This collection of books was written during the First Century AD by contemporaries, most of whom had been followers and students of Jesus. The events recorded took place within the Roman Empire. These books were all written in everyday Greek to make them accessible to the widest possible readership.
Note: the title "Christ” is the Greek translation of "Messiah”, the Chosen One.
Accounts by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
These four books are accounts from different viewpoints of Jesus's birth, life, teachings, miracles (mostly of dramatic healing), sufferings and death, return to life, transferring of authority to his followers, final farewell blessing and disappearance from sight. This contains a lot of detail because the life and teachings of Jesus are pivotal to the rest of the New Testament.
The beginning of Jesus's life
Mary conceived by God's power and had to call the baby Jesus1. God told Joseph, her betrothed, to marry her anyway because she was still a virgin. They were in Bethlehem for the birth because of a census. Local shepherds and foreign dignitaries visited him. King Herod heard of it and ordered the death of every boy under 2 years old in Bethlehem as that was where the Messiah was to be born. Warned by God, however, Joseph took his family to Egypt and stayed there for two years.
1Jesus (the Greek form of Joshua) means ‘Saviour'.
John the Baptist
John was like an Old Testament prophet, living in the desert and calling on all to prepare for the Messiah's arrival. Jesus said he was Elijah returned1. He washed people in the river Jordan to show their change of heart. Jesus, too, insisted on being washed by him, and God sent a dove and spoke from heaven telling everyone this was his son. Jesus immediately fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days and was tempted to give up his mission. Then he returned and chose his twelve followers.
1Cultural note: Jewish tradition says that Elijah will return to herald the arrival of the Messiah. An extra place is set at the Passover meal to welcome Elijah in case he turns up.
The miracle at the wedding in Cana
Most of Jesus's miracles were healing people, but his first one was at a wedding to which he, his family and friends had been invited. The wine ran out and when Jesus heard it, he turned six barrels of well water into vintage wine.
Many miracles are recorded, including expelling evil spirits from people, bringing two people back to life, curing leprosy, paralysis and congenital blindness and deafness.
Reactions of other people
Jesus and his teachings were popular with ordinary people and some changed completely, e.g. a dishonest tax collector voluntarily paid people he had cheated compensation which was several times the original amount. However, he offended the religious leaders because he showed up their hypocrisy. Finally they worked out a way to get rid of him "legally,” using the Roman governor.
Warnings for the future
Jesus's followers asked about the end of the world. Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. First there would be natural disasters, wars and "signs” among heavenly bodies. False Messiahs would appear and the ‘abomination' would be in the holy place1. They must ignore reports of the Messiah: he would appear in the clouds and his people would be gathered from all over the world. He urged them always to be ready - even he did not know when this would happen, only God the Father.
1thought by some to mean the site of the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus's entry into Jerusalem1
Jesus borrowed a donkey and rode it into Jerusalem. This declared him the Messiah2. His followers carpeted the ground in front of him with their coats, waved palm branches and proclaimed him Messiah.
1Cultural note: Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, marks this event.
2Zechariah had foretold that the Messiah would come to them humbly, riding a donkey.
Jesus's Passover meal and arrest
Jesus prepared for the Passover evening: he ate the symbolic meal with his followers in Jerusalem. He told them that one of them would betray him and the rest would run away. Jesus added new meanings to parts of the meal ritual: the broken unleavened bread was his body, the shared cup of wine his blood, poured out for many for their forgiveness. After the meal they went to a garden, where Jesus kept praying for God not to make him suffer. Later, the religious leaders turned up with a crowd armed with swords and clubs. (They did this by night to avoid a riot.) Judas, who had left them during the meal, came up to Jesus from the crowd and kissed him, identifying him.
The religious leaders took Jesus to the Synod, accused him of blasphemy and sentenced him to death. They blindfolded him, hit him and laughed at him. In the morning they took him to Pilate, the Roman governor, and accused him of proclaiming himself king. During all of this, he said nothing in his defence. Pilate asked him why he was called King of the Jews: he replied that his kingdom was nothing to do with this world, so his followers did not fight. Pilate could find no fault. He always released one prisoner at Passover, so next morning he offered to release Jesus to the crowd waiting outside, but the religious leaders incited them to shout instead for a murderer called Barabbas. Then Jesus was whipped severely. The Roman soldiers mockingly put a royal purple robe on him. They wound thorns into a crown and put it on his head. Later, Pilate was still troubled about him so he brought him out again and started trying to release him, but the religious leaders frightened him by saying he would be seen as a traitor. Pilate called for a bowl of water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying he wanted no part in it. They shouted back that they would take the blame.
