CHAPTER 1

Preparing The Way
(Introduction to the New Testament)

The Meaning of the Term "New Testament"

On the evening before He would die on the cross, the Lord Jesus said these words : "For this is my blood of the _______   _____________________, which is shed for many for the remission (forgiveness) of sins" (Matthew 26:28).  The expression "New Testament" means the same thing as "New Covenant." When the Lord's Jewish disciples heard these words, they were familiar with the term "new covenant (testament)."   God had given the Jews a wonderful promise found in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Read these four verses carefully and answer these questions:

  1. Who promised to make a new covenant with the nation Israel (verse 31)? _________________________
     
  2. Was this new covenant different or the same as the covenant God made with the Jews in the days of Moses (verse 32)? ________________________
     
  3. Did the Jewish people keep the Old Covenant (the law and the commandments which God gave through Moses) or did they break it (Jeremiah 31:32)? ____________________________
     
  4. Do you think you could keep the Ten Commandments perfectly? _______ Have you always obeyed the "greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:36-38)? ______  Are you a "lawkeeper" or a lawbreaker? ______________________ Can sinful man keep God's holy law (compare John 7:19)? ______
     
  5. Under the Old Covenant, God put His law on tables of stone (2 Corinthians 3:3). Under the New Covenant, where does God put His law (Jeremiah 31:33 and compare 2 Corinthians 3:3)? ________________________________ With God's law written on their hearts, will God's people Israel keep the law or will they break the law (Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:25-27)? ________________________________
     
  6. Under the Old Covenant men and women stood before God, the righteous Judge as guilty lawbreakers. Under the New Covenant, what kind of relationship will men and women have with God (Jeremiah 31:33)?
    _________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________
     
  7. Jeremiah 31:34 is describing the kingdom age which is going to take place in the future.  During the kingdom the nation Israel will enjoy the blessings of the New Covenant. During this time, will it be necessary to witness to neighbors and to tell others that they need to know the Lord (Jeremiah 31:34)? ______ Why is this so (Jeremiah 31:34 and Isaiah 11:9)? _______________________________________________________________________________
     
  8. In the New Covenant, what two great promises do you find that begin with the words "I WILL" (see Jeremiah 31:34)?

I WILL  _____________________________________________
I WILL  _____________________________________________

See also Romans 11:27:
                        I SHALL ____________________________________________

Is this same promise made to believers living today (read Hebrews 8:10-12; 10:16-17)? _______ In order for us to have complete forgiveness of our sins, what did the Lord Jesus Christ have to do (Matthew 26:28)?  __________________________________________________  If Christ had not shed His blood and died for our sins, would it be possible for us to have the complete forgiveness (remission) of our sins (Hebrews 9:22)? _________

The Old Covenant said, "The guilty lawbreaker must die!" (see Exodus 21:12,15,16,17; Ezekiel 18:14; Romans 1:32; 6:23). The New Covenant says, "Jesus Christ shed His blood and died for guilty lawbreakers.  Because He paid the full penalty for sin, God is able to give complete forgiveness to the guilty ones who believe on His Son!"

Every time we take communion in church, we should REMEMBER that complete forgiveness of sins was made possible because of Christ's death on the cross (1 Corinthians 11:25)! The New Testament Scriptures proclaim the good news about the death of Christ and all the benefits which that death confers upon believers.

The Old Testament was characterized by LAW; the New Testament is characterized by GRACE (see John 1:17). Grace is God's amazing kindness toward wicked sinners who do not deserve any kindness at all.  The grace of God was not absent from the Old Testament period, but the emphasis was upon God's law.
 

The Four Hundred Years of Silence

The last Old Testament book to be written was Malachi. This book was written about 400 B.C.  For the next 400 years God did not speak to His people! God did not send any prophets during this time! God did not speak or communicate to men for four centuries. Heaven was silent! There was a long famine in the land--not a famine of bread, but a famine "of H_______________ the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11-12). The Jews had the Old Testament and God expected them to read it and believe it and to wait for the coming of the Messiah.

Finally after these many years, God broke the silence, and He spoke to men in the best possible way. Read carefully Hebrews 1:1-2. How did God speak to men in Old Testament times (verse 1)? ___________________________________________________________  How did God finally speak to men (verse 2)? "BY HIS __________"

Suppose I had a friend who lived 2000 miles away.  How could I best communicate with this friend? Would it be best for me to send a letter? a telegram? make a phone call? send a tape? send an e-mail? give a message to someone else who would see this friend (a messenger)? What would be the best possible way to communicate and to speak with this friend? The best way is this: I could make a personal visit myself! This is exactly what God has done! He has personally visited this planet in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has visited us! God has spoken to us by His Son! The New Testament is the place where we learn all about God's visit!

