Thursday, January 31, 2008

How to Study the New Testament Part one

Lesson Three: New Testament Overview

Mat 4:4 (KJV)
But (Jesus) answered and said,
It is written,
Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

(Mat 24:35 KJV)
Jesus said,
Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.

(Mark 8:38 KJV)
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words
in this adulterous and sinful generation;
of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

The Purpose of the New Testament:
TO REVEAL THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST, as the fulfillment of Old Testament history, ceremony and prophecy.

Mat 26:26-29 (KJV)
And as they were eating,
Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples,
and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
{27} And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying,
Drink ye all of it;
{28} For this is my blood of the new testament{Grk=contract, covenant},
which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
{29} But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine,
until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

Jer 31:31-34 (KJV)
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD,
that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and with the house of Judah:
{32} Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers
in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which my covenant they brake,
although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:

{33} But this shall be the covenant{Heb=contract} that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the LORD,
I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
{34} And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD:
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD:
for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.

The General Content of the New Testament .
The New Testament is very similar in its structure to the Old Testament. In our previous studies we learned the Old Testament has three major sections: history, poetry, and prophecy. The New Testament also has three major divisions:
a. HISTORY, including the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and Acts.
b. TEACHING, or the Epistles (personal letters) of Paul, Peter, James and John.
c. PROPHECY, the Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of Saint John.

The Specific Content of the New Testament Books.

History: The Gospels
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are not biographies in the pure sense, although they are historical in every sense. Perhaps "portraits" is a better word than "biographies." In each of the Gospels, Jesus is painted in a different pose. Each Gospel writer saw Jesus from a different angle and wrote his Gospel for a unique purpose.

MATTHEW was the tax collector. He wrote his Gospel for the purpose of showing a Jewish audience how Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, More than in any other Gospel. Matthew uses the phrase, "This was to fulfill ..."

(Mat 1:22 KJV)
Now all this was done,
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying...

The scope and purpose of the book are indicated in the first verse. Matthew is :

(Mat 1:1 KJV)
The book of the generation{Grk=nativity, nature, geneology} of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This connects him at once with two of the most important of the Old Testament Covenants: the Davidic Covenant of kingship, and the Abrahamic Covenant of promise. ;

(2 Sam 7:12-14 KJV)
And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers,
I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels,
and I will establish his kingdom.
{13} He shall build an house for my name,
and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
{14} I will be his father, and he shall be my son...


(Gen 12:1-3 KJV)
Now the LORD had said unto Abram,
Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house,
unto a land that I will show thee:
{2} And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great;
and thou shalt be a blessing:
{3} And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:
and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

(Gen 15:18 KJV)
In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
Unto thy seed have I given this land,
from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:

Of Jesus Christ in that twofold character, then, Matthew writes. Following the order indicated in the first verse, he writes first of the King, the son of David; then of the Son of Abraham, obedient unto death, according to the Isaac type:

(Gen 22:1-2 KJV)
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him,
Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
{2} And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,
and get thee into the land of Moriah;
and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

(Heb 11:17-19 KJV)
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac:
and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.
{18} Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
{19} Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead;
from whence also he received him in a figure.

MARK Mark begins with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river and contains no Christmas story. Some feel Mark was addressed more to the Roman mind. The scope and purpose of the book are evident from its contents. In it Jesus is seen as the mighty Worker, rather than as the unique Teacher. It is the Gospel of Jehovah's "Servant the Branch"

(Zec 3:8 KJV)
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee:
for they are men wondered at:
for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

as Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch. . .unto David". (The "days" spoken of below are the Millenium Kingdom, yet future, when Christ will sit as King and Ruler, and Israel's enemies will be vanquished.)

(Jer 33:15-16 KJV)
In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David;
and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
{16} In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely:
and this is the name wherewith she shall be called,
The LORD our righteousness.

Everywhere the servant character of the incarnate Son is manifest. The key verse is

(Mark 10:45 KJV)
For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many.

The characteristic word is "straightway," a servant's word, but also characteristic of the Roman mind seeking action to get things done. There is no genealogy, for who gives the genealogy of a servant? The distinctive character of Christ in Mark is that set forth in Phi_2:5 -11.

(Phi 2:5-11 KJV)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
(6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
(7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
(8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
(9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name:
(10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
(11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

But this lowly Servant, who emptied Himself of the "form of God," "and was found in fashion as a man," was, nevertheless, "the mighty God"
(Isa 9:6 KJV)
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

LUKE was a physician and the only non-Jewish author in the Bible. He also wrote Acts. He was not one of the original apostles, but was a traveling companion of Paul. Luke's Gospel is the most detailed and carefully organized of the four gospels.

(Luke 1:1-4 KJV)
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order
a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
{2} Even as they delivered them unto us,
which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
{3} It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,
to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
{4} That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

Luke also has the most extensive material on the birth and early childhood of Jesus.

Luke is the Gospel of the human-divine One, as John is of the divine-human One. The key-phrase is "Son of man," and the key-verse is:

(Luke 19:10 KJV)
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

In harmony with this intent, Luke relates those things concerning Jesus which demonstrate how entirely human He was. His genealogy is traced to Adam, and the most detailed account is given of His mother, and of His infancy and boyhood. The parables peculiar to Luke have distinctively the human and the seeking note. But Luke is careful to guard the Deity and Kingship of Jesus Christ

(Luke 1:30-33 KJV)
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
{31} And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,
and shalt call his name JESUS.
{32} He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
{33} And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Luke, then, is the Gospel of "the man whose name is The BRANCH"(a prophetic reference to Jesus the Messiah):

(Zec 6:12-13 KJV)
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts,
saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH;
and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
{13} Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory,
and shall sit and rule upon his throne;
and he shall be a priest upon his throne:
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

JOHN is very different in its content and style from the other Gospels. It is the most theological, in that it is almost entirely teaching. You can see this stand out in a red letter edition of the Bible. In fact, of the 21 chapters in John, the last 10, almost half the book, are about the last week in Jesus life. Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16, arid 17 are composed of teaching that took place in the Upper Room the night before Jesus' crucifixion. A key phrase in John is "I am ..."

The Theme of John's Gospel is indicated in the Prologue :
(John 1:1-14 KJV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
{2} The same was in the beginning with God.
{3} All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
{4} In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
{5} And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
{6} There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
{7} The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
{8} He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
{9} That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
{10} He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
{11} He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
{12} But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name:
{13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
{14} And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The prominent words are, "believed" and "life." This emphasis of John is clearly stated in John 20:30-31: BELIEVE.

(John 20:30-31 KJV)
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples,
which are not written in this book:
{31} But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing ye might have life through his name.
History: Acts of the Apostles

(Acts 1:1-3 KJV)
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
{2} Until the day in which he was taken up,
after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
{3} To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs,
being seen of them forty days,
and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
ACTS is Luke's record of the events that took place in the early church, Underlying the special events is a powerful explanation and defense of Christianity, to the Jews, the Greeks and the Romans. If you read the book carefully you can "see" where Luke joined Paul by change of the tense (from "they" to "we").

NOTE: The pivotal event in each of the Gospels is the baptism of Jesus, when the Holy Spirit came on his life. The pivotal event of Acts is the Spirit baptism of the disciples. Acts is the story of God's people, receiving what Jesus received (the power of the Holy Spirit) in order to do what Jesus did. The Holy Spirit fills the scene. As the presence of the Son, exalting and revealing the Father, is the great fact of the Gospels, so the presence of the Spirit, exalting and revealing the Son, is the great fact of the Acts.

This book records the ascension and promised return of the Lord Jesus, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter's use of the keys, opening the kingdom (considered as the sphere of profession, as in Mat. 13) to the Jews at Pentecost, and to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius; the beginning of the Christian church and the conversion and ministry of Paul.

Note: The Epistles and Revelation are covered in part 2.

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