This course will introduce you to the facts and history in the New Testament days. You will study places, people, politics and government in the days of Christ. Please study this course carefully, then when you read and study the New Testament, you will have more understanding. This course will also help you in studying our future courses. As you study, think about the times of the Lord. The Roman government was in power. The Jewish people were under the government of the Roman Empire. Realize that there has been no voice from God for almost 500 years. Then, finally John the Baptist came on the scene preaching that the Kingdom of God was to come. Jesus began His ministry in this environment and setting.
The New Testament is the most important book in the world. Every person should study it more. The greatest need in this troubled world is the Word of God. It can do more for our nation than politics or government. In the first century, the Christians were living the Bible that we read today. Jesus Christ walked with them and helped them with their problems. He became their Saviour. Today, the answer to all problems is found in the New Testament. That answer is Jesus Christ.
The New Testament gives us true facts in history. It shows truths which will save men and change lives and nations. The New Testament is the fulfillment (completion) of the Old Testament (Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 4:14). The New Testament is God’s final letter and book to man. In the Old Testament – He is coming. In the New Testament – He has come. The Old Testament reveals or shows the coming of the Lamb of God and the New Testament says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The word “Bible,” actually means many books into one. It is also called the “Holy” Bible which means it is from God. It is the greatest book in the world. It has two parts: the Old Testament with 39 different books and the New Testament with 27 different books. The Bible has a total of sixty-six books combined into one great book. It is with great joy that we now study the New Testament!
ROME AND THE ROMAN EMPIRE
In early 44 BC, Julius Caesar was ruler over Rome. Next, Octavian became leader and changed his name to Augustus Caesar. He became the first emperor of Rome. He appointed leaders and governors over different areas. Gallio, was made ruler over Achaia in AD 51 during the time Paul was in Corinth (Acts 18:12). He appointed Pontius Pilate as governor over Judea (Luke 3:1). Jesus was born during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – AD 14) and conducted His ministry during the reign of Augustus’s successor, Tiberius AD 14-37 (Compare Luke 3:1). Claudius (AD 41-54), was ruler during most of the ministry of the apostle Paul (Acts 18:2).
Nero, an evil man then became ruler. Both Paul and Peter seem to have been martyred during Nero’s reign. (AD 70) Titus caused the destruction of Jerusalem with its holy Temple. These were the rulers and government under which Jesus and Christianity was lived.
BETWEEN MALACHI AND MATTHEW
What happened during the time from the Old Testament to the New Testament? The last prophet was Malachi and his book is the last book in the Old Testament. Matthew wrote the first book in the New Testament. What happened from the time of Malachi to Matthew? There were some four hundred years between the days of Malachi and Matthew. This was called The Dark Period. During this time there was no prophet or writer. The writings ended with Malachi then about four hundred years later Matthew wrote the first book of the Gospels. The sunset of the Old Testament was with Malachi and the sunrise of the New Testament was with Matthew.
A TIME OF DEFEAT
During this Dark Period, Jerusalem was defeated and the Jews were scattered into many different countries. They began to regather and return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God. During those four hundred years the Jews were in many wars and troubled times. They were ruled by the Persians, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Maccabeans. and the Romans. At the time of Christ, the Jews were ruled by the Roman government. Julius Caesar was the ruler over all Jerusalem. Herod was appointed governor of Galilee, the land of Christ.
THE RELIGIOUS WORLD
To clearly understand the New Testament, you need study the religions during the time of Christ. The Jews had returned to Israel to rebuild their temple. When they returned, they brought their idols and new way of worship with them. Some returned from foreign countries and no longer knew the Jewish language. They had to be taught because they could not read the Old Testament language. The Jews returned to Judah to worship so the new way was called Judaism. There was a great change to the nation of the Jews. In the Old Testament, they continually worshipped idols and false gods. Now, they stopped all idol worship. As you study the New Testament. you will notice the Jews never worshipped idols again. They returned to obey the law and worship the true God. Because of the new ways, different ideas and groups of religions were started. About 50,000 Jews returned to their land and they wanted to know the Scriptures. They wanted their children to be taught the Old Testament, especially the books of the Law. (…continue next page)