This is a work in progress so check back often:
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â After some discussions with others there seems to be a need in some discipleship on the rest of the New Testament. The partÂ I am talking ofÂ mostly are the Acts of the Apostles, Pauline Epistles, the other Epistles of Christ’s brothers James and Jude and finally the book of Revelation.
When we first get saved we read the four gospels of the beginner Christian, Matthew, Mark,Luke and John. But there comes aÂ time in all Christian’s lives a time to get off the baby food being spoon fed byÂ Preachers. What I am talking about is the rest of the New Testament. Do you realize that only 1/4th to 1/3rd of the New Testament is the 4 gospels? Did you know that all church doctrine comes from that other part of the New Testament, mostly from Paul letters called the Pauline Epistles? yet most Preachers skip most of it quoting it when they do in a piece meal fashion completely ignoring the concept that they are letters and meant to be read in whole sittings just like letters.Â Paul’s letters are so often taught out of context (eisegesis) that most Christians are completely unawares what exactly is in these letters that all church dogma comes from. If all church dogma comes from the Pauline Epistles don’t you think it might be a good idea to AT LEAST read them in whole settings with discussions to determine what they mean? By the reading of the Pauline EpistlesÂ on a regular basis weÂ areÂ reading God’s words to the church as breathed through Paul.Â Do you know what the meaning of the word everyone calls us, “Christians?” Christians, according to Josephus the JewishÂ historian, whoseÂ historical extra biblical eyewitness account of the destruction by the Romans under the Emperor NeroÂ actually quotesÂ Nero using the name “Christians,”Â in a derogatoryÂ was as a descriptionÂ of those that followed the teachings of that crazy new sect, believers of eternal life, the Christ. Did you hear that? It was originally a derogatory term used by enemies of the church to describe the the people of the church. The literal meaning is “Christ-follower.”
How do we become a Christ-Follower or Christian?Â We do it by reading all of Christ’s words, the entire bible.Â Christ went around calling himself the Son of God the Father. When he prayed to God he called God His Father whom He had already seen.Â Christ claimed he only did whatÂ he had already seen His Father in heaven do. When Christ called Himself the Son, theÂ Pharisees hollered blasphemy ripping their clothes.Â They did this because, to them, when Christ claimed he was the Son, that was the same as saying he was deity, he was God. One has to understand what had been going on for thousands of years before this. You see there was a big problem emperors had with cohesion of their governments. The problem is that people would constantly just leave and go start a city, and when they would leaveÂ one cityÂ thatÂ put that city at risk. If there are no people living in the city then you cannot have anÂ Army and if you cannot have an Army your city was always vulnerable to the city next door that had a betterÂ stronger army because they had moreÂ people.Â Then they sometimes would just come in, kill all the men, enslave the women and raise the children as their own. So a lot of people early on, since the beginning, figured out that if they claimed they were the Son of God then people would stay and worship the emperor. So soonÂ it became a regular thing for an Emperor to claim they were the Son of God, born of god, half man and half God. Usually men more then women but sometimes women would do the same. It would be much easier to get people to follow your orders if you were the Son of God. We see this happened in Egypt,Â Babylon, Greece with Alexander the Great whom claimed descendence from Zeus and Romans also did similar with Augustus and Ceaser claiming to be deity. So in the light of all this, when Christ claimed to be the Son of the Father in Heaven, Jews knew clearly, as all who heard it did, Christ was claiming deity. This is the main reason Christ was crucified.
Of course Christ proved he was deity by eyewitness testimony of over 10,000 witnesses, many of whom were against Christ as ardent foes at the beginning. Paul was one of them who constantly described himself as a Pharisee of all Pharisees, until Christ appeared to him, before his name was changed from Saul into Paul. Saul regularily dragged Christian men and women to prisons or to a place to be stoned to death. For this reason Paul constantly felt a major debt to God and the Christian community. Â Many theologians believe Saul wasÂ present at the first Martyrdom recorded after Christ, that being of Steven the table wiper.
