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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

Introduction to the Letters and Revelation

Written by Dr. Jeffrey and Patricia Feinberg

The Letters follow the spread of the Good News to major cities where New Covenant communities have taken root. These letters instruct communities and their leaders on ways to live in covenant relationship with God and with one another.

Paul and other writers spell out exactly what Yeshua meant by His call to sacrificial love. Members in community are to live in sanctified, humble, and loving relationship with one another. Each must be joined to one another, producing fruit in newness of life, not quenching the Ruach. And each day, God’s holy ones are transformed from glory to glory into living representations of Messiah Himself.

The New Covenant Scriptures include 21 letters from Paul, Peter, John, Jacob, and Judah (or those writing on their behalf). These letters are not in chronological order; rather, Paul’s letters come first, starting with his longest letters. Most letters are addressed to Messiah’s community—kedoshim gathering in house groups in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, Thessalonica, and throughout Galatia. Some letters address individuals such as Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The letters cover lifestyle issues, sometimes in mixed communities with Jewish practices and other times in communities of those who have recently left pagan practices.

At the end of Paul’s letters comes the letter to the Hebrews, a mysterious letter by an unnamed author to an unnamed community, although it is clear that the community is suffering some kind of persecution, with more persecution expected. This letter proclaims Yeshua as our High Priest who has entered the Holies of heaven itself. As Kohen Gadol, Yeshua has granted all kedoshim direct access through prayer to come before the heavenly throne of God!

The next seven letters cover matters specific to various situations. Jacob’s letter addresses Jewish faith and lifestyle. The letter was written at about the same time that Jacob, Yeshua’s highly observant brother, hosted the Jerusalem Council and ruled on the controversial question of Gentile circumcision. Two letters from Peter address lifestyle issues arising from exposure to the surrounding pagan environment. He reminds the believing community that they are both “living stones” built upon Messiah—the chief cornerstone—and kedoshim, members of a royal priesthood. Three brief letters from John follow, encouraging faithful living in the midst of cities where heresies are sprouting up. The final letter, Judah, is written by another of Yeshua’s brothers, warning the believers to guard against false teaching and ungodly lifestyle.

Finally, Revelation closes the canon as a prophetic book that uncovers the mysteries of what is coming. How will God judge the world when He sends back His Son? Written to the seven communities living in the populated, but pagan, areas of Asia Minor (modern-day western Turkey), Revelation encourages believers to maintain the faith. Prophetic visions then turn to, filling full with meaning, the story of the final war at Armageddon. Those who know history recall that this very spot (Mount Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley) was once part of the idolatrous Northern Kingdom of Israel. Jehu, the tenth of nineteen idolatrous kings, judged the prophets of Baal, but failed to demolish the golden calves at Dan and Beth-El. Israel was judged, her dynasty ended, and her army completely broken, fulfilling Hosea’s prophecy to the great-grandson of Jehu, king Jeroboam II.

John, writing Revelation nearly a thousand years after Hosea’s prophecy, sees the end of this story. Even as Israel once lost its monarchy, its army, and its very nation to idolatry, so shall all the nations of the world lose their armies and idolatrous dynasties in the very same place. It is the breaking of armies and dynasties at Armageddon that opens the door to a thousand years of peace and the millennial reign of Messiah Yeshua as King of kings and Lord of lords!

So end the prophetic words of the New Covenant. As God once spoke to Israel at Sinai, and in His covenant promised to build a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, so now He has spoken to us through a Son who is building a house of living stones, believers from all the nations. This covenant is a universal one, for all times, places, and people. Those who leave their nations to live in Messiah’s community are transformed into God’s kedoshim, people-made-holy by the Ruach ha-Kodesh, whom Yeshua sent after He rose from the dead and sat down at God’s right hand.

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