New Testament Overview

The Historical Books of the New Testament

The Historical Books of the New Testament
Introduction: by J. Hampton Keathley, III
As previously mentioned, the New Testament falls into three categories based on their literary makeup — the historical, the epistolary, and the prophetical. The four Gospels make up about 46 percent and the book of Acts raises this to 60 percent. This means 60 percent of the New Testament is directly historical tracing the roots and historical development of Christianity. Christianity is based on historical facts. This is inherent in the very nature of the gospel. Christianity is the message of the gospel and what is a gospel? It is good news, information derived from the witness of others.
It is history, the testimony of historical facts. “The gospel is news that something has happened—something that puts a different face upon life.

What that something is is told us in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”fn10 

Following this four-fold account, Acts gives the historical account of the extension of the gospel message from Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth, into the Gentile world. It begins:
Digging Deeper into the Gospels
  Concise Introduction to New Testament Survey  
  Introduction to the New Testament  
1.0 The Historical Books of the New Testament  
1.1 The Synoptic Gospels  
1.2 The Purpose and Distinctive Focus of the Four Gospels  
1.3 Harmony of the Gospels  
1.4 The Gospel Books Detailed Reviews  

1:1 I wrote the former account (the Gospel of Luke), Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 1:2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 1:3 After his suffering he had also presented himself alive to these apostles by many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.

Luke is volume one and Acts is volume two of Dr. Luke’s treatise about the historical life and ministry of the Savior as begun by the Lord Jesus. This was continued by the Savior through the Holy Spirit working in the life of His apostles following Christ’s ascension into heaven. Acts thus provides the historical outline of the apostles’ ministry in the life of the early church. This becomes crucial to our understanding of much of what we have in the epistles, which were historical letters written to living people in historical places. The New Testament, then, is a historical book of the Good News of the living God at work in human history, not just in the past, but in the living present and the future in light of the promises of God.

10 Machen, p. 17.
@ by J. Hampton Keathley, III {original source}
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