Survey of the New Testament - Lesson 1

Introduction to Survey of the New Testament

In this lesson, you will gain an understanding of the purpose of the Survey of the New Testament class. The class will cover an overview of the New Testament and its books, and explain the purpose of the New Testament in presenting the Good News of Jesus Christ, establishing the principles of the Christian faith, and providing guidance for Christian living. The importance of studying the New Testament will also be emphasized to deepen one's understanding of the Christian faith and grow in knowledge and wisdom.

Bill Mounce
Survey of the New Testament
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Introduction to Survey of the New Testament

I. The Purpose of the Class

A. To help students understand the New Testament

B. To give an overview of the books of the New Testament and their content

II. The Outline of the Class

A. Historical Overview

B. Introduction to each New Testament Book

III. The Purpose of the New Testament

A. To present the Good News of Jesus Christ

B. To establish the principles of the Christian Faith

C. To provide guidance for Christian living

IV. Importance of Studying the New Testament

A. To deepen one's understanding of the Christian faith

B. To grow in knowledge and wisdom

  • In this lesson, you will learn the purpose and outline of the New Testament and the importance of studying the New Testament.
  • The lesson teaches about the writing and transmission of the Old and New Testaments and emphasizes the importance of understanding the process.
  • You will gain insight into the canonization of the Bible and its importance in shaping our understanding of the Bible as the authoritative Word of God.
  • This lesson gives an overview of the formation, transmission, and translation of the New Testament to show its reliability and significance today.
  • The lesson provides knowledge and insight into Mark's Gospel, including the background and purpose and the beginning of Jesus' ministry with a focus on the theological themes in Mark 1:1-5.
  • This lesson covers Jesus' life and teachings in the Gospels of Mark, including miracles, predictions of his death and resurrection, and teachings on various topics.
  • In this lesson, you will understand the contents and context of Mark 13, which includes an eschatological discourse by Jesus, the destruction of the Temple, the signs of the end, the parousia and the coming of the Son of Man, and the necessity of watchfulness.
  • This lesson provides an overview of Mark 14-16 in the New Testament, including the Last Supper, the arrest and trial of Jesus, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and the commissioning of the disciples.
  • Having covered the basic story of Jesus' life in Mark, in this lesson we look at two specific teachings in Matthew, namely the virgin birth and its ramifications on our world-view, and the Beatitudes, the first part of the Sermon on the Mount.

  • In this second lesson on Matthew we will finish the Sermon on the Mount with special emphasis on the Lord's Prayer

  • In this lesson we will summarize the gospel written by Luke (temptation, the sinful woman, discipleship) with an emphasis on material that he alone includes (the Parable of the Good Samaritan)

  • We will pay special attention to John's presentation of Jesus as God and the many "proofs" of his divinity (with emphasis on the Prologue and the I Am sayings). We will also talk about John's use of the phrase "believe into."

  • In the second half of John we will focus on the Upper Room Discourse, the nature of servanthood, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus' "High Priestly Prayer."

  • The first part of Acts is the story of Peter and the expansion of the church from Jerusalem, to Judea, and the beginning of the movement to the ends of the earth. We will also talk about the significance of "tongues" as well as the "kerygma."

  • Paul begins his first missionary journey through Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and writes his letter to the Galatians, and we close with the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).

  • In Paul's Second Missionary Journey he travels through Asia Minor to Corinth. We will look at his two letters to the Thessalonian church with an emphasis on his basic teaching to new converts and Jesus' return.

  • We will look quickly at Paul's Third Missionary Journey and then center on the first part of his first letter to the Corinthian church as he deals with divisions in the church, immorality, church discipline, and lawsuits.

  • There's a lot to cover in this lesson, issues of marriage, divorce, remarriage, spiritual gifts, our resurrection, the intermediate state (what happens to us between death and the final judgment), and finally the whole issue of money and giving.

  • Introduction to the letter, and discussion of Paul's doctrine of sin, salvation, righteousness, and faith.

