The Bible is God's Word clad in human words - Luther
This is being offered as an overview of The New Testament as a whole.
The Gospels will be covered individually in subsequent articles.
Let me begin by encouraging you, a disciple of Christ Jesus, to not take my word or anyone else’s word, with the exception of God the Father, as authority or absolute truth. I would like to suggest that neither you or anyone else raise questions that you do not intend to answer through individual research. You must do your own research and study to make the informed opinions that will become your individual foundation for further research and study. For those that say they just don't have time to do the research for themself, I simply ask that one looks at their daily schedule and ask, what is making me busy - but NOT PRODUCTIVE. The New Testament (NT) is not about being a Christian, it is about being disciple. While pursuing my doctoral degree I was often reminded of a statement made by Isaac Newton. That we, as scholars (?), must stand on the shoulders of the giants who have come before us. Let’s also be reminded that, “[k]nowledge progresses not toward the definitive but toward the infinite” (Popova). From me to you, I would like to strongly encourage you to
continually search and re-search for the most accurate information available as often as possible from multiple sources. It is fine to have ones favorite “go-to” books, websites, authors, mentors, etc. but never allow yourself to get comfortable with those “go-tos” ( is go-tos even a word, I digress). The world gains new information daily, and there are many who want to share that new information with you.
The heading The New Testament needs some characterization here. What is a testament? Our word testament is based on the Latin testamentum. The Hebrew b'rit and the Greek diatheke were considered by the translators to be the equivalent of the Latin testamentum. A testament in biblical use is generally described and accepted as a covenant or dispensation. The term covenant is of Latin origin (con venire), meaning an agreement or coming together. Gleaned from Bible Study Tools: The biblical words most often translated covenant are b'rit in the Old Testament (appearing about 280 times) and diathekein the New Testament (at least 33 times). B'rit — or B'rit Chadashah [The New Covenant of Adoni] is Hebrew for The New Testament. According to hebrew4christians, “Like the
Tanakh, it can be divided into three main parts: Gospels/Acts (corresponding to Torah), Letters (corresponding to Ketuvim), and Revelation (corresponding to Nevi'im). Diatheke can mean bothtestament and covenant, depending on the context. The term dispensation in biblical use is the Greek word oikonomia. According to Bible Study Tools, “The Greek word Oikonomia so translated signifies primarily, a stewardship, the management or disposition of affairs entrusted to one.”
Why have a New Testament? What was wrong with the Old Testament? Let’s agree for the sake of this response that the word testament will mean agreement. I found it of importance, for my understanding and clarification, to keep in mind that The Old Testamentfor Hebrews is named The Law and the Prophets —and rightfully so I might add. So The Law and the Prophets bears witness to God’s agreement(s) with His chosen people. This title, The Law and the Prophets looks at the Old Testament from the standpoint of its divisions. The Pentateuch, History, Poetry or Writings, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets are the divisions of The Law and the Prophets (The Old Testament). Briefly speaking, The Law and the Prophets was composed over roughly a thousand year period. The term commonly used for the first five Books of The Law and the Prophets is The Pentateuch. It is my understanding that:
· Moses is attributed with writing the first five Books
· The Hebrew-speaking Jewish community referred to the first five Books as “The Law,” “Torah,” or “The Law of Moses.”
· The Pentateuch was the first collection of literature acknowledged as Scripture by the Hebrew community (CBN).
The historical Books have a common thread in that they are rather prophetic by nature. They all appear to describe how the blessings as well as the curses of the covenant are clearly connected to ones obedience to God.The Poetic and Wisdom Writings are, “Unlike classical and modern poetry, ancient Hebrew poetry has no distinctive scheme of accentuation, meter, or rhythm to differentiate it from prose. It is noted for its parallelism, or the counterbalancing of ideas in phrases” (CBN). These Books all have a common thread in that they ALL demonstrate that the Hebrews new that wisdom only comes to those that completely submit to God and God’s will.The Major Prophetsearned that distinction of “Major” due only to the amount of text contained in those five long Books of prophecy, not because they were any more important than the Minor Prophets. According to Bible.org, “The prophet’s primary duty was to speak forth God’s message to God’s people in the historical context of what was happening among God’s people…’ “[t]he prophet was the divinely chosen spokesman who, having received God’s message, proclaimed it in oral, visual, or written form to the people. For this reason, a common formula used by the prophets was, ‘Thus says the Lord.”The Minor Prophetstitle apparently originated in Saint Augustine’s time (late fourth century A.D.), but they are minor only in that they are each much shorter than the prophecies written in The Major Prophets.
I found that the above OT information was integral in helping to understanding the NT. The OT gives a portrait, in types and prophecies, of Christ Jesus. The NT reveals that Christ Jesus has come. Praise God!
I read once that Godless, humanist skeptics today view the New Testament (NT) as nothing but a collection of cleverly concocted myths designed to establish a religious movement or to create vast ecclesiastical empires to rule over men. I honestly pray for those individuals and minister to them as often as God Wills. I try to explain the TRUTH to them by sharing that the NT is the divinely inspired account of the Gospel of Christ Jesus — and the NT can be proven. It has been written that the NT is God the Father’s personal revelation of the Son of God, Christ Jesus. The NT is surely a Blessing for all God’s children because the NT actually interprets the Old Testament (OT). How often I am saddened knowing that so many people fail to understand the reason behind this most profound, beautiful and loving act by God the Father to all His creation. God becoming man in order to speak personally and intimately with His creation. One finds in the OT where God the Father offered direction several times only to see His people neglect and abuse His Word. God has Blessed His creation with the NT, offering once again a path for the faithful, the repentant, the lost and weary. Unfortunately, there are still so many who ignore where in his Gospel, the Apostle John records Christ Jesus’ witness to the leaders of Judaism, and consequently all religions and their leaders: “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God”(John 8:47, KJV).
