A New Testament Survey

New Testament Survey

With a New Testament survey we learn that the New Testament contains books that are inspired of God and that teach us how to be saved and remain saved.    

When the church was first established in New Testament times on the day of Pentecost, the Bible that they used and from which they quoted was the Old Testament.  When you read about the "scriptures" in the New Testament you are usually reading about a reference to the Old Testament since the New Testament had not yet been written. 

A concise New Testament survey shows that the New Testament consists of teachings from the apostles and prophets of the first century who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.  These New Testament teachings were written down by these inspired men and then circulated to the local congregations. 

For example, the inspired apostle Paul wrote at the end of the book of Colossians, “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”  (Col. 4.16).  Similarly, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.”  (1 Thess. 5.27).

Over time, these letters were gathered together into a single book around 150 A.D. called the New Testament. 

New Testament Survey:
The Books of the New Testament

In a New Testament survey we find 27 books written in the first century by those who were guided by the Holy Spirit.  They break down into the following categories. 

Books of Reflection

We called the first five books of the New Testament, books of reflection because they were written from the perspective of looking back at what had previously taken place.

For example, John records Jesus saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”  (John 2.19).  As John writes from the perspective that it has already happened, he writes that he remembered Jesus saying this and knew exactly what Jesus meant. 

John 2.22:  "Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”

Each of the four gospels in our New Testament survey tells the story of Jesus with the purpose of establishing that Jesus in the Christ, the Son of God.  Each gospel approaches the life of Christ and proves His deity very differently based on the intended audience. 

The book of Acts is a book in which Luke reflects back on the establishment and growth of the church through the preaching of the gospel.

Books of Instruction

The next section in our New Testament survey we might call the books of instruction.  These consist of epistles which offer instruction to the New Testament church or individuals within the church. 

The word epistle is another name for a letter.  What we are reading in the epistes are the personal mail written to individuals and churches.  They were to be circulated throughout the brethren in the first century. 

These letters contain instructions on how to live the life of a Christian and how to function as a congregation including the work, organization, and worship of the church.

  •  If i want to learn about the grace of God and how it functions in my life, then Ephesians 2 is where I find instructions about grace.  
  • If I want to study the subject of faith, then I can turn to Hebrews and read Hebrews 11.
  • If I want to learn how to love my fellow man, then 1 Corinthians 13, is where I turn.  These letters can be divided into two sections.

1)  The Epistles of Paul:  There are thirteen epistles written by the apostle Paul.  

  • The book of Romans
  • The book of 1 Corinthians
  • The book of 2 Corinthians
  • The book of Galatians
  • The book of Ephesians
  • The book of Philippians
  • The book of Colossians
  • The book of 1 Thessalonians
  • The book of 2 Thessalonians
  • The book of 1 Timothy
  • The book of 2 Timothy
  • The book of Titus
  • The book of Philemon

2)  The General Epistles:  These epistles were written by various other inspired writers.

Book of Prediction

  • The book of Revelation.    

We might call the last book of the Bible in our New Testament Survey a book of prediction.  It is a book that predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the events surrounding the end of time. 

It is known as an apocalyptic letter.  Apocalypse is a transliteration of the Greek word apokalupsis meaning, 

  • “disclosure” [Strong]
  • “an uncovering” [Vine]. 

It is most often translated in the New Testament as “revelation”.

In this book that is filled with highly symbolic imagery, the book of Revelation predicts the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the events associated with the end of time. 

New Testament Survey:
The Authority of the New Testament

These books teach how to obtain salvation and live the kind of life so that we can be pleasing to God and remain saved.  But how closely do I have to follow the Bible?  How much authority does the New Testament have to govern my life? 

A New Testament survey reveals more than just an interesting book to read.  It is the law that governs Christians from the first century even though today. 

  • It is called, “the law of Christ”  (Gal. 6.2).  
  • It is called the “law of liberty”  (James 2.12).  
  • It contains the commands and responsibilities that Christians are expected by God to follow.

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14.37:  "If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord."

In reference to the writings of the New Testament, Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4.8:  "Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”

The Authority of the New Testament is the Authority of Christ

 After Jesus was raised from the dead, He met with His disciples and said in Matthew 28.18-20:  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”   

Notice that Jesus has been given all authority.  Notice also that Jesus sent His disciples out to make more disciples.  How were these disciples made?  They were made by being baptized.  Notice also that these disciples were to teach all things that Jesus commanded.  What we read by all the New Testament writers are the things Jesus commanded for us to do. 

The New Testament is Inspired by the Holy Spirit

 When we come to John 14, we come to the point in scripture where Jesus is about the be crucified.  Before He is arrested and put in front of Pontus Pilate, Jesus says goodbye to His disciples.  While saying goodbye, He made a promise to His disciples.

John 14.26:  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

The Holy Spirit would come and through His guidance, these disciples (who would later become His apostles), would have their memories jogged and remember “all things that I have said to you”.

This conversation between Jesus and His disciples continues through chapter 15 and into chapter 16.  In chapter 16, Jesus again promises the Holy Spirit.

John 16.13,14:  “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

When the Holy Spirit would come, what information would He give them to speak and write?  Jesus said, “He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” 

The things Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit  were things that Jesus said to write.  The things that Peter wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were the things Jesus said to write. The all the writings of the New Testament are writings that Jesus gave to the Holy Spirit who then guided the hands of these apostles and prophets who wrote them down into what we have today as the New Testament.

What does that mean for you and me?  It means that a New Testament survey is a survey of the very words of Jesus.  We need to hear Jesus.  And we hear Him by reading and following His teachings which are the New Testament.

> New Testament Survey

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