Bible Old and New Testaments = Covenants
Please also see: ‘Prophecy.’ ‘The Bible.’
Seek the Truth with all your heart.
The Bible offers a feast of GOD’s love, encouragement, re-assurance, spiritual nourishment, and teaching.
The extant manuscripts of the writings of the first-century Romano-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus include references to Jesus and the origins of Christianity.
The Jewish historians: Josephus, Judas, Zadok, and Philo, confirm details of Jesus and Christianity.
The whole Bible was originally written for the Jews, but it now relates to the whole world.
The Old and The New Testaments total 66 books.
Divisions of the 39 Old Testament Books.
Written between 1445 -1045 BC (approximately.)
Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther.
Poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.
Prophets (Major): Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel.
Prophets (Minor): Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Divisions of the 27 New Testament Books
(Hebrew for New Testament = Brit Chadashah) Written between 44 - 95 AD (approximately)
Biography: Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, tell the life story of Jesus. The first three are similar in content and structure, also called the ‘Synoptic Gospels.’
History: Acts or ‘Acts of the Apostles’ - recount the early history of Christianity when the Apostles began to preach the Gospel.
Letters (also called Epistles): Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude - written by Paul and other authors.
Prophecy: Revelation or ‘Book of the Revelation’ which John received from GOD - the only New Testament book to focus entirely on prophecy. However in the whole Bible there are approximately 8,352 verses which contain prophecy and make up approximately 30% of the Bible, most of which have been fulfilled.
The whole Bible is considered to have been written by approximately 35 authors.
The Psalms are considered to have been written by (King) David, however he did not write all of them. In fact, Psalms includes more authors than any other book of the Bible. The following authors and psalms attributed to them are as follows:
David (75 total psalms; 73 are noted in Psalms; Psalm 2 is attributed to David in Acts 4:25; Psalm 95 is attributed to David in Hebrews 4:7: 3-9; 11-41; 51-65; 68-70; 86; 101; 103; 108-110; 122; 124; 131; 133; 138-145.
Asaph (and family) (12 psalms): 50; 73-83.
The sons of Korah (11 psalms): 42; 44-49; 84-85; 87-88.
Heman (1 psalm, with the sons of Korah): 88.
Solomon (2 psalms): 72 & 127.
Moses (1 psalm): 90.
Ethan the Ezrahite (1 psalm): 89.
Anonymous (the 48 remaining psalms.)
Scholars also note that the psalms attributed to David may have originated or been associated with David but may also have included assistance from others. At least eight authors are named, plus other anonymous writers.
The Psalms were written over nearly a 1000-year period, from the lifetime of Moses in the wilderness (1440—1400 BC) to Ezra (fourth century BC). Most psalms were composed during the lifetimes of David and his son Solomon.
The ancient nature of the Psalm titles has often been questioned. Some have argued that the titles were added much later and should not be considered authentic. However, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the twentieth century, copies of the Psalms from the first century have been found with the traditional authors names included. This evidence indicates the authentic nature of the traditional authorship of the Psalms.
The book of Psalms operates at two levels: individually the songs explore a wide variety of honest spiritual responses to GOD, while the overall collection tells, and celebrates, the work of GOD through history to save HIS people.
The 375 Proverbs of Solomon reflect the numerical value of Solomon’s name in Hebrew. Hebrew words had a value equal to the sum of their letters. A collection of Solomon’s wisdom compiled by men of Hezekiah who was king of Judah, had a count of 130 which equals the value of Hezekiah’s name. Proverbs closes with sayings from Agur and Lemuel, ending with a poem whose 22 parts begin with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The character qualities praised throughout the book are seen in a description of the ideal wife in Proverbs 31:10-31.
Paul’s writings make up 28% of The New Testament.
Jesus made a special point of converting Paul in the significant incident on the road to Damascus. Jesus knew of Paul’s history of persecuting and killing Christians, and would have known that Paul would have the determination, perseverance, persistence, strength, fortitude, patience, and conviction to keep going through all that he endured to spread the gospel; and that his writings would make up so much of The New Testament.
Paul appeared in parts to be expressing his own ego, and saying that he was a father to the other apostles and disciples, but was most likely doing so to hold up an image of strength to encourage and give confidence to the other apostles and disciples who he was encouraging, guiding, and being kind, loving, and fatherly towards. He wanted them to be informed and feeling involved in his experiences.
