Introduction to the New Testament

The Gospels
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the birth life and death and resurrection of the Messiah of Israel. They are not so much biographies but long sermons from differing perspectives. The four Gospel writers represent a cross section of society. Matthew was a civil servant for the Roman government. Mark was a member of a Levitical family, an assistant to Peter. Luke was a Greek physician and John was the owner of a medium sized fishing business. All four address a different public. The three Synoptic writers, Matthew Mark and Luke, address the three divisions of humanity, Israel, the Romans and the Greeks.

Matthew, a despised tax collector, describes the ministry of Christ to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’. Matthew gives us the Royal line of Jesus as ‘the Son of Abraham’ & ‘the Son of David’. The Jews understood these designations, ‘Son of Abraham’ and ‘Son of David’ as Titles of coming Messiah. In other words Matthew is introducing Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s Messiah. The son of David was Solomon. But a greater than Solomon is here! In Christ’s early ministry he displays greater wisdom that Solomon, answering all of the most difficult questions and expounding the Law’s real significance with accuracy, precision and breathtaking clarity. The Son of Abraham was Isaac - the son of the father, who learned obedience by the things that he suffered. He was willing to do his father will in every circumstance of life and even to the point of being laid on the altar. But for Christ there would be no substitute. In Christ’s early ministry, Christ is ‘The Prophet’ who brings the message of God to Israel, a message of repentance. He is a greater prophet than Moses. In his later ministry he is the Priest and as Priest he offers himself as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. He is a greater priest than Aaron. Constantly Christ looks forward to the day in which he will be crowned King and reign in righteousness and glory. He will be greater than Solomon. However, in this present interregnum, Christ is the High Priest of his people, the one who has entered the presence of God but who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmity.

Mark writes, on behalf of Peter, for the Roman world - the greatest military empire the world had ever seen. He stresses the virtues of immediate service and of obedience to authority. He reveals the Redeemer to be the Son of God and presents Jesus as the Servant / Prophet of Isaiah. He records no family tree. (Who is interested in the family tree of a Servant?) He introduces Christ straight away after giving his two references. There is no birth story or any reference to his childhood. Only one visit to Jerusalem is recorded and The sermon on the Mount is not included. The Romans were more interested in what you did, than what you said. In Mark the emphasis is on deliverance from demon possession, whereas in Matthew it is deliverance from disease and physical ailment. Mark records healings that are in response to urgent personal appeals.

Luke writes for the wider speaking Greek world, with its ideals of physical and intellectual human perfection. He presents Jesus as the Son of man, the perfect man, the Physician / Priest, the healer of broken humanity. He comes to be tender hearted and compassionate. Nearly 60% of Luke’s account is unique to himself, whereas Matthew has more than 40% and Mark only about 7%.

John is the last to write a Gospel. He finally picks up his pen to combat the heresies emerging in his day regarding the person of Jesus, he says that he writes that men might come to realise that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that on believing in him his readers might receive salvation – the very life of God. John brings us the largest contribution of unique material - approximately 93%. John reveals Christ to be the Creator/Incarnate, worshipped as ‘my Lord and my God’. He is also The Lord – The Redeemer. The Lamb of God who was offered for the whole world. That is why he recordes the superscription on the cross which was written, he says in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. The Hebrews brought religion to the world. The Greeks brought culture to the world and the Romans brought unifying politics to the World. Adam was created to be the King of creation, the Prophet of God and the Priest of God. But in his sin he came under the Dominion of Satan, the Darkness of Ignorance and the Death of Separation from God. In OT times God raised up three offices that men might be anointed to – Prophet, Priest and King. In all three offices men were anointed with oil, a symbol of the spiritual life. (God always wants spiritual men and he gives his spirit to them to enable them in ministry). No man ever held all three offices in OT times but Christ takes all three, but not all at the same time. John writes for the whole world. ‘God so loved the world’ he says.

The Acts

Acts is the firstly, the continuation of Christ’s mission to Israel through the Apostles, until the rejection of the Gospel of Christ by the Jews through the whole Eastern Roman Empire and secondly the slow and steady growth of the mainly Gentile Church. Acts is the continuation of Christs ministry which was begun in Luke’s Gospel. After Pentecost there are three great divisions of humanity - Israel, the Gentiles and the Church.