The great Apostle Evangelist John knew this clearly and that is what he witnessedÂ when he wrote this in John 1:1-18.Â John says Christ was there before john the baptist was there yet John the Baptist was born 6 months before Christ.Â John calls Christ “The Word,” that was there in theÂ beginning when all thingsÂ were created.Â Paul in Hebrews chapters 7 and 8 says Christ is our high priest of the New Covenant, making the Old Covenant obsolete, Hebrews 8:13.Â So being a Christ doesn’t involve just the reading of the 4 gospels, or in many Christian’s lives reading one of the four gospels. When Christ walks by we get up and follow Christ. We do not watch him walk by but call ourselves a Christ-Follower. Do you know how many people in our day and age call themselves Christians? With all the Hollywood trash being pumped at people and the commonality of the word Christian the word has lost its true. When someone calls themselves a Christian I do not know what that means. But when someone calls themselves a Christ-Follower it is concise and clear. A Christ-Follower follows Christ when Christ walks by. How about you, do you follow Christ or do you just call yourself a Christian? If you want to be a Christian be one, not in words only, but on each and every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, the mouth of Christ who was there in the beginning, creating everything. Christ was there in the beginning according to John, the Apostle Evangelist. We are to read God’s words, pray God’s words, quote God’s words and meditate on God’s words so our spirits grow like working out at the gym. So this extensive study will be for the areas many have never read, so we may grow stronger becoming intimately familiar with God’s words.
There comes a time to get off the baby’s milk and on to the meat of our spiritual growth. How can we witness to our family if we do not even know what is in scripture? So the purpose of this post is to give others a guide for spiritual growth. This will be sprinkled with commentary but is not really one as much as a lot of questions to encourage discussion among your fellowship groups. Â Check back often as this will be added to almost daily, thus being changed almost daily as we all walk through the New Testament, assembling together, growing strong in spirit together as the Lord Jesus Christ intended.
It is best to probably trace Paul’s life and conversion (from Saul) while you you read his letters. Start with the first 4-5 chapters of Acts of the Apostles. Pay close attention to 1:13-14, 1:26. Think of these questions. Who were James and Judas? Why were these the first instances we hear of Christ’s brothers James and Jude, or his mother Mary joining Christianity? Consider Mark 3:21 and Mark 3:31-34, Mark 6:3-5, John 7:1-10 & go back to Acts 1:13-14 and read again, meditate asking these questions: Where Jesus brothers James and Jude followers of Christ, saved, before their prayer in Acts ? Did they suspect they were putting Christ’s life in danger when sending him to the Temple for celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles? Why did Christ insist on going incognito ? Many , (and I), believe they were never saved until AFTER the resurrection in Acts. So consider these things carefully and it all makes great discussion in your bible study. You could spend a couple of sessions on this alone. If someone doesn’t do their reading before the meeting make sure you lovingly admonish and scold them , then encourage and teach them the importance of each person’s role as a piece of a giant puzzle for all to grow and learn. Without that piece everyone in the group will fail to see the whole beautiful picture of what God is really saying, teaching.
At the end of every session give out short assignments of exegesis study to each person in the study to extract truth in short pieces. Have one person find out when the letter was written by Paul and do the first 3 verses with commentary, another person the next three and so on so on. Each person reports what they found at the next session before the reading of those verses and the open discussion. Just some ideas.
Who wrote the book of Acts? Theologians really do not knowÂ since no author claims authorship. Many think Paul because Paul comes across in the book very well. Whoever did write it did it for Theophilis according to Acts 1:1. When we compare this to Luke 1:1-4 we see that Theophilis was an elder that was asking the Christian community to come together and document things in book form for the churches and spread of the gospel to the gentiles.
Week 2 or 3rd week–
Then read the first 5 chapters Acts and discuss what happened, letting each person give own view what happened.
Week 4 & 5-Read Galatians 1:1-2:21–Think of these questions: How long after Christ appeared to Saul, blinding Saul, before Paul was actively Preaching? Should Christians mature before they start actively preaching the gospel to everyone they meet? Does this mean they shouldn’t witness to anybody? How long did the disciples follow Christ night and day extensively learning before they preached? Did they receive special attention answering their questions by Christ dealing with issues they had trouble with? Did the early church read bits and pieces of the Pauline Epistles or read them like letters in front of the congregations as letters are read, whole letter read in oneÂ setting. Hint, see Colossians 4:16 and see how the early church read these letters. Since the early church read the letters this way why do church Pastors constantly quote only 1-2 verses and build whole church doctrine around these 1-2 verses??
Of course, if you have any questions on the prior weeks study comment and I will answer back for all to see.