Jesus said to not call ministers ‘Father’ in a religious way. The Catholic and associated churches use it in a presumptuous, disrespectful way as to claim that all their priests have the right and authority to function and stand as ‘Father’ in GOD’s place, by using ‘Father’ as a title. This includes denominations such as the Orthodox churches, Anglican, and others who now do the same. Revelation chapters 15-18 describe many aspects of this main church having the prostitutes return to her.
Paul only used ‘father’ to indicate a ‘fatherly’ relationship, which is quite different from giving himself the title of ‘Father’ and expecting people to call him ‘Father Paul.’
Old Testament -- New Testament.
In Christianity, the concept of a testament was used to designate the covenant with the Jews, now known to Christianity as the Old Testament; and the covenant through the sacrificial death of Jesus for all of humanity, as the New Testament.
GOD’s new covenant is a gracious law of promises, requiring obedient faith, offered to all humans through, and by, GOD’s Son, Jesus, having shed His blood sacrificially.
The Bible can be a ‘mirror’ to enable readers to see themselves as they really are, and thereby to see what changes they need to make.
We can think, speak, and act, in the power of GOD.
Jews do not recognize Jesus (Yeshua) as the Messiah, so they ignore the Christian New Testament. The orthodox Jews are still expectantly awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, not realizing that Jesus was and is the fulfilment of their expectation. They therefore object to their scriptures being referred to as the ‘Old Testament,’ because to them, their covenant with GOD is current and relevant; not ‘the old’ relevant to ‘the new.’
Many Jews are becoming ‘Messianic Jews,’ meaning that they now accept, believe, and have a true and meaningful relationship with Jesus. They now know Jesus as the Messiah. Due to the very sad ignorance of their families and friends, who ostracize them, they are treated terribly, psychologically and physically, as outcasts - traitors - pariahs.
Esther: This book shows how GOD intervened to save the Jews. Readers can ask themselves, as Mordecai asked Esther, for what great purpose GOD may have brought them to their own position in life. (Esther is Ehyeh in Hebrew - inferring ‘I am that I am.’ She was the most beautiful young woman, chosen by the king.)
Song of Songs or Song of Solomon: The songs celebrate the delights of married love and the beauty of the human body, using vivid imagery from the natural world to show that these things are part of the creation that GOD declared as very good.
Isaiah: New testament writers will turn to Isaiah often to explain how Israel’s ancient commission to bring blessing to the world was fulfilled.
Jeremiah: Carries us back and forth in place and time, yet is consistent. The message of judgement for wrongdoing is followed by the restorative power of forgiveness and new life; to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.
Lamentations: Overall, this collection of laments reminds us that expressing anguish over a broken, fallen world is a legitimate part of the Biblical drama.
Ezekiel: The closing promises confirm that GOD will renew the hearts of HIS people, and refresh all life on the face of the Earth. Ezekiel’s visions fit the ongoing drama of the Bible; a broken world will be healed when the Lord returns to live with His people in a land that will have been recreated to be like the garden of Eden.
The Greater Glory of the New Covenant.
Jesus’ blood of the new covenant.
Matthew 26:28. Mark 14:24 “... My blood of the new covenant ...”
Luke 22:20. 1Corinthians 11:25 “... the new covenant in Jesus’ blood ...”
Hebrews 9:19-22. 10:16 & 29. 13:20. “... the blood of the [everlasting] covenant ...”
Mediator of the new covenant.
Hebrews 8:6-10 “... the mediator of a superior covenant ...”
Hebrews 9:15. 12:24 “... mediator of the new covenant ...”
1 Timothy 2:5-6 ‘For there is one GOD and one mediator between GOD and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all people. This has been witnessed to at the proper time.’
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ‘All scripture is GOD-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of GOD may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’
2 Corinthians 3:1-18 ‘Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living GOD, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Such confidence we have through Christ before GOD. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from GOD. HE has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.’
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.’
‘For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,’ means that GOD’s Holy Spirit has converted us into ‘new creations,’ and as such, what is written are dry words, still meaningful, but now added to by our having Spiritual life and clarity of the fulfilled dimension and meanings which Jesus brought to us, and taught us, and gave us through and by the Holy Spirit.
(The Messianic Prophecy Bible Project, also known as Bibles for Israel, will be releasing The Messianic Prophecy Bible, which is being compiled with meticulous and thorough in-depth research, will show all the Messianic prophecies throughout the Bible, and how in their specific ways they have been fulfilled. This will enable Jewish people, and everyone, to see clearly that Jesus (Yeshua) was and is the Messiah.)
Summary and History of the Bible
A quick overview of the Bible including history and synopsis of the Old Testament and New Testament plus a list of the books of the Bible
What is the Bible?