Let us now compare the Old Testament with the New Testament:

OLD TESTAMENT

NEW TESTAMENT

Think of a picture storybook:
The Old Testament is like a collection of pictures. The New Testament contains the words underneath the picture (explaining what the pictures are all about)

Examples:

THE PICTURE IN THE OLD:

THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB (Leviticus 1:2,10 etc.)→

THE PASSOVER (Leviticus 23:5)→
 

THE EXPLANATION IN THE NEW:

JOHN 1:29; 1 PETER 1:19

1 CORINTHIANS 5:7

The Old Testament is the
SHADOW
(Heb. 10:1)

The New Testament is the
SUBSTANCE (the real thing!)


When I see a shadow I know there is something real (a tree, a flagpole, a person, a house, etc.) that is casting the shadow.
   Example:
THE SHADOW
 

THE BLOOD OF BULLS AND
GOATS (see Hebrews 10:4)

 

THE SUBSTANCE
(the real thing)

THE BLOOD OF JESUS
(see Hebrews 10:19)

 

The blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins (Heb. 10:4,11) but they pointed ahead to the Saviour who could (Hebrews 10:12)!

The message of the Old Testament:
HE’S COMING!
The message of the New Testament:
HE HAS COME and HE’S COMING AGAIN!!
The Old Testament looks ahead:
THE SAVIOUR WILL SOMEDAY DIE!
The New Testament looks back:
"IT IS F_________________" (JOHN 19:30)

The New Testament Books

How many books does the New Testament contain (if you are not sure, look in the INDEX or TABLE OF CONTENTS at the beginning of your Bible)? __________

Five of these Books are history books.  The history books would include the four Gospels and the book of Acts. The four Gospels present the BEGINNING of Jesus' deeds and doctrine (teaching).  See ACTS 1:1-2:

"The former treatise (this refers to the Gospel of Luke) have I made...of all that Jesus ______________ both to do and teach until the day in which He was taken up (to heaven)."

The book of Acts presents the continuation of Jesus' deeds and doctrine as the risen Lord works through His Church (through believers). Does the risen Christ continue to work through believers today? _______ Are you letting and allowing Him to work through you right now?

THE FOUR GOSPELS

THE BOOK OF ACTS

The BEGINNING of Jesus’
Deeds and Doctrine
(Acts 1:1-2)
The CONTINUATION of Jesus’
Deeds and Doctrine
The Lord Jesus on Earth The Lord Jesus in Heaven
Jesus is God’s perfect WITNESS. The Believers are His WITNESSES (Acts 1:8).
Jesus ministered in Palestine, primarily to the Jews. (Mathew 10:5-6; 15:24). The Church ministers in all world to every creature. (Mark 16:15).

Birth of
Christ

Ascension
of Christ

 

The Book of Revelation is also like a history book, but it is written before the events have taken place. It is history written in advance! It is the great Book of prophecy which sheds light on the future.

All of the other New Testament books are epistles or letters. For example, Paul wrote thirteen letters. Nine of these letters were written to churches (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians).*   Four of these letters were written to individuals (1 & 2 Timothy, written to Pastor Timothy; Titus, written to Pastor Titus; Philemon, written to Philemon who was a member of the Colossian Church).

*Note:  Some Bible scholars believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, a book in which the author is not named.
 

THE NEW TESTAMENT AT A GLANCE
(adapted from Unger's Bible Handbook)

HISTORICAL

DOCTRINAL

PROPHETIC

THE FOUR GOSPELS PAUL'S EPISTLES THE REVELATION

Portraits of the
Person and Work of
Christ:

Matthew—Christ as King
Markó Christ as Servant
Luke óChrist as Man
John óChrist as God

Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon

The Revelation or Unveiling
Of JESUS CHRIST

Dealing with these prophetic subjects:

  1. Church (2:1-3:22)
  2. Time of Tribulation (4:1-19:10)
  3. Second Coming (19:11-21)
  4. Millennium (Kingdom) (20:1-10)
  5. Final Judgment (20:11-15)
  6. Eternal State (21:1-22:21)

THE BOOK OF ACTS
(The acts of Jesus Christ as He worked in and through the lives of the apostles)

GENERAL EPISTLES

History of the Birth
and Early Life of
the Church

Hebrews
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude

 


Back to NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS
Back to SUNDAY SCHOOL MATERIALS & HELPFUL BIBLE STUDIES
Home Page