The Books of the New Testament: Explaining the Classifications
At the time the New Testament was being written, the Old Testament picture had changed very much. The days of the prophets were gone, and many people were indifferent to spiritual things. Like the rest of the Near East and Europe, the Jewish nation came under Roman rule. Though it was a difficult time for the Jewish people and they longed for freedom, outside influence did offer some benefits. A strong Roman army saw to it that roads were safe for commerce, and increased travel allowed Greek culture with its music and art to spread throughout the empire.
It was not by chance that God sent His Son to the world at this time. The Greeks furnished a common language for communicating the gospel and the Romans gave reasonable protection and liberties for evangelism.
The New Testament is the story of the life of Christ and the beginning of Christianity. The New Testament books contain instructions and promises for all believers, prophecies concerning the future, and the hope of eternal life with Christ. Read these books to learn their truths firsthand.
Explaining the Classifications
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote the life of Christ in the Gospels that bear their names. These writers are sometimes called the Four Evangelists. Each has a different focus or emphasis.
Matthew presents Jesus as King, or Messiah. Quoting the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah (the name the Jews gave to their expected king or deliverer), Matthew shows how Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures.
Mark wrote to the Romans, most of whom did not know the Scriptures. He filled his gospel with dynamic action as he showed his readers that Jesus came as the Servant of God.
Luke, a physician, wrote his Gospel for a Greek friend. He emphasized Christ’s perfect manhood, presenting Him as the Son of Man.
John gives evidence to show that Jesus is the Son of God and that those who believe on Him have eternal life.
The first three Gospels are called “synoptic” as they give a synopsis or a complete view of Jesus’ life. They are similar in their choice of events to relate. John, however, does not emphasize the history of Jesus as much as His sayings and teachings.