The entire Old Testament was used through stories, prophecies, laws, instruction, poetry, etc. to tell about the coming of, give the details of, prepare the way for the Messiah. The New Testament is the story of that long awaited event as it actually unfolded (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), the story of how God worked to spread the message of His Son to the first century world through the most unexpected and unwilling people (Acts), the instructions God gave for establishing and growing His new Bride the Church (Epistles) so that He might show His love to a broken world and heal and save as many people as possible, and the future plans God has for His Redeemed Beloved (Revelation).
The NT opens with the story of the Messiah and the New Covenant He brought, being told from four different perspectives (the Gospels). The first three are called the ‘Synoptic Gospels’ (presenting the same point of view), and share many of the same events and stories, but each have their own personality and detail, stressing different aspects of the stories depending on their focus. Matthew was a tax collector and wrote to the Jewish people of his day. He focused on presenting Jesus as the long expected King, and quotes the OT more than double the times of any other Gospel showing the Hebrews how Jesus filled Scriptures. He greatly focused on evidence, and one of only two Gospels that give Jesus’ lineage (because a King needs to prove His throne) (Joseph’s lineage). Mark (who later became a missionary with Paul and Barnabus) wrote to the Roman people of his day, and focused on the incredible way Jesus humbled Himself becoming a servant of man. He wrote fast paced (“immediately”) and with much visual detail. He didn’t include genealogy because it wouldn’t be important to a Servant. Luke, the only gentile write of the NT, was a Greek doctor who traveled with Paul in his missionary journeys, wrote to the gentiles. He researched his accounts as he wasn’t present. Luke also wrote Acts (history of the disciples and Apostles after Jesus ascended), and wrote more in volume than any other author of the NT. He described Jesus as the ‘Son of Man’, focusing on Jesus’ humanity. He tells more about the birth of Christ than any other Gospel (focus on humanity). This is the only other Gospel that gives a lineage because a man in Hebrew culture was known by his ancestors (Mary’s lineage). 90% of the fourth Gospel, John, is not included in the others. John, a fisherman, apostle and elder of future churches also wrote 1, 2 & 3 John and Revelation. He wrote his Gospel to ‘the world’, describing Jesus as the ‘Son of God’, focusing on His Deity and stressing love and belief in Christ. He wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, and when the other Gospels were complete and known, not to add to what is known, but to prove Jesus heologically as God in the Flesh. He didn’t give a genealogy because God doesn’t need one, He is timeless. John 1:1-3. The disciples in these Gospels literally touched, ate with, hugged, kissed on the cheek, talked with, camped out with, joked with and were loved by Jesus: God, come to earth in flesh. If they didn’t see these things they wrote about for certain, why did they suffer so much persecution and death? When we read the story of how the long awaited Messiah finally came as foretold for thousands of years, we ‘wonder how did they miss it?’, with hundreds of Scriptures, details of His birth, life, parents, even the exact time He was supposed to enter the scene… but how do we miss who He really is and what He wants from us when we have the OT & NT? When the last Word was spoken to the prophets (Malachi) of the OT, the earth sat in silence for almost 400 years, while they lived under oppression and struggle, waiting to be freed from bondage and persecution, knowing they were in this situation because they had been disobedient to God in the first place. Then Jesus arrived, but not as the Mighty King and Warrior coming to overpower the enemy and free His people as most anticipated. He slipped in quietly and unnoticed one uneventful night as just an ordinary Child, in less than ordinary circumstances, challenging their holiest of religious leaders and telling a group of people who were desperate for deliverance ‘love your enemies, do good to them’, ‘forgive, don’t strike back’. They wanted physical and political deliverance; Jesus brought something much deeper and more important—Spiritual deliverance. Most were so focused on their desire to be delivered, they couldn’t put personal wants aside long enough to see God’s real calling and purpose for their lives at that moment in time to see what God was doing right there and then. What was one of the most awful and heart-wrenching moments in human history, the torturous rejection and slaughter of God Himself came to save mankind: OT Scripture was fulfilled from 700 years beforehand: Isaiah 53:1-9, Daniel 9:26.
