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Paul’s Letters to Regional Churches
Rome – Theology
· Big Idea: A solid foundation for a church without an apostle. Reasons that faith works.
· Key Verse: I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
Corinth – messy church issues
· 1st – too many competing sin issues, “Christians gone wild”
o Marriage and celibacy
o Rules for worship
· Key Verse: 10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. 1:10
· 2nd – Defending Paul’s Ministry
· Key Verse: 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. 3 It is clear that you are Christ’s letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God — not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh. (2Cor 3:2-3, HCSB)
Galatia – Freedom from Legalism
· Big Idea: Salvation AND our Christian walk come by faith in Jesus Christ, not by good works.
· Key Verse: No one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified. (Gal 2:16, HCSB)
Ephesus – Unite!
· Big Idea: We must learn to walk together in the new unity through Christ: as different cultures, genders, and social statuses.
· Key Verse: 4 There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope at your calling — 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:4-6, HCSB)
Philippi – Joy
· Big Idea: By Centering our lives around Christ, we can experience true, lasting joy.
· Key Verse: Rejoice in the Lord Always, I will Say it again, rejoice!
Colossae – Jesus is King/Lord
· Big Idea: Christ is fully God, and deserves our full allegiance.
· Key Verse: 9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Col 2:9-10, HCSB)
Thessalonica – Clarifying End Times.
· Big Idea: Comfort in Affliction: Jesus is coming, but He has not come yet.
· Key Verse: But you, brothers, are not in the dark, for this day to overtake you like a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:4
Paul’s Letters to His Mentees on assignment
1-2 Timothy – Advice to Timothy as He enters church leadership and Final Words
· Big Idea: Advice from a seasoned pastor to a young one.
- o Dealing with Difficult People
- o Appointing Leaders
- o Suffering Hardships
· Key Verse: 2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. (2Tim 4:2, HCSB)
· Key Verse: 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing. (2Tim 4:7-8, HCSB)
· Big Idea: Advice to a young pastor of a young church.
· Key Verse: 5 The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: (Titus 1:5, HCSB)
Philemon – Runaway Slave finds Christ
· Big Idea: Christ changes society
· Key Verse: 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave — as a dearly loved brother. He is especially so to me, but even more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. (Phlm 1:16, HCSB)
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More Letters to the First Churches
Hebrews: The New Covenant is Better Than the Old – Don’t turn back!
· Big Idea: Jews should not turn back to the Old Covenant and old ways, the new is better—there’s no going back!
· Key Verse: 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens — Jesus the Son of God — let us hold fast to the confession. (Heb 4:14, HCSB)
· Key Verse: 1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. 4 In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Heb 12:1-4, HCSB)
o The Hall of Faith
o Scary Warnings
James’ Letter to the Church
- · Big Idea: Faith in Action
- o When stretched it doesn’t break
- o When pressed it doesn’t fail
- o When expressed it doesn’t explode
- o When distressed it doesn’t panic
· Key Verse: 17 In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. (Jas 2:17, HCSB)
Peter’s Letters to the Church
· Big Ideas: Pain with a Purpose, Hope in the midst of suffering due to persecution from Rome
· Key Verse: So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 6-7
2nd Peter: Beware and Be Ready
· Big Idea: Beware the poison of false Christians and be patient waiting for Jesus’ return
· Key Verse: Be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:17–18
Jude’s Letter to the Church:
Fight for the Faith
· Big Idea: Beware the poison of false Christians
· Key Verse: 3 Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. 4 For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord. (Jude 1:3-4, HCSB)
John’s Letters to the Church:
Black and White contrast between insiders and outsiders
· Big Idea: Walk with God passionately and sincerely
· Key Verse: 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and His love is perfected in us. (1John 4:10-12, HCSB)
· 2nd John – Run from Error!
· 3rd John – Hold to the Truth with Love.
Revelations: Endings. Final Push to God, from Mercy to Wrath.
*Preface: We will talk more about end times
A Letter to the churches too!
· Big Idea: God’s plan for the conclusion of this world is to pour out wrath in order to force a definite choice for all the world to accept or reject Him.
· Key Verse: After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 7:9-10
This week, I want you to take a look at the story of the church in Ephesus, and see the whole picture. Here’s where to find the details:
- Read Acts 18-20 for Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Have you ever heard of such a tearful farewell? This church REALLY loved Paul.
- Read the book of Ephesus to see the things Paul wrote to the church when he was traveling. Read through it in a single sitting, if possible. Pay close attention to the flow of Paul’s letter from theological to practical. Like a sermon, he starts with the big idea then boils it down to things like how a husband treats a wife.
- Consider Paul’s struggle in the gladiator arena mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:32. This was probably related to the chaos in Ephesus.
- Timothy was sent there by Paul, and thus 1 Timothy concerns the life and conduct of the church there in Ephesus. Read through this book and think of Timothy’s role as pastor.
- The church at Ephesus was one of the “seven churches of Asia” (Revelation 1:11 and 2:1), to which specific words of admonition from the Lord were given.
Further Reading is available here.
Questions to Answer:
- · What part of the New Testament speaks most to you? Why is this advice so crucial?
- · What part is the most confusing? Why?
- · What parts do you think that believer’s undergoing persecution today need to hear?
- · What parts do you think are most relevant to the U.S. churches today?