What is the New Testament? What is important about what was written some 2,000 years ago about a man named Jesus the Christ? Many people ask these questions and want answers. Many people say that it does not matter what was said or written about Jesus because He did not truly exist. Some say He was just a man, so why bother? Many people do not truly understand what the New Testament contains and the purpose of the various letters and books. This information will demonstrate the evidence, importance & authority of the New Testament Scriptures, both then and now.
The New Testament is a composite of books that give the story, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of a man named Jesus the Christ some 2,000 years ago. Jesus the Christ is the promised Messiah to come, and through His death and resurrection He established the New Covenant, of which ‘New Covenant’ refers to the New Testament. The New Testament authors were living during the time Jesus lived, and majority of the authors were first hand witnesses of Jesus. Other authors were disciples of Jesus, and were taught by Him personally. Others were people who were alive in that time frame, but were taught the Gospel or good news of Jesus the Christ and what He did by the Apostles first hand.
The New Testament is important for a few reasons. One thing is that it is the message of what Jesus taught, how He treated people, how He healed people of their diseases, and also that Jesus truly was a true historical person, and is not just a myth or legend as some claim. The New Testament message is important, for it teaches mankind that they are not just here by chance, but that there is a God, the Creator all, and He loves us, and Jesus Christ came and revealed this more clearly. The New Testament teaches that Jesus came to save sinners, and that all of mankind has fallen short of being perfect, and only God is without sin, and we need a Savior. The New Testament gives the message of hope, love, direction, and purpose in life.
Eyewitnesses of the Resurrection
Many things in life people want proof of what someone says is true or not, and some say, “really, were you there?” When it comes to the message of the New Testament the evidence is abundantly clear that there were many first hand witnesses who experienced the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Eyewitnesses are those who give first hand information and are reliable to give the facts of what took place. Who are these eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ?
“38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them. 44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 “You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:38-48)
This is the account of Jesus appearing to His disciples, and proving to them that He was truly alive, resurrected. The disciples did not know that Jesus was truly going to die and be raised again, even though Jesus repeatedly taught them this, they did not understand this clearly. When Jesus was resurrected even at first the disciples did not get it exactly and doubted, but Jesus opened their minds and explained to them what took place, and proved to them that He was truly alive. He did this by showing them His body, the body of which He died with, but now glorified. Jesus told them that they were witnesses of these things, and that they were to proclaim this to all nations, and the message was that He died and rose again, and to teach them repentance for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus name. And that is what they did; they preached the Gospel to all.
“1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
This is the Apostle Paul who records that the resurrection of Christ was no mere secret, but there were many who testified to His resurrection. Paul records here that the Gospel is that Christ died according to the Scriptures, and was resurrected according to the Scriptures. Paul records that Jesus appeared to the Apostle Peter (Cephas), and the 12 (Apostles), to over 500 different brethren at one time, and also James (the Lord’s brother James 1:1), and also Paul.
“1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life– 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us– 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” (1 John 1-4)
This is from the Apostle John, a first hand disciple of Jesus Christ. John writes concerning the Apostles message that Jesus truly lived, and that they have seen, heard, and touched with their own hands. Jesus was truly the Word of Life, the Eternal Life that they preached to others. They were first hand witnesses concerning Jesus, and John says “these things we write” giving the indication that not only was this first hand information and experienced, but that it was also for others to know and to learn about, and know personally.
“32 “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: `THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.”" (Acts 2:32-36)
Peter speaking here was speaking to the multitudes concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Peter says that “we are all witnesses” in reference to the Apostles and the brethren. (Acts 1:15) This was no secret for everyone in that area knew what has taken place with the death and resurrection of Christ, and Peter was preaching the message that Christ is risen, and that this was a divine truth.
What was taught by the New Testament Authors
The writings of the New Testament are the heart of the message concerning Jesus the Christ. They are the accounts of where Jesus lived, what He taught, how He died, and His resurrection, and the hope for mankind in His name. The various New Testament books are not just historical, but are relational. What they contain are for us (mankind) to know the love of God, and to experience true fellowship, and purpose, and most importantly true salvation. We have salvation from the curse of sickness, hate, anger, addictions, and most importantly salvation from death and the judgment of sin. Christ came to set us free from our sins, and in Him we have the forgiveness of sins. That is what Christ came to set us free from, and He did that by establishing the New Covenant in His death and resurrection, and all who come to Him and receive His as Lord and Savior will have eternal life, and be set free from sin and death. (Romans 3:19-31, 8:1, 10:9-13)
What authority do the Apostle’s have? The New Testament was written by the Apostle’s of Jesus the Christ, and all of them died for their faith in Christ and for what they preached to others. They gave their very lives to share with us the good news of Christ Jesus, and they were witnesses of these things. What they share comes from the testimony of being there, knowing what Jesus taught, and what He did. Their message is for the Church, and for all those who want to know the truth of Jesus. The New Testament writers had a purpose for what they shared, and it was to share Jesus the Christ crucified, and risen, and that in Him there is completeness, and forgiveness, and purpose. The Apostle Paul wrote Epistles (Letters) to various Churches exhorting them on pressing on in Jesus, and on things to work on in maturity, on false doctrines, and things that were essential to the Christian faith. Peter, James, Jude, and John all wrote different things (Letters) to various Churches for specific reasons, to encourage the Church, to correct, and to inform them. The Apostle’s are the ones of whom God called to preach, and they were witnesses of what took place, and in turn wrote Epistles that pertained to doctrine, godly living, and things that avoided. The four Gospels are different accounts of what took place during the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ. Giving the record of His teachings, healings, His love towards people, and His mission, and who Jesus truly is, God come in the flesh, the Messiah of whom the prophets in the Old Testament has spoken about. The book of Acts deals with the beginning of the Christian Church, and how they preached, persevered, and how they made mistakes and learned from them. The book of Hebrews focuses on the Old Covenant and the New Covenant established through Jesus the Christ, and the doctrine of Atonement, and other issues. Revelation is a book that was written by the Apostle John that deals with the Church then, and the wrath to come, and that Jesus is coming again one day, all those who are in Christ will be delivered, and those who do not know Jesus truly will be destroyed and will be cast away from Him.
