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Survey of the New Testament

 After over 400 years of silence with no prophet speaking, we hear the Lord again in the words of John the Baptist.  All the other prophets had spoke of a time to come, a Messiah to come.  Yet, it is John the Baptist who points to Jesus and says: Behold the Lamb of God (see John 1:29).  Thus, everything in the Old Testament has been leading up to this point.  All the promises that were made in the Old Testament find their fulfillment in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  As we move to the pages of the New Testament, this truth becomes very clear.  Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says in 1:1-4.  We have been looking at what God has spoken to the prophets and other writers of the Old Testament concerning the coming Messiah, now we turn our attention to the God-Man himself, Jesus of Nazareth.  As in the Old, the writers of the New Testament point us to Christ.  Whether we are considering His life and ministry in the Gospels, his instructions for the Church in the Pastoral Epistles, or of His plans to return in Revelation, the New Testament is a collection of books about one character: Jesus Christ.  Tonight, as we begin with the Gospels, may we indeed be amazed that in these last days he (God, the Father) has spoken to us by his Son.

II.  Matthew:

 A.  Author: Although the author does not identify himself in his book, the first Gospel has been credited to Matthew, the tax-collector, who was an apostle of Christ.  We have no reason to doubt that Matthew wrote the book.

 B.  Time and Setting: The books in the New Testament were all written before the end of the 1st Century.  It is difficult at times to pin down exactly when they were written and the occasion for their writing.  Yet, with the Gospels, we get four parallel accounts of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.  For the most part the Gospels cover the same material.  Yet, each author emphasizes different aspects of Jesus’ life.  Under the inspiration of the Spirit, these authors give us a complete picture of Christ’s life and ministry.  Written only a few years after the life of Christ, we are given an accurate account of the ministry of our Lord.

 C.  Outline:
  1.  1-4 Birth and Introduction to Ministry
  2.  5-25 The Life and Public Ministry of Christ
  3.  26-28 The Death and Resurrection of Christ

 D.  Themes: As we saw in our sermon series through this book, Matthew emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the promised King, the Messiah.  Look at 1:1.  Picking up where the Old Testament left off, Matthew begins by telling us that Jesus is the son of David and the son of Abraham.  In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, he shows us over and over again of the prophecies that are being fulfilled by the baby born in Bethlehem.  It seems that Matthew was writing to a Jewish community and thus wanted to emphasize that Jesus was indeed their expected King.  Yet, Jesus is not just the Savior for the Jews.  No, in the Great Commission (28:18-20) we see His heart for the nations and the mission that will begin in the book of Acts.

III.  Mark

 A.  Author: The second Gospel is attributed to John Mark, who traveled with Peter and Paul in the book of Acts (see Acts 12:12, 13:5, 15:37ff).  Thus, it seems that his accounts of Christ are based upon the teaching and preaching of the Apostle Peter.

 B.  Time and Setting: Some argue that Mark’s Gospel is the first written account of the life and ministry of Jesus.  Again, it is hard to know for certain if that was actually the case.  Mark’s gospel is the shortest and many argue that Matthew and Luke built upon his material.  It may be odd that Mark, who was not an Apostle, wrote one of the Gospels.  Yet, with what we are told of him in the book of Acts, we see that he had access to many of the Apostles.  Also, some argue that Mark was the man who fled naked from the garden (see 14:51-52) and was thus a close follower of Christ during His life.

 C.  Outline:
  1.  1-3 Introduction and Beginning of Ministry
  2.  4-13 Jesus’ Ministry
  3.  14-16 The Death and Resurrection of Christ

 D.  Themes: The Gospel of Mark is often called the Gospel of action because Mark emphasizes the actions of Christ.  Not that he ignores His teaching, but his account moves quickly through the life of Christ and what He did in His ministry on earth.  If you read through the book, you notice that the word ‘immediately’ appears over and over again.  Look at 1:12, 18, 20, 21, 23, 29, 30, and 42.  As you can see, Mark is emphasizing the acts of Christ in his Gospel, giving us clear account of the actions of our Lord.

IV.  Luke:

 A.  Author: The author of the book is Luke, the physician, who is mentioned by Paul (see Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 4:11, and Philemon 24).

 B.  Time and Setting: Luke tells us of the occasion for his writing.  Look at 1:1-4.  Luke is writing to most excellent Theophilus, that he might have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.  We are not sure who Theophilus is, but we see that Luke wants to write an account of the life of Christ so that he might be certain about the gospel and what he has been taught.  Luke also writes an account of the lives of the Apostles following Jesus’ ascension for Theophilus, which we know as the book of Acts (see Acts 1:1-3). 

 C.  Outline:
  1.  1-3 Birth and Preparation for Ministry
  2.  4-21 Life and Ministry
  3.  22-24 Death and Resurrection

 D.  Themes: As we see from his address to Theophilus, Luke emphasizes the historicity of Christ.  He wants Theophilus to know that Christ was indeed a real Savior, who lived a real life, died a real death, and was really raised from the dead.  We see this emphasis in Luke’s account of the birth of Christ.  Look at 2:1-2.  Luke connects the life of Jesus with the leaders of the day to demonstrate his historicity.  Look also at 24:27.  Luke records the account of Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus with some of His followers.  In the verse we read, we see Jesus connecting Himself with the history of Israel and teaching us to read the Old Testament looking for how it speaks of Him.  Luke also emphasizes Jesus’ ministry to the poor.  All of this leads us to the book of Acts and the continuing story of Christ through His Bride.

V.  John:

 A.  Author: John the Apostle is the author of the Gospel of John (see 21:24).  He also wrote the book of Revelation and 1, 2, and 3 John.

 B.  Time and Setting: John states his purpose for writing in 20:30-31.  Look at those verses with me.  John is writing to encourage faith in Christ.  It is likely that John wrote later than the other Gospels, near the end of his life (possibly 85 a.d.).  This Gospel is not considered one of the Synoptics, for there are not as many parallel passages.  Yet, again, the content is similar, even though we are given some new material in each Gospel.

 C.  Outline:
  1. 1 Prologue and Beginning of Ministry
  2. 2-17 Life and Ministry
  3. 18-21 Death and Resurrection

 D.  Themes: John emphasizes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.  Again, not that he ignores Jesus’ humanity, but he does emphasize Jesus’ divinity.  Look at 1:1.  John tells us that Jesus is God by telling us that the Word was God.  Likewise, John includes a number of ‘I am’ statements that reveal Christ as God.  Look at 8:54-59.  This phrase (I am) harkens back to the name that God gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14.  Thus, for Jesus to use this in reference to Himself demonstrates Jesus’ divinity.  It seems that Jews understood this in John 8 (look at verse 59).  John teaches us that Jesus of Nazareth was the very Son of God, sent into the world to redeem a Bride to Himself by giving His life at Calvary.

VI.  Conclusion:

 The Old Testament keeps us looking for the One who will fulfill all the promises of God.  They tell us to look for a Messiah, a Savior, a King, God-in-the-flesh.  When we turn to the Gospels we are given His Name.  Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the One who would crush the head of the Serpent, Great David’s Greater Son, and the founder and perfecter of our faith.  The story we read in the Gospels is indeed the greatest story ever told, for it tells us of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who came to give His life as a ransom for many.  God indeed keeps His promises. 

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Sunday, 01 October 2006 )

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