  • Discussion of life after conversion (reconciliation, sin, sanctification, the Holy Spirit), and the relationship between Jews and Gentiles

  • Paul's discussion of the ethics of the Christian life, a Christian's relationship to the government, and a final discussion of "weak" and "strong" Christians

  • A quick discussion of Paul's arrest and series of imprisonments, and then an indepth look at Ephesians with an emphasis on our spiritual blessings, salvation, and Paul's call to walk in love.

  • Philippians is a joyous book, giving us a glimpse of Paul's prayer life and his call for unity in the church. The "Christ Hymn" in chapter 2 receives special attention.

  • Philemon gives us a glance into the world of slavery and what Paul really thought of it. Paul also addressed the nature of Jesus as both human and divine because there were people teaching heretical views at the time.

  • The Pastoral Epistles show us how to deal with heresy and addresses the issues of men and women in ministry and also that of leadership.

  • Hebrews contains two basic charges -- the supremacy of Christ over all, and the necessity of Christians persevering in their Christian walk.

  • James is full of practical advice. It is especially concerned to show that changed people live in a changed way, and also addresses the topics of pain and suffering, temptation and sin, and the tongue.

  • Peter calls his people to be faithful in their commitment to Christ especially in the midst of suffering, all the while encouraging them to keep an eye on the future and what lies ahead.

  • John is especially concerned to discuss the role of ongoing sin in the life of a believer, the assurance Christians have of their salvation, and the command to love.

  • Instead of being concerned with the identity of specific events happening at the end of time, we should primarily be concerned with these central truths: it is going to get worse, we must continue to be faithful, and in the end Jesus (and we) win.

  • We have been using the Statement of Faith to determine what we talk about in the New Testament. You have now seen every part of the Statement in its Biblical context. To conclude, we walk through the Statement to make sure its meaning is clear.

This New Testament Survey class is a great opportunity for you to consider solid reasons for current issues like, why you can trust your Bible, that Jesus was a historical person who taught, performed miracles and came back to life again after he had died, and the importance of knowing what the Bible teaches so you can live your life differently by loving God and others. In his New Testament Survey class, Dr. Mounce helps you to look at the life of Jesus from the perspective of four eyewitnesses who each emphasize a different aspect of how Jesus lived his life and related to other people.

When you move on to study the book of Acts, you get a window into what the early church experienced when the disciples transitioned into life without having Jesus physically present with them. Their lives changed when they received the Holy Spirit. Peter and the other disciples continued the ministry of Jesus by preaching the gospel in Jerusalem, healing people and confronting the Jewish leadership. They also dealt with practical concerns that you face anytime you have a group of people that are living and functioning together. Paul’s conversion and ministry to the Gentiles impacted the world.

In this New Testament Survey class online, you can walk with Dr. Mounce along Paul’s missionary journeys. Stop along the way and read the letters Paul wrote to instruct and encourage the new believers as he teaches them basic theology and helps them understand how they can live and serve together as the body of Christ. Learn about the other apostles and study the letters they wrote to believers in different life situations.

Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians to emphasize the supremacy of Jesus and to warn them to not turn their back on their faith. James illustrates that how we live shows what we really believe. John reminds us to love each other. He also shares a vision of the end of the age to remind us that circumstances will get worse, Jesus will return and make everything new, and that it’s important to persevere in your faith. In the last lecture of the class,

Dr. Mounce summarizes the main ideas of the New Testament Survey class by showing you how you studied and articulated each article of the statement of faith at various times during the class.

Like all our classes on BiblicalTraining.org, you can register and login to access free NT survey materials. Study with a partner or a group so you can discuss what you are learning as you go. You will be glad you did!

Recommended Books

New Testament Survey: Structure, Content, Theology - Students Guide

New Testament Survey: Structure, Content, Theology - Students Guide

While the New Testament is a series of 27 books and letters, it paints a unified picture of the coming of the Messiah, his life, death, and resurrection, and his teaching on...

