Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to study the Bible Lesson 4

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE

Lesson Four: How to Interpret the Bible


The study of the 'rules' of Bible interpretation is called "hermeneutics". Hermeneutics is the science of Bible interpretation. This strange theological term comes from the Greek word hermeneuo which means TO INTERPRET OR EXPLAIN. The reason for studying the Bible is to properly interpret what God is saying to us.

Two other technical terms are important here. Bible scholars often refer to the 'exegesis' of Scripture, which means "allowing the truth to come out of the text without the filter of our own ideas". The word "exegesis" is also derived from a Greek word, which means "explanation " or "to lead OUT of." This means we approach to the Scriptures to learn what they say and mean, not to prove our own point.

The opposite term is "eisogesis" which is from a Greek word meaning "to read INTO". This is probably the most common (and dangerous) error of casual Bible students. It is even the error of many (denominations and ) well-known television evangelists. This means that a person approaches the Scripture with a pre-conceived idea and uses the Scripture to prove their point, even if the Scriptures have to be "bent" to make them fit.

What we mean by Bible interpretation is the correct meaning of the passage as it was intended by the original author. In other words, we must allow the Bible to speak for itself. While this sounds simple, we must realize that we all have some pre-conceived ideas and that we must work carefully to see that we arrive at the Truth instead of seeking to prove that we are right. We must seek to understand what the original author had in mind--in his context of life and history.

The eighteenth century scholar J. A. Ernesti set the stage for what we call today "rules of Bible interpretation." For Ernesti, a correct understanding of the Bible mean discovering (1) the use of words, (2) the historical circumstances controlling their usage, and (3) the intention of the author strictly governed by his own words. (See Toward an Exegetical Theology, by Walter C. Kaiser.)

Rules of Bible interpretation:

(1) We must interpret the Bible in the light of its LANGUAGE AND HISTORY.

Language, or 'literary setting,' means that language has different meanings in different social, historical, and cultural settings. We must know what Bible words meant to the writers of the Bible. Understanding something of the meaning of the original languages is necessary for correct Bible interpretation, although you should also know that no new or novel doctrines are hidden in the Greek and Hebrew.

Second, "historical setting" means the time and place when a passage of the Bible was written.

This first rule brings up the need for Bible dictionaries and commentaries. They are helpful in obtaining background material as to the culture, setting and the history of the passage in question.
Some examples of how to apply this rule.

(a) Read carefully 2 Corinthians 12:2. What is the third heaven? The Mormons build a whole doctrine of levels of eternal reward based on this verse. But if you just understood something of ancient astronomy, you would know that the first heaven was the sky and clouds, the second heaven was the realm of the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars), and the "third" heaven, beyond the sun, moon and stars, was the realm of God. The third heaven is paradise, which Paul indicates in verse 4.

(b) Mark 1:1-21. Why did the disciples so quickly and readily leave everything and follow Jesus? Because they were so committed to him? No. Israel was under the iron yoke of Roman domination and occupation and everyone was expecting the Messiah who would liberate Palestine and rule the world. The disciples probably followed Jesus for very selfish reasons. Even later they were arguing over who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom, and who would sit at the right hand of the throne of the Messiah!

(2) We must interpret Scripture by Scripture

In other words, the whole Bible must speak for itself. We cannot build doctrines on isolated portions of Scriptures. It's easy to quote individual Bible verses to prove your point. It is a much greater challenge to see how individual verses fit into the whole picture.
Examples:
(a) Does Acts 2:38 teach that baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins? Yes, by itself. But many other passages about water baptism in the Bible make it clear that baptism is necessary for discipleship and Christian growth, but it is not necessary to get into heaven.
(b) Does James 2:24 teach that works are necessary for salvation? Yes, by itself. But James 2:24 must be understood in the larger context of New Testament grace.

(3) Individual verses of the Bible must be understood in the context of OTHER VERSES IN THAT PASSAGE.

Two examples which will probably ruffle your feathers are;
(a) Matthew 24:40-41 says, "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left." Does this sound like the rapture? It has been used that way for years. But look again at the verses ahead of these famous words. See verses 36 - 39, especially 39. In 39, who is taken away, the righteous or the unrighteous? And who is left? Read carefully. The rules of language apply to Scripture and dare not be bent or ignored. Just because it does not fit with what we want it to say, we must take it for what it does say.
(b) Romans 10:17 is not about building your faith by hearing the word, even though it is used by many preachers to "prove" just that. This verse is about salvation. In other words, faith in Christ unto salvation comes by hearing the Word. Just look at the context!
(An old proverb used in Bible School - "Text, without context, is pretext.")