The Church Epistles

In these Epistles Paul teaches Christian doctrine and practise to the church.

The Christian/Jewish Epistles

In these Epistles various authors give Christian teaching in a Jewish context

One of the most important things to understand is the dispensational change that occurs with the rejection of Christ by the Jewish people. Christ came to preach and minister only to Israel. He addressed only Israel and sent his disciples out only to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Israel’. The message he brought was to a nation suffering under the chastening hand of God for their backslidings. Wherever he went he reversed the effects (sickness, disease and death) of their spiritual state performing Messianic signs to attest to his divine mission. During the first part of his ministry he calls on Israel to return to the Lord and to their obligations under the Mosaic Covenant. He preaches Law to those under the law but speaks too of the coming kingdom and the new covenant. He preaches the sermon on the mount specifically to combat the teaching of the religious leaders whose theology was so shallow. He addresses the faulty teaching of the Jewish Mishnah and expounds the real significance of the Mosaic law.. Wherever he goes He calls on Israel to repent and return to the LORD. However the religious leaders faced with their Messiah, reject his signs and seek to murder him. Christ at a significant moment turns from them and refuses to teach them anymore except by Parables – whereby they will hear but not understand. From now on the government of God will begin a long period of change. The Apostles by the time of Christ’s crucifixion are fully trained for their mission but lacking in spiritual power. After the resurrection they wait for the baptism of the whole church into the Holy Spirit. Now they are ready to face the whole Jewish world scattered through the Roman empire with their message of repentance to Israel. And so the Apostles go forth preaching the same message that John and Christ preached but now there is the added dimension of the Cross and in particular the resurrection and ascension. It is only after chapter 10 of Acts that a few gentiles are converted to Christ. And it eventually becomes apparent that the whole Mosaic system ended at the cross and that a new dispensation is now in operation. Paul is the one who more than any other brings the great doctrinal teaching of the dispensation of the Grace of God the church era. The Jew now stands with the heathen sinner on the same footing by virtue of the cross and instead of seeking to keep the Mosaic law can come in childlike faith and receive the very righteousness of Christ. There is a very real sense in which the Gospels do not contain the christian gospel at all. After all the cross and resurrection are not known by the disciples until after the events and so therefore the message preached by the church today is fundamentally different to the message of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ and the seventy.

The doctrines of Grace and the doctrine of the Church are found in the Pauline Epistles rather than in the teachings of Christ in the Gospels.

The Jewish-Christian Epistles

In Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter and Jude we have a collection of writings which reflect the Christian message in a Jewish context. Hebrews was written specifically to ‘the Hebrews’. There maybe a prophetic element when for example James addresses his letter to the twelve tribes. Of course today the twelve tribes are not returned to the land as yet but one day they shall and then this epistle will take on a specific significance. Because they are addressed to Israel in a Jewish context they are addressed to a nation all of which are not believers in God. They are therefore addressed to a nation who have both believers and unbelievers in their number. This is not true of the Epistles of Paul to the churches. Therefore the Jewish/christian epistles are full of calls to legalistic obedience, to go on from faith to a life of godly works. The two epistles of Peter are not addressed so much in a Jewish frame yet Peter still ministers in a Jewish context. His second letter has only a slight Jewish touch.


Matthew Jesus the Messiah and King
Mark Jesus the Servant / Prophet
Luke Jesus the Son of Man
John Jesus the Son of God

Acts The Birth of the Church

Romans The Gospel of God
1 Corinithians How to live right for God
2 Corinithians Paul’s authority
Galatians In Christ we are free from the Law
Ephesians The Church the body of Christ
Philippians Joy in serving Christ
Collosians Christ is everything
1 Thessalonians Christ is coming for the Church
2 Thessalonians Christ is coming for Israel
1 Timothy Advise on Church leadership
2 Timothy Farewell, my son
Titus Living for God
Philemon Take your brother back

Hebrews Christ is sufficient for the christian
James A message to the twelve tribes of Israel
1 Peter Gods people in suffering
2 Peter Gods people in danger
1 John God is light
2 John Truth and love
3 John Live for God
Jude Valiant for the truth

Revelation Christ Revealed


introduction to the Old Testament

Introduction to the Old Testament

The Bible which appears at first, to be the most simple and straightforward of books to read, is in fact a record of Gods message to mankind which covers the whole history of time. It was written by up to 40 writers and has a wide range of literary styles. Those who understand its message can never be thought of as ignorant but those who know little of the Bible can ever be described as educated. Once any serious minded person has begun to read the Bible it soon becomes apparent that help to understand its message is essential. The Ethiopian Eunuch said to Philip. ‘How can I, (understand it) except some man should guide me’? It is for this reason that l give this introduction.

