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The New Testament

The Book of Matthew: He was known also as Levi; he was a tax collector when Jesus called him to be one of His apostles. In this gospel, Christians are assured that there are no reasons to be troubled even though they face persecution from their own people. This gospel was written at a time marked with conflict between Jews and Christians. The turning point in this gospel will be found at the end of chapter 13, wherein Jesus no longer converses with the crowd but to His apostles. Matthew recorded his gospel around five discussions, wherein he integrated Jesus’ teachings done on different occasions.

These are: The New Law, Instructions to Missionaries, Parables of the Kingdom, Admonition for the Christian community, and the Future of the Church (Book of Matthew, 8). The Book of Mark: During the end of the 1st century A. D. , Mark accompanied Peter the apostle to Rome, where they were met by Paul. It was then that Mark had written the gospel, as taught by Peter. Similar to the gospels of Matthew and Luke, this gospel was also based on the oral traditions concerning Jesus of Nazareth. These writings that were shared between Christian communities were later completed by the witnesses who were with Jesus during His ministry.

Mark wrote this gospel for a specific community, the Christians of pagan background who wished to know Jesus, the Son of God. Unlike Matthew and Luke who began their gospels with two chapters devoted to Jesus’ birth and childhood, Mark opted to begin his gospel with the narration of the onset of Jesus’ life ministry (Book of Mark, 75). The Book of Luke: He was a Syrian doctor who converted to Christianity at the time when the first missionaries left Jerusalem to preach the gospel beyond the limits of the Jewish community.

He left his homeland to accompany Paul the apostle. He stayed in Rome, considered as the capital of the world then, for two years, where he stayed with Peter and Mark, the apostles. One of his primary concerns was locating the written works of the first apostles of Jesus. Luke had written his gospel with the Greek people in mind, thus he opted to omit topics dealing with Jewish laws and culture, which could’ve made it hard for his Greek readers to understand.

The gospel of Luke consists of three segments: Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, The journey to Jerusalem, and Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem and the passion (Book of Luke, 121). The Book of John: John’s gospel differs from the others in terms of his repeated assertion of the presence of Jesus in the Church. He does not fail to remind us of its purpose: “This had been recorded that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God” (John 20:31). This gospel contains actual witnesses of Jesus and was written in a more detailed manner compared with the other gospels.

John’s gospel teaches us that Jesus’ existence is eternal with God, and this will help us to fully grasp the nature of His works: that Jesus-Son-of-God-becoming-human did not just come here in order to teach us the way of transforming ourselves, but also the whole universe. This gospel had been controversial during the early church because of its premise that the purer and harder the truth is, the lesser are those who are able to receive it (Book of John, 189).

Book of Acts: Luke’s primary intention in Acts is to have a clear distinction that the mystery of Jesus and the Church has been foretold in the Old Testament, and that these two mysteries, Christ and the Church, is the completion of the Old Testament. This gospel also imposes the parallels between the people of the Old Testament and the New Church, as exemplifies here in the death of Stephen and that of Christ; between Paul’s journey to Jerusalem and that of Jesus, an also the differences between the Tower of Babel and Pentecost.

The Book of Acts brings us from Jerusalem to Judea and Sumaria, to Rome, hence fulfilling Jesus’ appointment of the apostles to scatter the Word during His ascension. Jerusalem appears consistently in this gospel, emerging 58 times, and the Holy City, which is Jerusalem, appearing 30 times. He emphasizes that Jerusalem is the place where salvation was accomplished and it is from here that the Good News is to be preached all over the world (Book of Acts, 241).

The Letters of Paul: Paul considered himself as the apostle to the pagan nations. It is with this personal mission that he, together with Peter, took evangelization to Palestine and the entire Roman Empire. It was Jesus himself who had ordained Paul with this mission when he was converted (Acts 22:21). “The spirit of Paul, one of the greatest manifestations of the spirit of Jesus, is always at work in our midst through his letters” (The Letters of Paul, 297).

Letter to the Romans: In Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome, he intended on addressing the concerns of the Greeks, at the same time not abandoning the Christian Jews, who have been beset with difficulty in the Roman Empire since almost all of the Jews had rejected the Christian faith. The letter to the Romans is basically a long explanation on the Christian faith. We will find in here uses of the biblical scripts that will often confuse us, for the reason that Paul discussed as he was trained to do so in rabbinical schools of Jerusalem.

In this gospel, Paul stresses that people are slaves to sin, and that the purpose of our having been created is in order for us to share a life with God, and that as long as we have not achieved this we are knowingly or unknowingly, rebelling against God (Letter to the Romans, 298). Letter to the Corinthians: The church in Corinth during Paul’s time was a dynamic but not a well-organized one. Many of the believers were at the risk of returning to their old ways of life once the excitement of their initial years of Christian life wears off.

The church leaders in Corinth were having troubles dealing with many problems, so they called upon Paul, who in turn wrote them this letter instead, because he was not able to leave Ephesus. Paul’s authority in leading the church in the name of Christ is noticeable in his manner of teachings and in answering many questions regarding the Christian faith. Knowing fully well that Corinth was the center of the pagan world, Paul was concerned with matters relevant with the times.

