Christianity Sections

Introduction Beliefs Comparison Charts Denominations Facts History Holidays Overview Biographies Practices and Rituals Symbols Texts Timeline

New and Featured in Christianity Section

Ten Plagues of the Exodus

History of Christmas Trees

New and Featured On Religion Facts

Illuminati

Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism Comparison Chart

Religion Facts offers downloadable charts. Click for more information.

Related books


Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church

Cross & Livingstone


Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis


Introduction to Christianity

Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)


Christian Theology

Alister McGrath


Christian Beliefs

Wayne Grudem


Catechism of the Catholic Church

U.S. Catholic Church


A Summary of Christian History

Robert Andrew Baker


Jesus Among Other Gods

Ravi Zacharias


Article Info:
published: 3/17/04
updated: 8/14/14

Facts On New Testament Books



New Testament Books Overview

bible

The New Testament is the collection of 27 books that constitute the sacred scripture of the Christian religion, along with Old Testament. The New Testament contains the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul, as well as other writings from Peter and more. Please note: This page contains only the quick facts for each book; the full articles for the New Testament books contain much more information.

The Gospel of Matthew (main article)

Length

28 chapters

Probable author

The Apostle Matthew, a tax collector (Mt 9:9-13)

Date

Jewishness may indicate early date of 50s AD, but if Matthew used Mark as a source, the date could be anywhere between late 50s and 80s AD.

Place of Origin

Palestine or Syrian Antioch

Recipients

Jews

Purpose

To demonstrate that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah

Structure

Organized around five great discourses of Jesus (chs. 5-7; ch. 10; ch. 13; ch. 18; chs. 24-25), with a prologue and epilogue.

Emphases

Jesus as Messiah; OT quotations; Jesus' Davidic lineage

Early references

"Matthew put together the oracles of the Lord in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could." (Papias, Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, c. 120 AD)

"Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.1, c. 180 AD)

"Among the four gospels... I have learned by tradition that first was written that according to Matthew, who was once a tax collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language." (Origin (c. 185-254 AD), Commentary on Matthew, quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.4)



The Gospel of Mark (main article)

Length

16 chapters

Probable author

John Mark, a companion of the Apostle Peter

Date

Either 50s AD or shortly before 70 AD.

Place of Origin

Rome

Recipients

Gentiles, probably at Rome

Purpose

To encourage believers under threat of persecution and martyrdom

Emphases

The crucifixion, discipleship, suffering, Jesus as teacher, Jesus as the Son of God, the Messianic secret

Early references

"Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.1, c. 180 AD)

"...the Gospel according to Mark was composed in the following circumstances: Peter preached the word publicly at Rome. By the Spirit, he proclaimed the Gospel. Those who were present (who were numerous) urged Mark to write down what had been spoken. For he had attended Peter from an early period and remembered what had been said. On his composing the Gospel, Mark handed it to those who had urged him. When this came to Peter's knowledge, he neither hindered nor encouraged it." (Clement of Alexandria, c. 195 AD, quoted by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.14)


The Gospel of Luke (main article)

Length

24 chapters

Author

Luke, a Greek-speaking Gentile physician and companion of the Apostle Paul

Date

Its Jewishness may indicate early date of 50s AD, but if Matthew used Mark as a source, the date could be anywhere between late 50s and 80s AD.

Place of Origin

Probably Rome (or Achaia, Ephesus or Caesarea)

Recipients

Theophilus, who lived in Antioch, Achaia, or Ephesus

Purpose

Luke was probably commissioned by Theophilus, a wealthy man, to record the gospel for the edification of Theophilus and others.

Emphases

Gentiles as part of God's plan, prayer, the joy of the "good news", the poor, sinners, women, family life, Jesus as Son of Man

Early references

"Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.1, c. 180 AD) "The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, after the ascension of Christ, when Paul had taken him with him as one zealous for the law, composed it in his own name, according to general belief. Yet he himself had not seen the Lord in the flesh; and therefore, as he was able to ascertain events, so indeed he begins to tell the story from the birth of John." (Muratorian Canon 2-8, c. 200 AD) "And thirtabley, that according to Luke, the Gospel commended by Paul [2 Corinthians 8:18] and composed for those who from the Gentiles came to believe." (Origin (c. 185-254 AD), Commentary on Matthew, quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6.25.6)


The Gospel of John (main article)

Length

21 chapters

Probable author

The Apostle John (or a later writer who used John's teachings)

Date

Traditionally, 85 AD or later, especially c. 100 AD; some have recently suggested no later than 70 AD.

