of life & death” (18:21)“He who guards his lips guards his life” (13:3)“The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver” (10:20)“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (12:18)“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (15:4)“Whoever would love life and see (many) good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” (Ps. 34:12-13/ 1 Peter 3:10-11)
  56. 56. Importance of the tongue (vv.1-2)For “the teacher”…not many should be teachersFor us all…no one is perfect“If anyone considers themselves religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on their tongue, they deceive themselves and their religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)
  57. 57. Power of the tongue (vv. 3-7)Power to direct…like a bit & a rudderPower to destroy…like a spark of fireUntamable power…like a wild animal, full of poison
  58. 58. Inconsistency of the tongue (vv. 9-12)“Blessing God (our father)”“Cursing others (made in God’s image)” Illus #1…salt water vs fresh water Illus #2…a fig tree vs vine
  59. 59. Faith revealed…...in the demonstration of true wisdom (James 3:13 – 4:12)Wisdom of God vs. Wisdom of man James = the NT Proverbs!
  60. 60. WISDOM (3:13-18)False wisdom True wisdom1. Bitter envy 1. From heaven2. Selfish ambition 2. Pure3. Boastful (v. humility) 3. Peace-loving4. Earthly (v. heavenly) 4. Considerate5. Unspiritual (v. spiritual) 5. Submissive6. Of the devil (v. God) 6. Full (of mercy & fruit)7. Disorder (v. peace) 7. Empty (of partiality &8. Evil (v. good) practices hypocrisy) 8. Righteous
  61. 61. WAR (4:1-12)Why we fight? “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”You covet Expressions of humility:You commit adultery (by Submit (to him) being unfaithful to God) Resist (the devil)You fight Draw near (to God)You kill Wash your hands you do not ask God Purify your hearts you ignore God Grieve, mourn & wail you oppose God Humble yourselves Do not judge others
  62. 62. True wisdom False wisdom Peace WarPeace with others War with others God God
  63. 63. Faith revealed… …by it’s reaction to the world (James 4:13 – 5:6)A wrong attitude to timeA wrong attitude to money
  64. 64. The antidote to discontentmentHaving a right attitude to time (4:13-17)Problem: self-confidence in our own plans Solution: recognize the will of GodProblem: boasting of what we possess Solution: recognize the nature of sin
  65. 65. The antidote to discontentmentHaving a right attitude to money 5:1-6“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim. 6:10)The way we acquire wealthThe way we use wealthThe effect wealth can have on us
  66. 66. FAITH revealed……by resorting to patience & prayer (5:7-20) Learning to be patient (vv.7-12) Learning how to pray (vv.13-20)
  67. 67. Learning to be patient“Be patient brothers & sisters… Until the Lord’s coming”The example of the farmer Warning: “Don’t grumble”
  68. 68. Learning to be patient“Be patient then and stand firm… Because the Lord’s coming is near”The example of the prophetsThe example of Job Warning: Don’t swear
  69. 69. Learning to pray4 Questions:“Is anyone in trouble?”“Is anyone happy?”“Is anyone sick?”“Is anyone wandering (from the truth)?”
  70. 70. Learning to pray“Is anyone in trouble?”They should pray“Is anyone happy?”They should sing songs of praise
  71. 71. Learning to pray“Is anyone sick?” The directions (Call the elders, pray, anoint) The promise (sick…made well, sinned…forgiven The challenge (confess sins to one another & pray) The example (Elijah) “the petition of a righteous person has great power, being effective.”
  72. 72. Learning to pray“Is anyone wandering?”(You) pray for them - implied(You) restore them - encouraged “(you) will save (the wanderer) from death, and cover over a multitude of sins”