Christian Living

The Five Most Overlooked Books in the New Testament

Discover These Significant Epistles of the Bible

The New Testament of the Bible opens with the historic books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. It ends with the prophetic book of Revelation. Between them are twenty-one letters, also called epistles.

Five of them, which seem tacked onto the end of the section, are the five most overlooked books in the New Testament. They are also significant.

These books are James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, and Jude.

When it comes to the epistles in the Bible, all the ones written by Paul come first. His letters to churches make up the first group. They appear in order of their length, going from longest to shortest.

Though we know what Paul wrote to them, we don’t know what triggered his words. Did they have specific questions they asked? Did someone report on problems they were having?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. We just know Paul’s response. As we read these letters, it’s like hearing half a conversation.

Without knowing the context, it’s hard to rightly apply what he wrote. We’re left to struggle wondering if what he told them to do—or not do—applied just to them or to everyone.

Next are Paul’s letters to individuals, also listed from longest to shortest. Again, we don’t know to what extent his words apply just to the recipients and which apply to us today. After that we have the book of Hebrews, whose author is unknown.

After these many letters come everyone else’s, again listed by length: James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude. We treat these others, which are mired at the end of the New Testament almost as afterthoughts, as trivial or even inconsequential. This is unfortunate.

James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, and Jude

Aside from 2 and 3 John, which are personal letters, the other five are general correspondences written to all Christians.

Of all the epistles in the New Testament, these are the ones most readily applicable to us and our situation today—and they comprise the most overlooked books in the New Testament. As such we need to pay much more attention to them than we have been.

Again, these letters are James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, and Jude. When is the last time you read them? Or heard a minister preach from them? Are any of them your go-to books? I suspect not. And this is unfortunate.

I’ll focus on these oft-overlooked books in the New Testament in upcoming books in my Dear Theophilus series of devotional Bible studies. One devotional Bible study will cover 1 and 2 Peter, and another will address James and Jude.

But first up is Love One Another, which focuses on 1 John (and wraps up with 2 and 3 John).

One John is a most amazing book. The themes and content of 1 John closely follow the gospel of John, both written by the apostle John. If you connect with the book of John, you’re sure to resonate with John’s first letter too.

I encourage everyone to delve into these five most overlooked books in the New Testament, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John, and Jude.

You can start with 1 John.

Discover practical, insightful, and encouraging truths in Love One Another, a devotional Bible study to foster a deeper appreciation for the two greatest commandments: To love God and to love others.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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