New Testament Survey: Structure, Content, Theology - Students Guide

Dr. Bill Mounce
Survey of the New Testament
Introduction to Survey of the New Testament
Lesson Transcript


Good evening! Welcome. Glad you are here. I want to take a little bit of time to introduce what we’re going to do, and then we’ll jump right into the topic at hand. Let’s start with prayer.

Father, we do understand that we cannot be like you unless we understand what you are like. We understand that you have made yourself known and your will known. We thank you. I thank you for these people who are here, who want to learn your will and to learn more about you. Father, we pray that as we go through the New Testament, this will not be knowledge that accumulates, but knowledge through the power of your Spirit that transforms. We pray that our lives and our hearts and our minds will all be different as a result of looking at your word. In Jesus’s name, amen.

What is the Purpose of the Biblical Training Institute?

The Biblical Training Institute exists for one basic purpose: to deal with issues of biblical literacy. A while back, I read about a pastor who spoke at a convention and said, “At the end of football stadiums, sometimes you’ll see the word ‘John,’ followed by ‘3:16. ‘What is that?” Most of the audience had no idea what it stood for. The most prevalent guess was it was John Madden’s weight, but they didn’t know why the colon was there. The second most common guess was that it was the location of the bathroom: tier 3, row 16. Almost no one recognized it as a biblical verse. In that same setting the pastor said, “There’s a story in the Bible about a person who was swallowed by a large fish. What was that person’s name?” With 90% assuredness, the people answered, “Pinocchio.” biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. It is one thing to be a new believer and have everything be new—that’s fine;, but it’s something else to have been in the church for many years and still not know the most basic things. This is where the Biblical Training Institute came from: a desire to help raise people up to a strong level of biblical literacy.

Kent Hughes has written an interesting book related to this. Kent is the pastor of College Church in Wheaton, which is across the street from Wheaton College. His book, Set Apart, is a series of his sermons, wherein he presented statistics about the state of the church. The statistics show that there is no verifiable difference in America between the church and secular society. Actually, the highest divorce rate in America is among Christians in the South. The lowest divorce rate is in New England, where very few people are Christians. The church is at a significant crossroads in terms of answering the questions: “What does the Bible say?” “How does that affect my life?” “How is that going to change me?” That is what the Biblical Training Institute exists for: to help train people, and to train them for the purpose of transformation.

Who is the Biblical Training Institute for?

The Biblical Training Institute is for any Christian who wants a firm foundation. You know where you are in this whole journey. It is really for anyone. A lot people have a lot of knowledge in one area, but are weak in another. One of the things that the Biblical Training Institute seeks to do is fill those gaps in your knowledge of Scripture. This is especially for anyone moving into leadership in the church. Titus says that elders must be able to teach truth and refute error. If a person does not meet that qualification, then that person shouldn’t be an elder. The question is, where do you go to get trained to be able to teach truth and refute error? These were some of the things in the back of my mind as we put this class together.

Just so you know, this is the master’s level class I taught when I was in seminary, with a whole lot more theology than I was allowed to put into a class. In other words, you can expect that this is going to be like a master’s level, seminary class in New Testament survey, with a lot of theology. At the same time, I’m not going to assume that you have background knowledge on this topic. I know some of you are new Christians, and you wouldn’t want me to assume that you know a bunch of stuff. I’m going to start close to ground zero; hopefully that helps you to judge where the lectures are headed. I should also say the Biblical Training Institute is part of a larger effort called Biblical Training.org, which is a web project that I’m involved in. Biblical Training.org is free online school, which includes content for new believers all the way up to seminary courses. I post everything related to this course on Biblical Training.org. The talks I am giving are all being recorded. They are going to be posted there in the case that you need to access one. If you need handouts, those will also be posted on the site.

