A masterpiece of storytelling, John’s Gospel is at once charming in its simplicity and challenging in its depth. John presents God as Father more tenderly than any other book in the Bible, boldly establishes the dual nature of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully human, perfectly united in one person—and reveals the mystery of the Holy Spirit unlike any other Gospel. Instead of overwhelming with information, John strategically chose which stories to relate in order to accomplish his primary purpose: “So that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
I would state Luke’s purpose this way: To demonstrate, from the facts of history, that the church has become God’s instrument for inaugurating the New Covenant, that the church is guided by His Spirit, and that nothing can prevent Christ from building His church. Acts opens with a question about the kingdom of God and Christ’s commissioning and empowering of the church, and it closes with the assurance that, even under arrest in Rome, Paul continued “preaching the kingdom of God . . . unhindered” (Acts 28:31).
How wrong! God promises great blessing to those who study the book of Revelation and heed its message. In fact, in the midst of the sometimes perplexing details of the visions, God’s final message to humanity remains clear—in the end good will triumph over evil, wickedness will be judged, and the righteous will receive their rewards.
There was probably no place in Ephesus where a person could stand without falling under the shadow of the temple of Artemis, either physically, spiritually, or economically. From the perspective of a first-century Christian living in Ephesus, that city was a hostile environment. Paul’s letter sets out to reinforce the Ephesian believers’ doctrine and practice with a vital message: Because believers have new life through Christ, they ought to live a new life through the Spirit.
I would state Luke’s purpose this way: to demonstrate, from the facts of history, that the church has become God’s instrument for stewarding the new covenant, that the church is guided by His Spirit, and that nothing can prevent Christ from building His church. Acts opens with a question about the kingdom of God and Christ’s commissioning and empowering of the church, and it closes with the assurance that, even under arrest in Rome, Paul continued “preaching the kingdom of God . . . unhindered” (Acts 28:31).
In 1 Corinthians Paul focuses on healthy church life. He confronts a growing number of problems dividing the church—the effects of its diverse membership, persecution, and the corrupt religious and moral culture where it ministered—and he calls believers onward in sanctification and the exercise of spiritual gifts.
2 Corinthians is Paul’s emotional response to the church’s challenges to his authority and teaching. It is a treatise on authentic ministry in all its earthiness and harsh, human realities. This vivid picture of raw but real ministry sheds a stark light on the inferior motives, methods, and messages of false ministers, ending with a plea to return to a path of purity and righteousness.
As the author asserts: “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. . . . Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14, 16).
The letter to the Hebrews isn’t casual bedside reading. Dense and deep, complex and compelling, profound and practical. Rich in history, vibrant in imagery, eloquent in style, the book of Hebrews has the words to refresh our minds and cleanse our souls.
Jesus is the central figure of this narrative, but Mark intended all followers of Jesus to see themselves in this story. From beginning to end, we will see the Master preparing His disciples and then propelling them forward to encounter challenges they felt ill-prepared to meet. While they rarely understood what was happening, and often lacked confidence in their decisions, they began to realize that following Jesus required neither great intelligence nor heroic bravery, but merely a willingness to do as the Son of God commanded. They learned that being a disciple is primarily a matter of faithful obedience.
Yet within weeks of writing 1 Thessalonians, something happened. Somehow, unsettling theological tremors caused cracks and fissures to begin to form in the otherwise strong doctrinal and practical foundation of their newly built church. When Paul, got word of the troubles starting to nag the believers in Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians was written to set things straight—reminding believers to remain faithful and quelling false teaching related to the details of the end times.
Luke describes the man Jesus and His ministry in vivid detail. Only in Luke’s account do we see the Almighty wrapped in swaddling clothes and matching wits with the greatest theological minds of His day as a boy. We see Jesus as a minister, healing the diseased in love. He presents Jesus as the perfect God-man who came to save all of humanity, Jew and Gentile alike.
Luke’s history is no mere chronicle of a dead hero. This is His Story! And the story of Christ continues today—inviting you to join the narrative and to help write the conclusion.
Colossians is addressed to a church suffering from cultural capitulation and spiritual surrender—just like the church of the twenty-first century. Those who deceive others with self-centered philosophies, self-promoting legalism, and self-serving asceticism attract power and attention, while diminishing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Colossians serves as a lighthouse piercing the fog of false teaching and leading us to the safe harbor of Christ.
Philemon illustrates the importance of second chances, the equal-ity of believers in Christ, and the power of the gospel to transcend cultural and social boundaries. It reminds us of the Christ-centered concepts of freedom, forgiveness, mercy, and especially grace.