New Testament Reading Plan: Week 15

Week 15:

Day 1:  Hebrews 1-6
The book of Hebrews was probably written before 70 A.D. when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.  It was written to Hebrew (Jewish) Christians.  The Jewish people had been looking for the Messiah for centuries.  They had the promises from God, the Law, the commandments and the prophets describing God’s way to forgiveness and salvation.  Christ, the Messiah, came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, conquering sin, shattering the barriers to God, freely providing eternal life.  Following Jesus seemed contrary to the way they had worshipped God for centuries and the new “way” was difficult to accept.
The specific author (unknown) explains the sufficiency and superiority of Christ compared to what the Jewish people were accustomed to.
In this section, the author compares Jesus and His superiority to angels, their leaders and their priests.
Key verses – Hebrews 5:12 – 6:1 (NLT):  12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.  1  So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.”  This passage echoes what Jesus said about “going on to perfection” (that the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley communicated as well).

Day 2:   Hebrews 7-10
In this section, the author indicates how Christianity surpasses Judaism because it has a better covenant, a better sanctuary, and a more sufficient sacrifice for sins.
In Old Testament times, the high priest would make sacrifices every day, first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people.  And only once a year, the high priest would go behind the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple, on the Day of Atonement.  The curtain separated the Most Holy Place (where the Ark of the Covenant was and where God “lived”) from the rest of the temple and the people.  So this symbolized the fact that sinful people could not be in the presence of a Holy God.  However, when Jesus died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.  This symbolized the fact that we can now be with God if we believe in the death of Jesus being the payment for our sins.
This passage talks about Jesus being the ultimate High Priest, making the sacrifice for our sins, once and for all.  There is no need for a high priest to make daily sacrifices any longer.

Day 3:   Hebrews 11-13
In this section, the author explains how to live by faith, specifically in chapter 11 talking about people from their past in what some might call the “Hall of Faith.”  Finally, there is discussion to encourage for daily living, comparing the old and new covenants and some moral exhortations.
In Hebrews 11, we have the “Hall of Faith” – all of the Hebrew people from the past that found favor with God.  Sometimes, it is easy to think that the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus brought a new way to be made right with God – the Law from the Old Testament and Jesus from the New Testament.  But this chapter tells us that from the beginning, it is faith that makes us right with God.  The Law can’t do that because no one can follow the Law perfectly.  So we need another way.  Faith in Jesus!  However, it is also faith in the Old Testament that made people right with God.  However, before Jesus:  “39 All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith. 40 God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us.”  (Hebrews 11:39-40 CEB)
And then at the start of chapter 12, “1 So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, 2 and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.  (Hebrews12:1-2 CEB)

Day 4:   2 Timothy (entire book)
Written in 66-67 A.D. to Timothy, giving him final instructions and encouragement. This letter was written by Paul in prison in Rome.  This is Paul’s last letter and it reveals his heart and his priorities:  sound doctrine, steadfast faith, confident endurance and lasting love.  Since these are Paul’s last words, his “famous last words,” we can be sure that they are of utmost importance as he “passes the torch” to the new generation of church leaders.
Read Paul’s last words as if they are his last words written directly to you, a follower of Christ!

Day 5:   2 Peter (entire book)
Peter wrote this letter to warn Christians about false teachers and to exhort them to grow in their faith around 67 A.D.  These were Peter’s last written words and he knew his time was coming and so he wrote what was on his heart and about what would happen when he was gone.

Day 6:   Jude            
Jude is the brother of Jesus and James.  This letter was written about 65 A.D. to
Jewish Christians to encourage them to keep strong in the faith and to oppose heresy.  Catch a theme yet?  How many of the letters written and recorded in the New Testament deal with false teachers, false teaching and heresy?  A lot!  We have the same issue today in maybe different ways.  So we need to keep our eye on the truth as all of these New Testament letters explain.

Day 7:  rest