Lesson 7: New Testament Organization (Part 2)
Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
1. For the student to comprehend the organization and content of the New Testament books, from 1 Thessalonians to Revelation.
2. For the student to be able to recite those books in the order in which they appear.
3. For the student to enjoy learning the truth about the Bible.
Word of God
The New Testament books from 1 Thessalonians through Revelation.
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (5 minutes)
Take a few minutes and greet at least three other persons in the room. If you did your homework, share with each other which of Paul's letters you chose to read during the past week, and what insights you gained.
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
(To begin today’s study, have the students take the short pop quiz found in their workbooks. The questions and answers are repeated below. Encourage everyone to try the best they can to complete the quiz from memory and not by using their Bible)
1. How many Gospels are there? (4)
Today we’re going to launch into the second half of the New Testament. We’re almost done! Next week, we’ll do our quiz again and see how you much you learned, as well as talk about where to go from here, studying the Bible, etc.
So let’s dig in and finish up our trip through the Bible.
DIGGING IN (30 minutes)
Last week we stopped at Colossians, in the middle of Paul’s letters. Today we’ll cover the rest of his letters, the General Epistles, or those letters written by others, and the final book of the Bible, Revelation. Turn to the first book we’ll study today, 1 Thessalonians.
In your workbooks, you will find space to record facts and comments about each of the books we will cover today.
1 & 2 Thessalonians
These two letters were written by Paul. Obviously, 1 Thessalonians was written first, but probably only by a few months before 2 Thessalonians. The purpose was specifically to encourage the church to continue on in their new faith.
Paul had founded the Thessalonian church on a previous missionary journey. Both of these letters also have an undercurrent of concern with the return of Christ (see popular passages).
One popular passages is 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (If time permits, have someone read this verse for the class)
1 & 2 Timothy
1 and 2 Timothy, along with Titus, are called the Pastoral Epistles, or the Pastoral Letters. This is because of how they are written. The content of these two, the Timothies, and Titus, is geared towards instruction about how the church should care for people. They even get into how the church should function organizationally.
As for 1 & 2 Timothy, the audience is Timothy, a young helper of Paul who Paul calls "a son in the faith." Because of his youth, Timothy is up against some challenges in the church where he serves, which is in Ephesus.
Both 1 and 2 Timothy read pretty much like an instruction manual. 1 Timothy was written in about 64 A.D., with 2 Timothy coming a couple of years later, in 66 or 67 A.D.
Some popular passages are: 1 Timothy 4:12, 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Read 1 Timothy 4:12
1. Why do you think Paul had to say that to Timothy?
2. Do any of you feel like that’s still true today?
• The next book is Titus, Who do you think wrote it? (Paul)
Again, this is also a Pastoral Letter, and in it Paul gives Titus instructions on how to manage the church. Titus’ location is Crete, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It was written about the same time as the Timothies, or 64 A.D.
One well known passage is: Titus 1:15 (If time permits, have someone read this verse for the class)
The next book of the New Testament is Philemon. Turn there.
Philemon is the last book of the New Testament that we are certain was written by Paul. He wrote it to a man named Philemon, who was a member of the Colossian church, in about 60 A.D.
The purpose of Philemon is simple: Paul is encouraging Philemon to forgive his runaway slave, Onesimus, and to not mistreat him. Philemon is not widely read but it gives us a look inside how Paul related to individuals and was a pastor to many, all over the known world at that time.
That concludes the letters written by Paul. Let's reveiw all of them together, including those from last week, starting with Romans. Let's recite them together. (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon)
• What's the next book we find? (Hebrews)
This is the first book of what we call the general epistles, or general letters. All that really means is that they were written by someone other than Paul. There are 8 of these letters, and the first on is Hebrews.
There is some debate over who wrote the letter to the Hebrews. Some suggest that Paul did, in fact, write it, but we cannot be certain. Other possibilities include Luke, Barnabas, or even some student of Paul’s. The bottom line is, we cannot be sure.
