I recently summarised examples of Jesus’ extraordinary conversation in the Gospel of John. I hope it will be helpful to have a brief summary of the New Testament.
Background – language and layout
The New Testament was written after the Lord Jesus Christ appeared on Earth. In contrast, the Old Testament was written before He arrived and it predicts the mission, work, place and time of arrival of Jesus on Earth. The Old Testament was preserved by the Jews and written mainly in Hebrew, the Jewish language. Jesus lived during the time of the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. Although Latin was the language of Roman officials, the most well-known language throughout the Roman Empire was Greek. This was because Alexander the Great had previously conquered so many lands that Greek had become an international language, rather similar to English being the global language at present. The Old Testament had been translated into Greek and this Greek Bible was used by the large number of Jews outside the land of Israel. The New Testament was written by Jewish Christians in the Greek language, who used and quoted from the Greek as well as the Hebrew Old Testament to show that Jesus Christ was the Messiah promised by God in the Old Testament.
There are 39 Books in the Hebrew Old Testament and 27 Books in the Greek New Testament. As a mnemonic: 39+(3×9) = 66 Books in the Bible. These books are written by a variety of authors but the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ applies to them all.
The New Testament begins with four Gospels about the life of Jesus, followed by a narrative about the early Christian church, followed by epistles or letters from the apostle Paul, from James the Lord’s brother, from the apostle Peter, the apostle John, Jude, and finishes with the visionary Revelation about the future of the Christian church until the end of Time.
A Summary of the Christian New Testament
- The four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us the biography of the Lord Jesus Christ, showing us His Person as the Son of God, His Office as God’s Saviour, His conversation and attractive character, His Mission, work and benefits to those who believe in Him.
- the Acts of the Apostles gives us the account of the progress of the early Christian church by following the lives of the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul in particular. It tells us about Saul of Tarsus’ remarkable conversion from rabid persecutor to foremost preacher of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, becoming known as the apostle Paul.
- the epistle to the Romans gives us the theology of the Christian Gospel from the foremost Christian scholar of his day, the apostle Paul. It is Professor Paul’s Systematic Theology, written in stages.
- Paul’s two epistles to the Corinthians give us a picture of congregational life in the Christian church in Corinth, with various topics discussed and resolved. He re-organised public worship and after-church congregational fellowship.
- the epistle to the Galatians introduces us to the subject of perverting the Christian Gospel and mixing its message of salvation by free grace with the error of salvation by good works or human merit.
- the epistle to the Ephesians describes the Christian church as the body of Jesus Christ working together on Earth, battling against the devil-inspired world, while its Head is in heaven with the aim of uniting them all together not only on Earth but ultimately in heaven.
- the epistle to the Philippians promotes brotherly love using Christ as our example and it explains the Christian attitude to persecution and competitive Christianity.
- the epistle to the Colossians sets forth the glory of Christ as the Son of God and how the believer is to behave as one who is complete in Christ.
- the two epistles to the Thessalonians are set against the background of the Second Coming of Christ. They correct mistakes about it, measured against the emergence of the man of sin in the Christian church and his eventual exposure by Christ.
- the two epistles to Timothy are ‘pastoral epistles’ giving guidance from the aged apostle Paul to younger Timothy about godly behaviour and passing on the Gospel from generation to generation through faithful office-bearers in the Christian church.
- the epistle to Titus is another pastoral epistle explaining the need for office-bearers in the church of God and for Christian forbearance and mutual help.
- the epistle to Philemon is a short epistle demonstrating love and forbearance towards one’s employees and their mistakes.
- the epistle to the Hebrews explains how Jesus Christ fulfilled the sacrifices described in the Old Testament and abrogated the ceremonial law thereby. It warns about the danger of apostasy and of going back to ceremonial religion. It is the apostle Paul’s sermon notes, based on various Old Testament texts, honed up over the years and then given to the wider world in written form.
- the epistle of James sets forth practical Christianity as the fruit of Christian faith – how Christian brethren should behave towards each other, showing impartiality and charity arising from heavenly wisdom, contrasted with worldly behaviour.
- the two epistles of Peter prepared the Christian church for Peter’s death and how to promote the Gospel after he had gone to heaven. He directs his readers to the inspired and incorruptible Bible rather than to any college of imaginary cardinals or popes in Rome. He warns the Christian church against lording it over God’s heritage. He encouraged believers to grow in Christian grace and in the experimental knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to prepare for glory in heaven. He warns them against false prophets and against those who mock the teaching about Christ’s Second Coming.
- the three epistles of John extol the fellowship of the love of God because Jesus Christ is the Advocate for sinners. He reminds his readers about apostasy from the church of God and about the rise of the Antichrist, teaching them spiritual discernment to identify true Christians by marks of grace and their love for each other. He exposes and resists control freakery in the Christian church.
- the epistle of Jude exhorts Christians to contend earnestly for the original Christian faith, contrary to the unchristian teaching introduced by those promoting ungodly practices, and encourages believers that the Saviour will keep them from falling and present them faultless before His presence in heaven.
- the book of Revelation concludes the Christian Bible with a visionary account about the future of the Christian church until the end of Time. Jesus reveals His continuing oversight of His Church through the Great Tribulation and its long years of spiritual warfare with false religion. Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ triumphs and the kingdoms of the world become His kingdoms, which ushers in the biblical Millennium of Gospel blessedness on the Earth, fulfilling the praise of the heavenly host when He was born into the world:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.”Luke 2:14
The Christian church is on course and not far from the fulfilment of the Lord Jesus Christ’s global agenda. Will you be among His supporters or among His opponents?
The ungodly will find themselves belonging to a minority of losers, on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of eternity, to their everlasting shame and dismay, while the godly will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world Mat 25:34.