The Bible is the sacred Book, or collection of books, accepted by the Christian Church as uniquely inspired by God, and thus authoritative, providing guidelines for belief and behavior.1
Many verses throughout the Bible attest to its divine origin (Genesis 6:9-13, Exodus 20:1-17, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21, Revelation 1:1-2, etc.) But the Bible was not simply dictated word-for-word by God; it is also the work of its many different human authors. The different writing skills, writing styles, personalities, world views, and cultural backgrounds of the human authors can be seen in their works. Many of the New Testament books were originally written as letters rather than as Scripture. Some Bible writings include the authors' own research and recollection of historical events (Luke 1:1-4) and their own opinions (1 Corinthians 7:12).
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is the first of the two major sections of the Christian Bible. The Old Testament contains the sacred writings of the Jews. It was written over the period of roughly 1000 B.C. to 100 B.C., but it includes narration of events that occurred many centuries earlier and had been passed from generation to generation in oral form. The Old Testament was originally written in the Hebrew language with a few sections written in the Aramaic language.
There was no "official" list of accepted books of Jewish scripture until around 100 A.D. when Jewish rabbis revised their Scripture and established an official canon of Judaism, rejecting some books not found in Hebrew versions of the Scripture. This revision accounts for the fact that Protestant, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians use slightly different versions of the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, was born a Jew and practiced Judaism all His earthly life. Christianity began as a sect of Judaism and only emerged as a separate religion after large numbers of Gentiles had been converted. The Jewish Scripture had predicted the coming of a saviour, the Messiah, and Jesus fulfilled that role. So it is natural that Christians would retain the Jewish Scripture as part of their Bible.
For more details: What is the difference between Protestant and Catholic Bibles?
The Old Testament tells the story of God's chosen people, the Hebrews, who were later known as Israelites or Jews. Sometime around 1800 B.C., God made a covenant with a man named Abraham to make of his descendants a great nation. The first few of these descendants migrated to Egypt to escape a famine in their own land. After many generations they had greatly increased their numbers but had become enslaved to the Egyptians. God sent a great leader and prophet, Moses, to lead the Hebrews out of captivity and into the Promised Land of Israel. During this time God gave Moses the Ten Commandments which are still considered the basis for a moral life by both Jews and Christians.
In addition to the Ten Commandments, the Old Testament lists many other laws about circumcision, dietary restrictions, blood sacrifices, Sabbath observance, tithing, social welfare, crimes, social behaviour, armies, qualifications of leaders, etc. These laws regulated almost every aspect of Hebrew life.
God intended for the Israelites to live according to His commandments and to show the truth of God to all the world (Genesis 12:1-3). However, time and again, the Israelites lost sight of their mission and lapsed into idolatry, sin or narrow-minded nationalism. On these occasions, God called prophets, such as Elijah, Samuel, Jonah, Isaiah and many others, to lead them back to the right path. The Old Testament writings make no attempt to hide the fact that the Israelites and their leaders had many failings and flaws. Yet, through these flawed people, God was able to accomplish His purposes in the world.
The later Hebrew prophets foresaw the coming of a Messiah (meaning "anointed one"), a king who would usher in a golden era of peace and prosperity. More than any other nation, the Israelites looked to the future, to the coming of the Messiah, and to the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham to make of his descendants a great nation.
For more details: The Ten Commandments, Abraham
The New Testament
The New Testament contains the sacred books that are unique to Christianity. All the New Testament books were written in the Greek language over the period of about 50 to 120 A.D. None of the New Testament books were originally written as part of a Christian Bible, but they were read at church services for instruction in the faith.
The collection of books we know as the New Testament emerged in the late second century, A.D. The church leaders accepted books they believed were based on eyewitness accounts of the events narrated, while rejecting many other early Christian writings. Eventually, the 27 books which form the present New Testament, along with the Old Testament books, became the Christian Bible as we know it today. The New Testament canon was formally adopted by the Synod of Carthage in 397 A.D.
The New Testament tells of Jesus' birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection, the growth of the early Christian Church, and predictions of the second coming of Jesus. Jesus was born sometime between 6 and 4 B.C. in the city of Bethlehem, and He was destined from birth to fulfill the role of Messiah or Christ (the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word "messiah"). He lived an ordinary life for 30 years, and then He began His ministry among the Jews.
