Communication in the New Testament- Five Minutes to Better Bible Reading
The New Testament is very easy to read, but its communication can easily go unnoticed. I want to talk to you today about appreciating that communication, one that is an aerial shot and a ground level view of the person and work of Jesus. When we view the New Testament in that two-way communication, we begin to appreciate the uniqueness of the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles.
How the New Testament Communicates to us
Last time we were together on Five Minutes to Better Bible Reading, we were talking about the way that the Old Testament and the New Testament are intimately connected, so that you can’t fully appreciate the New Testament without a dependency and a constant revisiting of the Old.
And so I don’t know how many people there are, who really do understand the way that the new Testament is structured. And I’m not necessarily talking about genre such as the four gospels, the book of acts as kind of narratives and then the epistles or new Testament letters, because hopefully that’s obvious to anybody that reads the first few lines of any of those given books. But really what I’m talking about is the communication method. The way that I like to think about that when I’m understanding the way that the new Testament is structured to communicate to me as a reader, is this dual emphasis of an aerial shot in a ground level view.
The Person and Work of Jesus Christ
If we were to summarize what the new Testament actually is probably the best way to do that, to keep things very simple is the new Testament is the written revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospels primarily are about his person. And that’s not to say that the gospels do not lead over into his work. For example, the gospel of John he’s constantly adding his own commentary in the middle of the narrative about the person of Jesus to talk about the work of Jesus being accomplished. So you certainly do see that happening, but generally speaking, the gospels have more to do with the person of Christ. Whereas you get to the epistles and it’s reflecting on his work. It doesn’t downplay in Romans, or Ephesians, or 1st Peter, none of those are downplaying Jesus’ person, but they’re emphasizing his work.
New Testament Communication From an Aerial View
You could actually say the same kind of thing if we turned the tables and talked about the church as an necessary consequence of Jesus’ person and work, you have the book of Acts, which again, focuses on the personality of the church in the church’s structure. And then it spans out into each of the individual letters so that you have the individual work happening in each and every new Testament church. Or you could actually say it the opposite way. You could say that the book of acts is really about the work of the church broadly speaking. And then all of the new Testament letters are about the persons of the church. That is the church in Corinth, the church in Ephesus, the church in Thessalonica, et cetera. Now, I like to think about things this way, because if I was to think about a ground level in an aerial view of a picture, you can see the vast landscape in an aerial shot of a city, but you miss some of the intricate details that just don’t show up in an aerial view.
New Testament Communication From Ground Zero
But if you were to look at that same land on the ground, you would not see the forest, but you would see every individual tree. And both of those are important. We need both of those, but that’s kind of what the Bible does primarily in the new Testament, you have an aerial shot of things in the book of acts, and then you have a ground level view of those individual churches that were mentioned in the book of acts. Same thing could be said about the gospels, the gospels articulate Jesus’ person and work collectively in an aerial shot. We get this big picture idea of who Christ is and what he’s done. But if you take time to study each and every one of the individual gospels on their own, then you have a ground level presentation of Jesus. Now, again, there’s no rule that we have to view the new Testament this way, but I always think is helpful to develop categories, to help remind me of what’s going on. And if you can appreciate the new Testament for both its emphasis on aerial shots and ground level views, I think you’re really going to find that you begin to retain and comprehend the overall message to a much greater degree.
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