(4) Each passage of scripture has one INTERPRETATION, many APPLICATIONS.

Interpretation is WHAT THE BIBLE MEANS. The "literal" meaning of each passage of the Bible understood on the basis of the rule of interpretation, must be our starting point for applying the Bible to our daily lives.
Application is WHAT THE BIBLE MEANS TO ME. One of the great Bible scholars of this century, F. F Bruce, wrote, "The place of the Bible in the life of the church has constanstly added to it a wealth of fresh and practical meaning which the interpreter cannot ignore."

(5) We cannot build major Doctrines on isolated or unclear verses of the Bible.

Passages of Scripture in which a doctrine is merely touched on must be interpreted by those passages where a doctrine is expressly taught. An example is 1Corinthians 11:6. Another example is the idea that the gifts of the Spirit "died out" with the Apostles. There is no Bible verse in the New Testament that teaches this very popular idea, even though some preach it as a fact.

(6) In most cases, like the rest of the Bible, parables have ONE BASIC MEANING.

A more contemporary example is Aesop's fable of the fox and the grapes. You know the story. Is the lesson, or the moral of the story, that foxes actually eat grapes? No. That's just part of the story to illustrate a single moral principle. If you focus on whether or not foxes actually eat grapes you miss the whole point of the story.
Just so with the parables in the Bible. The parable of the ten virgins is a Biblical example. The parable is full of unique symbolism: the number ten, virgins, lamps, oil. But the whole point of the story is that we should "watch" or "be spiritual alert." Whatever else all the symbols mean is not clear, and to start building doctrines on this parable (like a doctrine of a partial rapture) is theological thin ice.

(7) Two guard rails along the highway of correct Bible interpretation: THE HOLY SPIRIT and THE CHRlSTIAN COMMUNITY.

We have the Holy Spirit to guide us, but this does not mean we don't need other Christians, especially well equipped and informed Bible teachers. And we have the established, historical teachings of the Church, but this does not mean we don't need the Holy Spirit!

Old Testamment Overview

Lesson Two: Old Testament Overview

The Old Testament consists of the 39 books of the original Jewish Bible, still used by Jewish people today. The word "Testament" means "covenant, agreement, contract". The word "Old" means "older, original," or the way God related to men and women before the Coming of Christ.

Perhaps we could title the Bible God's Plan. The Old Testament would be Volume One: The Plan Begins. And the New Testament would be called Volume Two: The Plan Completed.

The Purpose of the Old Testament was to reveal THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE COMING KING! All through the Old Testament the student of the Scriptures can find Jesus.

The Subject/Theme of the Old Testament was to reveal THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE COMING KING. All of the Old Testament looks forward to the Messiah and His kingdom.

The General Content of the Old Testament:
Please open your Bibles to the 'Table of Contents' as we work through this material. The Old Testament is neatly divided into three major sections.
a. HISTORY, Genesis to Esther.
b. POETRY, Job to Ecciesiastes
c.PROPHECY, Isaiah to Malachi

The Specific Content of the Old Testament Books.

Historical Books
The first five books of the Old Testament are called "The Pentateuch" and are believed to be written by Moses.

GENESIS is the book of beginnings or origins....of the world, the human race and especially the Hebrew nation. It contains the stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, and the biographies of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
EXODUS is the book of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery. It includes the origin of the Passover, the Red Sea crossing, and the Ten Commandments.
LEVITICUS is a detailed description of Jewish religious ceremonies and sacrifices.
NUMBERS records the journeyings of the Israelites from Mount Sinai, where they received the Ten Commandments, to the Jordan River, just before their conquest of the Promised Land.
DEUTERONOMY means 'second law.' It is a of repeat of Leviticus and Numbers.
JOSHUA is about the new generation of Israelites crossing the Jordan River and beginning the conquest of Canaan, or "The Promised Land" under the leadership of Joshua. This book includes the famous story of the battle of Jericho.
JUDGES is the record of thirteen judges or popular leaders. The book records the sad result of man doing what is right in his own eyes. Main characters include Samson and Gideon.
RUTH is a simple but beautiful love story. Ruth is a gentile who becomes the great~grandmother of King.David.
I SAMUEL records the history of Israel from the last judge, Samuel, to the death of Israel's first king, Saul.
2 SAMUEL is the story of Kings David and Solomon.
I KINGS records the history of Israel from David's death, through the reign of Solomon, to the life of the prophet Elijah. After Solomon's death, the Jewish kingdom is divided into Israel, or "the North" and Judah, or "the South."
2 KINGS is about the ongoing civil war between Israel and Judah. Both kingdoms are finally destroyed by the judgment of God.
1,2 CHRONICLES are a kind of repeat of 1,2 Kings, with an emphasis on the history of the southern kingdom, Judah, from the reign of David to the Babylonian Captivity.
EZRA and NEHEMIAH are about the return of the Jews to Israel after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Ezra is about rebuilding the Jewish temple, while Nehemiah is about rebuilding the wall and city of Jerusalem.

