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TEACHER CERTIFICATION WORKBOOK

ONE-LEVEL

General Sunday School Division

8855 Dunn Road, Hazelwood, MO 63042


© Copyright 2005—General Sunday School Division


ISBN No. 80-075773166X


Managing editor: Gary D. Erickson


WRITERS:

Nathaniel Binion

David K. Bernard

James Littles

Gary D. Erickson

Arlo and Jane Moehlenpah

David Reynolds

Joni Owens

Galen Thompson

Judy Erickson

Sidney Poe


All rights reserved. This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. This book may not be copied or reproduced for commercial gain or profit. Unless otherwise identified, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.


For Worldwide Distribution

Printed in the U.S.A.


Cover design: Ben Meydam


TEACHER CERTIFICATION WORKBOOK

ONE-LEVEL

General Sunday School Division


Table of Contents


Chapter Title Page


INTRODUCTION 3


  1. The Bible: Our Sole Rule of Faith 4

  2. APOSTOLIC Theology 19

  3. The Call and Mission of Believers 33

  4. THE TEACHING MINISTRY 46

  5. Child Evangelism 58

  6. Teaching Methods 71

  7. Classroom Management 88

  8. Lesson Preparation 104

  9. Principles of Leadership 119

  10. KNOWING YOUR STUDENT 141

11. KEEPING THE TEACHER FIT 161

12. SUNDAY SCHOOL ORGANIZATION 183

APPLICATION FOR TEACHER CERTIFICATION 197

ANSWER KEY 198




INTRODUCTION


The fact that you have acquired this Teacher Certification Workbook is evidence that you really care about your responsibilities as a teacher. Teachers who care enough to invest time and effort into personal development and enrichment are on their way to becoming all that God plans for them. The effort you invest in this workbook will pay personal dividends as well as blessing those you teach. You have an exciting adventure before you.

Read each chapter and then find a mentor to help you take the exams at the end of each chapter. This person will help to make you accountable (the Score Sheet is at the end of the workbook). If you score eighty percent or higher, you are ready to move on to the next chapter. If not, study the material a little more and then take the exam again (make extra copies before you take the exam). Proceed to each chapter until you have completed the entire workbook. If you have to take the exam again, remember, this can be a learning experience. When you are finished, sign the Certification Application and have your mentor and pastor also sign. Send the application, along with the application fee, to the General Sunday School Division and you will receive a beautiful Teacher Certification Certificate in a professional certificate folder.

CHAPTER 1

THE BIBLE: OUR SOLE RULE OF FAITH

Nathaniel Binion

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:14-17)


Introduction: Why do I need to know, I’m the teacher?

Have you ever wondered why there are so many jokes about boring preachers and tiring sermons about the Bible? Some might blame it on a lackadaisical generation only wanting to be entertained; others think all are full of carnality. While both of these beliefs have nuggets of truth, they are crutches for people who are afraid to acknowledge the unmentionable; maybe we are not conveying our passion for God’s Word effectively. How could someone be uninterested in a book full of adventure, failed love, profound love, sinister hate, devious plots, governmental intrigue, timeless leadership principles, incredible proven history, timeless questions, and oh yeah, eternal salvation?

The example of Jesus shows us that teachers must know the material so well that we can embody it, therefore relaying it through passion. This is why you need to continually seek to know the Bible more, both theologically and sociologically. If you understand how the Bible came to us, then it is easier to have faith in God. If you know that the Bible truly has only one message, it is easier to displace a cloud of confusion. If you can know there is a difference between timeless truth and cultural traditions, then you can discern the difference between temporary beliefs and God’s eternal message.

This chapter is going to deal with how we received the Bible in its present form, how we can interpret the Bible, and a brief survey of the Bible. To facilitate learning, some terms to know will be given at the beginning of some sections. Remember that these are terms for better understanding and not to show someone your “brilliance.” The goal of teaching is to make the complex simple. If we do not accomplish this, we are failing. So, look for the application to the learner within every section in this chapter. This chapter will not give specific footnotes unless direct quotes are taken, but it will give a place for resources at the end.


THE ORIGIN OF THE BIBLE

Terms to know:

Pentateuch: The Greek word for the first five books of the Bible.

