any classification of the New Testament documents will be arbitrary,
due to the fact that they were originally written independently
of any preplanned human system of classification, the following
breakdown serves as a good introduction to begin to understand the
content of the New Testament
DESCRIPTION OF DOCUMENTS BY STYLE:
Biographical: The best known works of the New Testament are the
Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In these four documents
we are given an account of the birth, life, teachings, death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, we might compare these documents
to four separate television documentaries of the same subject. While
each at times shows a different aspect of the subject, they all
are consistent in their record of the events they report on which
are common to all. The first three Gospel are referred to as the
synoptic gospels because there content for the most part is very
similar. The Gospel of John however is unique in bringing to light
many aspects of Jesus life and teaching that are not present in
the synoptic Gospels.
Historical: The document known as the "Acts of the Apostles"
is historical in nature as it gives the only substantial written
record of the birth and growth of the early Christian Church. One
of the most important men of the Christian faith, the Apostle Paul,
is introduced early in the book of Acts as a persecutor of the new
Christians. After his conversion Paul becomes the central figure
of the book for the last sixteen of it's twenty eight chapters.
This portion of Acts chronicles the travels of the Apostle Paul
and his companions through the then known Roman empire on three
separate missionary journeys. On these journeys the apostle proclaimed
the message of the gospel and started many new local Christian congregations.
Paul as the shepherd of these congregations wrote many letters to
these new believers which together account for a large portion of
the New Testament documents. The names given to these Epistles or
letters correspond to the cities and regions in which these believers
lived or to certain individuals therein. For example the book of
Ephesians was a letter written by Paul to the Christians who lived
in a city called Ephesus. The first book of Timothy was one of two
known letters which Paul wrote to a young convert named Timothy
who became a trusted companion and fellow-laborer with the Apostle.
Epistolary: Twenty one of the twenty seven books of the New Testament
are epistles or letters addressed to the new Christian congregations
or individuals who were a part of the early Christian community.
Thirteen of these were written by the Apostle Paul with eight remaining.
While the Gospels give an account of the life and death of Jesus
the epistles unfold the meaning and significance of these events
in full detail along with providing the instruction for the conduct
of the Christian life. These letters having been written by the
Apostles or containing their teaching lay the foundation of the
Christian faith. All that the Christian needs to know and understand
about God and his own spiritual life are contained in these letters
Prophetical: This last category contains one book, known as the
book of Revelation, written by the apostle John. This book tells
of the Apostles personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who
appeared to him on the island of Patmos after the resurrection and
ascension of Jesus. The first three chapters contains an address
to seven Church congregations of that day given to encourage and
to chasten them. The remainder of the book tells of future events
including the coming of antichrist a wicked world ruler, the seven
year tribulation of great judgment and suffering, the second coming
of Jesus Christ to reign as king of kings for one thousand years
on this earth, and lastly a final battle of good against evil where
satan and all who follow him are judged forever. The book ends describing
the resurrection of all from the dead to stand before the judgment
throne of God. At this time the unsaved will be separated from God
forever and the saved will inherit the new heaven and earth which
God has prepared for those who love Him.