There are three categories: Events, Letters, and Prophecy.
The first four books are four versions of events in the life of Christ, written by men named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Matthew and John were disciples of Jesus. Mark and Luke traveled with Paul.
These four books are called “gospels.” That word means “good news.” Events of his life are listed later on this page
Events that happened after Jesus’ death are written in the next book, called Acts. (full name: Acts of the Apostles). This book was written by Luke. The first part of the book features events in the life of Peter, a disciple of Jesus, and the last part tells events in the life of Paul, who became a believer after Jesus died, and traveled around Turkey and Greece spreading the message about Jesus. (Events in Acts are listed later on this page)
First there are 13 letters written by Paul to various cities and people. Then there are 8 more letters, not written by Paul:
Hebrews. Written to Jews who had come to believe in Jesus. Author not specified.
James. Written by a brother of Jesus.
Peter. Two letters written by Peter, a disciple of Jesus.
John. Three letters written by John, a disciple of Jesus, who also wrote one of the gospels (above)
Jude. Written by a brother of Jesus
Details about all of these letters are found at the bottom of this page.
There is one book of prophecy, called Revelation. It tells about the victory of God over evil.
It is written by John, perhaps the same ,person as the John who wrote the gospel and the letters mentioned above.
Famous People in the New Testament
I. People in the four gospels:
1) When Jesus was born:
Zechariah and Elizabeth were the parents of John the Baptist
The angel Gabriel gave a message to Jesus’ mother Mary
Mary was engaged to Joseph
King Herod wanted to kill Jesus
Simon and Anna blessed Jesus
2) The names of Jesus’ twelve disciples:
Simon (also called Peter), James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew (also called Levi), Thomas, James, Thaddeus, Simon, Judas
3) Some of Jesus’ friends:
Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead;
Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha;
Other women who followed Jesus: Mary Magdalene, Salome
4) When Jesus was judged:
Jesus was judged by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and by King Herod (a descendant of the King Herod mentioned above).
A prisoner named Barabbas was set free.
MAIN EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF JESUS, TAKEN FROM ALL FOUR OF THE GOSPELS
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just left of the Dead Sea. (see map of Israel). Luke 2:22 says the baby was brought to the temple in Jerusalem when he was just a few days old. After the wise men visited the family, they escaped to Egypt (off the map, to the left). Later, after King Herod died, the family went to Mary’s home town, Nazareth, which was in the region to the left of the Sea of Galilee.
At the age of 12, the family came to Jerusalem again.
No other stories are mentioned until he begins to speak in public around the age of 30. Here are the main events of those 3 years, which ended with his death on the cross:
THE THREE YEARS OF TEACHING:
When Jesus was about 30 years old, he was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river (it connects the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea), and then went into the wilderness left of the Dead Sea).
For the next 3 years, Jesus spent most of his time in the region of the Sea of Galilee. His first miracle, turning water into wine, was done at Cana, (John chapter 2). He raised a young man from the dead at Nain (Luke 7:11). A lot of time was spent in the cities along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, cities like Tiberias, Capernaum, and Bethsaida. He picked his 12 disciples, many of whom were fishermen. He caused a storm to stop, and walked on the water. On the nearby hills he taught the people, then created food for 5000 people; later, again, for 4000.
In Mark 5:1, Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee and goes to a region that was not part of Israel, to the right of the Jordan River. Verse one says that the people who lived there were called Gerasenes, and verse 20 tells us that the area was called Decapolis. (This is a Greek word that means “ten cities,” so it means that the Greeks had built ten cities on the right side of the Jordan River.)
Mark 7:24 tells us that Jesus left Israel and traveled to the cities of Tyre and Sidon, (see more detailed map) where he healed a woman called a Syrophoenician, which simply means that she lived in the part of Syria that is called Phoenicia.
In Mark 8:27, Jesus is again outside of Israel, up at Caesarea Philippi. The mountain on which Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah then was probably Mount Hermon (the triangle under the word Syria), though some people think it was Mount Tabor.
John 4:3-5 mentions all three of the regions that are in brackets: Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. The town of Sychar is in the region of Samaria.
Jesus went to Jerusalem, even though he knew he would be arrested there.
THE LAST WEEK: (Events leading up to his death in Jerusalem)
On Sunday, Jesus rode on a donkey into Jerusalem, with many people praising him.
Later that week he raised Lazarus from the dead, in Bethany (near Jerusalem)
He drove the businessmen out of the temple.
On Thursday, he ate a meal with his disciples for the last time. (the “last supper.”
During that meal he began the custom we call “‘Holy Communion” (eating bread & wine to
remember the meaning of Jesus’ death)
He took his disciples with him to a placed called the “Garden of Gethsemane” where he prayed for strength.
He was arrested on Thursday night
He was put on trial before Jewish leaders
On Friday, he was put on trial before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate
He also was taken for questioning to Herod, King of Galilee
At the command of Pontius Pilate, he was killed on a cross, and was placed in a grave.
On Sunday, he rose from the dead. He appeared to Mary, then to the disciples. Later he appeared to 500 believers, all at the same time
40 days after rising from the dead, his body left the earth, but he promised “I am with you always.”
II. People in the Book of Acts:
Stephen was the first person killed because he believed in Jesus. Paul (also called Saul) preached the gospel in many countries.
