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The New Testament

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The New Testament is the name given to the final portion of the bible. The original texts were written by various authors between 45AD and sometime before 140 AD about four-hundred years after The Old Testament. The New Testament is considered the root of the Christian religion. The New Testament contains twenty-seven books written by eight authors over a period of about 100 years that are divided into four sections which contain the biographies of Christ, history of the church, instructions to the church and the final book which contains the prophecy.

In the New Testament the first section is called the gospel and contains four books written by Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four gospels all describe the birth, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However these gospels do differ in their message as related to the audience they targeted. This brings up the term synoptic gospels which refer to the first three books. This means Mathew, Mark, and Luke has a great deal in common. “Out of a total of 1,071 verses, Mathew has 387 in common with Mark and the Gospel of Luke, 130 with Mark alone, 184 with Luke alone; only 370 being unique to itself”. (1)

The Gospel of Mathew addressed Jewish readers and emphasized Jesus as the Messiah and king predicted in the Old Testament. Mathew begins with a genealogy of Jesus that traces his ancestry as far back as Abraham. Following the genealogy is an account of the wise men’s visit to Jesus’ birth site; Herods attempt to destroy the newborn child, and the flight to Egypt. After the death of Herod, the family returned to Nazareth, which, according to Mathew, fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy. Mathew closes with accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and his appearance to the disciples. The gospel of Mark was written for the Gentiles and presents Jesus as a servant who ministered to the needs of the people. It addresses Jesus super-natural power, miracles he performed and things that he said. Luke presents Jesus as the Son of God. He focuses on His humanity, his compassion for the weak, suffering and outcasts. In Luke, Jesus emerges primarily as a teacher, a teacher of ethical wisdom, someone who's confident and serene in that ethical teaching. Jesus is portrayed as someone who is very much interested in inculcating the virtues of compassion and forgiveness among his followers. John balances the other three Gospels by its special emphasis on the Deity of Jesus. John stresses things that Jesus said rather than what he said. In John 1 1:18, he talks about “he was word made flesh”.

The history of the church is in the book of Acts written by Luke, a physician, who was a companion of Paul. Acts was written sometime between 61 and 95 A.D. and covers approximately thirty-three years from the Ascension of Christ to the time when Paul had been a prisoner in Rome. The purpose was to record Christ’s continued ministry from heaven of all that He began to do and teach on earth (1:1). Acts gives a panoramic view of the birth, formation, and development of the early church and to show the pattern by which Christ builds his church. Acts message contains the church, as the body of Christ and cannot function apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospels, Christ is presented in His earthly ministry, but in Acts He is presented in His heavenly ministry, building His Church, as He promised (Matthew 16:18), through the power of the spirit. In Acts we see the order of witness in the great commission being fulfilled; first in Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Acts centers on the apostles Peter and Paul. It sets fourth the formation and establishment of the church upon the foundational principles of the apostles’ doctrine, and thus it becomes a pattern book for the church.

The Pauline epistles written by Paul are the thirteen or fourteen letters in the New Testament of the Christian Bible traditionally believed to have been written by the apostle Paul. Among them are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of formative Christianity and, as part of the canon of the New Testament, they have also been, and continue to be, hugely influential in Christian theology and ethics. Paul's letters to churches are concerned with particular aspects of church doctrine and practice

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