A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance
From the Author’s Introduction
The Catholic Epistles give us a unique window into early Christian theology and practice. These letters highlight the centrality of love for not only fellow believers (1 Peter and 1 John) but the neighbor in general (James). They explore the inevitability of trials and testing in life that are ultimately from God and therefore strengthen faith (James and 1 Peter). Throughout these letters one finds the pervasive contrast between allegiances to God and this world as incompatible loyalties (James and 1 John) along with an emphasis on the reality that true faith is always accompanied by a transformed life—a faith united with works (especially Jas 2:14-26). Finally, the concern for correct doctrine both in the face of false teaching (2 Peter and 1 John) and the influence of immoral living (Jude) surfaces again and again.
Though other New Testament letters are also concerned with the connection between orthodox teaching and moral living, the Catholic Epistles are especially focused on this connection. James focuses on hearing and doing, having faith and works integrated together, and 1 Peter encourages Jesus followers to live out their new identity in Christ among a watching, nonbelieving world. First John specifically connects an orthodox confession of Jesus with the moral duty of loving other believers and keeping God’s commands. Both Jude and 2 Peter address threats facing the early church. Jude confronts those who deny right doctrine through their immoral and lawless lifestyles, while 2 Peter counters false claims regarding the prophets and Christian expectation for Christ’s return as cleverly invented myths. These are some of the particular ways the Catholic Epistles enrich the life of the church by focusing on the connection between faith and works.
Yet despite these theological and practical riches, the Catholic Epistles have not traditionally received the attention they deserve, somewhat standing in the shadow of the Gospels and Paul’s letters. This book is an attempt to introduce (or reintroduce) readers to these important Christian letters at the end of the New Testament and to suggest how they might be read together as a canonical collection.
Taken from Letters for the Church: Reading James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude as Canon by Darian R. Lockett. Copyright © 2021 by Darian R. Lockett. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com.
What do the epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude have in common? They are often either neglected or cherry-picked for a few key themes, like faith and works (James) or God is love (1 John). Darian Lockett, an accomplished researcher in this field of study, removes these letters from the shadows by combining patristic evidence, the best of contemporary scholarship, and his own keen reading. His concise, direct, and sometimes passionate style results in a remarkably full historical introduction and canonical exposition of all seven Catholic Letters in under three hundred pages. Pastors, students, and other serious Bible readers will find here fresh insight and understanding based on solid learning and due reverence for the treasures these letters contain.
Darian Lockett knows the books of James through Jude well, having written about them extensively. This helpful primer on the Catholic Epistles, which takes a canonical-collection approach, will help readers think carefully about the meaning of these letters and their relevance for today. Here also is a reminder why we need all of Scripture.
Table of Contents
1 The Letter of James
2 The Letter of 1 Peter
3 The Letter of 2 Peter
4 The Letter of 1 John
5 The Letter of 2-3 John
6 The Letter of Jude