There is also uncertainty over the date that it was written. We know it was before 70 A.D., but other than that there is no real way to firm it up.
One thing that is not a mystery in Hebrews is the message. The theme of Hebrews is sufficiency of Christ. The author writes to Jewish Christians to explain that Jesus is enough, and the old traditions are unnecessary.
• Anyone know any popular passages in Hebrews?
Some popular passages are: The Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11 and The Cloud of Witnesses, Hebrews 12: 1-3. (Have someone read these passages if time allows)
• What’s the next book? (James)
• Who was James the brother of? (Jesus)
As Jesus’ brother, James did not believe in him until after his resurrection. At that point he became a leader in the early church, and writes this letter to expose hypocrisy in amongst Jewish Christians of his day.
He wrote the letter pretty early, about 49 or 50 A.D. It reads like Old Testament wisdom literature, and has been called the Proverbs of the New Testament. Of the General Epistles, it is probably the most popular.
Some popular passages in James are: James 1:2, 2:18, 3:10, 4: 7, 5:16. (If time permits have someone read a few of them.)
1 & 2 Peter:
The next two letters we come to are 1 and 2 Peter.
• Who do you think wrote those? (Peter)
Who wrote these two letters is easy. What you might not know is the back story of why he wrote them. There was a great persecution going on in the Roman Empire against Christians. It is during this persecution that Peter was eventually killed. As he writes 1 Peter in 62-64 A.D. and 2 Peter in about 67 A.D., Christians empire-wide are being tortured and are suffering for their faith. That sets the backdrop for his letters, which are themed around encouragement for the suffering.
Some popular passages are: 1 Peter 1:15, 2:9, 2 Peter 3:8
1, 2, & 3 John
• The next three books bare the same name, what are they? (1, 2, and 3 John)
• Who wrote these books? (John)
What makes the three epistles of John unique is that they don’t seem to be addressed to any churches in particular. 1 John is addressed to no one. 2 John is addressed to a “chosen lady,” and 3 John to Gaius. 2 and 3 John are really short, too, adding to their uniqueness.
However, John’s letters have much to say. Speaking on themes of love, truth, and laced with warnings to not be swept away by false teaching, these letters offer valuable guidance even today.
Some popular passages are: 1 John 1:9, 3:1, 2 John v. 5, 3 John v. 11
The last of the general letters is Jude, whose author bore the same name. Jude was also a brother of Jesus and, like James, did not believe in his brother from the beginning. He wrote in about 65 A.D. Like 2nd and 3rd John, Jude has only one chapter. The theme is to avoid evil-doers and do good.
One popular passages is: Jude v. 22-23
That concludes the letters not written by Paul. Let's reveiw all of them, and recite them together. (Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude)
• Alright, what’s the last book of the New Testament? (Revelation, not Revelations)
Revelation is the only New Testament book of prophesy, and it has long been studied as a book that offers us clues to the end of the age, and indeed it does. But it also a book that had a first-century purpose, and it’s themes are much simpler than have been sensationalized by our modern times.
The true theme of Revelation is hope for believers. As Christians endured suffering and persecution for their faith, the book of Revelation offers a glimpse at the end result, something anyone who is struggling needs. What was revealed was a glorious hope in Christ, an eternal hope in heaven, and a reason to worship presently.
The apostle John recorded the words of Revelation as they were spoken to him by Jesus when he was in captivity on an Island called Patmos.
There are many interesting passages in Revelation, here are some popular ones: Revelation 1:3, 3:16, The New Jerusalem Revelation 21 (If time permits, have someone read these passages)
MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)
That’s it! Let’s recite all the books we covered today, starting in 1 Thessalonians and going all the way through Revelation. Now let’s do Matthew through Revelation. (Say these together with the students)
Next week we’re going to have a little quiz on all the books of the Bible. It will be a lot like the first one we took at the beginning of our study. Also next week, we’ll talk about how to best study the Bible so that we can get the most out of it. So study hard! It’s gonna be fun.