Septuagint (LXX): The Greek translation of the Old Testament.

Tanach: The Jewish Bible (The Christian Old Testament).

Torah: The Hebrew word meaning law, or constitution for the Jewish people.

Canon: Literally, the accepted standard (i.e. Jewish canon, biblical canon, Catholic canon, and so forth). There is an open canon, which says books can be added to the Bible, and a closed canon, saying that the Bible cannot be added to any more.

Some try to debate the claims of the Bible and point out that the Bible is a translation of a translation of an interpretation of an oral tradition. While the aforementioned statement is partially true, it is an effort to undermine the credibility of the Bible. The best way to address these concerns is not to argue, but to know a timeline of how our Bible came into existence.

The Bible is God’s letter to humanity collected into sixty-six books written by forty divinely inspired authors that span over fifteen hundred years or more. The goal of this section is to show the timeline in which God’s message came into fruition. A brief overview of the Bible will be given later in the chapter.


Current Biblical Canon:

Canon is a standard which a group agrees upon. For Christians, canon is what books of the Bible we have agreed to accept as usable. It is important to note that there are different canons based upon different Christian traditions. The Catholic, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Ethiopian, and Latter-Day Saint canons all have minor differences from our Protestant canon. We as Apostolic Pentecostals widely accept the Hebrew Bible as our Old Testament, reject books that are called the Apocrypha,1 and accept the New Covenant and Paul’s writings as our New Testament. Keep in mind there has always been and still is debate over certain books of the Bible.

A closed canon was not agreed upon until a heresy came to the surface; Marcion, a Gnostic Christian,2 began to throw out certain widely accepted books because of their connection to Judaism. This forced the church to start proposing a closed canon.3 By A.D. 397, the current twenty-seven books (I and II Corinthians are combined) of the New Testament were formally confirmed and canonized in the Synod of Carthage. The process of canon can be better understood if the timeline of the Bible is given.


Old Testament:

Our Bible begins with the Jewish Scriptures. The historical record of the Jews was written in leather scrolls and tablets over centuries. The authors include kings, prophets, captured people, fishermen, shepherds, intellectuals, doctors, and leaders of all types.

Our journey to understand the origin of the Bible begins with Moses. He was given the Torah, literally meaning the “constitution” or the “teaching” for the Jewish people, some thirty-three hundred years ago on Mount Sinai. The first five books of the Bible, what some refer to as the Law, make up the Torah. The Greek equivalent is called the Pentateuch.

According to Jewish thought, there are two components of the Torah: The written Torah and the oral Torah. The oral Torah is the subtle explanation of what is written from Genesis to Deuteronomy. Simply, it acts as a commentary to what was written. Some believe that without the oral Torah the written counterpart would not be able to be comprehended. This is where the belief comes from that the words of God were orally passed down from generation to generation. The Christian tradition does not hold credence to the oral Torah.

Approximately 450 B.C., the Jewish Scriptures were compiled by a council of rabbis. This collection of writings, known as the Tanach, was acknowledged as the Word of God. The Tanach is the Jewish canon and was written mostly in Hebrew, with some Aramaic exceptions. In A.D. 90, the Jewish scholars at the council of Jamnia compiled the final Hebrew Bible canon in which, until the invention of the printing press, an amazing system of scribes and scribal practices retained the uniformity of all copies. The uniformity of the Dead Sea Scrolls, found from 1947 to 1956, to the previously existing copies of the Hebrew Bible proves the consistency and reliability of the scribes.

Returning to 250 B.C., the Hebrew Bible (Tanach) was translated into Greek. This translation is called the Septuagint. In many texts, the Septuagint is denoted by the symbol LXX, meaning seventy. This refers to the tradition that seventy to seventy-two men comprised the translation team. At this point, the Hebrew Bible was organized by topic, including history, poetry, and prophecy. It is important to note that the Scriptures that Jesus and His disciples used were the Septuagint.


New Testament:

When Christianity began in the first century, the Septuagint and the oral tradition of what Jesus said, as reported by his apostles (A.D. 40 to A.D. 90) and close followers, were closely trusted. Even after the writing of the Gospels as we know them, the oral gospel held as much weight as the written gospel. This could be because the first culture to be impacted by the message of the gospel was the Jewish culture. They already held a high esteem for the oral Torah, so it would be natural to hold an oral gospel in high esteem.

