The New Testament – Overview

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(Christian Study Topics)

The New Testament consists of twenty-seven books. The main components of the New Testament are the following.

1) The Four Gospels.

The word “gospel” basically means “good news”. Each of the four gospel writers – or “evangelists” as they are sometimes known – sets out the basic events lying behind the good news. The term synoptic gospels is often used to refer to the first three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).

This term refers to their similar literary structure, which has important implications for the way in which they are translated.

2) The Acts of the Apostles

This is basically an account of the expansion of Christianity in the decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. How were events described in the gospels received at the time? How did the gospel spread from Palestine to Europe? These questions are addressed in the fifth work to be found in the New Testament, the full title of which is “the Acts of the Apostles” but which is more usually referred to simply as “Acts”. The gospel of Luke and Acts are widely agreed to have been written by the same person – Luke.

3) The Letters

Referred to by the older English word epistles in documents dealing with the King James Bible. These letters provide teaching concerning both Christian beliefs and behavior as important today as they were when they were first written. Some of the false teachings that arose in the early period of the Church’s history are in circulation once more, and these letters provide important resources for defending the integrity of the Christian faith today. Most of the letters were written by Paul, whose conversion to the Christian faith led him to undertake a major program of evangelism and church planting. Many of his letters were written to churches he had planted, giving them advice. Other letter writers include the apostles Peter and John.

4) The Book of Revelation

The New Testament ends with the book of Revelation, which stands in a class of its own. It represents a vision of the end of history, in which the writer is allowed to see into heaven, and gain a glimpse of the New Jerusalem that is prepared for believers. This complex and difficult work is sometimes referred to as “the Apocalypse”.

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