The New Testament
Its Organization and Content
By Jim Crouch

The New Testament books are arranged in a specific order to facilitate Bible study. Consider the following chart illustrating the organization of the New Testament in our modern Bible.



Paul to Churches

Paul to People

General Letters





1 Timothy





1 Corinthians

2 Timothy





2 Corinthians


1 Peter






2 Peter






1 John






2 John






3 John




1 Thessalonians






2 Thessalonians





The Gospels

These four books, named after their authors, tell about the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They are called “Gospels,” meaning “Good News.” They are not intended to present a biographical history of Jesus’ life, but to provide evidence that He was the promised Messiah. Since each book was written to a different audience, each book takes on a different flavor—Matthew was written to Jews, Mark was written to Romans, Luke was written to Greeks, and John was written to Jews and Greeks living in Asia Minor. The first three (Matthew, Mark, Luke) are called “synoptics” (meaning “to see together”) because they record many of the same events in Jesus’ life. John, written about thirty years after the synoptics, contains many things not recorded in the other Gospels.


Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke as a companion to his Gospel, presents a history of the spread of the gospel from A.D. 30-62. The first half of the book focuses on the preaching of Peter and John in Palestine. The second half focuses on Paul’s preaching in various Gentile communities. Acts provides a valuable record of how people of the first century became Christians.

Paul’s Letters to Churches

These nine books (Romans through 2 Thessalonians) consist of letters written by Paul to various churches, most of which he established in his evangelistic work. They teach us many things concerning what churches are to believe, teach, and practice. They are named after the congregations that received the letters (e.g., Romans is Paul's letter to the church in Rome) and are arranged in order from longest to shortest. They are not arranged chronologically.

Paul’s Letters to People

These four books (1 Timothy through Philemon) consist of letters written by Paul to individuals. Timothy and Titus were evangelists who helped Paul—the letters written to them are sometimes called the “pastoral epistles.” In these three letters, we learn about the responsibilities evangelists have toward God and the church. The letter to Philemon is a personal letter Paul wrote to his friend, a member of the church in Colosse. These four books are named after the recipients of the letters and are arranged in order from longest to shortest.

General Letters

These eight books (Hebrews through Jude) are called “general letters” because they are not addressed to a specific church or individual—they are written to the church “in general.” Hebrews, named after the recipients of the letter, was written to Jews who were considering a rejection of Christianity and return to Judaism. The other books are named after the respective authors (James, Peter, John, Jude) and contain general admonition to the churches. These books are arranged in order from longest to shortest.


The Revelation of Jesus Christ is the only book of prophecy in the New Testament. Written by John, it contains a prophetic picture of the church, victorious and saved in heaven, despite hardships and persecutions.

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