The Books of the New Testament or New Covenant may be divided as follows:
- The Synoptic Gospels.
- The Gospel of John.
- The Epistles.
- The Revelation.
The Synoptic Gospels are Matthew, Mark and Luke. The word synoptic means taking the same or a common view. It also means giving a general view of the whole8. The Synoptic Gospels chronicle the life of Jesus mostly from His birth through His resurrection. However, the Gospel of Mark omits the birth of Jesus. It focuses on His ministry.
The Gospel of John emphasizes Jesus as God. (John 1:1,2,14; 8:58; 17:5)
Paul, Peter, Jesus’ brother James9 (Acts 15), Jesus’ brother Jude10 (Mark 6:3) and John the Beloved (John 13:25; 21:20) wrote the Epistles. The word epistle means a letter8. The majority of the Epistles were letters to Churches. Tradition states the author of Hebrews is unknown. However, many persons believe Paul wrote it.
The Epistles of Paul are:
- 1 Corinthians.
- 2 Corinthians.
- 1 Thessalonians.
- 2 Thessalonians.
- 1 Timothy.
- 2 Timothy.
New Testament writers were honest and competent. Their writings are in harmony with each other and agree with history and experience. The following persons mentioned in the New Testament are all historical figures11:
- Herod the Great. (Matthew 2:16-18)
- Herod Antipas. (Matthew 14:1-23)
- Gallio. (Acts 18:12-17)
- Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12:11)
- Herod Agrippa II. (Acts 25:13-26:32)
The Church accepted the New Testament canon of twenty-seven Books in two stages. Acceptance of the twenty-seven Books by the Damasine Council of Rome in 382 and the Council of Carthage in 397 closed the canon in the West. The Greek speaking churches accepted the Books by 500. This closed the canon in the East.12
Criteria for accepting a New Testament Book into the canon was as follows13:
- Each Book’s author had to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ, or have had a relation with one of the Apostles.
- Each Book had to be suitable for public reading.
- Each Book had to be received throughout the Christian community.
- Each Book’s content had to entitle it to the rank of canonization.
- Each Book had to have evidence of being inspired by God.