NEW TESTAMENT - LESSON 1
An Introduction To The New Testament
A study of this lesson should encourage us to strengthen
our testimonies of Jesus Christ by studying the New Testament.
Note: Not all of the material in this outline will be presented
in class. It is placed here to assist the student of the New Testament
in preparing for the 1999 Sunday School study of this great book of scripture.
Come Learn Of Me
Come Learn of Me
By Elder Bruce R. McConkie
Come drink of the waters of life;
Come feast on the good word of God;
Come eat of the manna from heav'n;
Come bask in the light of the Lord.
Come hear him speak peace to the storm;
Come see him give sight to the blind;
Come watch him heal legs that are lame;
Come view him give life to the dead.
Come feel of his Spirit anew;
Come hear what he says to all men;
Come walk in the way he commands;
Come learn of the One who is God.
The above verse provides an outline of what I hope we can accomplish
through our study of the New Testament in 1999.
- Come drink of the waters of life.
Come feast on the good word of God. Come eat of the manna from heav'n.
- Have you ever been out hiking and found a cool, clear spring? Did you
take a drink? How did it taste? Particularly if you had been hiking without
- I hope that we can drink from the stream of eternal life and find it
far more satisfying than a drink from a cool mountain stream.
Come bask in the light of the Lord.
- We recently enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas and many of us feasted.
We may have eaten far more than we should.
- I would hope that each of us can feast at the Master's table.
Come hear him speak peace to the storm;
- Several years ago I went on a hike with some friends. We started hiking
at midnight. The trail was clear until we reached the high alpine country.
We lost the trail and could not find our way until daylight started to
- I hope that each of us can bask in the light of the Lord, to warm our
hearts, see the beauty of the gospel, and help us find our way in this
Come see him give sight to the blind;
Come watch him heal legs that are lame;
Come view him give life to the dead.
Come feel of his Spirit anew.
- It is my desire to go back to the life and times of Jesus and get a
feel for his earthly ministry.
- I wish to feel the dust of Judea.
I hope to taste the water at Jacob's well.
- May we feel the wrath of the Master as he drives the moneychangers
from the temple.
- I would hope that we can each feel the joy of the cleansed leper or
the parent whose daughter was raised from the dead.
- May we catch a glimpse of the agony our Savior suffered in our behalf.
Come hear what he says to all men;
- Compare with the renewel of spring time.
- This year should be a springtime of renewel in our relationship with
Come walk in the way he commands.
Come learn of the One who is God.
- Are you looking for greater happiness?
- Are you looking for ways to improve relationships?
- Are you looking for peace?
- Are you looking for the true path to success?
- Come feast at the table of the Master and you shall find this and more.
Why Study The Life Of The Savior
- The Lord has issued an invitation to learn about him.
If we are to reach our eternal potential, we must become like the Lord
who is like is Father.
- READ MATTHEW 11:28-30. Come & learn of the
Lord and he shall give you rest.
- Bruce R. McConkie: "In the final analysis. our purpose in learning
of our Lord is to gain that knowledge, insight, and desire which will cause
us to become like him - all in harmony with his divine promise: 'Ye shall
have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father;
yea your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of
joy: and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father: and the
Father and I are one.' (3 Ne. 28:10)." (Mortal Messiah 1:18)
The Eternal Ministry Of Christ
- WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST AND WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT HIM AND HIS ETERNAL ROLE?
- Some definitions from the world:
- "Jesus was a religious leader from Palestine, in what is now
called the Middle East. His life and teachings are the basis of Christianity.
Jesus became known as Christ, which means 'the anointed one,' the one who
is chosen by God." (A First Dictionary Of Cultural Literacy, pp81-82)
- "Christianity is a way of life, embodied in a corporate society
or fellowship and centered on the worship of the One God revealed to the
world through Jesus of Nazareth, who lived as a human being for about 30
years in Palestine and was crucified by the Romans at Jerusalem between
AD 29 and 33. Christians believe, on the testimony of many contemporary
witnesses, that he rose from the dead after three days and was seen by
his disciples on numerous occassions during the succeeding forty days,
after which he departed whence he came." (World Religions - From
Ancient History to the Present, p420)
- An LDS response: "Despite rejection by most of his contemporaries,
and despite the blindness of a modern world that frequently sees no need
of him, we know that the mortal Jesus was no ordinary Jewish carpenter
from Galilee.... A correct understanding of the role of Jesus Christ, then,
must include a knowledge of the broad range of his eternal ministry."
