Survey of the New Testament

The title is somewhat misleading (coming to us from about the second century A.D.) because it does not tell us about all of the acts of the apostles, in fact, it doesn’t even relate some of the acts of all of the apostles.

The book of Acts tells us that the Kingdom was established in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in Jerusalem when the first gospel sermon was preached by the apostle Peter (Acts 2).

On the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus, His promise about the coming Spirit was fulfilled (Acts 2:1-13) and the message of the gospel began to be preached (Acts 2:14-44).

The gospel then spreads to Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:4-11:18) as a result of the persecution of Christians, and then on to the remotest part of the world (Acts 11:19-30). The first half of the book talks mainly about the work of Peter, the second half talks mainly about the work of Paul. Acts is a book of conversions. It tells us how sincere people respond to the preaching of the gospel.

Acts 2:38
38* Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39* “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
40* And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”
41* So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

That brings us to the book of Romans:

R O M A N S

We now enter the section of the New Testament known as the “epistles.” There are 21 “epistles” from Romans through Jude. It was common in the first century to send an “epistle” or letter to an individual or group which was intended to be shared with a larger audience, in a public way. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and said

1 Thess. 5:27
“I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.”

There are thirteen Pauline Epistles (Romans – Philemon) and there are eight “General Epistles” (Hebrews – Jude).

Rome was the largest and most important city in the first century world. It was a large city by any standards, two to four million people. It was the capital city of the Roman Empire and had a sizable Jewish colony there. In Rome there were the rich and there were the poor. There was no such thing as a middle class. You either had means, or you had none. As a result there were many more slaves than free people living in Rome. Paul writes:

Rom. 1:7
7* to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of the establishment of the church at Rome we really know nothing, we do know that it had existed for some time by the time of Paul’s writing (Rom. 15:23).

The church at Rome was comprised mainly of Gentiles (Rom. 11:13) but there were also some Jewish Christians in the congregation.

Paul wrote this letter in about 56 A.D. from Corinth. Most of Paul’s epistles were written in response to problems in congregations, but Romans is an exception. The theme of the book is stated in:

Romans 1:16
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.

The book of Romans is a book of fundamental principles of the gospel. It is the most “doctrinal” of all of the New Testament books. One who would seek to understand the deeper riches of God’s Word must diligently study Romans.

After the introduction of the theme in Rom. 1:16 the apostle uses the rest of the book to explain the importance of the gospel.

All men need salvation, both Jews (2:1-3) and Gentiles (1:18-32), because all are under condemnation as all have sinned (3:9-20), therefore the source of salvation from sin is found in the redemptive work of Christ (3:21-26), He being the means of our receiving salvation, not by works but by faith (3:27-31, and thereby we are granted peace with God (5:1-21) and have a new life in Christ (6:1-11:36). Paul also talks about the practical challenges of serving God (12:1-15:13).

One of my favorite sections in Romans is:

Romans 12: 1 – 2
12:1* ¶ Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2* And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Important teachings in the Book of Romans include: Justification by faith, Life in the Spirit, and Church-State Relations.

If you want deep study the book of Romans is for you!

That brings us to First Corinthians.

F I R S T C O R I N T H I A N S

1 Cor. 1:1
1:1* ¶ Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2* To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

As you read and study First Corinthians you should keep these verses in mind . God refers to the church at Corinth as “the church of God” he calls the members “saints” and says that they are “sanctified in Christ.”

These are important points to remember because the church at Corinth was beset with very serious problems. The books of First and Second Corinthians are the writings of the apostle Paul to a church which he established in an effort to help them solve these problems.

Corinth was the capital city of the province of Achaia with a population of over 500,000 people. It was located on the main trade routes through the ancient world. It was a very prosperous city which led to a pleasure-mad and immoral atmosphere.

The Greeks had coined the phrase, “to Coninthize” (korinthianzesthai=to behave as a Corinthian) which means to live a debauched life. The cult of Aphrodite, who’s priestesses were prostitutes, had a very large following in Corinth.

Paul established the church on his second missionary tour in the year 50 A.D. It is very likely that First Corinthians was written while Paul was in Ephesus in 55 A.D. (1 Cor 16:8).

The apostle Paul had learned of the problems at Corinth through Chloe’s family. The church was divided over a number of important doctrinal issues, and there was also division over moral issues among them. Paul answers questions he had received from them regarding marriage, things sacrificed to idols, worship, gifts of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection and the collection for the saints of Jerusalem.

Paul says to them:
1 Cor. 1:10
10* ¶ Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Interesting verse, is it not? How could they ALL agree? Only if they had the same standard of authority.

Because Corinth was a very prosperous and modern city (for it’s day) there are many similarities between it’s society and our ours today. The issues the church at Corinth needed to face with integrity are issues the Lord’s church must face today.

Important doctrines found in First Corinthians include Church Unity, Marriage, Miraculous Gifts and Love.

Likely the most important lesson the church at Corinth needed to learn was the lesson of Love. First Corinthians chapter thirteen is one of the most frequently quoted passages in the entire bible. Christians who do not understand the concept of “agape” love will likely repeat the problems experienced by the Corinthians. Love is the bond which holds God’s people together. Love conquers problems which seem insurmountable to human thinking.

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