Introduction to the New Testament

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A.     THE 400 “SILENT YEARS”

  1.  About 400 years went by between the Old and New Testaments, during which time there was no appearance of a God-given prophet or an inspired writer of Scripture, and because of this it became known as the “Silent Years” or the “Dark Period”.
  2. A small remnant of Jews returning from captivity settled in Jerusalem, while those who had not been taken into captivity spread over the rest of the Promised Land.
  3. However, the history of the nations continued without interruption exactly as the prophet Daniel had predicted.
  4. Israel regained her freedom for short periods as a result of the Maccabean uprising, but most of the time they were dominated by foreigners:
    1. Medo-Persians (536 – 333BC)
    2. Greeks (333-323BC): Their language became the ‘trade language’ of the world and this continued even after they lost their power.
    3. Egyptians (323 – 204BC)
    4. Syrians (204-165BC)
    5. Jews: during the Maccabean uprising (165-63BC)
    6. Romans (63BC and onward): They brought a system of law and order into being, and also a network of roads.
    7. Even although God’s voice was not heard, His hand was still busy forming history and preparing for the coming of His Son.
    8. The network of roads linking together the extremities of the world and the Greek language which was the internationally spoken language, greatly assisted the spread of the Gospel.

B.     THE NEW TESTAMENT

  1. The New Testament consists of 27 books.
  2. It is divided into two groups:
    1. The 5 books of history consisting of:
      1. The 4 gospels: Matthew,  Mark, Luke and John, dealing with the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
      2. The Book of Acts covering the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the spread of the Gospel world-wide.
    2. The 22 books of doctrine consisting of letters called epistles, dealing with the Christian life and divided into 3 groups:
      1. 9 epistles (Romans to 2 Thessalonians) directed to specific churches, consisting of a considerable amount of doctrine concerning the basic principles of the faith and teachings on the Christian life-style.
      2. 4 epistles (1 Timothy to Philemon) addressed to individuals. Their content focus on human relationships.
      3. 9 epistles (Hebrews to Revelation) addressed to groups of Christians spread out all over the world. Their content deals with persecution, false teachers, the supreme authority of Christ, and His speedy return. Revelation closes with a wonderful glimpse of the church’s future home in heaven.

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