Reading The Bible Together – Dec 2019

NT Letters

As we read though the Bible Together, we will find some books much larger than others. It may seem a jump to go from one book (Deuteronomy) in November to seven books in December, but we will in fact have much less to read this month. Deuteronomy has 34 Chapters containing 959 verses, these seven New Testament letters have 21 chapters containing 432 verses.

We are in a very different part of the history of God’s people. Deuteronomy was part of the collection of books (Pentateuch) which tells the very beginning of the story. The Letters of the NT are the last word of scripture, with the likes of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude writing to the recently formed churches after Jesus’ return to heaven. We will be reading seven books in order from James through to Jude, these are the letters excluding all of the Apostle Paul’s letters, as well as Hebrews & Revelation.

1. James

A Letter From Who to Who

From James to Jewish Christians. Which James? There are a number of James’ in the Bible, so which one wrote this letter, so we are not talking about James the brother of John, or James the Son of Alphaeus (both disciples of Jesus). Rather this is James, the brother of Jesus (Gal 1:19, Acts 12:17, Acts 15:13).


  • 1:2-18 – Main Messages Revealed: Trials & Temptation
  • 1:19-2:26 – Faith in Practice: 1) Do what the Word says. 2) Favoritism. 3) Faith Acts
  • 3:1-4:12 – Dissension Within The Church: The Tongue, Wisdom, Repentance.
  • 4:13-5:12 – A Christian Outlook: Give God his place, Warning to Rich, Waiting on God
  • 5:13-20 – Concluding Remarks: Prayer & Serving One another.

Things To Look Out For In James

Style: James can be compared to the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, and some have also made comparison to Jesus’ very practical teaching. It contains wise teaching on how we should live.

Substance: James is eager for his readers to be God’s people first and foremost and for their lives to reflect the change that God has brought in their lives. Look out for the practical instruction you find in James, as a faithful teacher he is happy to tell you how to live, he gives plenty of instructions for us to follow. He doesn’t mess about telling you how you are to live as one of God’s people.

The Gospel in James

A Bust Up with Paul? Because James is so practical some Christians have struggled with the book as it doesn’t seem to have much space for the gospel of grace. But this would be a misunderstanding. Paul teaches that we are justified by faith alone, James seems to contradict that in his letter (2:24). But there is no real disagreement. Paul is talking about how we are justified, and James is talking about what being justified looks like. Paul want’s to emphasize that we make no contribution to our salvation it is free to receive, by faith, James wan’t to emphasize that anyone who has faith will not only have faith but will also have a new life, demonstrably different from the old one.


“Although James is sometimes read in contrast to Paul, both James and Paul are, in fact, absolutely together at the crucial point made by James throughout his letter, namely, that the first thing one does with ones faith is to live by it.”

How To Read The Bible Book by Book, A Guided Tour. Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart


Gifts of Grace: With Jame’s emphasis on practical outworking of our salvation it is important to stop and consider all of the references to grace, and gifts in the letter which make clear James knows all we have received is from the merciful hand of God, our task is now to live out the life in accordance with his word. (1:5, 12, 17-18, 2:5, 3:17, 4:6, 7, 10, 5:11) – (NIV Proclamation Bible. Douglas Moo)


The Bible Project have this page on the Letter of James –

The Following Commentaries are available from The Bay Church Office, to borrow.

  • IVP BST – The Message of James – Alec Motyer
  • Pillar – The Letter of James – Douglas J.Moo
  • Tyndale – James – R.V.G. Tasker

2. 1 Peter 

A Letter From Who to Who

– From Peter to mainly non Jewish Christians living in modern day Turkey. This is the same Peter who we know from the Gospels as a follower of Jesus and from the book of Acts as a powerful preacher.


– Structure:
  •         Greeting/ Introduction: Elect Exiles (1:1-2)
  •         God’s Chosen People Called to Be Holy (1:3-2:10)
  •         God’s Chosen People Living Godly Lives For The Good of the World (2:11-4:11)
  •         God’s Chosen People Follow The Pattern of God’s Only Son: Suffering To Glory (4:12-5:14)

Things to look out for in 1 Peter

Identity – Peter call the believers he is writing to, Elect Exiles. This is their identity, and if they grasp this they will be a long way to living for God in their day. Elect emphasizes they are God’s chosen people, they belong to him. Exiles reminds them that heaven is their ultimate home, King Jesus their ultimate allegiance, they are passing through this world ready for the next. As Elect Exiles they are to live for God’s glory.

