We can divide the New Testament into four groups: gospels, history, letters, and prophecy.
Roman Catholic Bibles include books not accepted by Protestants called the Apocrypha. An important paper called the Muratorian Fragment (ca. 190 AD) helps us tell what is an apocryphal book from what is in the first complete Greek Bible, the fourth century Codex Sinaiticus.
Between 367–397 AD, church leaders agreed on the twenty-seven books which make up the New Testament.
The Muratorian Fragment lists all the New Testament books, except for James and Hebrews.
Its writer said that The Shepherd of Hermas is good for personal reading. However, he wrote that churches should not read it during worship because someone from his own time wrote it, not one of the apostles or prophets from the days of Christ.
Between 367–397 AD, church leaders agreed upon the twenty-seven books which make up the New Testament for Protestants today.
THE GOSPELS: The four books in the gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They tell about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They show that he is the Savior, the Son of God.
According to John 20:30‒31, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.”
THE BOOK OF HISTORY: We have one history book in the New Testament, called Acts. It talks about how Jesus gave his disciples the job of sharing the gospel before he rose up into heaven. After the Holy Spirit came into the first Christians, the church grew fast. They began to follow Christ’s command to spread the gospel throughout the world.
LETTERS: There are twenty-one letters in the New Testament, written by several different people. They are meant to give Christians strength in life and to help us obey Jesus’s commands.
Paul wrote many of the letters. They are in our Bibles in order of their length on a scroll. Romans is the longest, so it comes first.
He wrote some of them to a church or to groups of small churches in one city. Others, he wrote to people he knew.
His letters include Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
We call the other letters the General Letters because they were written to many believers, not to one church or person.
We do not know who wrote Hebrews. That book encourages Christians from a Jewish background to stand firm during persecution.
A half-brother of Jesus wrote James. The Apostle Peter wrote 1 Peter and, most likely, 2 Peter. John wrote 1, 2, and 3 John. Another half-brother of Jesus wrote Jude.
PROPHECY: Revelation is the only book of prophecy in the New Testament. It talk about the final victory of Jesus and his people, encouraging believers to live as Christians should until the end of time.
Revelation 2:10 says, “Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. Look! The devil is going to throw some of you into prison in order to test you. You will suffer hardship for ten days. Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons This painting is from the fourteenth century.
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