(Kent P. Jackson, Ensign, Jan. 1991)
WHAT ELSE DO WE KNOW ABOUT JESUS CHRIST AND HIS MISSION?
- The source for the following information is The Promised Messiah by
Bruce R. McConkie.
- To understand the Son and His role requires an understanding of the
Father and His plan. This is something the world knows little about and
understands even less.
- Bruce R. McConkie: "In the exalted family of the Gods, the
Father and the Son are one. They have the same character, perfections,
and attributes. They think the same thoughts, speak the same words, perform
the same acts, have the same desires, and do the same works. They possess
the same power, have the same mind, know the same truths, live in the same
light and glory. To know one is to know the other; to see one is to see
the other; to hear the voice of the one is to hear the voice of the other.
Their unity is perfect. The Son is in the express image of his Father's
person; each has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; and both
reign in power, might, and dominion over all the creations of their hands."
(Promised Messiah, p9)
- WHO, THEN, IS THE FATHER?
- He is a glorified and perfect Being. An exalted Person.
- A Personage of tabernacle, who has a body of flesh & bones.
- He lives in a family unit.
- He governs, controls, organizes, and reorganizes all things both temporal
- Joseph Smith: "...he was once a man like us; yea, that God
himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ
himself did" (TPJS, p345).
- WHAT IS THE FATHER'S PLAN?
- Moses 1:39: "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring
to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
- Joseph Smith: "Here, then, is eternal life--to know the only
wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves,
and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before
you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small
capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation,
until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell
in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glor, as do those who sit enthroned
in everlasting power.... [Such persons are] heirs of God and joint heirs
with Jesus Christ. What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory
and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a God, and
ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before."
- Jesus Christ's role is to carry out the will of the Father.
- He is the Firstborn of the Father in the spirit. (D&C 93:21)
- He was created in the image of the Father with a spirit body. (Ether
- He lived his life in the pre-mortal/pre-earthly existence in such a
manner that he became a god himself.
- He elected to accept the plan of the Father and volunteered to carry
it out giving all glory to the Father.
- He is the Creator of world assisted by the noble & great ones.
- He is the Creator of worlds without number.
- He is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament & of all ages. He is
the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob.
- He dispensed the Gospel to Abraham.
- He gave the Gospel to Moses & led Israel out of Egypt.
- He is the spokesman for the Father.
- He is the lawgiver.
- He is the Light of the World. (D&C 88:7-13)
- Governs & controls the universe.
- It is the divine power which gives life to all things, and that if
it were completely withdrawn life would cease.
- It enlightens the mind and quickens the understanding of every person
born into the world.
- He lived a mortal life & taught his Gospel.
- He is the only sinless man to have lived upon the earth, thus being
the only one with a claim as the Messiah and Savior.
- He is the Redeemer, Savior, Deliverer, & Messiah.
- He atoned for the sins of all men.
- He holds the keys of Resurrection. He, alone, opened the door for all
men to rise from death to immortality.
- He is our advocate, intercessor, and mediator with the Father.
- He is to judge all men. (John 5:22-23)
- He is our Eternal King.
- Bruce R. McConkie: "The Lord is our King. He is a great King
over all the earth. He is that David whose throne shall be established
forever. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endureth
throughout all generations." (Promised Messiah, p195)
- Some resource materials:
- New Testament Class Member Study Guide (available from your ward or
- New Testament.
- The other scriptures.
- Harmony of the Gospels as found on pg. 684 of the Topical Guide/Bible
- Institute manual - The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles
(available through Church Distribution)..
- Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage.
- Messiah Series, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Renew your commitment to read the Book of Mormon.
- Each member of the class should make a personal commitment to undertake
a serious study of the life of the Savior and the New Testament in 1995.
- Your own life will be blessed in numerous ways.
- You will be able to more fully contribute to the class on a weekly
basis and find the content of the class more meaningful.
- WHAT CAN WE DO TO ENSURE THAT WE KEEP THE COMMITMENT TO PREPARE FOR
Thoughts on New Testament study:
- President Benson: "At present, the Book of Mormon is studied
in our Sunday School and seminary classes every fourth year. This four-year
pattern, however, must not be followed by Church members in their personal
and family study. W need to read daily from the pages of the book that
will get a man 'nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other
"And when we are called upon
to study or teach other scriptures, we need to strengthen that undertaking
by frequent reference to the additional insights which the Book of Mormon
may provide on the subject." (Ensign, Nov. 1988, p4)
WHY IS IT VITAL THAT WE SEEK THE HELP OF THE SPIRIT WHEN WE STUDY THE
- Elder Harold B. Lee told how he prepared when he was asked to give
an Easter radio address a few days after becoming a member of the Twelve:
"During the days which followed, I locked myself in one of the
rooms over in the Church Office building, and there I read the story of
the life of the Savior. As I read the events of his life, and particularly
the events leading up to and of the crucifixion, and then of the resurrection,
I discovered that something was happening to me. I was not just reading
a story; it seemed actually as though I was living the events; and I was
reading them with a reality the like of which I had never before experienced.
