Jesus and the Gospels
The New Testament was all written during the first century. By then the Romans had become masters of the Mediterranean world. However, the Greek language and culture were still its most powerful cultural influence. Like the Old Testament, the New Testament also has several divisions. Its central character is Jesus, whose story is told in its first four writings, called Gospels. After a short but remarkable life, filled with many powerful miracles and great teachings, and during which he intensively trained twelve followers, he was crucified. But, in history’s most remarkable turnabout, he rose from the dead. For forty days after that he continued the preparation of his disciples for life after he left them. Then he ascended back into heaven where he continues to rule over his expanding kingdom.
Before he ascended, he promised his followers that he would return in power and glory to establish his reign in a visible way throughout the whole world. In the meantime, his followers were commanded to spread his message everywhere. They were specially filled with God’s Holy Spirit. The story of the early expansion of their work and the gatherings they established is contained in the New Testament’s one historical writing, called “Acts,” for short.
The Other New Testament Writings
Jesus’ followers did not call themselves Christians at first. This was originally a derogatory term used against them by their enemies. They originally called themselves “disciples” or followers of “the way.” But eventually the label was accepted and came into common use.
The rest of the NT writings, after Acts, consist mostly of letters written by Jesus’ closest followers. One group of them was written by a man named Paul, who became one of Christianity’s earliest and most well-known and thoughtful missionaries. He spread the Good News of Jesus through southern Turkey and on into Europe, especially Greece and Italy. His 13 surviving letters were written to Jesus’ followers to help guide them in how to live as his disciples. Through these followers, the Good News of Jesus and his kingdom spread throughout much of the Roman world.
There are several other letters written by other early and prominent followers of Jesus. The New Testament closes with a book of visions (the Apocalypse, which means Revelation) that foretell Jesus’ return. It tells how he will finally bring the whole world under his lordship and inaugurate the final and permanent manifestation of the kingdom of God.
 This was a very cruel way of killing people. They wee nailed to a wooden pole that also had a crosspiece for their arms to be spread out and hands nailed to. Then they were allowed slowly to suffocate and bleed to death.