Introduction to the New Testament: Gospels and Acts, by Dr. Craig Blomberg

Backgrounds

1. Political Backgrounds - Overview of the influences of the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires on the Jewish nation. Also, a summary of the Jewish political and religious rulers and movements, and the tensions that arose between the Jews and the occupying Roman authorities.

2. Religious Backgrounds - Ancient philosophies and religious movements had a significant influence on peoples' beliefs and behavior in the first century. The influence of Rome and Greece was evident throughout the world. Religious groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees, and teachings of contemporary Judaism about the Messiah affected Jesus' teaching and ministry.

3. Social Background - One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles.

4. Socioeconomical Background - Matthew 8:1-17 focuses on 3 people that each represent a different socioeconomic background. They are a leper, a centurion's servant and Simon's mother-in-law.

Criticisms

5. Historical Criticisms - The Gospels are historically reliable documents. Some of the main arguments and pieces of evidence pointing to the historical reliability of the Gospels are given in this lecture.

6. Illustrations and Applications - The gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke have so many similarities that they are referred to as the "Synoptic Gospels." There is also material in each of these Gospels that make it distinctive from the other two.

7. Literary Criticism - It can be helpful to examine, from a literary perspective, the passages that record the encounters that Jesus had with Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman.

Gospels

8. Introduction to Mark - In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Mark, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the major themes of the book. The content of the book can be divided into the first 8 chapters that focus on the life and ministry of Jesus and the last 8 chapters that focus on His death and resurrection.

9. Introduction to Matthew - In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Matthew, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the possible sources on which Matthew relied when he was writing. Matthew begins by recording genealogy of Jesus and some of the events surrounding his infancy. Jesus' public ministry began with HIs baptism by John the Baptist, temptation in the wilderness and calling of the disciples. His preaching included the Sermon on the Mount and parables which Matthew grouped together in the Gospel.

10. Introduction to Luke - Examining the outline and structure of the Gospel of Luke reveals the main points and the focus of Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts. Luke and Matthew have some similarities as well as some elements that are distinctive.

11. Introduction to John - Much of the material of the Gospel of John is unique, compared to the other 3 Gospel accounts. Some of John's account alternates between recording a sign that Jesus performs with a discourse about a certain subject. Chapter 12 to the end of the Gospel covers the final days of Jesus' life on earth.

Early Years

12. The Historical Jesus - Some scholars belief that historical evidence supports the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, some think the historical evidence supports the inauthenticity of the Gospel accounts, and some think that the historical evidence is irrelevant. The different conclusions are due mainly to different presuppositions. It is possible to propose a probable time line of Jesus' life.

13. Infancy Narratives - The Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth and early years of life show how He accurately fulfilled specific OT prophecies made hundreds of years earlier, and how His life was intertwined with that of John the Baptist. The beginning of John's Gospel is a testimony to Jesus' nature as being both fully God and fully human.

Public Ministry

14. Christ’s Adult Public Ministry - Locations in present day Israel that are related to Jesus' infancy and the beginning of His public ministry.

15. Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry – Part 1 - John the Baptist began his ministry before Jesus's public ministry. For a while their public ministries overlapped, then Jesus conducted the remainder of His public ministry without John the Baptist on the scene.

16. Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry – Part 2 - Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was one of the first miracles Jesus performed in His public ministry. He also had conversations with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and healed the nobleman's son.

17. Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry – Part 3 - The Sermon on the Mount is one of the main passages showing how Jesus defines the "Kingdom of God." He also calls the disciples, redefines the family, performs healings and exorcisms, and uses parables and pronouncements to teach about who God is and how He relates to humans.

18. Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry – Part 4 - Locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

19. Sermon on the Mount - The Sermon on the Mount shows how the teachings of the Kingdom of God relate to the OT Law. It also includes additional NT teachings and a model prayer.

20. Jesus' Early Galilean Ministry – Part 5 - Locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

21. Parables and Miracles - Understanding parables as a literary form helps us interpret them accurately. Jesus performed miracles in various contexts for specific purposes.

22. Places Related to Parables and Miracles - Locations in present day Israel related to parables Jesus said and places He performed miracles.

23. Withdrawal from Galilee – Part 1 - Jesus' ministry in Galilee took place in locations like Nazareth, Cana, the Sea of Galilee and other nearby towns and areas. As Jesus was departing from Galilee, he performed miracles and taught at specific places along the way.

24. Withdrawal from Galilee – Part 2 - As Jesus was teaching in Galilee, among other things, he made specific claims regarding his deity, showed how he fulfilled the Jewish festivals and taught on humility and forgiveness.

25. Withdrawal from Galilee – Part 3 – Pictures - Locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' ministry.

26. Two Case Studies - Does the Bible teach that we are to marry or that we are not to marry?

Passion Week

27. Jericho to Jerusalem - Passion Week in the life of Jesus includes his anointing in Bethany, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, cleansing of the temple, celebrating Passover, prayer and arrest in Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection.

28. Passion and Resurrection – Part 1 - The death and resurrection of Jesus are significant both historically and theologically.

29. Passion and Resurrection – Part 2 - Narration describing slide photographs of locations of events that took place during Passion Week.

30. Who Was Jesus? Modern Myths vs. Biblical Basics - Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish Messiah. He was both fully God and fully man. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and showed compassion to the people who were outcasts in society.

Early Church

31. Acts – Part 1 - Acts was written as a continuation of the Gospel of Luke to record what the Holy Spirit was doing through the lives of followers of Christ in the early church. The gospel spread ethnically from Jews to Gentiles, and geographically from Jerusalem to the rest of the world.

32. Acts – Part 2 - Stephen challenged the Jewish leaders to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Paul's conversion was a key event in the history of the early church.

33. Acts – Part 3 - The discussion in the Jerusalem council in Acts chapter 15 was how Jews and gentiles could function together as the body of Christ.

34. Acts – Part 4 – Pictures - Narrative describing pictures relating to places that were significant in the early church.

35. Acts – Part 5 - The book of Acts records events that happened during Paul's travels as he preached the gospel and established churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe.