The first five books of the New Testament tell the story of Jesus’ life and of the beginning of the Christian church. The four Gospels tell us almost everything we know about Jesus Christ. The word gospel means “good news.” These four books tell us the Good News that Jesus is the Son of God and that he came to earth and died for our sins. The book of Acts continues the story from Jesus’ return to heaven to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome.
Matthew–The first Gospel was written by Matthew, one of Jesus twelve disciples, sometime before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the year A.D.70.Matthew wrote his Gospel for the Jews, to show them that Jesus was the Messiah who had been promised in the Old Testament. He quoted many Old Testament prophecies and showed how they came true in Jesus’ life. He also included many of Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of heaven, since the Jews were looking for a king. One of the best-known parts of Matthew’s Gospel is the Sermon on the Mount, which shows Jesus as a great teacher.
MARK– the author of this Gospel, may have been the first to write down the events of Jesus’ life. He probably the same person who worked for many years as a missionary with Paul and Barnabas. Mark wrote his Gospel so the early Christians would know what Jesus was like and why he had to die. He shows Jesus as a man of action and authority. One-third of his book tells the events of Jesus’ last week on earth, ending with is death and resurrection.
LUKE–the doctor who traveled with Paul wrote the third Gospel. Luke tells us in the first four verses of his book that he wrote this Gospel so we would have the true story of Jesus’ life. He wrote the fullest, most orderly story of Jesus’ life and showed Jesus’ love for all kinds of people– not just the rich and important, but also the poor or unpopular.
JOHN–The fourth Gospel was also written by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples– John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John wrote this Gospel so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). John wanted to show that the things Jesus said and the miracles he did proved that he is God. He chose stories that show Jesus’ godly powers at times when men were powerless. But he also showed that Jesus was a human and could become tired or hungry or sad, just like us.
ACTS–is the second part of Luke’s history. It was written so we would have the true story of how the Christian church began and grew. This book is sometimes called “The Acts of the Apostles.” It especially tells about the work of two of the apostles– Peter and Paul. Acts can also be called “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” because it teaches about the coming and work of the Spirit. The book of Acts teaches three things about the early church: 1) what the message of the early church was; 2) how the Jews rejected this message and how God sent the apostles to the Gentiles, who accepted the gospel: and 3) how the early church was treated by the local and Roman government.