The Gospel of St Matthew

Biblical scholars seem to have determined to their satisfaction that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are based on that of Mark.  In that case what part of this Gospel can be entirely attributed to Matthew?  The answer is that Matthew could have been the writer of a collection of sayings of Jesus known as ĎQí which have been interspersed into St Markís writings.  It is generally accepted that Mathewís Gospel was intended for the Jews to encourage them not to return to ways of Judaism.  Both Matthew and Luke tell the story of the Birth of Jesus which Mark does not mention.

The Gospel of St Mark

This Gospel is considered by Biblical Scholars to be a Ďmaster copyí on which Matthew and Lukeís Gospels are based.  It is considered certain that Mark obtained his information directly from St Peter.  So we are given the life of Jesus as seen through the Prince of the Apostles.

The Gospel of St Luke

As with Matthew so with Luke; the gospel is said to be based on that of Mark.  He is thought to have been a gentile, a Physician and also possibly a Painter.  Luke, using Markís Gospel as a template, adds the emphasis of prayer (and especially Jesus praying), the role of women and, as distinct from Matthew, was writing for the gentiles.

The Gospel of St John

Johnís Gospel differs from the other three which relate the same material but with different emphasis.  John states ďThese are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of GodÖÖÖÖĒ His approach is evangelistic.  Like Mark he misses out The Nativity which had been well covered by Matthew and Luke.  It is thought that John was writing for the Greeks Ė encouraging them to continue to believe as well as to win new converts.

The Acts of The Apostles

Biblical Scholars suggest that Luke is the author of The Acts.  The book is far ranging and takes us from The Ascension to Paulís journey to Rome and his eventual imprisonment.

St Paulís Epistle to The Romans

Now we start on the books written by St Paul.  These were written in the form of letters of teaching, encouragement or, in some cases, reprimand.  In the letter to the Romans Paul deals with the fundamental questions of sin, salvation, faith and righteousness.



St Paulís First Epistle to the Corinthians

In this letter Paul deals with factions, then answers questions on marriage, impurity, heathen feasts, public worship & spiritual gifts and expounds the doctrine of The Resurrection.

St Paulís Second Epistle to the Corinthians

Paul meets Titus who has come from Corinth to tell him the result of his first letter.  Paul comments on Titusí news and encourages Corinth to give financial help for Christians in Jerusalem who were deprived of aid from their Jewish families.  There had been some hostility to his position as a Christian leader so he spends some time defending and explaining his position.

St Paulís Epistle to the Galatians (Re Jews and Gentiles)

This is written to gentile Christians who had earlier been converted by Paul.  But  Jewish teachers were starting to return them to circumcision and the Mosaic laws.  They were also undermining Paulís teaching by suggesting that he was not divinely inspired.  Paul defends his position and doctrine and asserts the divine origin of his teaching; justification of faith is not through the Mosaic law but through Jesus Christ.

St Paulís Epistle to the Ephesians

The four Epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon are known as ĎThe Epistles of the Imprisonmentí or Ďof the Captivity.í  They were written during Paulís Roman imprisonment.  This letter may have been written as a circular to all the Christian Communities rather than to Ephesus alone.  The central thought is the Church being regarded as the Mystical Body of Christ through which God pours out the divine life of grace in a most generous fashion to its members, the Christians.

St Paulís Epistle to the Philippians

This letter was probably written shortly before Paulís martyrdom.  In it he thanks the Philippians for their gift which had been brought to him by Epaphroditus.  He explains his own circumstances and encourages the Philippians to stand firm in the face of persecution.

St Paulís Epistle to the Colossians

There is a similarity between this letter and that to the Ephesians.  Although this letter is shorter Paul is emphasising the same teaching.  It is suggested that the Epistles of Ephesians and Colossians should be read and studied together.

St Paulís First Epistle to the Thessalonians

This and the second Epistle to the Thessalonians are the earliest of Paulís letters.  This Epistle teaches that Christ is one with the Father; that Christ is our Redeemer; that Christ is the Lord; that Christ will come again from Heaven.  Paul emphasises that his letter must be read to all and not just retained by a select few.