The first thing to realise is that the Bible while it is made up of 66 books is nevertheless the whole message of God to mankind. It is firstly a revelation of God but it also includes specific messages from God to men for the times that men find themselves in. As CI Schofield once said, ‘The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth. Nothing is told all at once, and once for all’. Never has there been a more insightful thing spoken in relation to the Bible. The one great theme of the Bible is the promised seed – Christ himself. Who is promised in Genesis and occupies the throne of heaven in Revelation. The one great crisis of world history is the Cross of Christ. Eternity past had no other future and eternity future has no other past. It is the central event of all time, the heart of the gospel and the one theme of eternal worship.

One of the things that becomes apparent, when reading the Bible, is that God has revealed himself progressively and that God holds men responsible at each stage to the revelation that he has given at that time. In the Garden of Eden the Lord placed before man a simple clear commandment but he fell in sin and was banished from the presence of God. Never again in the history of the world will man find himself in the same situation again - Paradise was forever lost. And so the period of innocence was lost and man moves out into a world of thorns and thistles and the first man to be born murders his own brother, the second man to be born. From this time onward the path is downward into sin and wickedness. Often God has to step in, in premature judgment, to bring to an abrupt end the wickedness of men and in doing so he preserves life and the promised seed. The other thing we notice is that after the call of Abraham the focus of the Revelation of God is on one small middle eastern family and from Genesis 11 onward the story of the Bible is the development of this family into a nation under God - in covenant. And how God works with this nation bringing them into their own land and blessing them beyond their dreams. Its also the history of these people and of how their Messiah eventually appeared but was rejected by them and how he became the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the whole world. Its also the ongoing story of how this nation continued to reject his Messianic claims until the nation was finally destroyed by the Roman legions in AD70. The New Testament follows the Old Testament containing a body of literature which is written by a new group of believers called ‘The Church’ who live in an interregnum, while Israel is in a state of denial of their Messiah. For the first time in human history there are three great divisions of humanity - Israel, the Gentiles and the Church. The Church is brought into the blessing which Israel will enjoy in a future day – the New Covenant. But in the meanwhile men are saved by Faith in Christ and in his atoning work accomplished at the Cross. The New Testament contains a number of letters which contain doctrine and teaching for the development and regulation of Church life. The later part of the New Testament include a number of Christian letters written in a Jewish context and finally John writes his prophesy outlining the whole close of human history.


The Old Covenant and the New - A Contrast

A contrast between the Old Covenant of Moses and the New Covenant.

Jer 31v31: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34: And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

From this description of the New Covenant we see a number of points.

1. The New Covenant is New – Its realisation is future not past
2. It will be made with the house of Israel and Judah. – It’s a Jewish Covenant
3. It is not like the Mosaic Covenant – which was broken like a divorce
4. There are three key aspects of it
a. The new birth. The Law of God will be in their inward parts – on their minds.
John 3v3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Entrance into the Kingdom and the New Covenant will be by the new birth.
b. They will know total forgiveness of sins for the first time (Acts 13v39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.)
c. The indwelling Holy Spirit
Eze 36v27: And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28: And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Eze 37v14: And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.
Joel 2v28: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30: And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. 32: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.)

There are some that think that the Mosaic Law is an eternal covenant. This is not true. Gal 3v19: Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; The time limit was the coming of Christ to Israel. when Hebrews was being written the Old Covenant was old and ready to vanish away.
Heb 8v13: In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
We the church receive the blessings of the new Covenant before it is offered to Israel.
The three aspects are the seen in Christians i.e. the new birth, Forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Holy Spirit.