L Before G

Although the New Testament letters appear after the Gospels in the NT, they were written well before them. We can date them by various means and the earliest probably appeared about 50 AD. By reading them, we can gain a good idea of the life of the early Christians, their successes, failures and problems and can learn much from them. We can see that they faced problems very much like ours.

Some like Romans were written to explain the Christian faith systematically. Others were written in response to questions that some early Christians asked the apostles. Yet others were fighting letters, sent to help Christians who were in danger of drifting from their faith. Every letter has its own particular message.

Briefly, we might say that the New Testament letters were intended to teach young Christians what to believe and how to behave. Some of them were Jewish and needed to learn that God does not save us because of what we have done, but because of what His Son has done. Others were Gentiles and had been brought up believing in many gods. They needed to learn that God is One. Jewish believers needed to learn that God’s grace did not mean that they could live as they liked but that love was the fulfilment of all the Old Testament laws. Gentile believers needed to know that the one God, unlike pagan gods, was righteous and wanted His people to live holy lives. So the NT letters meet different people’s needs.

Romans and Ephesians are the most systematic NT letters. Paul’s mind was very orderly and in these letters he explains what God has done. The death of Christ on the Cross makes it possible for God to forgive us. The resurrection of Jesus vindicated Him and brought new life into the world, which all believers can share. This means that they must live new lives according to the power which God has given them in the Holy Spirit.

The 2 Thessalonian letters, Philippians and Philemon are the most personal of Paul’s letters. He writes to young Christians , expressing his love for them and urging them to live lives worthy of their Lord.

Galatians and Colossians are “fighting” letters. Paul is trying to help young Christians who were in danger of moving away from their faith. The Galatian Christians were being taught by others that, having taken the first step by believing in Jesus, they needed to follow all the Jewish Law to become perfect Christians. The Colossian believers were being taught that Jesus was not the only Mediator between man and God and that they needed to be inducted into certain practices and secrets which only a few (called Gnostics, which means “knowledge”) could attain. In both these letters, Paul insists that we are saved by Jesus alone and by faith in Him alone.

The Corinthian letters are somewhat different. They deal largely with the questions which the Corinthian church put to Paul or the problems they were experiencing about which he had heard. The list in 1 Corinthians is surprisingly modern-divisions in the church, sexual immorality, Christians going to secular law courts to settle their internal disputes, idolatry, the role of spiritual gifts and the fact or otherwise of the Resurrection of Jesus. Christian truth comes out in all the answers he gives. 2 Corinthians also deals with forgiveness, the authority of apostles, and generosity in giving.

The other NT letters, by James, John, Peter and Jude are much less systematic, showing that every writer had his own style. They deal with general pastoral matters. Finally, Paul wrote some personal letters to Timothy and Titus, giving them advice on Christian leadership.

Although these letters were written a long time ago, as we go through them carefully, we can transpose them into our own age and find help in our Christian lives. They are worth reading!


Why Do We Believe the Bible

As people sometimes ask us this question, we ought to be able to answer them.

Here are a few reasons.

1. Because it is so widespread a book.

Jews accept the Old Testament as their national history. It would be very strange if it were all invented and untrue. Christians share this belief. We go further in also accepting the New Testament. The Church exists in nearly all countries of the world and has done so for nearly two thousand years. Is it reasonable to maintain that our beliefs are based on fabrications? The Bible is the most translated book in the world. Would so many scholars have devoted their lives to this work if they believed that it was nonsense?

2. Because it is a trustworthy book.

The Bible has been subject to hostile criticism more than any other book in the world but nobody has yet showed convincingly that it is historically inaccurate. While archaeology cannot prove the truth of Scripture, many discoveries have shed light on its background.

3. Because it is an influential book.

No other book has influenced human life as much as the Bible has. Bible Societies, the Gideons and other Bible organisations tell innumerable stories of how people�s lives have been changed for the better by reading and believing it. Its teachings have become the general basis of many countries� laws. Could a book full of falsehoods have achieved such results?

4. Because it deals with the ultimate problems of human life.

Throughout its pages, it talks about the basic issues of life, such as pain and suffering, sin and forgiveness, disease, war and death, as well as the more joyful aspects of life. People identify with its words. It gives us purpose and tells us that our existence is not vain and meaningless. All human life is there.

5. Because it offers us salvation.

The human predicament is such that even the best teaching and moral guidance cannot deliver us. We need help from outside. This is just what the Bible teaches. God has sent a Deliverer, Jesus Christ. By His death on the Cross, He atoned for our sins. God raised Him from the dead and thus vindicated Him. He is God�s final word to us and because He is alive for evermore, we can trust Him and His words. Our experience backs up our faith.


These are some reasons why we can trust the Bible. There are others. Although parts of Scripture are hard to understand, God has promised to give light to honest enquirers. We can offer them a Gospel and encourage them to read it, secure in the belief that God will reveal Himself to them in its pages.