His gospel included topics such as: celibacy and marriage, about living together with the unbelievers of the Christian faith, conducting the assemblies for conducting the Eucharist, and about the resurrection of the dead (Letter to the Corinthians, 331). Letter to the Ephesians: This letter of Paul is a theme based on Christian faith and salvation. There is no mention of a personal message to a specific group of believers. This gospel was written by Paul when he was in prison in Rome somewhere during the sixties, A. D. , thus he had ample time for reflection and assessment regarding the doctrines circulating in the Roman Empire.

These doctrines came from the Middle East concerning the Christians of the region of Ephesus. Just like other religions of his time claiming to offer a universal way of salvation, they offered Christ as the only savior of all mankind (Letter to Ephesians, 381). Letter to the Colossians: This gospel was written by Paul in 62 A. D. , while being a prisoner in Rome. He writes this for the Christians of Colossae who seemed to be unaware of belittling Christ with their teachings and practices. The Colossians were involved in assimilating with the New Church some practices from the Old Testament.

Moreover, they include Christ among a host of celestial beings, or angels, who they assume would hold an important factor in our destiny. Trapped within these fine yet false doctrines, they had put their faith on departed souls and had allowed their lives to be controlled by spiritualism, astrology, and horoscopes. This crisis in the early church caused Paul to write them a letter wherein he re-establishes the absolute and eternal power of Christ (Letter to the Colossians, 399). Letter to the Thessalonians: This letter of Paul is the oldest written account in the New Testament.

Paul arrived in Thessalonica, the capital province of Macedonia, in 50 A. D. to preach the Good News to the Jews residing here. However, he was rejected and instead he preached to the pagan tribes where he was successful in forming a community of believers. After only 3 months hence, a riot instigated by the Jews forced him to leave. Because of Paul’s apprehensions, he sent Timothy over to the Thessalonians in order to strengthen their church. Timothy returned with an encouraging report and as a consequence, Paul, contented and reassured, sent this letter in 51 A.

D (Letter to the Thessalonians, 408). Second Letter to the Thessalonians: The first letter to the Thessalonians showed to us, through Paul’s gospel, the importance of anticipating and waiting for Jesus’ second coming. The salvation in Jesus’ return is a powerful motivation for the faith of the early believers. But this could lead to detrimental anxiety. The early church of Thessalonica was the first example of the persecution of the early Christians, being still a minority group, and which the anticipation of the end of the world inhibits the development of the Christian life.

The apostle Paul deals in this gospel mainly of the second coming of Jesus and tries to reassure the believers of the faith. This letter was written a few months after he wrote the first one (Second Letter to the Thessalonians, 414). Letter to Timothy: With the deaths of Peter and Paul as martyrs in Rome in 64-67 A. D, the church found itself with no more direct witnesses to the works and deeds of Christ. The Greeks and the Jews found it hard to accept the Christian teachings without altering the message according to the prejudices of their cultures.

This gospel was written about 90-100 A. D. , and although they share the same origin and style, it has been found that these letters to Timothy and Titus are not from Paul. These gospels are written for Paul’s trustees, although they are not apostles, they have authority over their churches. Here they are reminded of their tasks as church leaders and at the same time they are ordered to watch over their community and to administer the sacred sacraments of the Church like baptism, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick (Letter to Timothy, 417).

Second Letter to Timothy: The second letter to Timothy is similar to the first. It is said to have been written by Paul in his prison in Rome, shortly before his death. A few details have been given authenticity as coming from Paul while awaiting his execution. With the rest, however, the names of both Paul and Timothy are just pseudonyms. The warnings and teachings to be found here are actually from an unknown author wanting to give to the leaders of the Church, a few decades after the death of the apostle Paul (Second Letter to Timothy, 423).

Letter to Titus: Titus, along with Timothy, is one of the trusted assistants of Paul in the service for Jesus. He had been given the task of visiting the churches with the same authority as Paul himself. This letter is very similar in teachings and in context to the two letters to Timothy (Letter to Titus, 430). Letter to the Hebrews: The name Hebrews is given to the Jewish minorities living in Palestine. This letter was written for the first Jewish Christian communities in Palestine, who have been persecuted and whose properties had been confiscated by the authorities, simply because of being followers of Jesus.

This letter explains that the Jewish religion, with all its ceremonies in the temple of Jerusalem, was only a vision of something greater. The forgiveness of sin, which is the goal of the Old Testament, was to be fulfilled by the priest for all mankind, Jesus, the Son of God. This letter was written in Rome in the year 66 A. D, at a time when the war that destroyed Jerusalem was fast approaching. These were the last moments of the Apostle Paul’s life; he was imprisoned in Rome for the second time (Letter to the Hebrews, 433).