Luke, Mark, Barnabas, and Silas traveled with Paul at various times.
Jesus’ brother James was leader of the church in Jerusalem.
MAIN EVENTS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS
CHAPTER NUMBER WITH EVENT:
1 Jesus’ body goes up into a cloud‑‑around 27 AD
2 Ten days later, the Holy Spirit gives special power to the disciples, and they preach about Jesus for the first time. 3000 people become Christians on that one day.
3 Peter & John heal a crippled beggar in the name of Jesus.
4 Peter & John are put in jail and warned not to speak about Jesus.
5 The disciples are put in jail, but escape through a miracle
6‑7 The first Christian to be killed for his faith: Stephen.
8 Philip leads an African official to believe in Jesus.
9 Saul becomes a Christian, at the age of 30 (around 35 AD). Better known by his Roman name, Paul, he later went to many countries to preach the gospel, and wrote most of the letters which are in the New Testament.
10‑11 Peter leads a Roman army officer to believe in Jesus, and Peter also discovers that Christians no longer need to observe the Jewish food laws.
12 Peter is put in prison, but escapes :through a miracle.
The rest of the events are all about Paul:
13‑14 First journey of Paul (around 48 AD)
15 Important conference in Jerusalem, with Paul and the disciples, where they realize that non‑Jews who believe in Jesus do not need to observe the Jewish ceremonial laws.
15‑18 Second journey of Paul
(Paul writes letters to Galatians and Thessalonians. His letters mentioned on this page are all included in the New Testament)
18‑21 Third journey of Paul
(Paul writes to Corinthians and Romans)
22 Paul is arrested in Jerusalem.
23‑26 Paul is in prison in Caesarea, on the coast of Israel
27‑28 While being sent to Rome, Paul is shipwrecked
28 Paul is in prison in Rome, around 59 AD
(From prison, Paul writes to Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and to his friend Philemon.) The Book of Acts then comes to an end, around 60 AD.
AFTER THE BOOK OF ACTS.
Paul is released from prison in Rome, around 62 AD.
Fourth journey of Paul
Paul writes to his co‑workers Timothy and Titus
Paul is put in prison again in Rome. Peter and Paul are , killed around 68 AD, at the time of the Emperor Nero.
THE LETTERS WRITTEN BY PAUL
I. Letters written to cities:
1.Romans (to believers in Rome, Italy),
2. Corinthians (to people in Corinth, in Greece). Paul wrote two letters to them, called First Corinthians and Second Corinthians.
3. Galatians (to believers in a region in central Turkey called “Galatia”)
4. Ephesians (to believers in Ephesus, a city on the west coast of Turkey)
5. Philippians (to believers in Philippi, a city on the coastline between Greece and Turkey)
Colossians (to believers in a city in central Turkey)
6. Thessalonians (to believers in Thessalonica, a city in Greece). Paul wrote two, called First Thessalonians and Second Thessalonians.
II. Letters written to people:
7. To Timothy (He traveled with Paul and Luke. Paul wrote two letters to him.)
8. To Titus (Paul to one of his co-workers)
9. To Philemon (Paul to a friend)
DETAILS OF THE LETTERS:
ROMANS. Paul writes a complete survey of Christian teaching, including why we need a savior and how Jesus has met that need. In the
second half, he shows the results for daily living.
CORINTHIANS (TWO LETTERS). Paul speaks to problems they are experiencing in areas of worship, divisions, and immorality.
GALATIANS. Paul writes a detailed explanation of grace alone as the way to be saved.
EPHESIANS. Paul writes about the how to play your part in the life of the church.
PHILIPPIANS. Paul, writing from prison, tells how we can live in joy despite persecutions.
COLOSSIANS. How to keep Christ as the center and deep away from false teachings.
THESSALONIANS (TWO LETTERS). Paul assures us of going to be with God at the end of the world.
TIMOTHY (TWO LETTERS) Paul gives practical advice to Timothy as a young leader in the church.
TITUS. Paul tells Titus how to keep the people of Crete focused on Christ and his grace despite difficulties.
PHILEMON. Philemon owned a slave who escaped. The slave became a Christian and was with Paul in prison. Paul sends the
slave back to his owner, Philemon, with this letter asking that he be treated kindly.
HEBREWS. Many Jewish people had accepted Christ as savior, but were having second thoughts due to persecution. the author
makes extensive quotes from the Old Testament to assure these Jewish believers that they are on the right track. There is
extensive explanation of Jesus’ death on the cross as a sacrifice for sin.
JAMES. Jesus’ brother gives practical advice for Christian living.
PETER (TWO LETTERS). Peter gives comfort to people who are being persecuted.
JOHN (THREE LETTERS). The emphasis is on God’s love, and “he who has the Son of God has eternal life.”
JUDE. Another brother of Jesus warns about false teachings.
Who Selected Which Books would be in the New Testament?
Already by the end of the first century, Christian writers were quoting from most of the books in the New Testament, in a way that shows they regarded them as authoritative. Lists of books in the first few centuries shows that the gospels and the letters (epistles) of Paul were already accepted by Christians throughout the Roman Empire. There were just a few books, such as 2nd and 3rd John, that were accepted by some and not others. The date for the final authoritative list, that included 2nd and 3rd John, is the year 367.
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