New Testament FAQ
What is the New Testament?
The New Testament is a collection of 27 early Christian writings which are included in the Christian Bible along with the Old Testament. The New Testament contains different kinds of writings, commonly referred to as books, but are actually different kinds of literature (or genres: ancient biography, ancient history, letter/epistle, apocalypse). These 27 writings eventually came to be viewed as scripture over there the course of the first several hundred years of Christianity.
Who wrote the New Testament?
The books of the New Testament were written by a number of different authors. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts were all written anonymously. Those names were added to the manuscripts decades later.
The Apostle Paul wrote Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galations, Philippians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus were written in Paul's name, but they were probably written by second generations leaders in his churches. Biblical scholars are divided about whether or not Paul wrote Colossians, Ephesians, or 2 Thessalonians; but most scholars believe that 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were not written by Paul.
There was a common practice in ancient world of someone writing in a teacher or another respected person's name in order to continue the work of that teacher by giving attempting to teach or write with that teacher or respected person's authority. This practice was not necessarily considered dishonest.
The letters of 1, 2, & 3 John were probably written by people from the same churches that produced the Gospel of John. The author of 2 & 3 John calls himself "the elder." Revelation was written by someone named John, but probably not the Disciple/Apostle John. Hebrews was written anonymously. James was written in the name of James the brother of Jesus, Jude was written in the name of another brother of Jesus, and 1 & 2 Peter are written in the name of Peter the Apostle. Most scholars believe that James, Jude, and Peter did not write the books that were attributed to them.
When were the New Testament books written?
All the books of the New Testament were written within the first hundred years of after Jesus’ death (Jesus probably died about 30 A.D.). Mark was probably in written about 70. Matthew and Luke were probably written in the 80's. John and Revelation were probably written in the 90's. Paul's letters were probably written in the 50's. The letters written in the name of Paul, John, Peter, James, and Jude (see previous question), as well as Hebrews were probably written in the last quarter of the first century (between 75-100 A.D.) or in the beginning of the second century.
When was the New Testament Formed? Who decided which books to include in the New Testament?
After several hundred years of debates and controversies, there was general agreement among most Christians that the 27 books that now make up the New Testament should be considered scripture. In the earliest Christian groups, different communities had certain books that they considered scripture. Over time, important Christian leaders started compiling lists of books that they believed should be considered scripture and those that should not. The recognition and acceptance of a given early Christian writing as scripture was based on a number of factors. These factors included: how widely the book was used, whether or not a book was believed to be authored by an Apostle or Apostle's close follower, and whether or not the book was consistent with correct Christian teaching as determined by the most influential bishops and formalized at councils of bishops, such as the Council of Nicea (325) and the Council of Chalcedon (450).
What does the word testament in the title New Testament mean?
The word testament means covenant, which in the Bible is an agreement with and promise to Israel. The early Christians called their collection of scripture the New Covenant or the New Testament because they believed God had made a new covenant with them through Jesus Christ and they thought of themselves as the new Israel.
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