The New Testament canon as we know was letters that were circulating throughout Christianity and were acknowledged as words of God. By A.D. 150 early Christians were referring to the writings of the first-century writers as the New Covenant. By the A.D. 200s the Septuagint was translated into Latin, Coptic (Egypt), and Syriac (Syrian) texts. The widely accepted version of the Bible was the Vulgate Bible (literally the vulgar or common tongue). In the A.D. 400s, Jerome proposed the most authoritative version of the Bible.

Until the Middle Ages, no complete English version of the Bible existed. Therefore, the Bible was uncommon to the less educated. There was great debate over the use of English for the Bible. John Wycliffe believed that the way to fix a church was to close the chasm between the unlearned people and the manipulative clergy. Soon English versions were banned, but it was too late—an interest in the Bible had already begun.

There are two factors that contributed to the growth of the English Bible. The revival of learning, under the influence of Erasmus, started a renewal of the study of classical languages. This opened the door to study ancient biblical texts. The other factor was the invention of the printing press. In 1455, Johannes Gutenberg printed the first Vulgate Bible. This opened the door for mass production and mass consumption of the Bible.

Amidst the Reformation, in 1523, William Tyndale began to formulate his English version of the Bible. This Bible is the foundation upon which the King James Version was built. In 1536 he lost his life over his Bible, but it was made legal the very next year.

By the early 1600s, King James I desired a better translation of the Bible because he felt some other translations, the Geneva Bible for example, encouraged disobedience to kings. Therefore, fifty-four men were chosen to accomplish a project that took more than seven years. There were six panels that were separated to translate different books of the Bible. Then they were checked so that personal prejudice and political bias were not included in this new version. The King James Version has been a standard that has stood the test of time. In fact, it was unrivaled in its first 250 years. Although the King James Version was never endorsed by James I, it has been the most widely used English translation.


Application

It is important to remember as a teacher all of these facts are useless and boring to a learner if they are not taught in a practical way. Therefore some points must be remembered when teaching:

  • While there are different translations, all agree to the overall message.

  • We do not accept the Apocryphal writings because the first-century church did not accept them, and they are not unified to the overall message of the rest of the Bible.

  • Some argue for the Apocryphal writings because they are quoted by some New Testament writers. This is a false premise, since Paul also quoted some poets on Mars Hill (Acts 17).

  • Despite all detractors, the Bible has stood the test of time. There still exist over twenty-four thousand copies of New Testament manuscripts, while only ten copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars still exist.

  • Finally, over 668 prophecies have been fulfilled.4

At the end of this chapter is a chart showing the evolution to our current English translation.

Knowing how our Bible was given to us should give you confidence that God’s Word will be safe from enemies. Therefore, we can trust that multiple translations may not necessarily mean that we are tampering with God’s plan. Before we can understand this, we must have a clear understanding as to how to interpret the Bible.


Interpreting the Bible

Terms to know:

Exegesis: The process of reading the Bible as the original writer wrote it.

Hermeneutic: The process of interpreting our exegesis for contemporary application.

Literal Translation: A translation of the Bible that is identically translated (word for word).

Dynamic Equivalent: A translation of the Bible that is identically translated but put within the intended culture’s grammatical structure.

Free Translation: A translation that gives the overall thought but is freer in grammatical structure. The goal is ease of reading.

When discussing terms like theology, exegesis, and hermeneutics, some consign them to the “high and lofty towers” of academia or treat them as sacred words that only the elite few can partake of. “Only people who teach theology would need these terms,” some might assume. Actually, these terms are incredibly relevant to everyone.

Theology is defined as opinions concerning God and religious questions, while exegesis is the “practice of explaining or interpreting a text,” and hermeneutics is how a person arrives at his or her conclusion concerning a text. Every decision that an Apostolic makes is a theological decision. Every scripture you read, you exegete, or interpret. And every conclusion and application you make after investigating the meaning of that text is a hermeneutic. Theology, exegesis, and hermeneutics play an intricate part in every Christian’s life. Since everyone does these three things wittingly or unwittingly, the goal of the church should be to equip everyone to interpret the Bible based upon God’s mission of reconciliation, rather than on personal agendas. When understanding of purpose is acquired, then healthy exegesis of Scripture will result in an apostolic hermeneutic.

