For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:15
|The New Testament|
|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS||
The New Testament is the section of the Bible written after the time of Christ. It documents the life and death and resurrection of Christ and the early church following his ascension. It tells us that God's love for mankind is so great, that he sent his only Son to die for us, so that we might be forgiven of our sins and live eternally.
The New Testament is composed of 29 books. These books are grouped into sections, including
The Gospels are the stories that recount the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. There are 4 separate accounts about Jesus life. The word "gospel" means "good news".
The Book of Acts is an account of the early followers of Christ who, obedient to the Great Commission, began to spread the good news of a risen Savior throughout the known world. Two key human figures in the book are Peter and Paul and a clear flow in the book is the spread of the gospel to the Jewish people and then to all other people (Gentiles).
The Hebrew world during the time of the New Testament
The history of the Old Testament finishes around 400 BC. The history of the New Testament begins with Jesus' birth, sometime between 6 BC and 4 BC. This gap of approximately 400 years is known as the inter-Testamental period. During this time the Hebrew world had seen a number of major changes. The Old Testament leaves us with a picture of Jews who had returned from Exile and rebuilt the Temple and Jerusalem, under the eyes of the Persian Empire. Around 333 BC, the armies of Alexander the Great conquered lands throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia, bringing Greek culture and the Greek language with them. Greek soon became the lingua franca of the region.
By the time of Jesus' birth, the Roman Empire had grown in power and Roman armies occupied the land of the Jews - Judea and Galilee. Jesus began his ministry, probably in 27 AD, and he was crucified probably in 30 AD.
After the resurrection of Jesus the early church initially grew with only Jewish converts in Jerusalem, but soon, with persecution from Jewish leaders, and through the leading of God, the gospel spread to Gentiles (non-Jews). Jews of the time divided the world up into Jews and Gentiles. Jews were further divided into Palestinian Jews (those who were born in Palestine) and Diaspora Jews (those who were born outside Palestine). Jews were also divided into Hebraists and Hellenists (those who had embranced the Greek culture and language). Gentiles were divided into Proselyte (those who had converted to Judaism and been baptized), God fearer (those who respected the Hebrew God Yahweh but had not been circumcised) and pagans (those who followed other gods).
Justin Martyr - Dialogue with Trypho, chapter LXXXI. In ANF1, that is, Roberts A, Donaldson J and Coxe AC (1885) Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. [c 160 AD.] [ANF1 footnote: "A very noteworthy passage, as a primitive exposition of Rev xx 4-5...."]
- And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place.
Irenaeus Against Heresies, book 3: ch 1: para 1. Page 414 in ANF1, that is, Roberts A, Donaldson J and Coxe AC (1885) Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. [c 185 AD.]
- Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.
Irenaeus Against Heresies, book 5: ch 30: para 3. Page 559f in ANF1, that is, Roberts A, Donaldson J and Coxe AC (1885) Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, at Christian Classics Ethereal Library. [c 185 AD.]
- [Irenaeus has been discussing the vision in the Book of Revelation.] For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign [Domitian died in 96AD].