Three Stages


Let me address what were going to talk about from a slightly different angle. I call it the three different stages of head, heart, and hands. I’m going to use these words quite a bit, so I want to make sure you understand what I mean. First, much of what I will cover is focused on the mind—I call this “head stuff.” It’s information about the Bible, centering on the big picture. I intend to give you the overall structure of the New Testament, so that when we learn the details, you’ll know where into the overall structure those little pieces fit. Often, we know a verse here or paragraph there, but I want to make sure that you have a full appreciation for the New Testament as a whole. Because of that, we will first focus on the big picture, so that you’ll know where the smaller pieces that we discuss fit in.


Second, I’m also going to focus on what I call “heart stuff,” by which I mean theology. It is not enough to simply learn information. I want you to begin to process that information, and the best way to process it is to think theologically about the effect of this information—what this information is for. The Biblical Training Institute has a two-page statement of faith—this is my theological guide. I can’t cover everything in the New Testament; this guide helps me focus on what is most important. I may want to discuss one story in Mark, but not another. I use the statement of faith as a guide, because at the end of this course, the goal is that you will understand every single element on that statement faith. You will know the context of the statements, the biblical passages supporting them, and even some of the controversy surrounding them. The statement of faith is my primary grid for deciding what parts of the New Testament we’re going to cover. I will use theology create connections between and help you process content. For example, Paul talks about that we are justified by faith, but James says we are justified by works. We will discuss how these arguments cohere theologically. In other words, theology is one of the means of processing information.


Third, I will talk about “hand stuff,” meaning what we do with this information. A word that expresses this well is the word “transformation.” The purpose of all of this training is transformation. The Biblical Training Institute exists to provide all of us with training. We will learn information, process it theologically, and do something with it—our lives will be changed; we will be transformed. You may or may not be familiar with the phrases, but this course will address “spiritual formation” and “the spiritual disciplines.” These are some of the ways in which we can take what the Bible says and do something with it on a practical level.

We will also try something different this year: on Sunday, we will have a Sunday school class, which will be a time for you all to come together and reflect on what we have learned the preceding Wednesday. These meetings are not mandatory, but they provide a way to reflect and discuss things, since to do so is difficult in a class this size. Since my ultimate goal is transformation, I don’t want this course to be simply an accumulation of information. A Sunday school class is the best way I know how to provide you the opportunity to work through the issues I raise in class. If you cannot attend, perhaps you can get together with friends at another time and do the same thing. There are study guide questions and application questions in your notes. In the Sunday morning class, we will work through those questions just to give you all a chance to say, “Mounce is off his rocker; he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” or, “I never thought about that I wonder how that’s going to affect how I spend my money.” It is in those kinds of discussions, where you wrestle with issues, try to apply them, and discuss back and forth, that transformation is going to happen. That is the basic layout of Sundays. We will further discuss that class later.

Significance of the Logo

There are a few final introductory items. Our logo is extremely important to us, since it depicts something meaningful. Isaiah 61:3 sets forth the goal of becoming oaks of righteousness. You have to have roots to become a tree. The roots of our logo represent study, learning, grappling with theology, and building the foundation of our Christian walk through understanding. But we also want to produce leaves. We want to grow. That is the ultimate purpose of a tree, right? The purpose of a tree is not to develop roots, it’s to grow and develop foliage and fruit and whatever the tree is designed to do. You can’t have roots without a tree. You can’t have a tree without roots. It’s as simple as that. These are the reasons that our logo is important to us. I want us to go deep. I want us to learn. I want us to wrestle with theology. I want us to come to an understanding that the only reason we are doing that is so that we can grow as Christians and be changed by the power of God’s Word through the work of God’s Spirit.

General Class Information

Each class is an hour and a half. We will have a break about halfway through each class. Are there any comments or questions at this point?

The concept of transformation is central, because if, like myself, you were trained in school to accumulate knowledge, it’s difficult to get out of that trap. That is not what I want for any of us. Many of the ladies here who live together have a built-in way of processing the content of this course. They talk to each other and mull ideas over. For those of us who don’t live with others, it’s a little different. For everyone, mulling ideas over takes time. It takes time to assess, “Do we agree? Do we disagree? Do we understand? And, then, so what? Does it really affect my life?” This course will help us to wrestle with these questions this year.

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