21 Letters for the 21st Century:
Opening the Epistles of the New Testament
Though they were written nearly 2000 years ago, the New Testament epistles speak to us today with amazing accuracy, dealing with issues as current as this evening’s newspaper. These twenty-one letters teach, they warn, they correct, they guide, so “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16). Go ahead: Open up these letters and discover what they say!
Please Note: This title can also be ordered with a companion test booklet (a study guide of multiple-choice questions for each chapter) at no additional charge.
An introduction, outline and short summary of all 21 epistles. You will see why these letters were written and then read them again with increased interest and understanding.
Everybody likes to get a letter! Long ago, five men wrote 21 letters to Christian churches or Christian people. The Spirit of God led these five men to write the truth and so their 21 letters are extremely important for all Christians today.
The first four books of the New Testament are called Gospels. The word gospel means “good news”. The Gospels contain the good news of the coming of a Saviour, of His life and works among men, of His death for us, and of His resurrection from the dead.
The fifth book of the New Testament is called the Acts of the Apos- tles. These names of the New Testament books were given to them by men. The words in the books themselves as they were first written are inspired by God, and therefore have no mistakes in them. But the names of the books are not inspired. Probably a better name for Acts would be “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”, or “The Doings of Christ after His resurrection, working through the Holy Spirit”. The book of Acts tells us how the Church began with the coming of the Holy Spirit and how the early believers worked to tell others about Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
The last book of the New Testament is called the Revelation. In some English Bibles it is called “The Revelation of St. John the Divine”. But this name, too, is not right. It should be “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, as it is in the first verse of the first chapter. The book of Revelation tells us something of the glory which our Lord Jesus Christ now has in heaven and tells us also of things which are still to come. It tells us that the Lord Jesus will someday be revealed to men on the earth and that He will come in glory to punish His enemies and to set up His kingdom on the earth. It also tells us of the final judgment of the wicked, and of the glories of heaven.
Between the fifth book and the last book of the New Testament, there are twenty-one books, some long and some short. These books are called epistles, that is to say, letters. They are letters which were written to Christians, mostly by the apostles, and most of them by the apostle Paul. These letters were written for various reasons. Some of them, like Romans, were written in order to teach Christians the facts of salvation and life in Christ. Others, like 1 Corinthians, were written in order to warn Christians who were doing wrong and to show them the right way to act. Others, like Colossians, were written to warn the Christians against people who were teaching wrong things. It is important to read each of these letters carefully until you see why each one was written. Then you should read them carefully again, remembering the reason for writing each one. Only in this way is it possible to under- stand the teaching of these letters.
It is most important for Christians to have a good understanding of these epistles, or letters. They speak of many things which we need to know. They tell us just how we are saved and why. They tell us of the goodness and kindness of our God. They tell us of the glory and greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ. They tell us about the Holy Spirit and the wonderful things He wants to do in our lives. And they warn us about false teachers. This is very important in these days when many people are teaching wrong things. These false teachers get many people to listen to them and to accept what they say, just because there are so few people who know and understand the epistles of the New Testament. False teachers cannot deceive Christians who study the epistles carefully. That is the reason why this book has been written, to help you understand what the writers of the letters of the New Testament wanted to say.
You should not read this book by itself. Begin by reading each epistle before you read its description here. If possible, read the epistle through several times. Then read about it in this book, looking at the places to which it refers. Then read the epistle again and see if you understand it better. We would like to see Christians everywhere finding for themselves the wonderful spiritual riches which are to be found in these letters of the New Testament.
Mr. Albert E. Horton (1901 - 1996) served God as a missionary in Angola for over fifty years. His work included translating the Bible into the Luvale Language and teaching the Word of God to thousands of believers.