Hebrew Poetry
The second section or division of the Old Testament is Hebrew poetry. All of these books were written at different times during the historical record of the first 17 books. Psalms, for example, was written by a number of people, most notably David, during the books of Kings and Chronicles.
JOB, the oldest book of the Bible, tries to explain the most difficult question or life: why bad things happen to good people.

PSALMS is a book of prayer and praise.

PROVERBS is a collection of wise sayings.

ECCLESIASTES is about how to trust God and obey his commands, even when life makes no sense and even God seems unfair.

SONG OF SOLOMON is a love story. It has often been understood as a picture of God's love and relationship with us.



Prophecy

The prophetic books have been subdivided into two categories: the Major Prophets, called "major" simply because they are longer books, and the Minor Prophets, or shorter books of prophecy.



Major Prophets

ISAIAH is about the future kingdom of the Messiah. Isaiah is full of beauty and hope. Some of the most familiar passages of Bible prophecy are found in Isaiah.

JEREMIA AND LAMANTATIONS are prophecies of warning and judgment on wayward Israel.

EZEIKEL was written during the Babylonian captivity of Israel. It is about how the glory of God will return one day to the sanctuary in Jerusalem.

DANIEL is history and prophecy concerning Gentile world rule in relation to Israel and the Kingdom of Christ. It includes the famous stories of the three men in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the Lion's den.

Minor Prophets

HOSEA about backsliding and spiritual adultery.

JOEL, the prophet of Pentecost.

AMOS, about judgment on complacency and materialism.

OBADIAH one short chapter on the doom of ancient Edom.

JONAH, and the whale, Of course!

MICAH about Israel's sin and God's grace in the promised Messiah.

NAHUM, about the doom of ancient Nineveh.

HABAKKUK, the just shall live by faith.

ZEPHANIAH, on God's judgment and the future of Israel.

HAGGAl, about Zion's temple.

ZECHARIAH, a fairly long "minor" prophet with several chapters on Armageddon and the end of the world.

MALACHI, on robbing God, judgment, and the return of Elijah in the last days.

The Teaching of the Old Testament
(from material prepared by W. P. Ern Baxter).

One word sums up all..Christ. But let's see how this comes to pass. We will imagine a stranger with only an Old Testament in his hand. He opens to Genesis 1 and begins reading verse by verse. Soon he comes to Chapter 3, with its promise of Someone coming. He reads on and finds a repetition of the same promise in almost every book, until as he reads from Isaiah onwards the very Fullness of prophecy appears. But he comes to Malachi 4, the last chapter of the Old Testament, and the promises have not been realized. The reader has now become conscious the Old Testament is ,.. a book of unfulfilled prophecies.

So he turns back to Genesis 1 and starts again. Soon he is conscious of something strange and unusual: sacrifice and offering already in Genesis 4. He wonders what can be the purpose of it again in chapters 9, 12, and 22, and still more clearly in Exodus, until in Leviticus there is an entire organization of sacrifices, offerings, rites and ceremonies. He sees them referred to again and again, with very little explanation of their real meaning, until once more he reaches Malachi 4 without the light he needs. He is now conscious that the Old Testament is also ... a book or unexplained ceremonies.

Once more the reader returns to Genesis, and it is not long before he becomes aware of another great fact: man's great desire and longing for God. He reads of it in chapters 4, 5,15, 28, and 49 and throughout the rest of Bible history, but most of all in Job, Psalms and the Prophets. He reads again and again about people crying out for relationship with the living God and for the blessings God has promised. There are often answers, and there are great moments of satisfaction, but something is still missing. Again, the Old Testament ends without the complete realization of satisfaction in mans relationship with God. And our reader becomes conscious of yet another fact, that the Old Testament is ... a book of unsatisfied longings.

