Yesterday I gave you my one-word (in most cases) summaries of the books of the Old Testament. The idea is to help in memorization and being able to quickly digest and keep the stream of redemptive history in mind.
Today – we’re movin’ on!
I also encouraged you to come up with your own scheme. Since you are currently reading through the Bible, it should be an easier task to stop and think AFTER you’ve finished any given book – “What word or phrase would help me summarize the main theme of what I just read?” As you saw in my short explanations, sometimes more than one word is needed to capture what you really need. But as you begin to think this way, you’ll be surprised how quickly it all comes together.
Now, as I promised, I want to tackle the New Testament today. But before I do that, imagine if each day, you took 15 seconds or so (literally) to look at your Bible’s table of contents and say out loud: “Genesis, is the book of BEGINNINGS. Its where God’s eternal plan begins to unfold for the first time.” Next day: “Exodus is the account of God’s DELIVERANCE. It introduces us to God’s work in delivering His people from sin”. Next day: “In Leviticus, God gives the FOUNDATIONS of His visible kingdom in Israel.” And so on. Done on a repeating cycle, you will master a sense of the complete structure of the Old Testament and each time you hear a book referenced, say in a sermon or in something you are reading, those fuller concepts will pop into your mind and make you feel familiar and conversant with what is going on. You’ll be on much more friendly terms with your Bible.
OK – now we need to launch into the New Testament. And here, I think you will find it even easier.
As you all know, the New Testament begins with four biographies of Jesus. Each emphasizes one aspect of Him in a unique way. For now, I won’t tag on some of the other things that are useful to notice – but when you read for yourself, think about the differing styles of the authors and how they will help you memorize things better too. For instance, Matthew repeatedly uses the term: “to fulfill prophecy.” He’s just amazing at tying all Jesus says and does to Old Testament prophecies about Him. This is why Matthew is first – it really helps the reader build a bridge from the Old to the New. Mark’s favorite word is “immediately.” He gives you these short bursts of data moving through Jesus’ life at a really fast clip. Luke, the physician-historian pays the closest attention to the details of Jesus’ healings, to the prominent role of women in Jesus’ ministry, the role of the Holy Spirit and locates things in terms of the political world and culture globally, regionally and locally. Since Luke also wrote Acts, look for more of the same there. Lastly, John. John looks at Jesus cosmically and eternally. His Gospel sweeps from eternity past to the present and to eternity to come. Lofty, glorious, John never looses sight of this Jesus being God.
So, those few things being said, lets hit out list.
Matthew – Messiah/King (Jesus as the promised one)
Mark – Son of God (2nd Adam but more)
Luke – Son of Man (Jesus descended from man to redeem man)
John – Divine (Jesus as God)
Acts – Invasion (The Gospel attacking the kingdom of darkness, the World)
Romans – The Gospel (Its Origin, Content, Necessity, Claims on men, Power, Governing authority, Promises, Relationship to both Jew & Gentile)
1 Corinthians – Unity (The need for and challenges to unity in the Church)
2 Corinthians – Suffering (The role of suffering in the life of the saint)
Galatians – Sanctification (Life in The Spirit)
Ephesians – Metanarrative (6 Chapters giving the BIG-Picture)
Philippians – Rejoice (A necessary reminder to rejoice always in God and His work in Christ Jesus)
Colossians – Identification (Identifying Jesus Christ, and us with Him)
1 AND 2 Thessalonians – Waiting (Living life now in the expectancy of Christ’s return)
1 AND 2 Timothy AND Titus – Ministry (Choice, preparation and responsibilities of Church leadership)
Philemon – Restoration (Recovering the fallen in Christ’s love)
Hebrews – Better (Better covenant, better promises, better Mediator…)
James – Integrity (We must live what we profess)
1 Peter – Living right (Keeping on track in a world that’s gone off it)
2 Peter – Knowledge (Constant pursuit of deeper knowledge of Christ & His work)
1 John – Loves (We know we are saved, by loves He’s given to us)
2 John – Deceivers (Identifying deceivers who have crept into the Church)
3 John – Self-promoters (Look out for those who draw you after themselves rather than Christ)
Jude – Contending (Every generation must fight to keep the essentials intact)
Revelation – All-in-all (God’s plan completed in Christ Jesus)