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New Testament Survey
Lesson One

Welcome to New Testament Survey.  A survey is an overview.  With this survey you will gain a basic idea of the content and context of each book of the New Testament.  The course was originally developed by my father, Rev. LeRoy Davis, and has been used to bless many over the years.  I trust it will be a life-enriching experience for you.  If you are a Feed Yourself student or graduate you may want to do the self-study exercises listed at the bottom of each lesson. 

Introduction

The second half of the English Bible is called the New Testament which comes from the Latin Novum Testamentum.  The term "testament" is generally thought of as the last will and testament.  It has a stronger meaning of an arrangement made by one party which may be accepted or rejected.  Once it has been accepted it is binding on both parties.  The New Testament is the record of God's arrangement  with man through Christ.  He sets the terms and when it is received by man it is binding on both man and God.

The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven books, written by eight authors, nine if Paul did not write Hebrews.  It was written between about A.D. 45 and A.D. 67. The whole of the New Testament having been completed by A.D.70.

The New Testament has been classified in three ways, by literary character, authors and periods.

1. LITERARY CHARACTER

The character of the gospels plus the book of Acts are the historical.  They all narrate a story.  The gospels give the life of work of Christ from different viewpoints.  Acts narrates the life of the apostles after the close of the earthly ministry of Jesus. 

Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude and 1 John are mainly doctrinal books.  They were written as letters to the churches to instruct them in Christian belief and ethics.

The books of Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 2 and 3 John are personal letters written to particular individuals rather than churches or groups.  They are for private instruction and counsel.

The book of Revelation is a prophetic book which speaks of the future from the point of view of the original recipients.

2. AUTHORS

Authors    Book[s]

Matthew    Matthew

Mark        Mark

Luke        Luke
                Acts

Paul        Romans
               Corinthians
               Galatians
               Ephesians
               Philippians
               Colossians
               Thessalonians
               Timothy
               Titus
               Philemon
               Hebrews [authorship in question]

John        John
               1 John
               2 John
               3 John
               Revelation

James    James

Jude      Jude

Peter    1 Peter
            2 Peter



3. PERIODS


The books of the New Testament were written in a different order than which they are listed.    There are three periods of the New Testament times each of different lengths.

The time from 6 B.C. to A.D. 29 is the time of the four Gospels and deals with the events related to the lifetime of Christ.  It is sometimes called the period of inception.

The next time period is from A.D. 29 to A.D. 60 and shows the development of the Church and it's missionary outreach.  This is given to us in the book of Acts and many of the Epistles.

The Third period is A.D.60 to around A.D.67 or 69.  The early part of this period is the time of the writing of the Pastoral Epistles by Paul and the books of Peter. Hebrews and Jude were quite likely written in this time.  The book of Revelation, which some put at A.D 85 or A.D. 90 was more likely written near the close of this time period.


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THE GOSPELS


The four gospels appear first in order in the New Testament and we will consider them first.  It has been suggested that there are not four gospels but actually one gospel giving four aspects.  While there are four records and biographies there is one gospel, life, and person to which they refer.

The need for four books is questioned by some.  There may be different answers to the question, but the main one has to be that God has chosen it to be so.

Four other reasons could be given to suggestion a purpose for giving four records.

1.  The four records increase the interest in the message because subject is approached from different perspectives.

2.  Four accounts give us a more satisfying portrait of Christ. One would be insufficient, but four aspects increases our knowledge of Him.

3.  We can see the One in four but we cannot force the four into one.  It would be to cut the record short and destroy the view of Him, His life and character.  The four gospels give an individuality that is not intended to be destroyed.

4.  Four independent witnesses provide evidence for the truthfulness of the account.


ILLUSTRATION


John Calvin has said that the four gospels are a chariot driven by four horses. In the chariot the King of Glory is sitting.

The vision of Ezekiel in 1:10 is taken to illustrate the four gospels.  The four faces each represented an aspect recorded in one of the gospels.

The face of the Lion, is Matthew's gospel. The lion is a symbol of supreme strength or kingship.  In Matthew Jesus is revealed as the Messiah King, the Lion.  Matthew traces His genealogy from Abraham, to David to Jesus. The genealogy is important in order that the King might be known.  His miracles prove His kingship and Kingdom.  The laws of His Kingdom are recorded in chapters 5-7.

Mark shows Him as Yahweh's Servant, represented by the face of the Ox.  The Ox is a symbol of lowly service.  Mark is the gospel of action.  Christ is shown as the Active One, who is moving in strength, but at the same time as the lowly servant.  Mark omits the genealogy because no one is concerned about the pedigree of a servant.  It is also the shortest of the gospels.

The face of the man is seen in the gospel of Luke.  Man symbolizes the highest intelligence.  Christ is shown as the Son of Man.  The manhood of Jesus is held up on Luke. His kingship or deity is not obscured, but His humanity comes through.  It is Luke who gives the birth of John the Baptist, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the birth of Christ in the inn, the adoration of the angels and other details shown only in Luke.  The genealogy of Luke goes through Mary's line to David back to Abraham and Adam who was the first man.

The gospel of John is represented by the eagle, a symbol of heavenliness or divinity.  John shows Him as the Son of God.  There is no recorded genealogy, God has no pedigree.  He begins out of the world declaring the Word to be God and the creator of all things.

The four aspects are needed in order to give us the fullness of truth about Him.  He is the Sovereign who comes to reign and rule (Matthew).  As the Servant He comes to serve and suffer (Mark). He is the Son of Man, coming to share and to sympathize or empathize (Luke).  He is the Son of God, to reveal and redeem (John).     

It is obvious that the gospel of John is different from the other three.  The three synoptic gospels cover about the same territory, but John mostly deals with matters they did not cover.  The synoptics cover the outer facts and human aspects of His life.  They deal mainly with His public discourses and Galilean ministry.  John on the other hand deals with the inner facts and divine aspects of His life.  He speaks mainly of His private discourses and Judean ministry.

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Feed Yourself Students:

Before the next lesson arrives in seven days, {%FirstName%}, I suggest you do the following:

1.  Read through the Book Of Matthew two or three times.

2.  Record what you believe is the overall theme of Matthew, it's key verse and as many key words as you see.

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