Jesus travelled from town to town, healing the sick and preaching about the coming kingdom of God. He taught that God's kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that is now growing among the faithful, and it will find its fulfillment in the eventual sovereign rule of God and defeat of all evil. Jesus said He will come again someday to bring God's kingdom to fulfillment. He promised a wonderful eternal life after death for those who put their trust in God and obey His commandments.
Many of the Jews had expected the Messiah to be a great political and military leader who would defeat Israel's enemies, but Jesus saw His kingdom as spiritual rather than worldly. He taught the way to victory is not through force and violence, but through love, humility, and service to mankind. Jesus was not the type of "Messiah" the Jews had expected, and many of them rejected Jesus and His teachings.
The religious establishment of Israel saw Jesus as a threat. His claims of divine authority and His refusal to follow some of their religious rules were usurping their authority over the people. This conflict ultimately led to Jesus' execution by crucifixion only three years after He had begun His ministry.
Three days after His death, Jesus' body was discovered missing from the tomb, and over the next 40 days Many people saw Him alive again, and He talked with His disciples. At the end of 40 days, He ascended to heaven, returning to God, His Father.
Jesus' miraculous resurrection convinced many people that He truly was the Christ and their personal saviour as well. Christianity was born, and Jesus' former disciples became its leaders. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is portrayed as the Son of God, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, and as the means of our personal salvation from the power of sin and death.
Jesus taught that love of God and love of other people are the two "Greatest Commandments" that should totally guide our lives. He taught obedience to God and love for all people, both Jews and Gentiles, and even for enemies! Jesus did not abolish the moral and ethical laws that had been in effect from the time of Moses. He affirmed and expanded upon those principles, but He said obedience must be from the heart (attitudes and intentions) rather than just technical observance of the letter of the law. Jesus and His apostles gave us a radically new understanding of the true intent of the Old Testament Law; they brought a new era of the rule of love for all people and spiritual truth instead of rule by law.
The young Christian communities suffered much persecution from the Jewish religious establishment and from the Roman Empire. Saul, a member of the Jewish religious establishment, was one of the fiercest persecutors of Christians. One day, while on the road to Damascus, Saul saw a blinding light and Jesus spoke to him saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" As a result of this overwhelming experience, Saul had a complete change of heart. Now known as Paul, he became a zealous Christian missionary and extended Christianity outside Judaism, founding many Christian communities in the Gentile world.
Paul wrote many letters to the people of the churches he had founded. He explained his beliefs about Jesus, instructed them in proper modes of worship, and sometimes chastised them for moral lapses. He taught that the way to salvation and eternal life is through faith in Jesus Christ and high moral standards, not through obedience to the Old Testament Law. Many of Paul's letters have become part of the New Testament. Through these letters we know Paul as the most energetic and influential interpreter of Jesus' life and teachings.
The Jews of that time believed that holiness could be achieved by obeying about 600 rules derived from the Old Testament Law. But the Gentile Christians did not share that tradition and disputes arose about whether or not it was necessary to follow those rules. Christian leaders, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, decided that the ceremonial and legal aspects of the Old Testament Law - circumcision, dietary restrictions, blood sacrifices, Sabbath observance and many other rules - are not binding on Christians (Acts 15:1-5, 22-29).
For more details: The Birth of Jesus, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, The Greatest Commandment and the Parable of the Good Samaritan, What Does the Bible Say About the Old Testament Law?, Good Friday - The Crucifixion of Jesus, Easter - The Resurrection of Jesus, What does the Bible Say about Love?, What Does the Bible Say about Eternal Life and the Resurrection of the Body?, What Does the Bible Say about Salvation?.
Unity of the Bible
Despite the diversity of the Bible books and their separation in time, there are several unifying themes that run through both the Old and New Testaments:
There is only one true God. He created all that is the universe and takes an active, ongoing and loving role in its maintenance.
God loves His people of all races, nationalities and religions, and seeks their love in return.
God created men and women with the power to choose between good and evil. We are called to do good by serving God and respecting our fellow human beings of the world. Evil is a constant temptation that we must do our best to resist.
God seeks the salvation of all people, individually and collectively, from the power of sin and evil. God has intervened directly in human affairs and has also sent the prophets and, finally, His Son Jesus, the Messiah or Christ, to help us with that salvation.
The Bible never tells the details of exactly how God inspired the human authors of the Bible, and this has led to much debate and differences of opinion about interpretation.