I cannot help but feel sorrow for all those that refuse to accept that the NT was written for them — the individual. Sure, the NT is for all “en masse”, but it is also a very personal message to each individual. The Apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). Mean while — 400 years later…If one is going to seriously study The New Testament (NT) then one must be aware that the context is of paramount importance. By context I mean the following MUST be taken into account when implementing an exegetical pop-up definition course of action. Borrowing from gotquestions.org, Understanding context begins with four principles: the literal meaning (what it says), historical setting (the events of the story, to whom is it addressed, and how it was understood at that time), grammar (the immediate sentence and paragraph within which a word or phrase is found) and synthesis (comparing it with other parts of Scripture for a fuller meaning). If context is not drawn on, then momentous errors are to be expected. The following are the divisions of the contextual template I try to stick to:
a. Biblical Geography
b. Biblical History
c. Biblical Archeology
d. Biblical Languages
The better we understand the context (background) the better informed we are when interpreting and bringing to light what we are studying. I believe it critical to reiterate that without proper context we can create a personal Biblical doctrine that is destined for failure as the premise, being inaccurate, creates a fatal domino effect that tries to justify the text (eisegesis). That is an example of an eisegetical study method. So for us to even get close to an accurate/understandable interpretation of Scripture, context is indispensable. Exegesis and NOT eisegesis MUST be utilized.
Comment: With regard to studying The New Testament, it added a totally new dimension to my comprehension when it finally sunk in that I HAD TO constantly remember that the letters and epistles were written for:
a. specific people (includes culture and language)
b. specific circumstances
c. specific geographical locations
d. specific topics
What I did pretty regularly was to just assume that — I was studying Scripture, so I could believe I was accurate in what I was thinking, saying, and writing at that time. SO WRONG! Of course that explains why I had a million more points that didn’t quite add up, and I wasn’t real comfortable with my personal explanations. I actually went through a period where I thought that the New Testament was wonderful for that time in history but it can’t still be relevant. I am completely confident now knowing that it is TRUE that, as Scripture, if the letters and epistles were not relevant to modern day — they would not have been preserved for the last 2000+ years! Walk around the rocks I stumbled on……Context – context – context my friend!
It is always my intent to apply correct exegesis when I share on this website. That being said…please recall other articles I have shared where I say that we are suppose to be children of God — not experts! I am a Disciple (learner) so I will err, but I will also admit and correct my course. New discoveries are being made all the time and I try very hard, using proper context and using the exegetical template, to keep up with any that can affect my understanding, thus my ministry.
Before proceeding any farther, I want to state that much of what is written in this article is greatly influenced by DTBM OnlineVideoTraining. This is a wonderful resource and a perfect “springboard”. I may use direct quotes but will primarily paraphrase. DTBM is not the only resource here but I have learned to “lean” on their information.
Because of the NT predominance of focus on Christ Jesus it is becomes obvious that the NT is not just repeating Old Testament (OT) themes. Of interest to me was when I learned that the NT authors used the OT to explain Jesus and used Jesus to explain the OT. The circularity of that relationship persists in amazing me as I continue to further my Biblical studies. O’ how perfect our Holy Bible is. Ona personal note — I completely disagree with anyone, or any church, that believes in our modern time, one ONLY needs the New Testament. I’m not “cherry picking” but please allow me this from Proverbs 19:21. We read, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (ESV). There is a REASON the Holy Bible is constructed the way it is. Two thousand years and counting…think about it! The circularity provides a necessary contextual tool. Praise God for His Wisdom!
Let’s continue with some history that might be helpful. Between the time of the OT and the NT, 400 years of history passed. When one begins reading the NT after reading the OT it immediately becomes evident that MUCH has happened and changed in those 400 years! Gleaned from Zondervanacademic.com, “…[c]ountless events not mentioned in the New Testament had a profound impact on the world of Jesus, such as the Maccabean revolt, the rise of the Essenes, the dominance of the Greek language, and the rise of the Roman Empire.” Let me try and help put that 400 years in a different light for easier comprehension. We went from this [image:image-1]400 years ago to this [image:image-2] SO MUCH changes in a 400 year period of time! Allow me to again stress the importance of context!
All 27 Books of The NT were written within a fifty year period of time during the 1st century. The first of the NT Books, almost certainly written around 45 AD in Jerusalem, is typically credited to James (James the Just) — who is the flesh brother of Jesus and the oldest of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Note: Consideration is given to the fact that the 1st Church was born at Pentecost. The Book (Epistle) I am referring to is, in the Greek, titled Iakobou Epistole, the “Epistle of James.” The recipients of the Book are generally considered to be Jewish Christians , or as James called them, the twelve tribes in dispersion, who were dispersedoutside Palestine. Note: Geography has changed radically since biblical times, so the geographic area of Palestine in the time of
Christ Jesus is far different in 2020.
Again, proper context is necessary in order to grasp what “dispersed outside Palestine” would imply.