Exegesis: The objective of exegesis is not to “show off” or find something no one else has found. Gordon Fee says that interpretation that “aims at, or thrives on, uniqueness can usually be attributed to pride (an attempt to out clever the rest of the world), a false understanding of spirituality, or vested interest.” We need to lovingly approach the Bible to consistently hear His Word afresh.

To exegete the Bible is the “attempt to hear the Word as the original people were to have heard it.” A crucial first step is to read the entire passage. You might be surprised how many people wrongly interpret the Bible because they do not read the entire chapter, section, or even book of the Bible that is being addressed.

It is not necessary to be a Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic scholar to accomplish this task (although you should be thankful for these people, for we are relying on their expertise when we read an English translation). To exegete a passage, various reliable translations of the Bible are needed. There are three kinds of English translations: Literal, dynamic equivalent, and a free translation.

A literal translation is seen in the King James Version or New King James Version. The positives of these translations are that they seek to “keep the historical distance intact.” A problem with literal translations is that they at times make the English hard to understand, rendering English in a way that would not normally be constructed, while the Greek or Hebrew was quite clear to the original recipients. For example, if I were to translate the French words maison blanc literally they would say “house white,” rather than “white house.” A biblical example is seen in the phrase “coals of fire” as stated in Romans 12:20 (KJV). No native English-speaking person would construct his sentence in this manner. To overcome this hurdle, a dynamic equivalent version of the Bible is helpful.

A dynamic equivalent, such as the New International Version, corrects ambiguity by translating “words, idioms, and grammatical construction of the original language into precise equivalents of the receptor language,” such as English. A dynamic equivalent would change “house white” to “white house” or “coals of fire” into “burning coals.” While you could use a literal translation (KJV) as a first resource, both literal and dynamic equivalent translations are unified in their message and can be used side by side.

An example of a free translation is the Living Bible. A free translation attempts to translate ideas, with less concern for using exact words. This translation is the least reliable, but could be useful to get the overall idea of the passage. No doctrine or interpretation should rest solely upon a free translation. When using these resources, you are looking for three things: what God is doing in the context, the literary context, and the historical context.

Knowing what God is doing in the passage means that the Bible is not about me, you, Abraham, Isaac, Esther, Peter, Mary, or Paul. The Bible is about God and His desire to have a relationship with humanity. To decipher this central theme, observe the literary context of the passage. Words will only have meaning in relation to “the preceding and succeeding sentences” around the word or passage in question. Continually ask the question, “What is the point of this passage and how does it connect to the whole writing?” Next, look to the historical context of the scripture. It makes a difference to understand the “time and culture of the author and his readers.” For example, to know about the culture of Paul and the intended audience helps to interpret both of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

To answer some of these questions, some resources are: the four-volume International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ed. G.W. Bromiley, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988) or the five-volume Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (ed. Merril C. Tenney, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975). If one wishes to study further, the bibliographies show other resources available. Remember that we exegete the Bible not to prove our unique intelligence, but to understand the plain meaning of the text in order to interpret God’s mission for our contemporary society.


Hermeneutics:

Exegesis then is followed by a method of interpreting what you have read. Hermeneutics is how one interprets what has been found through exegesis. One might ask, “If the Bible is so easy to understand, then why do we need Greek and Hebrew scholars, other writers, and discussions on biblical interpretation?” God did not intend for His Word to be hard to understand or so superior to our mind that only a few can understand it. God intended His Word to be clear.

We need sound hermeneutical principles and good resources because humans are involved in this process. This does not take away from the power of the Word of God or the infallibility of the Bible. It acknowledges that biblical writers were communicating an infinite gospel to finite beings. They used contextual examples of their day to relay the eternal gospel. So hermeneutics’ task is to recognize those cultural contexts and relate the infallible Word of God to our contemporary society.

