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The Greek word for which “ Testament” stands means either a covenant” or a will.” The title is appropriate to the Sacred Scriptures in both senses : for (1) the Old Testament represents God's old covenant with man through Moses; the New Testament God's new covenant with man through Christ; (2) the Old Testament attests the Jew's inheritance through the blood of bulls and goats; the New Testament the Christian's inheritance through the blood of Christ.
The New Testament comprises twenty - seven books ;* of these, five are historical, twenty-one are epistolary, and one is prophetical.
The five historical books are the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
Of the Epistles, fourteen are ascribed to St. Paul,
* In our version of the Bible they stand as follows:
To the Hebrews.
The Epistle of St.
1 St. Peter. The Acts of the 1 Thessalonians. 2 St. Peter. Apostles.
2 Thessalonians. 1 St. John. The Epistle to the 1 Timothy.
2 St. John. Romans. 2 Timotby.
3 St. John. 1 Corinthians. Titus.
St. Jude. 2 Corinthians. Philemon.
The Apocalypse of St.
John, This must not be taken for the order in which these books were written,
and thirteen were certainly written by him. The remaining seven were written-one by St. James, two by St. Peter, three by St. John, and one by St. Jude.
The prophetical book is “the Apocalypse,” or the book of the revelations made to St. John whilst he was in the island of Patmos, “ for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
The four Gospels are the four inspired records of the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word “Gospel” is derived from two Saxon words, "gode,” good, and “spel,” tidings; and the four records are entitled “Gospels,” because they contain God's good tidings to man.
The writers of the Gospels are called Evangelists, from a Greek word having the same import as "Gospel.”
Taking them in the order of our Bible, the first of the four records is
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST.
The writer was the Apostle Matthew, the son of a
certain Alphæus (St. Mark ii. 14). In The writer.
the account they give of his call St. Mark and St. Luke name him Levi; but he appears as Matthew in all the lists of the Apostles. It has been thought that he changed his name after becoming a follower of Christ.
Before his conversion St. Matthew was a publican of the lowest order; that is, he was one of those men the Romans employed to do the actual work of collecting the customs. Such men were everywhere in very bad repute on account of their dishonest exactions; but a Jewish publican was especially odious to his countrymen, as one that had sold himself to collect a tribute, the payment of which was a sign of his people's subjection to a foreign yoke.
Matthew was sitting at the receipt of custom by
the Lake of Galilee, when our Lord called him to be his disciple. He at once arose and followed Jesus. We read that after this he made our Lord a great feasi in his house, and that a great company of publicans and of others were present; whereupon the Scribes and Pharisees murmured against Christ and his disciples for eating and drinking with publicans and sinners. We learn nothing more about St. Matthew from the Scriptures. According to a tradition he remained at Jerusalem with the other Apostles for twelve years after the death of our Lord. He is said to have preached in Ethiopia, and to have suffered martyrdom there.
It would seem that St. Matthew wrote his Gospel mainly for the use of Jewish converts in
For what Palestine: for (1) he generally takes readers it was for granted that his readers are written. quainted with Jewish customs, cities, places, and Jewish phraseology; (2) he prominently sets before us Jesus as the Messias, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Lion of the tribe of Judah; (3) he is most anxious that his readers should mark, as they occur, fulfilments of the Old Testament prophecies; (4) he would have them observe that Christ's law is the eternal spiritual meaning of the law of Moses ; (5) he gives at length the discourses wherein the sins that vused Jewish rulers to reject the so severely denounced.
It is generally admitted that St. Matthew's is the oldest of the four Gospels. It was certainly written before the destruction of Jerusalem-most probably between 61 and 64 A.D.
The principal facts peculiar to St. Matthew's Gospel are:
1. The dream of St. Joseph (i. 20-21). Facts peculiar 2. The visit of the Magi (ii. 1-12).
to St. Mat
thew's Gospel. 3. The flight into Egypt (ii. 13-15). 4. The massacre of the Holy Innocents (ii. 16-18).
5. The death of Herod (ii. 19-23).
6. The miracle of the two blind men healed (ix. 27-31.)
7. The miracle of the dumb devil cast out (ix. 32-34).
8. The miracle of the piece of money in the fish (xvii. 24-27).
9. The parable of the cockle (xiii. 24-30).
22. The resurrection of many Saints after our Lord's resurrection (xxvii. 52-53).
23. The guard over the sepulchre (xxvii. 62-66).
24. The earthquake: the angel rolling back the stone (xxviii. 2-4).
25. The guard bribed by the chief priests (xxviii. 11-15).
The second of the four records is
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK.
The writer is almost universally identified with
the John of Acts xiii. 5; with the John The writer.
Mark of Acts xii. 12, 25; with the Marcus of Col. iv. 10; Phil. 24 ; 2 Tim. iv. 11; 1 Peter v. 13. Hence we gather that the Evangelist was an inhabitant of Jerusalem, the son of a certain Mary, in whose