Throughout most of the Christian era, Bible reading and Bible interpretation were confined to religious professionals. Until the fifteenth century, the Bible was available only in Latin. Even when the Bible was translated into other languages, the scarcity and high cost of Bibles kept them out of the hands of ordinary people. During this era, the Bible was interpreted according to church beliefs and traditions. There was little or no attempt made to determine the original meanings of the Scripture. Difficult passages "were interpreted as having a figurative meaning, so that they convey, through a kind of code, deeper truths about God, the spiritual life, or the church.2"
Scientific discoveries, beginning in the seventeenth century, seemed to contradict some parts of the Bible. Galileo's study of the universe, Darwin's theories about evolution of species and fossil evidence of the age of the earth were particularly troubling. At the same time, the Bible was often being studied and critiqued as ordinary literature rather than as the Word of God. Some Christians felt their faith was threatened by these apparent challenges to the authority of the Bible. In reaction, the fundamentalist movement asserted the inerrancy of Scripture: Everything in the Bible must be absolutely, literally, scientifically and historically true. Anything less would be unworthy of God. Any apparent conflict between the Bible and another source (science, history, etc.) should be resolved in favour of the Bible because of its divine origin.
The mainstream of Bible interpretation today is based on hermeneutics [her meh NEWT icks], the science and art of Bible interpretation. Hermeneutics attempts to determine what message the author intended to convey and how it would have been understood in its original historical and cultural setting. This involves a lot of specialized knowledge of the original Bible languages, literary styles and figures of speech, as well as the history, culture, and current events and issues of the time and place where it was written. Rather than forcing Bible interpretation to fit into a particular theological framework, such as church doctrine or strict literalism, hermeneutics attempts to draw out the true meaning as it was originally intended. Once we know what a Bible passage originally meant, we can prayerfully apply that knowledge to our lives in the modern world.
For more details: How to Study the Bible, Should the Bible be interpreted literally?
During the first centuries A.D., Latin replaced Greek as the language of the Roman Empire. In 405 a Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments was completed. This version, known as the Vulgate, became the standard Bible of Christianity for many centuries. The first English version of the full Bible was John Wycliffe's translation of the Vulgate in 1384. Several other English versions followed, and the beloved King James Version was published in 1611.
None of the original manuscripts of the Old Testament or New Testament are known to exist; the best available sources are hand-made copies of copies. However, developments in archaeology and Biblical scholarship have made possible a number of modern, more accurate English translations of the scriptures. These newer versions are translated from the best available ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, rather than from the King James Version or the Latin Vulgate.
For more details: Bible Translations, Which Bible version is best?
Books of the Old Testament
The first five Old Testament books are known as the books of the Law, or the Pentateuch or the Torah.
The Historical Books:
The remainder of the Old Testament books are divided by the Jews into categories of prophets and writings. However, Christians organize it differently into sections of historical books, wisdom books, and books of prophecy.
The Wisdom Books:
Psalms, Proverbs, Wisdom and Sirach contain many sayings of practical wisdom to help live a happy, successful and holy life. Job and Ecclesiastes deal with the weightier issues of the meaning of life, the existence of evil and our relationship to God. Song of Solomon is a love song glorifying romantic love between a man and woman, although it is sometimes interpreted allegorically as a story about the love of God for Israel or the Church.
The Books of Prophecy:
Prophecy means speaking the mind of God. Some prophecies predict the future. Others are special messages of instruction or warning from God. The prophets were called by God to give these predictions, messages and warnings to kings, other leaders and the people.
*Included in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles but not in most Protestant editions.
Books of the New Testament
The four Gospels tell of the birth, life, ministry, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel of Mark was written around 70 A.D., about 40 years after Jesus was crucified. Matthew and Luke were written between 80 and 90 A.D. Finally, the Gospel of John appeared in its final form around 95 A.D.
Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke, written by the same author. It tells the history of the first 30 years of the Christian Church. The story is mostly centered on the apostles Peter and Paul who were the preeminent leaders of early Christianity.
The Letters of Paul:
Many of the New Testament letters (also known as epistles) are traditionally attributed to the apostle Paul. 1st Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon are undisputed genuine letters of Paul. There is less certainty about the authorship of 2nd Thessalonians, Colossians, Hebrews, Ephesians, 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus. Paul probably wrote 1st Thessalonians and Galatians around 50 A.D., and they are the oldest books in the New Testament.
These letters were also written to encourage, instruct and correct the early Christians. The catholic (meaning universal) letters were circulated among the various Christian communities and read at their meetings. Throughout the letters we see the need to put our faith and trust in Christ and to put that faith into action through Christian love (kindness and respect) for all people.
1R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison & Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, "Bible," Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, 1995.
2James L. Mays, ed., Harper's Bible Commentary, Harper, 1988, pp. 8-9.