These are three threads running through the Old Testament making it by itself an incomplete book. It ought to be studied from this standpoint and with this perspective if it is to be rightly understood. Only thus will it be appreciated as the foundation of the New Testament.

And we will imagine that someone now gives our stranger a copy of the New Testament. As he begins to read, he finds there the very things he has failed to discover in the Old Testament! On the very first page he reads, 'That it might be fulfilled...."

And soon he realizes that:

Jesus the Prophet fulfills in His life, the prophecies.

Jesus the Priest explains. in his death, the ceremonies.

Jesus the King satisfies. in his resurrection, the longings.

Jesus, my Prophet, Priest and King, is thus the key to the lock, the perfect explanation of Old Testament history, ceremony and prophecy.

How to Study the New Testament Part one

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE
Lesson Three: New Testament Overview

Mat 4:4 (KJV)
But (Jesus) answered and said,
It is written,
Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

(Mat 24:35 KJV)
Jesus said,
Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.

(Mark 8:38 KJV)
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words
in this adulterous and sinful generation;
of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.


The Purpose of the New Testament:
TO REVEAL THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST, as the fulfillment of Old Testament history, ceremony and prophecy.

Mat 26:26-29 (KJV)
And as they were eating,
Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples,
and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
{27} And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
Drink ye all of it;
{28} For this is my blood of the new testament{Grk=contract, covenant},
which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
{29} But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine,
until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

Jer 31:31-34 (KJV)
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD,
that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and with the house of Judah:
{32} Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which my covenant they brake,
although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

{33} But this shall be the covenant{Heb=contract} that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the LORD,
I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
{34} And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD:
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD:
for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.


The General Content of the New Testament .
The New Testament is very similar in its structure to the Old Testament. In our previous studies we learned the Old Testament has three major sections: history, poetry, and prophecy. The New Testament also has three major divisions:
a. HISTORY, including the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and Acts.
b. TEACHING, or the Epistles (personal letters) of Paul, Peter, James and John.
c. PROPHECY, the Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of Saint John.

The Specific Content of the New Testament Books.

History: The Gospels
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are not biographies in the pure sense, although they are historical in every sense. Perhaps "portraits" is a better word than "biographies." In each of the Gospels, Jesus is painted in a different pose. Each Gospel writer saw Jesus from a different angle and wrote his Gospel for a unique purpose.

MATTHEW was the tax collector. He wrote his Gospel for the purpose of showing a Jewish audience how Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, More than in any other Gospel. Matthew uses the phrase, "This was to fulfill ..."

(Mat 1:22 KJV)
Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying...

The scope and purpose of the book are indicated in the first verse. Matthew is :

(Mat 1:1 KJV)
The book of the generation{Grk=nativity, nature, geneology} of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This connects him at once with two of the most important of the Old Testament Covenants: the Davidic Covenant of kingship, and the Abrahamic Covenant of promise. ;

THE DAVIDIC COVENANT
(2 Sam 7:12-14 KJV)
And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers,
I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels,
and I will establish his kingdom.
{13} He shall build an house for my name,
and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
{14} I will be his father, and he shall be my son...

THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

(Gen 12:1-3 KJV)
Now the LORD had said unto Abram,
Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house,
unto a land that I will show thee:
{2} And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great;
and thou shalt be a blessing:
{3} And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:
and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

(Gen 15:18 KJV)
In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
Unto thy seed have I given this land,
from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:


Of Jesus Christ in that twofold character, then, Matthew writes. Following the order indicated in the first verse, he writes first of the King, the son of David; then of the Son of Abraham, obedient unto death, according to the Isaac type:

(Gen 22:1-2 KJV)
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him,
Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
{2} And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,
and get thee into the land of Moriah;
and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

(Heb 11:17-19 KJV)
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac:
and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.
{18} Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
{19} Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead;
from whence also he received him in a figure.

MARK Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river and contains no Christmas story. Some feel Mark was addressed more to the Roman mind. The scope and purpose of the book are evident from its contents. In it Jesus is seen as the mighty Worker, rather than as the unique Teacher. It is the Gospel of Jehovah's "Servant the Branch"

(Zec 3:8 KJV)
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee:
for they are men wondered at:
for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

as Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch. . .unto David". (The "days" spoken of below are the Millenium Kingdom, yet future, when Christ will sit as King and Ruler, and Israel's enemies will be vanquished.)

