The New Testament constitutes the establishment of Christianity, the fulfillment of what Israel and the Old Testament Jewish people were all about – waiting for the Messiah to arrive. The Old Testament’s message was that God had a plan to rescue humankind from sin and give them salvation through Jesus Christ. From Genesis through Malachi God promised a savior and that Savior was Jesus. Christianity was a fulfillment the Jewish religion.
Christians, or followers of Christ, originated as Jews who believed in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah.
Many people who were ethnically Jewish did not accept Jesus’ role as Messiah and so did not accept Christianity, the completed form of Judaism. Instead, they stayed with an incomplete form of Judaism. Jesus came to complete the Jewish religion by creating a Church that would serve as its fulfillment and be open to people of all races, thus many Gentiles became Christians.
The New Testament contains 27 books, which also fall into three parts:
Epistles (21 letters)
The New Testament covers a time span of only 60 to 70 years. These books tell the stories of Jesus’ life and the establishment of the Christian church. The New Testament deals with Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, the beginning of the Christian church, and instruction about how to live as a follower of Jesus Christ.
The Five History Books
- Gospel of Matthew
- Gospel if Mark
- Gospel of Luke
- Gospel of John
- Book of Acts
Almost all of the biblical information about the earthly ministry of Jesus is contained in the four gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. These books tell about the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. These books tell of the miracles Jesus performed while on earth and they tell about the teachings of Jesus, often through parables.
Matthew was one of the first twelve disciples of Jesus and therefore an eyewitness. He records many of Jesus’ teaching including the entire Sermon on the Mount.
Mark was Peter’s son who wrote down what Peter said about who Jesus was, what He did, where He went and what happened; Mark’s gospel is therefore Peter’s account, an eyewitness account, written down by Mark.
Luke was a doctor and a co-worker with Paul. Luke interviewed local eyewitnesses and people who had followed Jesus closely and collated all the interviews into a single account.
John was one of the first twelve disciples of Jesus and therefore an eyewitness.
The four Gospels tell the good news that God has fulfilled his promise to humankind by sending his son Jesus to die for our sins. Although the four gospels tell the same story, they reflect different ideas and concerns. They tell the story from the birth of Jesus to his death and resurrection. They included stories of Jesus’ miracles and healings, his parables, and his teachings. All four gospels contain the central story of Jesus’ suffering and death.
The Book of Acts gives the history of the Christian church and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the mounting opposition to it. Christianity spread from Jerusalem, the Jewish capital, to Asia, Africa, and Rome in Europe, the Gentile capital. It first went to the Jews, but they, as a nation continually reject it. It spread from believing Jews to non-Jews (Gentiles). Spreading the gospel was not without hardship, however. The apostles were imprisoned, beaten, and prosecuted.
The 21 Epistles
The twenty-one epistles are twenty-one letters of advice and instruction to early Christians.
The apostle Paul, one of the most important early Christian missionaries, wrote 13 of these letters. During his travels Paul wrote “epistles” to various congregations and individuals. Paul’s epistles are named after who the letters were addressed to, individual persons and certain churches. The remaining epistles from James through Jude are named after who wrote them.
Revelation is the New Testament’s one book of prophecy. Revelation’s language is very symbolic, which
makes it a difficult book to understand. It does reveal everyone’s future. Every
prophecy in the Bible came to pass exactly as it was stated when its time came
to be fulfilled. Therefore, that will also be the case for the writings in this