Jesus had to carry the large wooden cross to the place of execution, and there the soldiers nailed him to it and stood it up. They tried to give him some drugged wine but he refused it. Pilate wrote a notice for the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” in the three main languages1. He had been placed between two thieves. One asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom, and Jesus promised to do so. Jesus asked John, a follower, to take care of his mother, then died. Towards evening the bodies would have to be taken down because the Sabbath began that evening. The soldiers broke the legs of those still alive to make them die more quickly, but Jesus was already dead. They checked by cutting into him, and red blood and clear liquid came out separately. A secret follower of Jesus's arranged to bury the body in his new family tomb in a garden, but had to leave it unembalmed because the Sabbath was beginning. The religious leaders arranged for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb, remembering that Jesus had predicted he would come back to life after three days. The entrance was covered by a stone and sealed. Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver, bought a field with it, then committed suicide.
1Latin, Greek and Hebrew
Jesus comes back to life
On Sunday morning Mary from Magdala arrived first to visit the tomb. She found it empty. She was crying and tried asking the gardener what had happened. He spoke, and she realised it was Jesus, alive again. Other women followers went with embalming spices early that morning, also finding the tomb empty. Two dazzling messengers from God told them that Jesus had come back to life. Some of the men arrived later and the same happened to them. All in turn rushed back to tell the others. The soldiers guarding the tomb had been dazzled, and passed out: they were bribed to say they had fallen asleep and the body was stolen.
Jesus's farewell blessing
Jesus appeared a number of times to different followers, sometimes to large numbers of them. He ate and they were able to touch him. Finally, he told them that they now had his authority: they would be able to do the things he had done, and were to tell everyone all over the world his message: those who believed and followed it were to be symbolically washed, but first they must wait while he went to God, his father, and sent them the Holy Spirit. He promised always to be with them. As he was speaking, he was taken up from their sight.
(Also click here for a sample of Jesus's teachings and sayings)
|6:12-14||If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.|
|10:16||Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves.|
|15:9||In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.|
|17:20||If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, "Remove hence to yonder place,” and it shall remove.|
|21:12-13||Jesus cast out all that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said to them, "It is written, ‘my house shall be called the house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of thieves.”|
|6:4||Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.|
|7:14||There is nothing from without a man that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man ... it (food) enters not into his heart, but into his belly ... out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries ... murders ...|
|8:38||Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words ... of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed when he comes into the glory of his father with the holy angels.|
|10:13-14||Jesus ... said to them, "Suffer the little children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”|
|12:41-44||... the people cast money into the (temple) treasury: and many that were rich cast in much, and ... a certain poor widow ... threw in two mites, with make a farthing, and Jesus said ... "this poor widow has cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury, for all they did cast in of their abundance, but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”|
|16:15-16||"Go you into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believes not shall be damned.”|
|5:30-32||The scribes and Pharisees (said) "Why do you eat with publicans (tax collectors) and sinners?” and Jesus ... said ... "They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”|
|7:22||Jesus (to messengers from John the Baptist): "Go your way, and tell John what things you have seen and heard: how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.|
|7:47||Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much, but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.|
|9:58||Jesus said "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man (Messiah) has not where to lay his head.”|
|11:52||Woe to you, lawyers! ... you entered not in yourselves, and those that were entering you hindered.|
|14:13||When you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind|
|15:4-7||What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost, until he find it? ... And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” ... likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons|
|19:8||and Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” And Jesus said, "This day is salvation come to this house.”|
|23:34||Then said Jesus, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”|
|1:1,3||In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.|
|3:3||Jesus answered ... "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”|
|3:16-17||God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.|
|3:19||Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.|
|5:24||"He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.”|
|6:37||"him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.”|
|8:7,10,11||Jesus said to them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” ... he said to her, "Woman, where are those your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”|
|8:32||"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”|
|13:4-5||Jesus rose from supper, and ... took a towel and ... poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel.|
|13:34-35||"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you”|
|19:4-5||Pilate therefore went forth again, and said to them (the crowd), "Behold, I bring him forth to you, that you may know that I find no fault in him.” Then came forth Jesus, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said,|
"Behold the man!”
Introduction and Index Books of Moses Books about the time of the Judges History of the Era of the Kings The Exile in Babylon Songs and Wisdom The Major Prophets The Minor Prophets The Gospels Acts of the Apostles Letters (Epistles) from Paul the Apostle Letters (Epistles) from Other People Revelation Ten Commandments Selection From Psalms Selection From Proverbs Jesus's teachings and sayings