The book of Psalms (“Praises” in Hebrew) is a collection of 150 songs compiled by several authors over a thousand-year period! King David wrote approximately half of them while Asaph, the sons of Korah, Solomon, Heman, Ethan and even Moses wrote some. There are 48 psalms that are anonymous. There are five main books within Psalms that seem to indicate they were separate for a time. It’s important to note that there are different types of psalms: hymns, laments, thanksgiving, royal psalms, enthronement psalms, penitential psalms, wisdom psalms, etc. The Psalms were written with the intention of a certain tune or musical accompaniment. The intention of Psalms is an expression of praise to God! It is an emotional journey that gives an idea of how to respond to God.
The letter to the Colossians was written by Paul early on in his Roman imprisonment. It was probably written around the same time (61 AD) he wrote to the Ephesians and Philemon. The city of Colosse was located in the Roman province of Asia (Modern day Turkey) and was about 100 miles east of Ephesus. Colosse had once been a thriving city when the Persians were in power. But during Paul’s time, it was in somewhat of a decline. While the population as primarily Gentile, there was a contingency of a wealthy Jewish community. Though Paul had not planted the church in Colosse, he was writing them because of his close ties to Epaphras. Epaphras had been saved while Paul was in Ephesus and brought the Gospel to Colosse. The intention of Paul’s letter was to address a growing heresy among the early church; Gnosticism. Gnosticism is an adherence to a belief system that acknowledges that God is good, but matter is evil. The attempt was to logically reconcile how we explain evil. But by doing so, they believed such a belief would bring spiritual enlightenment. This put Christ on a lower level and denied his virgin birth, death and resurrection.
The book of Job has much to teach us in our present time. The prophet Ezekiel refers to Job as one of the greatest (Ezekiel 14:14). James in the New Testament refers to Job as an excellent example of perseverance (James 5:11). Most scholars believe Job transpired during the prepatriarchal or patriarchal times. Some believe Moses might have been the author or even Solomon. The book of Job helps demonstrate God’s sovereign ways and reminds us of what faith is all about. Job had one of the toughest tests any human will endure. It is filled with intrigue and life drama as we face the reality of suffering in this life. It’s important to remember that Job is not a fictional character or story; he was a real man with real life situations.
During Paul’s second missionary journey, it was never his intention to enter Macedonia at that time. But God would deliver a message to Paul in a vision to come and Philippi was in the region of Macedonia. The letter to the Philippians was written while Paul was in Rome and in prison (around 60 AD). Paul’s letter was a response to the Philippians love for him and sending a brother, Epaphroditus to encourage him. It was Paul who had planted the church years earlier. Though they were a smaller church, Philippi and the region of Macedonia were commended by Paul for their generous support towards the poor in Jerusalem. Paul wrote this letter to thank the Philippian church, let them know he was okay and encourage them with some things they were struggling with.
The book of Esther along with Ruth are the only books in the Bible named after women. It is a drama filled story of danger and deliverance. Esther was actually born with the name Hadassah (myrtle), but was renamed by her uncle Mordecai to protect her identity. She was a young and beautiful Jewish girl who would eventually become the queen of Persia. The events of Esther transpire after the first return of the Jews upon the 70 year exile (538 B.C.) but before Ezra’s pilgrimage (458 B.C.). The book of Esther is interesting because it does not mention the name of God, but it undeniable to see the providence of His hand orchestrating the events. Biblical scholars are unsure who the original author was, some speculate it could have been Mordecai, Ezra, or Nehemiah. The events of Esther would help preserve the Jews and keep alive the hope of the Messiah.
Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians while in prison in Rome (60 AD). The city of Ephesus was one of the most important cities of the ancient world. It is located in western Asia Minor and was likely the fourth largest city in the world during this time (250,000 inhabitants). It housed one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world; the temple of Artemis. Paul had visited Ephesus for about a week on his second missionary journey. On his third missionary journey, Paul stayed there for nearly three years ministering to them. Question: What was the purpose? There were many other religious influences that would vie for their attention. Paul wrote this letter to encourage the Ephesian believers to stay united as one body.
You may recall, that I had mentioned the book of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one book in the Hebrew and Greek Old Testament. Most scholars believe it was Ezra who had been the author. The period of time of events in the book of Nehemiah transpire around 446 B.C., the twentieth year of the Persian king Artaxerxes. Nehemiah was one of the cupbearers to Artaxerxes. He was also a contemporary with Ezra and Malachi and would serve as the governor of Judah. The Lord would use Nehemiah mightily to help His people rebuild the wall and celebrate a great revival. Nehemiah was a reliable man of God who finished what he started despite the opposition that arose.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians was most likely written after 49 AD after the famous Jerusalem council in Acts 15. There are differing opinions on the dating of Paul’s writing, but most likely it was around the mid 56 or 57 AD. The region of Galatia is modern-day Turkey (see map) and the people originally came from the area around France. Paul had established churches in Galatia through his missionary journeys. While he was on his third missionary journey, Paul had heard a report from the Galatian churches on some struggles they were enduring. This letter was a response to address some of those issues. The overall theme of Galatians is about how the just should live by faith. There were opponents who were teaching false truth’s regarding holding onto legalism.
Originally, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were one book in the Hebrew Old Testament. In fact, it is widely believed that Ezra was the chronicler who wrote all II & II Chronicles as well as the book of Ezra and Nehemiah. The book of Ezra continues to chronicle the story of God’s people. Ezra was a Jewish Babylonian exile now living as a scribe under Persian rule. He was also a descendant of Aaron making him a priest. Ezra was used by God to help transition God’s people back to the Promised Land and know His laws
This is Paul’s second recorded letter we have in the Bible. Paul likely wrote this letter about six months after I Corinthians in the fall of 56 AD. It is a response to some issues that arose from the letter along with Timothy’s visit. It is believed there was a severe letter that was written in between these two letters, but is now lost. Fortunately, the dust settled from the division in Corinth and Paul wrote to affirm the Corinthians. Paul speaks of the glory that is found in serving the Lord.