Q. Can you do a brief overview or summary of the New Testament books as you did for the Old Testament?
Here is what the Old Testament says about the new:
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.
33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
The New Testament was written over a relatively brief period of time of about 50 years. The Old Testament was written over a 1,500 year period. It is referred to as the “New Testament” or “New Covenant” because it reveals a covenant made with man by God through the blood of the Son of God.
1 Cor. 11:23-25
23* ¶ For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24* and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25* In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Heb. 8: 6-8
6* ¶ But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
7* For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
8* For finding fault with them, He says, “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
The New Testament brings to completion the process of revelation from God that began with the Prophets and Moses.
Heb 1: 1-2
1:1* ¶ God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
2* in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
As the Various books of the New Testament were written they were regarded as Scripture and therefore held to be authoritative from the time of their original writing.
2 Pet 3:15-16
15* and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
16* as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Notice the use of the word “Scriptures” in verse 16 above. This is the Greek word “Graphe” and when used by the writers of the New Testament always refers to inspired writings.
Let me show you an example of this in a quote from the Old Testament found in the new:
1 Tim. 5:18
18* For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
The books we have in our New Testaments were regarded as Scripture and authoritative from the time of their original writing. All Scripture is important to the Christian, the New Testament is of primary value because it reveals the will of God for people today and it is the standard by which we will be judged.
3* ¶ Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
“He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
With that brief introduction, lets begin to look at the New Testament books one at a time.
The first four books of the New Testament carry with them the name “Gospels,” which means “Good News.” In the New Testament this term “gospel” is used to refer to the truth revealed through Jesus Christ and the apostles:
16* ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
27* ¶ Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
While there is only ONE “gospel” or system of Truth revealed through Christ and the apostles (i.e. the New Testament), we use the term “Gospel of John” simply to refer to the Good News about the Christ found in the book of John.
The facts of Jesus’ life and teachings circulated first in oral form, then the Holy Spirit guided four men to write the four gospels we now have in our New Testaments. Here is how Jesus told the apostles it would work:
13* “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
So, we have four “gospel” accounts, three of them are what we call “Synoptic” , Matthew, Mark, Luke. “Synoptic means “to see together from the same perspective.” Matthew, Mark and Luke present basically the same material concerning the life of Christ. These books are not biographies, neither are they intended as “history” books, the gospels have a much higher purpose. They each address an intended audience with the truth about the Son of God who became flesh and lived among us. There are three that are very similar not because the Holy Spirit uses pointless repetition but because each one has its distinctive purpose and audience. I will deal in more detail on this subject as we look at each book individually.
M A T T H E W
The book of MATTHEW was written by the apostle Matthew. He was also known by the name “Levi” (Matt. 9:9-13). He was a tax collector when he met Jesus. Jesus selected Matthew as one of the Twelve (Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13)
While we don’t know the exact time or place of it’s writing, we know from the internal contents of Matthew that it had to be written before 70 A.D. The reason is there is a mention of the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew chapter twenty-four, but no description of its fulfillment.
Matthew is generally assigned to around 60 A.D. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience. Matthew is clearly the most Jewish of the four gospels. It was by far the most popular of the four gospels in the early days of the church. The Old Testament is quoted extensively and Jesus is presented as the fulfillment of the Messianic hope revealed in the Old Testament (Matt. 1:22; 2:15, 17).
We can summarize the purpose of Matthew by saying it is to present “Jesus as King over the kingdom of heaven.” Many of the parables found in Matthew center on the kingdom concept. Jesus taught
2* “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Over thirty times Matthew refers to the Kingdom of Heaven. In Mark and Luke we find the synonymous expression “Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom of heaven, or the Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the hearts and lives of human beings and the blessings associated with being in the Kingdom.
The Bible tells us that all of mankind is under the rule of Satan: