Session 01 New Testament Overview - Introduction and Summary
New Testament Overview
The scene is a little synagogue in Nazareth. A young, thirty year-old,
itinerate preacher has just come into town. As is the custom, he is
asked to read the scriptures and to lead in the discussion. He stands
up as they hand the scroll they had been studying over the past
weeks. He opened it, found the passage he wanted, and read ..
"The Spirit of the LORD is upon
Me, Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the
brokenhearted, To proclaim
liberty to the captives And
recovery of sight to the blind, To
set at liberty those who are
oppressed; To proclaim the
acceptable year of the LORD."
“You are there!” with Walter Cronkite
• You know this passage from Isaiah 61. You say it to yourself as
the young man reads but … wait. Something’s wrong!
• The young man closes the scroll without finishing! He leaves out
“And the day of vengeance of our God.”
• All eyes are focused on him as he says to them, “Today this
scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
• Two things occurred in that moment.
– A new age had been inaugurated – between the “Year of the Lord” and
the “Day of the vengeance of our God.”
– Jesus is ascribing this prophecy of the Messiah to himself!
• The King has arrived but this is not the end. It is not the day of
• Into this new gap the New Testament and the church age is
• One day this King will come, not as the saving, suffering servant,
but as the conquering, judging, eternal reigning King.
3. Intro to the Gospels
9. Intro to Pauline Epistles
11. I Corinthians
12. II Corinthians
14. I Timothy
16. II Timothy
18. Colossians and Philemon
21. I Peter
22. II Peter & Jude
23. I, II, & III john
24. I Thessalonians
25. II Thessalonians
New Testament Seminar
Purpose and Summary of Course
• To understand the big picture of each book of the New
Testament at an overview level.
• To understand the continuity between the books in the New
• To realize the Promises God has kept to His People from the
• To hear God speak to us today through His Word and so to
be challenged in our lives.
Authorship of the New Testament
• The New Testament has 27 books with 8 or 9 human authors in 3
major ‘circles’ of authors.
• Matthew, Mark, 1 & 2 Peter, Jude, and James
– Matthew is one of the apostles, but remained in Jerusalem.
– Mark is not an apostle, but was a close companion of Peter. Thus Mark’s
gospel is largely thought to be Peter’s account of Jesus’ life.
– Peter himself wrote 1 & 2 Peter
– Jude & James are both half-brothers of Jesus, and key figures in the
– Jude picks up many themes from 2 Peter
– James is rich in his use of Matthew’s gospel, particularly the Sermon on
the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
• Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Timothy, 1 & 2
Thessalonians, Titus, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, Philemon, and Hebrews
– 13 letters of Paul
– Hebrews (unknown authorship but “Timothy our brother” 13:23 places
him within the Pauline Circle),
– Luke / Acts (It is clear that Luke is part of Paul’s circle: note the “we
• John,1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation
– Written by the Apostle John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved.
With a large number of human authors there is unity in both the OT
an the NT. – God is the One true author if Scripture.
“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private
interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of
God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
• This inspiration comes to us in a diversity of writings and
• In the New Testament are found three basic genres.
– The Gospels plus Acts as a continuation of Luke.
– The Epistles or letters.
– The apocalyptic literature (Revelation, which is also a letter).
• The word “gospel” is not found in literature before the 2nd century
though it is found in Mark 1:1 which is most likely where it started.
• The focus is theological, not chronological. It not intended to be a balanced
account of the life of Christ.
• It is not like reading a year’s worth of newspapers – instead each book
focuses on the events that mattered to the writer and their audience.
• Mostly focusing on Jesus as the promised Messiah.
• To bring freedom not by conquering Rome but by shedding His life’s blood
and then rising from the dead.
• Acts continues Luke's Gospel as he writes to Theolphilus.
• As the other Gospels are not a balanced look a Jesus’s life, Acts is
not a balanced history of the growth of the church.
• Example, it hints of the spread of the Gospel to the east and
south but focuses on the spread to Rome.
• The world no longer comes to Jerusalem, but gospel is being
taking to the world.
• Entitled the Acts of the Apostles but is really the Acts of the Holy
• The book climaxes with Paul in a Roman prison but the gospel is
• To most Christians, the Gospels and Acts and the Psalms and
Proverbs are the sum of their reading and focus.
• Mostly because of their style and oft used references.
• Most see the Epistles as a type of Cliff’s notes for Christian living.
• Just tell me what I need to know and avoid all the details!
• The Epistles come in two types: occasional or general.
– Occasional epistles are letters written at a particular time to a particular church in a
particular situation for a particular purpose.
– General Epistles are letters written broadly to a group of churches. They are addressed to
Christians in general.
– Many have both but still fall into one of these two types.
• This genre is found only in one book.
• It takes the format a letter addressed to 7 particular churches.
• It is prophecy and it is apocalyptic.
– of, relating to, or involving terrible violence and destruction
– of or relating to the end of the world
• It presents a picture of what the second half of Isaiah 61:2, “the day of
vengeance of our God” the statement Jesus did not read!
• It also provides a picture of the final Kingdom as John describes the new
heaven and earth, the Holy City, and the New Jerusalem.
The Message of the New Testament:
• While the Old Testament’s message is “Promises Made” and that
of the New Testament is “Promises Kept.”
• As seen before, we can trust that God has kept His promises and
that He will continue to keep all of His promises.
“The point of the New Testament, indeed, the point of the whole Bible, is that God has made
promises to us, he has kept those promises to us, and we are called to trust him because he is
the keeper of promises! God has revealed himself to humanity through his promises. And that
is why faith is so important. At the end of the day, the Bible does not lie on the shelf like a
passive object for us to investigate. At the end of the day, it turns and looks at us and says, will
you believe and trust?” (Pastor Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC)
• In the New Testament we will see:
– through whom God fulfilled His promises [Christ],
– to whom He has fulfilled His promises [the New Covenant People], and
– what ultimate fulfillment of those promises will entail [the New Creation].
• The promises kept are kept through Jesus Christ.
• The most important is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 – a Savior
for His people.
• All creation has waited for this seed who would crush the
• Jesus is all that Israel had hoped for or needed.
– He was faithful where Adam and Israel were not;
– He lived without sin;
– He fulfilled every prophecy from the Old Testament about him.
– He was the coming prophet promised to Moses in Deut. 18 (v.15, 18-19).
– He was the coming King foreshadowed by and promised to David.
– He was the Divine Son of Man spoken of in Daniel.
– He was the suffering servant that Isaiah - pierced for our transgressions
– He is the Messiah that Zechariah predicted would be rejected, later to
return again and be received by His people and reign over them.
• What once was a fuzzy black and white image in the OT has not
been displayed in Technicolor!
• And Acts shows us these promises were for more than those of
• Christ came to establish a people not identified by national,
geographic, or ethnic heritage.
• God provided multiple Gospels to emphasize the different
aspects of Christ and to be aimed at a particular audience.
– Matthew : emphasis on Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecies in the Old
Testament, which would have been important to Jews.
– Mark: records Peter’s account of Christ for Roman Christians and was
vital for the early church to have a recorded Gospel.
– Luke and Acts: have a more Gentile audience in mind and emphasizes
that Christ came for all who would repent/believe.
– John: has a focus on the deity of Christ, to marvel at who God is when he
The New Covenant People:
• The NT is first of all about Christ – but it is also about the people
• Until Christ the relationship with God was through the sacrificial
system of the OT laws.
• Individuals did not approach God on their own – but through the
• God’s presence was associated with the Tabernacle and later the
Temple in Jerusalem.
• Christ’s coming inaugurated a very different way of
communicating with God.
• Read John 2:19-20 where He hints of the coming change.
• Hebrews enlarges on this in 9:11-15.
• Those who place their faith in Him become the new covenant
people, the people of His blood – distinct from the rest of
• Distinct not because of their ethnic/social status but because
they’ve been redeemed by His blood and live a life of sins
removed – permanently.
• The Epistles are all about understanding what it looks like to be
this new covenant people.
– understanding the truth of this radical gospel news
– learning how to live as a gospel-transformed people.
• In Romans, we see God’s people instructed in the nature of
• In 1st and 2nd Corinthians Paul teaches a troubled church how to
live holy lives in a very secular culture.
• In Galatians, Paul is very clear about what Christianity is about in
contrast to legalism.
• Ephesians provides a theology of the nature and purpose of the
• In Philippians, Paul encourages Christians to rejoice in Christ and
learn from Christ’s humble example.
• In Colossians teaches the implications of the supremacy of Christ.
• Thessalonians teaches how to prepare for the 2nd coming.
• Paul’s letters to Timothy are personal correspondence of
encouragement to Timothy and gives instruction in what to look
for in elders and deacons.
• Titus and Philemon are other partners to whom Paul wrote.
• Hebrews helps us understand how the old covenant relates to the
• James acts as the Proverbs of the New Testament, giving very
practical instruction on living as a Christian.
• Peter writes to early Christians about enduring suffering and
• John’s 3 letters help Christians battle early heresy about the
nature of Christ and what it means to obediently follow Christ.
• And Jude, warns believers about the dangers of false teachers.
• All answer the question, “Who are we?” and “How do we live?”
The New Creation:
• The New Testament is about Christ, about his new covenant
people, but also about the final fulfillment of his promises.
• Ever since Creation, God’s desire is to have His creatures worship
• But sin broke this perfection.
• The story of the Bible is the story of Creation – from the creation
of man to the new creation through Jesus, and finally to the
creation of the New Heaven and the New Earth.
• And the creation and establishment through Christ of God’s New
Kingdom that replaces and surpasses Eden.
• The New Testament concludes with a vision of this future.
• John’s vision of the future New Creation in Revelation sees God’s
people living in God’s city for eternity.
• The New Testament and the entire Bible helps us to understand
– the past,
– ourselves and the lives we live today,
– the future, and
– how we are to relate to God.
• Today, we live in that gap in history—but before he finishes his
• The New Testament gives us faith to trust him while we wait
– for the redemption of our bodies,
– of this world, and
– for the final dwelling of man with God to which all of his promises point.