Letter of James: There had been a long-standing debate whether this James is the alleged brother of Jesus. His name was barely mentioned in the gospels, yet a few years after Pentecost he reappears as the leader of the Jerusalem Christian community. He was considered as the one responsible for Christian communities that have a majority of Jews, in places like Syria, Palestine, and Cecilia. Or could he be John, the apostle? In speaking to the Christians in Jerusalem, he taught of uncomplicated and practical things, inspired by the Old Testament.

This gospel does not contain doctrinal teachings, thus this was looked-down by the early Christians. It has, however, very important moral teachings, especially with regards to justice (Letter of James, 451). Letter of Peter: Very little has been written about the life of Peter from the Council of Jerusalem, from the year 49 A. D. up to the time he wrote this gospel, around 64 A. D. Although being the leader of the entire Church, he was certain to have gone to Rome. This letter from Rome has been written by Peter a few times before his death.

He wrote this gospel for the Christians of the Asian province using only simple words because he does not possess the literary talent of Paul. This letter consists of the baptismal ceremony of the early church, 1:3 – 3:7, like hymns, homily about the ritual, and on Christian living. The end of this gospel tells us that Peter wrote through Silvanus, a disciple of Apostle Paul (Letter of Peter, 459). Second Letter of Peter: In the entire bible, this is the latest book. It was probably written about the year 100 A. D. The three chapters found in this gospel concern itself with the problems of the early Church at that time.

These are: preserving the Christian faith, as was taught by the eyewitnesses to the Lord Jesus; fighting against teachers of the faith with misleading doctrines that lead to immorality; and explaining the reasons why Christ had not returned yet (Second Letter of Peter, 465). Letter of John: In this first letter of John, he asserts that the Christian way is nothing less of being godly. He further affirms in this gospel, “if you have the Son of God you have the whole truth, you are on the way to authentic love and you are in communion with God Himself” (Letter of John, 469).

In this gospel, John states the conditions for us to know or check if we are indeed walking in the light of Jesus Christ, these are: -in Christ we recognize God Himself; yet we must always remember to internalize His actions, His mission, His way of being human. -We believe we have been reborn from God: that does not mean that we are above His commandments, nor that we should neglect daily efforts to be worthy of Him. –Faith has renewed our knowledge of God. What matters most is to understand His love and, for that, there is no better teaching than that of the cross (Letter of John, 469).

Second Letter of John: In this gospel, John refers to an unknown community of believers as chosen lady. The Church is chosen as it is holy, in the same manner the people constituting it are considered as chosen and holy ones of God. In this gospel, John asserts the faithful to have a strong and forceful attitude towards those who reject the faith of the apostles, at the same time he reminds them of basic law for Christians: love. To remain passionately faithful to the truth is to love Christ who had bestowed upon us this truth. We as Christians need the whole truth, and not what is most pleasing to the people (Second Letter of John, 477).

Third Letter of John: For the early Christians who knew him, John was not asking for a special treatment of his holiness, but he was simply a servant of the Lord. But for a man named Diotrephes, to whom John had earlier entrusted a community we do not know of, John was an annoying old man. In order for him to have a complete control on his church, Diotrephes had cut off the relationship from the main Church. John however, in his three gospels, speaks of the communion that must exist among Christians. Any church or group must always remain open to other groups and should maintain constant communication with them.

The apostle Paul also insists in this duty: for believers to welcome in their homes all Christians from all other places, so as to strengthen the bonds of the common faith (Third Letter of John, 478). Letter of Jude: This gospel is considered to be written by the apostle Jude Thaddeus during the end of the first century. It condemns the false teachers as mentioned in the letters to Timothy and Titus. The Church during that time had not yet decided which texts were to be part of the bible, thus this gospel used examples coming from the Jewish books of his time.

Such as the Book of Enoch, The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and the Assumption of Moses. This is the reason as to why we find many legends concerning ancient times in this gospel. It also emphatically calls for the preservation of the fundamental faith of the apostles, which at that time had been a serious concern of the Church. Because of this, just a few years later, the author of the Second Letter of Peter copied parts of this letter (Letter of Jude, 479). The Book of Revelation: This book was written by John the Evangelist, brother of James the martyr, when he was exiled to Patmos Island for the sake of the Christian faith.

In order for us to avoid misunderstanding, it is important that we should be aware that the term Revelations and Apocalypses were popular forms of literature during Jesus’ time. There was an Apocalypse of Isaiah, of Moses, and many others. It was a way of interpreting contemporary events wrapped up in formidable images, usually with visions and angels. John, in writing the Revelation of Jesus Christ, was expressing the events by way of his gifts as a prophet, with the usual formula of the apocalyptic books of his era.

He did the same with the second part of this book, he did not mean to relate the future events but tells us what was at stake and who would be the real actors. In this book we see seven series, each with seven elements, in four major parts: -the seven messages to the churches; -the fulfillment of the Old Testament; -the Church faces the Roman Empire; -the last days and the heavenly Jerusalem (The Book of Revelation, 481). Work Cited Christian Community Bible (13th ed. ). Philippines: Claretian Publications, 2000.

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