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Reese Commentaries

James and 1, 2, 3 John

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James and 1 John are written as epistles to Christians in general (i.e., not as letters to a particular church in, for example, Rome or Ephesus).  2 John and 3 John were penned to particular individuals.  Each of these four books was written by an apostle we encounter often in the pages of the New Testament; men who played large roles in the life and growth of the early Church.  Each of these four epistles is unique within the New Testament canon, and each raises issues of interest and importance for our Christian faith and practice:

  • The faultless roadmap for practical Christian living provided by the great spiritual principles taught by our Lord and Savior.
  • The imperative need to receive the witness of God as given in Scripture through Jesus and His apostles.
  • The fact that we have not followed myths when we embrace the doctrine of the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, into the world to save sinners.
  • The nature of true Christian fellowship – its exclusivity Godward and the kind of lifestyle it demands manward.
  • How believers can know – by experience – the fact of their salvation.
  • The loving way to counteract religious error.
  • How Christians are to respond to those leaving the church.
  • The parallels between 1st/2nd century Gnosticism and the pluralism and New Age theology of our 21st century.

Introductory Studies delve into questions raised about these epistles by recent higher criticism – e.g., the relationship of James’ theology to Paul’s, the nature of the Gnosticism addressed in John’s epistles, the theory of a Johannine community and its role (if any) in compiling epistles, and our ability to accurately reconstruct the life-setting of the 1st century Christianity which gave rise to each of these writings.  Additionally, several Special Studies address important topics pertinent to these epistles. 

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