Sound hermeneutical principles acknowledge what Kaiser calls the three horizons of interpretation. When interpreting the Bible, there are three horizons that are crossed as interpretation happens: the culture of the Bible, the culture of the interpreter, and the culture of the receptor. Simply stated, you must relate to your students how it was then, the timeless principles, and how your local context is going to apply your interpretation or hermeneutic, similar to the graph below.


5


“The Bible was written within the confines of certain cultures and time. No interpreter has the right to make that text say whatever he or she wants it to say. The text must be allowed to say what it wants to say, but with due respect for the particular setting and culture in which it was based.” When interpreting the Bible, acknowledge that there was a cultural context and specific genre (style of writing; poetry, narrative, epistle, and so forth) in which the specific scripture was written.

Secondly, do not forget that the interpreter, which may be you, must be aware that he or she is a part of a culture that may “force some questions while being blind to others.” Our first instinct of interpretation should not be to prove someone else wrong. Interpreters must constantly go through self-examination to see if our motives are pure, honest, and our eyes open to our inconsistencies.

Thirdly, we must not forget the culture of the person reading the Bible today. Those to whom we are communicating the message of the gospel also have a diverse way of looking at the world. Just as we come to the text with our own ideas, our audience will have personal prejudices. Do not assume your students think the same as you. If the teacher sticks to the mission of God, principles rise above the fray of personal prejudice. The gospel then is allowed to flood the honest heart. Make sure that you allow honesty to accompany you through these realms.

Some resources for interpretation are: the fifty-four-volume Word Biblical Commentaries (ed. Bruce M. Metzger, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, over fifteen years of various authors) or the twelve-volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary (ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, Grand Rapids: Zondervan). Both of these commentaries can be bought in CD-ROM or hard copy version. A principle to remember when using resources is that it is important to understand up to seventy percent of the addressed material; any less will frustrate you and any more will waste your money and time.


An Overview of the Bible

The next two sections will give an overview of the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is important to understand that this is far from a comprehensive review but will be consistent with the goal to give practical applications to your teaching. It is important to remember that countless years of study could be dedicated to any one book of the Bible. The purpose of these two sections is to give you the teacher an overview of each section of the Bible, the possible time period, the main thesis, and a possible overall application to your teaching setting.


Old Testament

Pentateuch or the Law:

The Law is the first five books of the Bible. The author of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy is universally known to be Moses. The date of authorship for these books is roughly thought to be from 1446 B.C. to 1406 B.C., although the date of authorship varies from scholar to scholar. This would be when the children of Israel were roaming through the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land.

It is interesting to note that Genesis is a Greek word for “source, origin.” The Hebrew name would be derived from the book’s first words—“In the beginning.” Both terms would be appropriate, for Genesis sets the stage for a “full understanding of biblical truth.”6 All of the book titles within the Law derive from the Septuagint or Greek titles. The Law is the history of origins of humanity and the patriarchal history. The concepts of sin and the need of a savior come to light. It is important to remember that these books are more about God and His values than if dinosaurs existed or if the earth is seven thousand years old or millions of years old. The Law is a story of a God who created humanity for relationship, and when that was separated by sin, He started a process by which a holy God could commune with sinful humanity (covenant).

The Pentateuch shows us that God is just in His response to sin and repentance. God truly desires a relationship with humanity. In the Law, three acts define God’s love: His rescue of Israel from Egypt, a return of His presence as distinguishing them from other peoples, and the gift of the law through a covenant with Israel. This covenant, included in the written law, proves to us that holiness to God and to our neighbor matters to God. If He took the time to precisely give instructions on everything included in worship, then how we approach God is important. God will make a covenant with His people that will forever be settled as long as the terms are kept. The Law told the nation of Israel, and us, how to approach a holy God. Furthermore, all of our life is worship, for we ought to love him with all our “heart, soul, and strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).


History:

The History section of the Old Testament includes quite a number of books. The books are: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The authorship ranges from 1450s B.C. to 330 B.C. (Esther). The included books show a timeline of military conquest that is akin to a holy war against Canaan, and a people who are searching to establish their identity in a new land while they forget that they are already supposed to possess an identity—the people of God. The reason that it is noted as the history section is because it gives a historical account of the maturation of the children of Israel while they struggled to live in covenant. The authorship of all of the history books is really unknown. Tradition credits Joshua as the author of the book containing his name (except his funeral), and Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are historically credited to Samuel and Jeremiah. Ezra and Nehemiah are credited to Ezra, depending upon the source; Esther is universally unknown. The application that one should make is that it is completely acceptable to debate the initial authors, for the message is universal. God desires a relationship with humanity and will even accept someone who is a pagan as long as he comes to Him on His terms.


