Friday, August 5, 2011

Insights on James/Peter

"To the end of my days, my major goal in life is to communicate the Word with accuracy, insight, clarity, and practicality." Such is the underpinning of the New Testament Insights series by pastor and author Charles Swindoll. To date, I have already completed reading two volumes in this Bible commentary, Insights on Romans and Insights on 1&2 Timothy and Titus. With this post I bring to completion my study of another volume, Insights on James, 1&2 Peter.

I clearly remember when I was starting to take the Bible more seriously, more personally, and began to make plans to read it in its entirety. Several people advised me that I should not approach the Bible as if it were a novel. They recommended a plan for a specific order to help me frame and understand the Word. So, of course, I read it in order from Genesis in the Old Testament to Revelation in the New Testament. Over the period since my first complete read, I have re-read various sections in a "scatter-shot" approach. A little here, a little there. I have also studied in depth the lives of various prophets and Biblical personalities, and, of course, the life of Jesus Christ. Now with Swindoll's New Testament Insights series, I am making an opportunity to complete an in-depth study of entire books of the Bible, one at a time.

In this current work, Swindoll, in his usual relevant and readable style, takes us through the book of James, half brother of Jesus, written in roughly 45 AD. James is a wonderfully practical book for those in the faith, focussing on what we are to do as Christians. Specifically, what are the expected fruits of our faith. This is one of my favorite books of the New Testament. This is followed by the epistle 1 Peter, written by the apostle Peter (the rock) in roughly 63 AD (some 30 years after he had been humbled in his thrice-repeated denial of Christ). This letter was written to the Christians across Asia Minor in an effort to encourage them to stay strong in the face of ongoing persecution. Finally, Swindoll takes us through the brief epistle 2 Peter written by Peter in 66 AD, about a year before he was martyred. The central themes of this letter were written by a man, a leader in the church, who knew his days were numbered. He wanted to give one last exhortation to his fellow believers scattered across Asia Minor. Stay strong in the faith, watch out for those who would try to lead you astray, and prepare for Christ's return.

Next in Swindoll's Insights on the New Testament series, I will study Revelation. This should be quite enlightening.