Why and How Should You Study the New Testament?

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Lesson

There are many reasons why studying the Bible is informative and profitable. Effective approaches you use to study the New Testament will take into account questions of introduction, exegesis, theology and application. Your conclusions will be affected by your presuppositions and the extent to which you allow your previous knowledge and life experience to be part of the process. (45 min.)

Outline

I. What is the New Testament?

A. The New Testament Canon

1. The 27 Books of the New Testament

2. Definition of “canonization”

B. The Genres of the New Testament

1. The Gospels (Biography)

a. Books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

b. Definition of Gospel

c. The Content of the Four Gospels

d. The Reason for Having Four Gospels

e. The Order of the Four Gospels

2. Acts of the Apostles (History)

a. Books: Acts

b. Definition

c. The Content of Acts

3. Letters (Epistles)

a. Paul’s Letters

b. The Order of the Pauline Epistles

c. General Epistles

d. The Order of the General Epistles

4. Apocalypse

a. Definition of revelation

b. Books: Revelation

c. The Content of Revelation

II. Why Study the New Testament?

A. The Literary Reason

B. The Historical Reason

C. The Contemporary Reason

D. The Academic Reason

E. The Personal Reason

F. The Professional Reason

III. How Should We Study the New Testament?

A. Questions of Introduction

B. Questions of Interpretation

C. Questions of Theology

D. Questions of Application

IV. What Are the Possible Viewpoints on the New Testament?

A. Three Main Perspectives

1. The Religious Viewpoint

2. The Irreligious Viewpoint

3. The Christian Viewpoint

B. Diverse Christian Perspectives

1. The Conservative Evangelical Perspective

2. The Liberal Perspective

3. Denominational Perspectives

a. The Eastern Orthodox Perspective

b. The Roman Catholic Perspective

c. The Protestant Perspective

d. Other Perspectives (e.g., Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.)

V. Should We Evaluate the New Testament from Our Perspective?

A. Two Approaches

B. Blended Approach

1. We should critically analyze the text and weigh the evidence.

2. We should search the Scriptures.

3. We should be open to learning something new.

Reflect

  • Why might it be important to understand the different “genres” of the New Testament? What difference might it make in how we read the various books of the New Testament?
  • The study identified four different kinds of questions that should be addressed in studying the New Testament. Why are these all important? Which of these interests you the most? Why?

Engage

  • This study identified a number of different reasons for learning about the New Testament. Which of these reasons comes closest to the reason that you are learning about the New Testament? Can you think of any other reasons? How might you use some of these reasons to encourage someone else to learn more about the New Testament?
  • Why is it important to understand the different “perspectives” that people bring with them when they read the New Testament? What is your perspective? How might it influence the way you read the New Testament? How might this be a good thing? How might it be a bad thing?