And when, on the Sunday night following, after I had delivered my brief
talk and then declared, simply, 'As one of the humblest among you, I, too,
know that these things are true, that Jesus died and was resurrected for
the sins of the world,' I was speaking from a full heart, because I had
come to know that week, with a certainty which I never before had known."
(CR, Apr. 1952)
- WHAT MUST WE DO TO HAVE AN EXPERIENCE LIKE ELDER LEE HAD?
- Prepare ourselves spiritually.
- Take the time & find the environment in which we can lose ourselves
in scripture study.
- Personal experiences over the years with periods of peaceful meditation.
- We can't always do this on a daily basis, but we need to find a quiet
time and place where were can read, study, and ponder for a few minutes.
- Joseph Smith wrote: "The things of God are of deep import;
and...careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them."
- Make a commitment to find quiet time to study and ponder the remarkable
life of the Master.
- Prayer is part of studying and pondering.
- WHAT INSIGHTS HAVE YOU GAINED RECENTLY AS YOU HAVE PONDERED THE SCRIPTURES?
- READ 2 NEPHI 33:1. The Holy Ghost carries the
word of God into the heart.
- As it says in Moroni 10:5, it is by the power of the Holy Ghost that
we may know the truth of all things.
- The Prophet taught: "Could you gaze into heaven five minutes,
you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written
on the subject [salvation]." (TPJS, p324)
- Inviting the Spirit can provide that kind of learning power.
Historical Link From The Old Testament To The New
The following historical information helps us link the end of the Prophetic
Old Testament era with the New Testament period. It helps paint a picture
of the world which our Lord and Master entered in the meridian of time.
We can more fully understand the world that he was part of by seeing how
James E. Talmage: "The long history of the Israelitish nation
had unfolded a succession of events that found a relative culmination in
the earthly mission of the Messiah. That we may the better comprehend the
true significance of the Lord's life and ministry while in the flesh, some
consideration should be given to the political, social, and religious condition
of the people amongst whom He appeared and with whom He lived and died.
Such consideration involves at least a brief review of the antecedent history
of the Hebrew nation." (Jesus the Christ, p. 55)
The End Of The Old Testament Period
- Daniel and the Jewish captivity in Babylon.
Lao-Tzu develops the Tao Te Ching, outlining the philosophy of Taoism.
537 B.C. - King Cyrus of Persia conquered Babylon and established the
Persian Empire. Shortly thereafter, Cyrus freed the captive Jews to return
to Jerusalem, alllowing them to take back the vessels of the temple seized
by Nebuchadnezzar. Only a few returned at this time.
- Daniel was taken captive to Babylon at about 606 B.C.
- His mission continued until about 536 B.C. 550 B.C.
509 B.C. - Rome becomes a republic.
490 B.C. - The Greeks defeat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.
480 B.C. - Siddhartha Gautam, the Buddha, dies about this time in India.
458 B.C. - Ezra commissioned to lead a group of Jews back to Jerusalem.
- Rebuilding of the temple begun, but their efforts stalled.
- According Ezra 4:1-10, the people from the land of Samaria hindered
the work on the temple.
- WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE FROM SAMARIA?
- When Israel was taken captive by Assyria in 721 BC, the cities of Samaria
were wholly depopulated of their inhabitants.
- Later the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and other heathen
nations and placed them in the cities of Samaria. These foreigners were
idolaters and had no desire to serve Jehovah.
- As time passed these Samaritans intermingled with the Jews and a variant
of the Jewish religion developed. This variant religion was heavily intermingled
with pagan and other unauthorized practices, which the Jews saw as highly
- It was these Jews that hindered the work on the temple. The work on
the temple stopped for 15 to 17 years due to the interference of the Samaritans.
- This incident reveals the foundations of the tremendous bitterness
between the Samaritans and the Jews so evident in Christ's time.
- About 520 BC the prophets Haggai Zechariah inspired the people to resume
construction and the temple was completed abt 515 BC.