St Paulís Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

The Thessalonians were expecting Christís second coming to take place very soon.  Some thought it unnecessary to work but just await the coming.  Paul tells them that this is not the case and encourages them to work and pray.

St Paulís First Epistle to Timothy

The two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus are known as Pastoral Epistles because they are addressed to the head of the church for his guidance.  As such there is little definite arrangement.  They vary over several subjects in an easy manner as they occur to the writer, just as one would expect in a genuine letter.  Contents of the First Epistle include Public Worship; Officers of the Church; False Teachers; Widows; Elders; Slaves and Covetousness.

St Paulís Second Epistle to Timothy

This letter was probably written shortly before Paulís martyrdom.  It contains his last instructions to Timothy and to all future ministers of the Church.  It was written in the conviction that the end is near at hand; dark days are coming.  Hence the urgent appeals to be firm and courageous.

St Paulís Epistle to Titus

Titus was one of Paulís most trusted disciples.  As Paulís martyrdom is close at hand the main object of the letter is to instruct Titus in how to carry on the work which Paul had to leave incomplete.

St Paulís Epistle to Philemon

This is a completely private letter and to that extent it stands alone among the writings of St Paul and almost alone in the whole Bible.  Philemon and his family had been converted by Paul.  In his prison in Rome Paul somehow comes into contact with Onesimus a slave of Philemon who had stolen from his master and run away to the big city.  Paul converts Onesimus but then has a problem.  Onesimus belongs to Philemon and must return to his master and make restitution.  Paul writes a loving, polite, appealing letter asking that Onesimus should be received back as a Christian - ĎConfident of your obedience.í  Onesimus returns accompanied by Tychicus who was an associate of Paul.

The Epistle to the Hebrews

Biblical scholars have never determined who wrote this Epistle.  Whilst some suggest it was Paul others deny that it has Paulís style.  Another possible writer was Apollos (See Acts 18:24-28) who was known to Paul. It could be that it was written by Apollos under Paulís guidance.  The Epistle was written for the first Hebrew Christians who were eventually excluded from the Temple and from the fellowship which went with it.  The writer explains the eminent superiority of the new dispensation over the old.  Inaugurated by the Son of God Himself this new way was Godís final revelation to man and brought to perfection all that was of value in the Mosaic Law.



The Epistle of St James

Besides the Epistles of St Paul and the Epistle to the Hebrews there are another seven Epistles and the first of these is of St James.  The writer is considered to be James the son of Alpheus whose wife, Mary, was a close relative of Jesusí Mother.  The content of the Epistle is a discourse in Christian living especially aimed at those living among the pagans.

The First Epistle of St Peter

This Epistle is varied in its content but its aim is to encourage Christians to stand firm against the persecution which was upon them.

The Second Epistle of St Peter

Peterís first Epistle concerns persecution from outside.  This one concerns problems from within Ė false teachers and evildoers.

The First Epistle of St John

Biblical scholars are in no doubt that this and the Second and Third Epistles were written by the same John who wrote the fourth Gospel.  This First Epistle was written to counteract certain heretical doctrines which false teachers were promulgating.

The Second Epistle of St John

The purpose of this Epistle is similar to the First.  As well as warning of the dangers of heretics Christians are also exhorted to love one another.

The Third Epistle of St John

In this brief Epistle John praises Gaius for his hospitality, deplores Diotrephes who Ďloves to have the first placeí, then finally commends Demetrius.

The Epistle of St Jude

St Jude is the brother of St James.  He writes in very much the same vein as the second letter of St Peter.  The Church must have been infiltrated by heretics who  were destroying from within. Jude uses Old Testament traditions to explain his  arguments.

The Book of Revelation or Apocalypse

It seems to be generally agreed that the book was written by the Apostle St John. The book is prophetic and uses symbols.  Some possible explanations are:- stars are angels; lampstands are churches; the great prostitute is Babylon.  The number Ďsevení is repeatedly used.  Symbolically this number may represent completeness.  There are many possible interpretations of the book.  Four of them are:- 1 That the book refers to events now past. 2 That the book represents a series of prophecies continuously being fulfilled. 3 That the book deals with the second coming of Christ. 4 That the book is a symbolic picture of the victory of good over evil.