Place of Origin

Possibly Ephesus

Recipients

Probably Gentiles of a Hellenistic background.

Purpose

To win converts or build up the faith of believers (20:31). Possibly also to refute heretical teachings.

Emphases

Incarnation of the Word, Jesus as Son of God, interpretive comments about Jesus' sayings and actions

Early references

"The fourth of the Gospels is that of John, one of the disciples. To his fellow disciples and bishops, who had been urging him to write, he said, 'Fast with me from today for three days, and what will be revealed to each one let us tell it to one another.' In the same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that John should write down all things in his own name while all of them should review it." (Muratorian Canon 9-16, c. 200 AD) "What a mind, then, we must have to enable us to interpret this work in a worthy manner. This is so even though it has been committed to the earthly treasure house of common speech. It is a writing that anyone can read." (Origen of Alexandria, Commentary on John 1.6, c. 228 AD)


Acts of the Apostles (main article)

Length

28 chapters

Probable author

Luke, the Gentile physician and companion of Paul who is also the author of the Gospel of Luke

Date

Probably c. 63 AD, shortly after the last event recorded in the book, since it does not record the outcome of Paul's trial, the Roman persecutions (64 AD) the martyrdom of Peter or Paul (c. 67) or the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD). If the book ends where it does only because of Luke's purpose (1:8), it could have been written later.

Place of origin

Rome

Recipients

Theophilus (see Gospel of Luke, above)

Purpose:

To present a history, to provide a guide for the future church, to show the triumph of Christianity

Characteristics

Accurate historical detail, literary excellence, dramatic descriptions, objective accounts of failures and successes

Emphases

Guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul's missionary journeys, the drawing away from Jewish traditions.

Early references

"The Acts of the Apostles, too, attests the resurrection." (Tertullian, On the Resurrection 39, c. 210 AD)


Epistle to the Romans (main article)

Length

16 chapters

Author

Apostle Paul

Date

57 AD

Origin

Corinth

Recipients

The church at Rome

Purpose

To prepare the way for Paul's upcoming visit to Rome and to explain the relationship between Jew and Gentile in God's plan of salvation.

Characteristics

Systematic and theological

Emphases

"Righteousness from God," justification by faith, sin and guilt, Jew and Gentile, moral exhortations.


1 Corinthians (main article)

Length

16 chapters

Probable author

Apostle Paul

Date

c. Spring 55 AD

Place of origin

Ephesus

Recipients

The church at Corinth

Purposes

To respond to reports of immorality in the Corinthian church, to provide counsel on several subjects as requested by the church, and to correct false teachings related to the resurrection.

Emphases

Righteous life and holiness

Early references

"As to the epistles of Paul... he wrote first of all - and at considerable length - to the Corinthians, to curtail the schism of heresy." (Muratorian Canon, c. 200 AD)


2 Corinthians (main article)

Length

13 chapters

Probable author

Apostle Paul

Date

c. Summer 55 AD

Place of origin

Macedonia

Recipients

The church at Corinth and Christians through Achaia

Purposes

To respond to false teachers who had been speaking against Paul at Corinth.

Emphases

Paul's integrity and role as apostle


Epistle to the Galatians (main article)

Length:

6 chapters

Author:

Apostle Paul

Date:

c. 48-57 AD

Place of Origin:

Ephesus, Macedonia, Syrian Antioch, or Corinth

Recipients:

Churches in southern area of the Roman province of Galatia ( Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe)

Purpose:

Respond to Judaizers, who required Gentile converts to Christianity to be circumcised and who argued that Paul was not an authentic apostle.

Emphases:

Paul's apostolic authority, justification by faith apart from legalism. (This book was very influential on Martin Luther.)


Epistle to the Ephesians (main article)

Length:

6 chapters

Author:

Apostle Paul

Date:

c. 60 AD

Place of Origin:

Prison in Rome

Recipients:

Ephesus and other churches

Purpose:

Help readers understand God's eternal purpose and high goals for the church.

Emphases:

God's goals for the church ("to bring all things in the universe together under Christ"), spiritual gifts, unity of the church, purity.


Epistle to the Philippians (main article)

Length:

4 chapters

Author:

Apostle Paul

Date:

c. 61

Place of Origin:

Prison, probably in Rome

Recipients:

Church at Philippi

Purpose:

To thank the Philippians for the gift they had sent him upon learning of his situation, to update them on his circumstances, to encourage them in persecution, to warn them about Judaizers and antinomians among them.