The Authority of the New Testament
The Apostles knew the Lord personally, therefore they are qualified to teach and write what Jesus taught, did, and how to apply those things to our lives. The Apostles wrote on various topics, and what they wrote are for our good, and are authoritative. Some say why should I read what Paul taught, or what Peter taught? The answer is real simple, for they were witnesses of these things, and that they were divinely called by God to teach people His truth. All of the Apostles were sent with the authority to teach, and there is the key, for it is God who sent them and gave them the authority to teach. The New Testament books are written for our good, and instruction. Jesus told His Apostles: “19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”" (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus gave them the instruction to teach all that He has commanded, and that is what the Apostles did. And in that they also wrote letters to various Churches, and Christians teaching them, exhorting them in the doctrines of the Scriptures and giving them direction.
“14 Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea. 17 Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” 18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.” (Colossians 4:14-18)
Paul was an Apostle called by Jesus Christ to serve Him, and Paul taught people the truths of Jesus. Paul wrote letters for people to read, and to share with other people. In his letters, Paul instructed people on how to live godly lives and on the true doctrine of the Word of God. Luke the beloved physician was with Paul on his missionary journeys, and was a true company, and witness of the Gospel. (Luke wrote the book of Acts – the record of the early Church)
“21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. 25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-28)
Paul taught in his letters for the Church to test all things, and to abstain from every form of evil. Paul prayed for people in his letters, and exhorted people to pray for them, and to greet people in love. Paul declares his letters are not just mere letters, but to be read to all the brethren, and in that Paul’s letters contain instructions for the Church on doctrine, godly living, prayer, love, the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Paul’s letters were for the Church and are to be read, and studied, and Peter acknowledged that what Paul taught in his letters was for people to use.
“14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:14-18)
Peter acknowledges that Paul’s letters were authoritative and for teaching. Peter put Paul’s letters with reference to the Scriptures, giving them divine instruction for the Church. Peter in his comments here instructs them to be diligent in the Lord Jesus, and to be on guard against those who teach things that are false, and to grow in the knowledge of Jesus. The Scriptures are what God has revealed to use to learn from, and to grow from.
“16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”– 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)
Peter says that they did not follow cleverly devised tales, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty, namely Jesus. Peter was an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He was His disciple for three years and he heard what Jesus taught and witnessed His death and resurrection. Peter is an authoritative source to learn from, and even states that they were there hearing the voice from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased” giving the accounts of the Gospels validity to what took place. (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9)
“1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life– 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us– 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete…13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 1:1-4, 5:13)
The Apostle John records that they (the Apostles) have witnessed first hand what took place, and that they were witnesses to this Jesus. John says his letter was written for a purpose, and that was to proclaim Jesus the Christ, and that those who believe in Him may know they have eternal life. John wrote to them concerning the identity of who Jesus is, what He did, and how they can know they can have eternal life. John’s letters were not mere letters, but divinely given for the edification of the body of Christ, the Church. In Revelation 1:1-4 it states: “1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” The book of Revelation is given for the Church concerning the things that John saw, and what will take place, and is for the Church to know about for edification, and the Church is to share this with the world.
The New Testament’s Message
The New Testament letters all serve the purpose for the Church in learning. Each of the books is for the edification of the body to learn from, to study, and to apply to their lives. The New Testament is the divine message that Jesus Christ came, the Messiah, and that He has set us free from sin and death. Jesus Christ came to give us life, and hope, and that we would come to know Him personally. The message of the New Testament is love, true direction, and consequences of sin, and that Jesus has come to set us free from the wrath to come. Not everything in the New Testament will be completely understood, but the heart of it is clearly understood. The Apostle Paul writes: “14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17) Paul’s instruction here is in reference to the Old Testament Scriptures that we are to learn for teaching, reproof, correction, and to be trained in righteousness. The purpose of it is to be equipped for every good work, and growing in knowledge and maturity in Christ. What we also learn is that from Paul’s letters we learn the Word of God, and we are to apply it to our lives.
The Apostle’s and writing’s of the New Testament are for us to learn from, to study, to grow in, for our maturity in Christ, and they are more than mere words, for they are men who were called by God, and inspired by God to share with the Church the truth of who Jesus is, the true and false doctrines, and to live godly lives. As Christians we are to study the Word of God, the Bible and apply it to our lives, and in that we draw closer to the Lord Jesus, and have fellowship with Him. And in studying the Scriptures we are to make sure that we study it accurately, and share it with others.
“15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
The call of the Christian Church is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know the Jesus of the Bible, and lead them to the saving work of the cross. May you seek the Lord in your walk and study the Scriptures, and share the message of the New Testament with others that Jesus the Christ has come, and wants to set them free from their sins.