Now we've come to the beginning of the New Testament, which starts with the first four synoptic, canonized gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They're the stories of Jesus, His ministry, and His teachings. The following is from a recent post by Dane Ortlund that summarizes them:
- Matthew shows God’s grace in fulfilling the Old Testament promises of a coming king.
- Mark shows God’s grace as this coming king suffers the fate of a common criminal to buy back sinners.
- Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles (‘younger sons’).
- John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood, and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name.
They are profitable for all of us today, but there are also a few interesting characteristics of each one when placed side by side:
- Matthew's targeted audience were the Jews who held to the Old Testament prophecies tightly, and therefore emphasizes how Jesus fulfilled every single one.
- Mark's most common audience was the Romans. It's the shortest of the four, keeping it straight to the point, highlighting the high action moments of Christ's life.
- Luke was written for a much wider audience (i.e. Gentiles, or those newer to conversion). Luke was doctor, so it's not hard to see that he was big on investigating and giving a careful, detailed account of Christ's life. Women witnesses play a larger role in Luke's telling, and he focuses on Jesus healing others, prayer, parables, and being the perfect Savior.
- John was written for seekers and new believers by in large, with the emphasis on Christ being the only means of salvation.
The rest of the New Testament is what I, and others, would chunk together as 'The New Church' books. These are the rest of the books that tell of the forming and movement of the church after Christ's Ascension, and His second coming (e.g. Revelation). To break it down further, we have...
- Acts, which is recognized as a narrative of the early church and it's ministries
- 21 Letters to churches, which mainly teach doctrine in order to settle disagreements, counsel/instruct, clear up theological confusion, as well as exhort and encourage the body of believers. And then ending with...
- An Apocalyptic work, the book of Revelations (the second coming of Christ)