Yesterday I took up the challenge of briefly summarizing the books of the Old Testament. Today I attempted the same with the New Testament. I recognize that these books are difficult to summarize because God’s word is living and active and speaks so loudly and powerfully to those who believe. So, in glancing through these, if I have missed something you think vital to understanding the basic message of a book, put it in the comments. I don’t mean to be trite, join in if I missed something. For better summaries check out Mark Dever’s book: The Message of the New Testament. It’s big but it’s an easy read.
I would like to state again as I did with the Old Testament books: This is not an academic work that I would turn in for publication, please be gracious in critique. It took me about 40 minutes… if I left something out you think critical to an extremely brief overview of a book, put it in the comments.
THE GOSPELS – Who is Jesus?
Matthew – The long awaited King has come! His name is Jesus and He does not look like you want Him to. He conquers through dying and calls His own to follow Him in overcoming death! Jesus is the victorious King that Israel has been waiting for.
Mark – Jesus is the supernatural, suffering servant who has come to restore Sabbath rest. He is the promised one who would rescue us from sin. He is the priest who came to serve and die to make atonement for the people.
Luke – Jesus is Savior to ALL people. He has come to rescue and show the glorious truth of God’s love to all mankind. He came with a mission to spread the character and nature of God. His voice is pleading for repentance, His indignation over false worship is couched in love, and His words are a transformative challenge to religious institutional structures that are devoid of the character of God. He is the Messiah!
John – Written so that you would believe. The light has come in to the world and the world has rejected Him, so He goes further. Jesus is God. He stands as the promised Prophet (the new Moses promised in Deut.) and proclaims the call to repentance and faith. He draws men to Himself. His call is for total surrender… He is God in flesh, come down to save. He has won the victory and calls us into the light where we must admit He is God and we are not.
ACTS – What about Jesus’ Followers?
Acts – The church rises out of obscurity to follow Jesus on Mission. The early church shows us that the Holy Spirit works through normal people to accomplish God’s great purpose. The church rises to follow Christ into self-sacrificing, life-surrender that promotes the truth of salvation for those who love Jesus. They model absolute surrender to the mission of God and the subsequent joy that follows such surrender.
Paul’s Letters – What do we believe and how?
Romans – The Gospel explained in 16 chapters! Chapters 1-3 explain the sinful state of man, chapters 3:21-5 explain God’s gracious rescue in salvation, chapters 6-8:30 outline the sanctifying work of God in the hearts of those who believe in Jesus, chapters 8:28-11 explain how God worked the gospel out through the Jews to the Gentiles, and chapters 12-16 display the exhortations for living if we have believed the Gospel.
1 Corinthians – The people of God are a messy collection of people called to the mission of spreading the Gospel, motivated by Jesus, for the eternal purpose of God’s glory. Paul articulates what it looks like to live in community with fellow believers and exhorts us at the end to have an eternal perspective over a worldly one. (Take the long view of life.)
2 Corinthians – We are still messy. Paul explains that the mission of God is accomplished in self-sacrificing and suffering. True joy is found in absolute surrender to the eternal plan of God. True strength is found in contentment in weakness. True life is found in living like Jesus. (Walk the way Jesus did, suffering for the glory of God)
Galatians – What is the relationship of the Christian to the Law? You are freed from it! It is no longer a burden but a joy that teaches us the character of God. When you trusted Jesus, your sinful nature was crucified and you were redeemed from the law to a new life in Christ that is free to live in radical obedience to Christ.
Ephesians – Romans in Miniature… seriously, it is very similar. Two parts, chapters 1-3 are dominantly theological in nature and give us the foundation for chapters 4-6 which are dominantly pragmatic. The letter focuses on being unified around the truth and living in loving community with one another because of the glorious truth of God’s rescuing work in our hearts.
Philippians – Jesus is the humble servant whom we should imitate. We are called to humble service to each other and to this world. In learning to live the way Jesus did, we find true contentment.
Colossians – You ARE NEW!!! Jesus has done a work in you that has removed your sin and made you a new creation. Live like it!
1 Thessalonians – Timothy’s church has been working well in the Gospel. There struggles in this life will not persist. God is coming back and so Paul exhorts them to take the long view and continue to live a life that models Christ-likeness.
2 Thessalonians – The end is coming! The Lord will judge the enemies of God and will redeem His own. Holdfast, it wont be long now.
1 Timothy – A letter to a young pastor that describes how the church should look. The church is founded on the authority of God’s Word and must submit to the truth in it. The church is focused on the Mission of the Gospel reaching the world. The church will be a difficult place to serve. So teach the Bible well and with all love for the people.
2 Timothy – Paul says, “I was serious about that first letter… Teach well the Scripture!” This life is a battlefield not a playground so go to war by teaching the truth of the Gospel.
Titus – Organize the church, teach sound doctrine, work hard to live on mission, and don’t fret too much those who are going to turn on you.
Philemon – Those who were once slaves need to be counted as brothers.
The other Letters – Look like what you believe. There are loads of false teachers. The end is near.
Hebrews – Jesus is better than everything! A better high priest, a better prophet, a better leader, a better sacrifice, a better heavenly king, etc… Jesus is better!
James – Faith is validated by work, so if you believe, get to work!
1 Peter – In the midst of the war of this life remember God is here in your suffering and will bring you through it because you are His! You will live holy and in suffering find contentment. You are in the army of Jesus Christ for the Gospel! Take the long view. Heaven is better than here.
2 Peter – Not only is God here, but He is also coming back to rescue you even now! Many false teachers will rise, work hard to know the LORD and you will find joy in Him. Join in the war by proclaiming the truth. It won’t be long, holdfast!
1 John – How do you know that you believe? God is love and He has loved you, has it made a difference. The evidence of Christ in your heart is not that you have repented once, but that you repented and are continuing in a lifestyle of repentance and change in Jesus.
2 John – The woman and her children are exhorted to continue to walk in faith and watch out for the false teachers.
3 John – Walk in the truth, for that brings your pastors the greatest Joy! Imitate Jesus, not wickedness.
Jude – False teachers will be judged as they were and are from the Old Testament. Remember you are in the last days and many will come and scoff. Holdfast to the faith of Jesus Christ and live in mercy and strive to rescue a dying world with the Gospel.
The Last Things
Revelation – Jesus is King, Jesus Was King, Jesus is coming back to reign as King!