444 B.C. - The prophet Nehemiah gained favor of the Persian king as
his cupbearer and led a group of Jews back to Jerusalem. He was appointed
governor of Judaea.
- Shortly after Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, he commenced his priestly
duties of putting affairs in order. Ezra was horrified at some of the practices
which had come into being, including the marriage of many to wives of the
- In Ezra 10:3 he commanded Israel to repent.
450-432 B.C. - Malachi prophesies. Last of the prophets. In fact, the
Jews still consider him the last of the prophets. He was the last prophet
of the dispensation of Moses.
- Nehemiah led the people in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem.
- The times of Ezra & Nehemiah were times of renewel and recommitment
to the Lord.
Through this period Judah continued to live under Persian rule. Judah
remained under Persian rule for two centuries. But this may have been a
blessing since the nation was not strong enough to survive the surrounding
nomads. They may have pushed Judah into the sea.
- Malachi spoke to the Jews during a period of religious decline.
- He labored to overcome three evils:
- Neglect of the proper forms of worship.
- Intermarriage among the Gentiles.
- Non-payment of tithes and offerings.
- He made two significant prophecies:
- The messenger who will prepare the way before the Lord's coming: John
- The coming of Elijah the prophet.
The Rise Of The Scribes
- The scribes were originally educated men who made their livelihood
keeping the records of the empire or as copyists of the scriptures.
Through this period the common language of the people shifted from
Hebrew to Aramaic.
- Not only did they supply copies of the scriptures to the growing number
of synagogues, but they also became teachers of the law.
- When the prophetic voice ceased in Israel, these experts in the law
of Moses began to fill the vacuum.
- The language was sufficiently different that the people had to rely
upon scholars for their information and understanding.
- Since there was no prophetic unifying force, various interpretations
of the scriptures evolved. Various sects came into being: the Pharisees,
Sadduceees, and the Essenes.
The Greek Conquest Of Palestine
- 399 B.C. - Socrates is executed for impiety and corrupting the youth
- 334 B.C. - Alexander the Great attacked the Persian Empire and defeated
After the death of Alexander two rival generals fought to gain control
of the empire.
- He quickly swept throught the remainder of the Middle East, including
Palestine, and conquered it. Thus Palestine and the Jews were brought under
- This was the first time that Palestine was brought under European influence.
- New pagan influences faced the Jewish people on a greater level than
in the past.
- The upper strata of Jewish society was penetrated, including the prestigious
Zadok family, which had dominated the high priest's office and thus controlled
both temple worship and the more political council of elders.
- Samaria: under Greek pressure Samaria quickly adopted gentile ways
and became a stronghold for Hellenic ideas.
- Although the Jews in Jerusalem made concessions to Greek ways, what
happened in Samaria caused dismay that hardened into hatred. This sealed
the split that had already developed between Jerusalem and Samaria.
- By the time of Christ some Jews would take a lengthy detour around
Samaria rather than risk contamination by their so-called evil influence.
- Ptolemy took Egypt and with it Palestine. Seleucus conquered Syria
and the northern part of the Middle East.
- Ptolemy was one of Alexander's leading Macedonian generals. He became
governor of Egypt and in 304 BC he declared himself king of Egypt.
- The Egyptian Ptolemies ruled for 100 years beginning in 301 B.C.
- 215 B.C. - Construction of The Great Wall of China begins about this
- 200 B.C. - the Seleucids captured Judea from the Ptolemies.
- The Seleucids were a dynasty founded by Seleucus I. At his death (281
BC) the Seleucids controlled most of the Asian provinces of the Macedonian
- Through this period the Jewish population increased greatly, particularly
outside of Palestine (Alexandria & Babylon).
- 175 B.C. - Antiochus IV (a Seleucid king) decided the Greeks had been
too tolerant of the Jews. He attempted to destroy the religion of the Jews
by imposing the Greek religion upon them.
- Most of the upper classes of Jewish society accepted the changes.
- The remainder of the population (vast majority) saw these trends as
an alarming abandonment of their faith.
- 169 B.C. - the temple was plundered under order of Antiochus.
- 167 B.C. - his troops were sent into the Holy city on the Sabbath.
- Thousands were killed. Eventually the city walls were knocked down
and a garrison was established near the desecrated Temple Mount.
- Temple worship was suspended.
- Sabbath observance, celebrations, and circumcision were forbidden on
penalty of death.
- The people were forced to worship idols of Zeus and other false gods.
- The efforts of Antiochus became increasingly more brutal.
- A male child found uncircumsized was killed and tied around the neck
of the mother as a warning to others.
- Rather than bring the Jews into submission, resistance stiffened and
hatred for Antiochus and his soldiers increased.
The Hasmoneans And The Maccabean Revolt
- 167 B.C. - Incident in the little village of Modin.
Mattathias died soon after the revolt began and his son Judah took
over leadership of the revolt.
- Greek soldiers gathered the people and demanded that Mattathias, an
old priest of the Asmonean family, offer a sacrifice to the pagan god.
- Another priest stepped forward and agreed to make the sacrifice.
- Mattathias grabbed a sword and cut down both the priest and the Syrian
- He then fled to the hills with his five sons and called upon all Judah
to join them in the revolt.
- He was a military genius and time after time devastated forces 2 to
4 times the size of his own. He exhorted his poorly equiped troops to have
faith in God and the righteousness of their cause.
- 164 B.C. - The city of Jerusalem had been reconquered. The Jews became
independent of their foreign overlords for the first time in over 400 years.
- Assisted by the Hasideans and an army of 6,000, Judas won several victories
over Syrian armies and, in 164 BC, occupied the Temple in Jerusalem, building
a new altar and fortifying the area. This remarkable event continues to
be celebrated as the Feast of Chanukah or Rededication (sometimes also
called the Festival of Lights).
- In that 400 year period they had been dominated by the Babylonians,
the Persians, the Egyptian Ptolemies, and the Seleucids.
- This revolt is commonly known as the Maccabean revolt because Mattathias'
son was called Judah the Maccabee or Judas Maccabeas.
- Judah continued his battles against the Selucids, but eventually died
in battle. His brothers continued and worked to extend the borders of Judea.
- The sons and grandsons of the Maccabees degenerated into a mode of
politics as usual.
- 63 B.C. - Israel had become so corrupt that she easily fell into the
hands of the Romans when Pompey annexed Judea.
- It was during this period that the scribes and Pharisees developed
a near worship of Torah and the law. Obedience to the law took on a more
rigid form of worship.
Judea Under The Romans
- Pompey appointed one of the Hasmoneans to be king, though he had little
- His advisor was an Idumean (a people hated by the Jews) named Antipater.
- Antipater worked himself in good with the Romans and eventually took
over power from the Jewish puppet-king.
- Antipater consolidated his power by assisting the Romans in a struggle
against the Parthians.
- In payment for this aid, Antipater was granted the right to have his
son appointed king of Judea.
Under Rome the Jews were given a certain amount of religious liberty,
but could not impose death penalties as Moses had once done.
It was into this world that our Savior Jesus Christ was born.
- 27 B.C. - Octavian becomes the first Roman emperor; the Senate names
- Herod was hated by the Jewish people, though he had supposedly converted
- Rome was pleased with his rule.
- Completely loyal to Rome.
- From the viewpoint of Rome he kept control in what was a troublesome
- He undertook great building programs through heavy taxation.
- Herod died shortly after the birth of Jesus.
- The Roman's divided the rule of the kingdom between Herod three sons:
- Philip - north and east of Galilee.
- Herod Antipas - Galilee and Perea.
- Archelaus - Judea, Samaria, and Idumea. Archelaus was removed from
his position in 6 A.D. due to extreme and oppressive measures. His territory
was given to Herod Antipas to rule.
- The Jews were looking for the promised Messiah.
- They were looking for a great General that would overthrow the Romans
and return Israel to its greatness under kings David and Solomon.
- Bruce R. McConkie: "It comes, therefore, as no surprise to
find that all Israel in the days of Jesus were looking for a temporal Deliverer,
for a Messiah born in the lineage of Abraham and David, who, sitting on
the throne of their greatest king, would free them from personal and national
bondage and vanquish their enemies. They looked for a preeminent Judahite
ruler for the scepter was not to depart from David's Judah until Shiloh
came who would throw off the Roman yoke and scatter the legions of the
"Such a Deliverer, such a Messiah,
as they envisioned, would not only restore the kingdom to Israel, but would
also return the dispersed of that great nation to their original inheritance
in their promised Canaan. All Israel again would find residence on the
soil that once was theirs." (Mortal Messiah 1:42-43)
Note: The Old Testament Student Manual (1 Kings to Malachi) contains
a more detailed review of the above historical information (see pages 359-365).
President Thomas S. Monson: "We need not visit the Holy Land
to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among
the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked.
"In a very real sense, all can
walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in
our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality."
(Ensign, May 1974, p48)
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