Acts picks up where the Gospels leave off, giving chronological account of how the disciples grew into a church that was able to spread out from their upper room hiding to all of Jerusalem and the Roman Empire, showing how these untrained, timid, uneducated believers brought on an empire-wide movement of believers in Christ. Eventually changing that entire God-hating Empire into a Christian Empire, reaching out to the ends of the earth and to the ends of time to where we are today; at the cost of the persecution and blood from hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who lived to see whether these things concerning Jesus really happened or not. Ch. 1-12 of Acts deal with Peter and his missionary work to get the Word out to the rest of the Jews in Jerusalem and Samaria (chapters 10-12 introduce the Gospel to the gentiles). Ch. 13-28 follow Paul on his missionary journeys to take the Gospel to the gentiles throughout the Roman Empire. Paul went on at least three missionary journeys (possibly 4): Acts 13-21, visiting and revisiting areas as he planted churches and encouraged churches in the cities where we see books written to in the NT. After returning from his third journey, some of the Jews in Jerusalem stirred up the people against him and they were beating him so badly that he would have died, but Roman soldiers rescued him (Acts 21:27-40), then imprisoned him in Jerusalem until they could determine why he made such a stir. While in prison, a group of Jews made plans to ambush and kill him there, but the Romans learned of the plan and moved him to a jail in Caesarea (Acts 23:12-35). After being there for two years awaiting trial, he realized he wasn’t going to be set free, and appealed to the Emperor (Acts 25:1-12). After a dangerous journey by sea, he arrived in Rome and lived there another two ears awaiting trial before Caesar (Acts 27:1-28, 31). It was during this time that Paul wrote four books of the Bible called the ‘Prison Epistles’. Paul, was released continuing to travel for a time, then he was again arrested and placed into prison in Rome, where he stayed until his death, which according to tradition and not Biblical sources, came by beheading under Nero. Paul wrote his last book of the NT, his second letter to Timothy, while imprisoned this time; it was one of his most intimate and personal letters, revealing his knowledge of what was to soon come. 2 Timothy 4:6-11. Everyone was abandoning Paul as the persecution from Nero draws closer, but Luke stayed with Paul to the end, by choice, serving him and physically tending all of the wounds he received for Christ’s sake.
The books between Acts and Revelation are divided into two categories: 1) The Pauline Epistles (13 books, 14 if Hebrews is from him)- which are letters to churches and individuals all over the Empire from Paul. They teach new Christians how Christ fulfilled requirements of the Law for us; how Christians are to live under the New Covenant of mercy and grace; how to love one another; how to use our gifts to build the church for Christ; how the NT church should be structured and what the qualifications are to serve; how to support, correct and reprimand one another. 2) The General Epistles (8 books)- which are books written by other disciples of Christ, including Jude & James (half-brothers to Jesus), John & Peter (disciples). These include instructions for how to handle and avoid corruption from inside and outside the church; the expectations to physically serve God and one another in love (not just words). Lastly we come to Revelation, written by John (same as Gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John) while in exile on the Island of Patmos (a Roman penal colony). It has two major divisions: Ch. 1-3: which are warnings to seven churches in the Roman Empire about how to endure the heavy persecutions now on them; the need to repent of sins and return to their love for Christ; the need to remove false teachers from the church; the need to become passionate again (the message is also for every church through time). Ch. 4-22 are a culmination of many prophecies scattered throughout the OT concerning end times, finally pulled together in chronological order and with added clarity, along with many additional prophecies and descriptions for future events, explaining in great details the Second Coming of Jesus to take His Saints to Heaven; the coming of seven years of Tribulation for those left, when the Antichrist will rule viciously, war will ravage the world, and God’s wrath will be poured out over the earth; the thousand years of peace on earth to follow; a short period of final rebellion at the end of this thousand years; ending with Jesus making all of Heaven and earth new again, removing the curse on Creation from Genesis 3, bringing the New City of Jerusalem to earth and living with mankind in awesomeness for all eternity as originally planned. Revelation 21:1-7.
The Words have been given to us in a supernatural way, protected through the ages, telling you of your incredible worth, showing your reason for living, revealing our future, describing the One who gave everything to save you. It’s His Love Story written for you; all about His love for you.
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