Emphases:

Joy (the word occurs 16 times), Christ, humility and unity. Contains no OT quotations.


Epistle to the Colossians (main article)

Length:
4 chapters
Author:
Apostle Paul
Date:
c. 60
Place of Origin:
Prison in Rome
Recipients:
Church at Colosse
Purpose:
To refute the Colossian heresy, which seems to have been ascetic, ritualized, focused on secret knowledge, and reliant on human wisdom. It was probably an early form of Gnosticism.
Emphases:
Christ's divinity and adequacy contrasted with the inadequacy of the false teachings.

1 Thessalonians (main article)

Length:
5 chapters
Author:
Apostle Paul
Date:
c. 51 (probably Paul's earliest letter)
Place of Origin:
Corinth
Recipients:
Church of Thessalonica
Purpose:
Paul had left Thessalonica after only a brief stay, so he wrote to support new converts from paganism, giving them instruction and assurance.
Emphases:
Eschatology

2 Thessalonians (main article)

Length:
3 chapters
Author:
Apostle Paul
Date:
c. 51 or 52
Place of Origin:
Corinth
Recipients:
Church at Thessalonica
Purpose:
Similar to 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes to encourage new believers and correct a misunderstanding about the second coming.
Emphases:

1 Timothy (main article)

Length:
6 chapters
Author:
Apostle Paul (questioned by some)
Date:
c. 65 AD
Place of Origin:
Philippi
Recipients
Timothy, a close friend and coworker with Paul
Purpose:
To instruct Timothy on the pastoral care of the church at Ephesus and to refute false teachings.
Emphases:
Refutations of Gnostic, antinomian and ascetic heresies, church organization, worship.

2 Timothy (main article)

Length:
4 chapters
Author:
Apostle Paul (questioned by some)
Date:
c. 66-67 AD, shortly before Paul's martyrdom
Place of Origin:
Prison in Rome
Recipient:
Timothy, a close friend and coworker with Paul
Purpose:
To ask Timothy to visit him in prison, to encourage Timothy to guard the gospel during persecution, and to write to the Ephesian church through Timothy.
Emphases:
Endurance in persecution, personal greetings

Epistle to Titus (main article)

Length:
3 chapters
Author:
Apostle Paul
Date:
c. 63-65 AD
Place of Origin:
Corinth
Recipients:
Titus, a Gentile convert of Paul who worked with him at Ephesus during his third missionary journey and later in Crete. Titus was in Crete when he received this letter.
Purpose:
To provide Titus with authorization, support in dealing with opposition, instructions in faith and conduct, and warnings about false teachers.
Emphases:
"Doing what is good," summaries of Christian doctrine

Epistle to Philemon (main article)

Length:
1 chapter
Author:
Apostle Paul
Date:
c. 60 AD
Place of Origin:
Prison in Rome (or possibly from Ephesus)
Recipient:
Philemon, a Colossian believer and slave owner.
Purpose:
Philemon's slave Onesimus had run away (a crime punishable by death), but then was converted by Paul and became willing to return to his master. Paul writes to ask Philemon to accept Onesimus as a Christian brother.


Epistle to the Hebrews (main article)

Length:
13 chapters
Author:
Unknown Jewish Christian; perhaps Barnabas or Apollos
Date:
prior to 70 AD
Place of Origin:
Unknown
Recipients:
Jewish Christians
Purpose:
To convince Jewish converts who were tempted to return to Judaism (or Judaize the gospel) of the supremacy of Christ over the old covenant.
Emphases:
Supremacy and sufficiency of Christ, the need for perseverance in the Christian life.


Epistle of James (main article)

Length:
5 chapters
Author:
Self-identified as James, who is probably James the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church.
Date:
Possibly before 50 AD, or early 60s. May be the earliest of the NT writings.
Place of Origin:
Unknown
Recipients:
Jewish Christians ("the 12 tribes scattered among the nations")
Purpose:
Possibly to encourage former members of the Jerusalem church who had scattered after Stephen's death
Characteristics:
Jewish nature, excellent Greek, authoritative tone, simple organization
Emphases:
Good works a result of genuine faith, wisdom, teachings of the Sermon on the Mount


1 Peter (main article)

Length:
5 chapters
Author:
Apostle Peter
Date:
Early 60s AD
Place of Origin:
"Babylon" (5:13), which could refer to Egyptian Babylon, Mesopotamian Babylon, Jerusalem or Rome
Recipients:
Jewish and Gentile Christians in Asia Minor (1:1)
Purpose:
To encourage believers to continue in the Christian life
Emphases:
Christian life, suffering and persecution, grace of God