Poetry:

To understand why the following books are categorized as poetry—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon)—is understood if the intricate details of each book are noted. Job, while its authorship is unknown, is a masterpiece when its thought structure is illuminated. The timeline of all of the books of poetry ranges from 1000-2000 B.C. to the captivity of the Jewish nation in the late 500s B.C. Solomon is the most acknowledged writer due to his own credits. Psalms, a compilation of compositions with many writers including David, is beautifully put into prose that completely flows concerning the nature of God. The books mentioned in this section tell the story of the human condition as compared to a God who is faithful throughout all of time and events.


Major Prophets:

The Major Prophets include: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. The body of work included in these books points to a people who are in captivity. The date of authorship of these books ranges from 740 B.C. to the early 500s B.C. Isaiah is a book that deals with the Yahweh’s sovereignty and majesty through His dealings with His chosen people. Like most of the writings of the Major Prophets, Isaiah deals with judgment also. Jeremiah addresses Yahweh’s dealings with Judah. Lamentations is credited to Jeremiah because of a reference to Jeremiah’s laments for Josiah the king in II Chronicles 35:25. Ezekiel announces the fall of Jerusalem but promises a restoration to Yahweh. Daniel is a story of God’s deliverance to him and his three friends. It also contains four apocalyptic visions for the future kingdoms. What must be understood about the Major Prophets is they are books that deal with a chosen people in covenant. More importantly, they contain proof that God is faithful even in the midst of adversity. These are stories of how God will deliver His people if they will follow Him.


Minor Prophets:

The Minor Prophets are denoted as such not because of their place of importance but of size. They still hold a high place within the Hebrew Bible canon and should within our minds as well. The books are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Malachi, and Zechariah. The dates range from the mid 750s to late 500s. It is important to note that the Minor Prophets are similarly placed to the Major Prophets. The reason is that they are dealing with the same issues: God’s faithfulness and His children’s inconsistent faith. All of this is culminated into trying to know what captivity means in covenant.

Following the Minor Prophets, we see a time of silence from God. The Old Testament shows that God is constantly trying to recommit His relationship to His people. Furthermore, all are invited to this relationship if they will repent from their ways and follow Him in faith. The separation of time between the Old and New Testament is known as the intertestamental period. Israel went through a period of becoming a small territory of larger nations; first through Babylon to Alexander the Great’s acquisition of all the territories in the Ancient Near East (332 B.C.). By 63 B.C., the Roman Empire took control. Thus began another period of history in which God would continue to show His identity—He would come in flesh.


New Testament

Gospels:

The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. They were written with firsthand accounts. While the Bible has Matthew chronicled first, Mark (John Mark, a companion of Paul) was written first around A.D. 65. It is commonly accepted that Mark was the template for all of the other Gospels. Matthew was written in the A.D. 70s, while Luke is debated between the late A.D. 60s and mid 70s. To best understand why there are four similar stories, with unique interpretive problems, you must understand that each book was written to a different audience with a unified purpose.

The purpose of the Gospels is to tell the world of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a story showing the God all humanity is searching for came in flesh and died for our sins. Why there would be some minor differences is that the authors knew the audiences. For example, Matthew was writing to Greek-reading Jews, while Luke was aimed at the Gentile Christians. Mark also was writing to Gentile readers; he explained Jewish customs and some Aramaic words.

John has been discussed later because it is the most unique of the other Gospels. As narrative as it is in nature, it is theological also. John was giving a narrative and including complex theological pieces within every thought. John 1:1 connects the God in the beginning to the Savior that he was preparing to write about. Some think that John did not write this Gospel until the late A.D. 80s or 90s, possibly after he wrote the Book of Revelation.