(Jer 33:15-16 KJV)
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David;
and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
{16} In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely:
and this is the name wherewith she shall be called,
The LORD our righteousness.

Everywhere the servant character of the incarnate Son is manifest. The key verse is

(Mark 10:45 KJV)
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many.

The characteristic word is "straightway," a servant's word, but also characteristic of the Roman mind seeking action to get things done. There is no genealogy, for who gives the genealogy of a servant? The distinctive character of Christ in Mark is that set forth in Phi_2:5 -11.

(Phi 2:5-11 KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
(8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name:
(10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
(11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

But this lowly Servant, who emptied Himself of the "form of God," "and was found in fashion as a man," was, nevertheless, "the mighty God"
(Isa 9:6 KJV)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

LUKE was a physician and the only non-Jewish author in the Bible. He also wrote Acts. He was not one of the original apostles, but was a traveling companion of Paul. Luke's Gospel is the most detailed and carefully organized of the four gospels.

(Luke 1:1-4 KJV)
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order
a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
{2} Even as they delivered them unto us,
which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
{3} It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,
to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
{4} That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Luke also has the most extensive material on the birth and early childhood of Jesus.

Luke is the Gospel of the human-divine One, as John is of the divine-human One. The key-phrase is "Son of man," and the key-verse is:

(Luke 19:10 KJV)
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

In harmony with this intent, Luke relates those things concerning Jesus which demonstrate how entirely human He was. His genealogy is traced to Adam, and the most detailed account is given of His mother, and of His infancy and boyhood. The parables peculiar to Luke have distinctively the human and the seeking note. But Luke is careful to guard the Deity and Kingship of Jesus Christ

(Luke 1:30-33 KJV)
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
{31} And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,
and shalt call his name JESUS.
{32} He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
{33} And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Luke, then, is the Gospel of "the man whose name is The BRANCH"(a prophetic reference to Jesus the Messiah):

(Zec 6:12-13 KJV)
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts,
saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH;
and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
{13} Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory,
and shall sit and rule upon his throne;
and he shall be a priest upon his throne:
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

JOHN is very different in its content and style from the other Gospels. It is the most theological, in that it is almost entirely teaching. You can see this stand out in a red letter edition of the Bible. In fact, of the 21 chapters in John, the last 10, almost half the book, are about the last week in Jesus life. Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, arid 17 are composed of teaching that took place in the Upper Room the night before Jesus' crucifixion. A key phrase in John is "I am ..."

The Theme of John's Gospel is indicated in the Prologue :
(John 1:1-14 KJV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
{2} The same was in the beginning with God.
{3} All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
{4} In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
{5} And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
{6} There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
{7} The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
{8} He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
{9} That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
{10} He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
{11} He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
{12} But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name:
{13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
{14} And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The prominent words are, "believed" and "life." This emphasis of John is clearly stated in John 20:30-31: BELIEVE.

(John 20:30-31 KJV)
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples,
which are not written in this book:
{31} But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing ye might have life through his name.
History: Acts of the Apostles

(Acts 1:1-3 KJV)
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
{2} Until the day in which he was taken up,
after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
{3} To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs,
being seen of them forty days,
and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
ACTS is Luke's record of the events that took place in the early church, Underlying the special events is a powerful explanation and defense of Christianity, to the Jews, the Greeks and the Romans. If you read the book carefully you can "see" where Luke joined Paul by change of the tense (from "they" to "we").


NOTE: The pivotal event in each of the Gospels is the baptism of Jesus, when the Holy Spirit came on his life. The pivotal event of Acts is the Spirit baptism of the disciples. Acts is the story of God's people, receiving what Jesus received (the power of the Holy Spirit) in order to do what Jesus did. The Holy Spirit fills the scene. As the presence of the Son, exalting and revealing the Father, is the great fact of the Gospels, so the presence of the Spirit, exalting and revealing the Son, is the great fact of the Acts.

This book records the ascension and promised return of the Lord Jesus, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter's use of the keys, opening the kingdom (considered as the sphere of profession, as in Mat. 13) to the Jews at Pentecost, and to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius; the beginning of the Christian church and the conversion and ministry of Paul.

Note: The Epistles and Revelation are covered in part 2.