2 Peter (main article)

Length:
3 chapters
Author:
Self-identified as Apostle Peter; questioned by some
Date:
c. 65-68 AD if written by Peter; later otherwise
Place of Origin:
Unknown
Recipients:
Christians in general
Purpose:
To encourage Christian growth, to combat false teaching (early Gnosticism), and to encourage watchfulness in light of Christ's immanent return
Themes:
Christian life and perseverance, false teachers, the "day of the Lord"
Early opinion:
"Peter... left one epistle of acknowledged authenticity. Perhaps we can allow that he left a second. However, this is doubtful." (Origen of Alexandria, Commentary on John 5.3, c. 228 AD)


1 John (main article)

Length:
5 chapters
Author:
Apostle John
Date:
c. 85 to 95 AD
Place of Origin:
Probably Ephesus
Recipients:
Churches in Asia Minor
Purpose:
To combat libertine Gnosticism
Emphases:
False teachers, assurance of salvation, morality, the author's eyewitness testimony to the incarnation
Early opinion:
   
"But [John] also left an epistle of very few lines. Suppose also a second and third, since not all pronounce these to be genuine." (Origen of Alexandria, Commentary on John 5.3, c. 228 AD)


2 John (main article)

Length:
1 chapter of 13 verses
Author:
Apostle John
Date:
c. 85 to 95 AD
Place of Origin:
Probably Ephesus
Recipients:
"The chosen lady and her children" (1:1)
Purpose:
To warn against supporting traveling false teachers
Emphases:
False teachers, perseverance in the Christian life
Early opinion:
"The second Epistle of John, which was written to virgins, is very simple. It was written to a Babylonian lady, by the name of Electa, and it indicates the election of the holy church." (Clement of Alexandria, Fragments from Cassiodorus 4, c. 195)


3 John (main article)

Length:
1 chapter of 14 verses
Author:
Apostle John
Date:
c. 85 to 95 AD
Place of Origin:
Probably Ephesus
Recipients:
"My dear friend Gaius" (1:1)
Purpose:
To thank Gaius for receiving John's messengers and to admonish those who did not
Emphases:
Traveling missionaries


Jude (main article)

Length:
1 chapter of 25 verses
Author:
"Jude" (v. 1), another form of Judas, which could refer to Judas the apostle (Lk 6:16) or Judas the brother of the Lord (Mt 13:55); probably the latter
Date:
c. 65 to 80 AD, depending on whether Jude used 2 Peter
Place of Origin:
Unknown
Recipients:
Christians in general
Purpose:
To warn against apostates and false teachers (early Gnostics)
Emphases:
Apostates, false teachers, importance of perseverance
Early opinion:
   
"Jude, who wrote the catholic Epistle, was the brother of the sons of Joseph. And he was very religious. Although experiencing the near relationship of the Lord, yet he did not say that he himself was His brother." (Clement of Alexandria, Fragments 2, c. 195 AD)
   "It is true that Jude wrote a letter of only a few lines. However, it is filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace." (Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10.17, c. 245 AD)


Revelation (main article)

Length:
22 chapters
Author:
Apostle John or John the Presbyter
Date:
c. 95 AD, probably during the persecution of Domitian
Place of Origin:
Unknown; the vision John relates came to him on Patmos
Destination:
"The seven churches in the province of Asia" (1:4)
Purpose:
To relate a vision of the end times so that believers will be prepared
Characteristics:
Apocalyptic, highly symbolic, frequent use of the number seven
Emphases:
Eschatology, perseverance during persecution
Early opinion:
   
"There was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied by a revelation that was made to him. He prophesied that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 81, c. 160 AD)
   "In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord's disciples what will happen n the last times, and concerning the ten kings who will then arise, among whom the empire which now rules the earth shall be partitioned." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 26.1, c. 180)

Recommended for You


More on Christianity


More Religious Texts


World Religions - Main pages


Christian beliefs

Christian denominations

Christian fast facts

Christian history

Christian holidays

Christian biographies

Christian practices

Christian symbols

 

Christian writings

Bahai writings

Buddhism writings

Hinduism writings

Islam writings

Jehovah's Witnesses writings

Judaism writings

Mormonism writings

Taoism writings

Buddhism

Christianity

Confucianism

Hinduism

Islam

Jehovah's Witnesses

Judaism

Mormonism



References

1. Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament, 305.