History:

There is some debate as to why the Book of Acts would be put in its own category. The reason is Acts is connected to Luke. Therefore it is called Luke-Acts by many. The logic for its placement is that it is after the earthly life of Jesus and begins to tell the next phase of God’s people—the introduction of the church. The date of this book is either A.D. 63 or 70.


Pauline Epistles:

The Pauline Epistles are letters written by Paul to certain individuals or groups of people. Most of the time, he was dealing with a crisis or question that was hindering the message of the gospel. The books included are: Romans, I and II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The timeline of these books is contained within the A.D. 50s and 60s. Romans is a formulative theology for the Christian church, while the other books deal with circumstances that hinder the mission of the church (worship in Corinthians, the meaning of covenant in Galatians, meaning of the body of Christ in Ephesians, stopping heresy and encouraging growth in Timothy, freeing a slave to work with Paul in the gospel in Philemon).

The problem with these books in Christianity today is that many make doctrinal statements based upon these letters while ignoring the narrative in Acts. This causes wrong theology to be formulated. It is vital that we understand that Paul believed in one God, repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues first. All of Paul’s letters to the churches assume these things while dealing with current and developing heresies.


General Epistles:

The General Epistles are Hebrews, James, I and II Peter, I, II and III John, and Jude. These books were written by multiple writers addressing various problems within the church. These books were written in the mid to late first century. The only debatable book for authorship is Hebrews. We do not know who wrote this book. Paul did not write it, for the grammatical structure is more refined than any of Paul’s other works. These books deal with a people in search of significance and freedom from persecution. Hebrews compelled a people to not leave their faith. The other books also deal with a church that was dealing with some very “human” problems. Whether it was emotional strife or physical strife, these letters were trying to keep the church focused upon their main objective: the mission of Jesus Christ. All of these books never lose focus on the high calling of Christ Jesus. They compel all to, as the writer of Hebrews wrote, to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us . . . looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2).


Revelation:

It is so tempting to follow the sensationalism of certain people and get sidetracked as to the overall purpose of John’s Revelation. It is to encourage God’s people to understand that we are safe from spiritual harm and that God has a plan for final redemption of His people. It is the same story as written in the Old Testament through the New Testament. All of the other interpretations are speculations of what John meant through all of the imagery that he used to convey his revelation. The date of this book is the late A.D. 90s. The difficult part of Revelation is that the genre (style of writing) is apocalyptic and uses imagery to convey its message. The imagery is where there is much debate within the church.

As a teacher, remember that the overall message of Revelation is about God’s plan for His people, not the peripheral events. Also, many people only attempt to understand what the imagery stands for. Usually most people fall into four camps:

  • Preterists—People who believe that all of the imagery and prophecy were concerning first-century events and have already happened.

  • Historicists—People who believe Revelation is dealing with a long chain of events that began at Patmos and continue until the end of time.

  • Futurists—People who believe that most of the events described deal with the very end of time.

  • Idealists—People who believe Revelation as timeless truths of good triumphing over evil.

There is a plethora of material that will guide you to understand the ramifications of all interpretations. Remember these all are attempts to know and are not necessarily God’s thought to man, but man’s attempt to know God’s thought. As you teach others, a simple thought to remember is that Revelation proves that the Bible is unified for one purpose: God coming to the rescue of humanity. Therefore Revelation is about God and His ultimate triumph.


Conclusion

This has been a brief overview of the Bible. It is by no means a conclusion but serves as a launching pad for you to lead your students closer to God. It is important to understand the overall purpose of the Bible is a story about God. Therefore, your purpose as a teacher is not to impress your students with your unique understanding of the Bible but to simply relay to them an eternal message of redemption. You can only do this if you understand how we received the present Bible, know how to interpret it, and then be able to simply give the overall plan to the learner. The goal is application, which is your job to connect students with a Book that is many years removed from them. To accomplish this goal, you must never let pride get in the way but allow the Holy Spirit to lead others through you.

Resources:

  1. Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book. Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2002.

  2. Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1993.

  3. Kaiser, Walter C. and Moises Silva. An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1994.

  4. LaSor, William and David Allan Hubbard and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing 1982.

  5. McGrath, Alister. In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible and How it Changed a Nation, a Language, and a Culture. New York: Anchor/Doubleday 2002.



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