Purpose – Being Elect Exiles is not to mean separation from the world however, rather living as salt and light as to win the world. The way they face trial and persecution might mean evildoers watching on ‘glorify God on the day of visitation’ (2:12) or seeing believers suffer without retaliation they might ask ‘for a reason for the hope that is in you’ (3:15). As Elect Exiles they are to live for God’s glory and peoples good.

Suffering – Suffering and trial are a significant part of the letter, it was clearly a difficult time the believers were facing. This letter gives hope and encouragement to those facing trials in the future hope of the believer, ‘an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.’ (1:4)

The Gospel in 1 Peter

 God’s Great Redemption – Though the book has a prominent focus on Christ and his example in suffering on behalf of his people, Peter also brings to attention each person of the Trinity in salvation.

The Pattern of Christ. Suffering To Glory. – The encouragements to believers during trial are not limited to future hope, Peter also tells them to consider Christ and his suffering. Christ’s road is our road as his people, it is part of the privilege of belonging to him that we face persecution for him.


The Bible Project have this page on the Letter of 1 Peter –

The Following Commentaries are available from The Bay Church Office, to borrow.

  • TNAC – 1 Peter, 2 Peter & Jude, Thomas Schreiner
  • Tyndale – 1 Peter, Wayne Grudem
  • IVP NT – 1 Peter, I. Howard Marshall

3. 2 Peter

A Letter From Who to Who

– The same as 1 Peter. This letter was written by Peter the disciple and Apostle. 2 Peter 3:1 seems to make out it is the second letter to the same group of Christians.


  • 1:3-11 – Growth in Holiness Key
  • 1:12-21 – Peter’s Apostolic Testimony
  • 2:1-22 – Certain Condemnation Awaits False Teachers.
  • 3:1-18 – False teaching Exposed

Things to look out for in 2 Peter

Internal Strife: Notice how this letter compliment’s Peter’s first letter which focused on pressures from outside the church, the state, the workplace, unbelievers in the home. Peter now focuses on internal pressure from within the church. He is warning against false teaching which is dangerous and twisting truth to justify sinful behaviour.

That Day: Such wicked behaviour will be punished 2 Peter makes clear. Peter warns indirectly through ancient accounts of God’s judgement (Angels, Noah, Sodom) in ch.2 and then more directly in ch.3 as he speaks of the day of the Lord. In response to the scoffing that this day would never come Peter makes plain the delay does not discredit the fact that Jesus will return.

The Gospel in 2 Peter

Gospel Life Now: In a wonderful introduction Peter explains to his readers the whole scope of salvation, that believers have ‘become partakers in the divine nature’. This is a staggering reality for all whose trust is in Jesus. This life is to be lived, a life lived in keeping with the God to whom we now belong.

Gospel Life Not Yet: The tension between the ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ of our salvation is important in a number of the New Testament letters. Though Peter is excited about the new life being lived now by those who belong to God, he also wants them to know there is more to come. There is a new heavens and a new earth to enjoy.


The Bible Project have this page on the Letter of James –

The Following Commentaries are available from The Bay Church Office, to borrow.

– TNAC – 1 Peter, 2 Peter & Jude, Thomas Schreiner

Bay Church Reflections

Throughout December we will look to refer to these seven letters as often as possible. We hope this will increase our familiarity with these books and provide more opportunity to learn from them.

  • Introductory Sermon – Sunday 1st
  • Prayer Meetings
    • 4th
    • 18th
    • 30th
  • Home Groups
    • Monday Group: Mon 9th
    • Wednesday Group: Wed 11th
  • Children’s Address during Morning Meeting. (1 John) – Sunday 1st, 8th, 15th 22nd, 29th

Other Books.

We will also be reading 1 & 2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude this month, overview will appear on this page as we progress through the month.


If you have any questions about these books as you read please contact Andrew: