How Many New Testament Books Are There in the Bible?

The New Testament has 27 books.

There’s no better-documented series of books in all of ancient history than the books of the New Testament. So how many books are in the New Testament?

The New Testament has 27 books written by 8 authors. We have over 25,000 ancient hand-written manuscripts confirming the New Testament.

It is by far the most manuscripts of any book in the ancient world. The sheer quantity compares with just a few tens or hundreds of other ancient works.

After I set out to refute Christianity intellectually and couldn’t, I came to the conclusion the Bible was true and Jesus Christ was God’s Son.

-Josh McDowell

The manuscripts were written in Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, Coptic, Slavic, Syriac, Armenian and other languages. And the manuscripts have been subjected to intense scholarly scrutiny for almost 2000 years.

You can see a very small amount of the huge volume of scholarly scrutiny of the New Testament manuscripts yourself here, here and here.

A book that’s more accessible to the public is Evidence That Demands a Verdict, (Amazon link opens in new tab) the classic book by Josh McDowell that he recently revised and updated with his son Sean McDowell, PhD.

On top of that, almost every verse of the New Testament was quoted in the critical writings of the early fathers of the church. Even the writings of the early fathers themselves have been a subject of deep study.

The Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches are in complete agreement on the canonicity of the New Testament books. This is quite different from the Old Testament, where the Catholic and Orthodox churches accept certain apocryphal books the Protestants reject.

“Canon” is a special word used to describe the unique books that belong in the Bible as the true word of God. It comes from the Greek kanon, which means rule or measuring rod.

Due to these early writings, we can know what they thought about the early manuscripts from what they said. This helps translators understand better how to express certain things when they translate the Bible accurately into English.

So almost the entire New Testament could be reconstructed just from the writings of the early fathers if the manuscripts had somehow been lost.

The chief reason why the Christian believes in the divine origin of the Bible is that Jesus Christ Himself taught it.

-John Stott

With all the hand-copying that went into the making of these thousands of manuscripts, one might think there would be some big differences in them that would be cause for concern.

The original letters were written in the 1st Century AD. And the earliest surviving papyrus from the New Testament writings –the John Rylands Papyrus– is very early –dated at 130 AD.

That was a full 1500 years before the invention of the printing press, so hand-copying was the only option.

But what’s really amazing is how few variations there are among such a large body of work. Among the few variations, there isn’t a single discrepancy that would lead to a doctrinal difference!

And the majority of the variations are stylistic things like you would see in the difference between cursive writing style and printing. They are like an uncrossed “t” or an un-dotted “i”.

Some folks make a big deal out of them, but they really don’t matter. So if you ever see some article that says there are thousands of differences in New Testament manuscripts, or there are somehow contradictions in the Bible, that’s what they are talking about, and it doesn’t amount to anything.

Spoiler Alert: There are Zero Contradictions in the Bible.

When Lee Strobel wrote “The Case for Christ” he interviewed respected New Testament scholars Bruce Metzger, Craig Blomberg and others to get these answers to critical questions about the authenticity of the New Testament texts. You can read for yourself what the scholars say by getting “The Case for Christ” in paperback on Amazon.

The Old Testament had been written and compiled over a 1000 year period – from 1450 BC until about 400 BC.

But then there were 400 silent years.

The Old Testament foretold this time of spiritual dryness, and the prophetic word from God foretold the spiritual dryness hundreds of years in advance and then foretold the sign of the end of that dryness that would bring the new revelation.

“He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him.” Isaiah 53:2, NET

written by the prophet isaiah, circa 700 BC

The New Testament is the later unfolding revelation of God’s Word to man. God’s word began telling the story in the Old Testament with God’s declaration that He created all things.

It took scientists until the 20th century to scientifically verify the truth of those words from Genesis 1:1.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (NET)

So the Bible was 3000 years ahead of science. If you know somebody who needs a reason to believe the Bible is true, this is a great fact for them to consider.

The Old Testament tells the story of Paradise created and then lost.

The New Testament shows how God himself came to man and emptied himself of his glory to redeem man from his fallen state as he promised.

Do you want to get more information for deeper study? Check out Halley’s Bible Handbook Deluxe Edition on Amazon. Henry H. Halley made this his life’s work. It’s filled with many great details that will build your faith in the Bible -God’s true word.

What is the New Testament?

The New Testament is the record of God fulfilling his promise to send the Messiah. The Messiah is the Anointed One who would come to save all of mankind from their sins.

The Old Testament was the account of the nation of Israel and its preparation to produce the Messiah God promised.

Then the New Testament is about how God delivered on his Old Testament promises to reveal the Messiah Jesus Christ. And there is eyewitness evidence –from multiple sources- that Christ was raised from the dead.

Gospel means “good news” and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is very, very good news!

Consider the very first words of the New Testament:

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:”

matthew 1:1

Now consider the very last words of the New Testament:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” Revelation 22:21

revelation 22:21

So the New Testament is all about Jesus Christ, from beginning to end.

And the New Testament is very well accounted for.

I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.

-billy graham

The original language of the New Testament is Greek. It’s different from the original language of the Old Testament, which is Hebrew.

Greek was the language of the day in Israel in the 1st Century AD. The Jewish nation was controlled by the Roman Empire and Greek was the language of that day.

By contrast, the Old Testament had been largely written to a sovereign Israel in Hebrew, the language of Israel from approximately 1500-400 BC.

Order of New Testament Books

The order of New Testament books found in the Bible is not in the chronological order of their writing. Instead, they are in a logical order in three divisions.

  1. Historical Books. The four Gospels plus the Book of Acts, which describe the life of Jesus and the early church.
  2. Epistles (or Letters), which are further divided categorically into Pastoral and General Epistles.
  3. Prophecy. Revelation is the only purely prophetic book of the New Testament.

Here is a list of New Testament books in the order in which they are found in the Bible:





Acts of the Apostles


1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians





1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy





1 Peter

2 Peter

1 John

2 John

3 John



The books are ordered in a logical way, but it’s not the chronological order in which they were written as you can see in the table further down.

The first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John record the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Together, they are called the Gospels.

The first three are called the Synoptic Gospels, because they are closely related literally. They parallel each other very well, but each one is also different and unique from the others.

Then there is the Gospel of John, which is distinctive from the other three.

Critics like to portray the slight variations in the Gospels as Bible contradictions, but when the Gospels agree completely, they say there was collusion between the writers.

You just can’t please a critic, and when you take an honest look, it’s pretty easy to see that the criticism is neither well-founded nor justified.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

-john 1:1-2

The truth is that the minor differences in the Gospel stories show that there were different eyewitnesses with different perspectives.

Think of the referees and umpires at professional sports games. Each observer sees the action from a different perspective, so sometimes they confer with each other before finalizing a ruling.

This supports the authenticity and genuineness of each of the independent Gospel records.

Harmony of the Gospels

Scholars have studied the gospels side-by-side for many years and have created a document called the “Harmony of the Gospels.”

The Harmony of the Gospels shows how each of the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John harmonizes with the others by overlapping in certain areas and covering completely different stories in other areas.

So each of the gospel writers tells the story in his own way, leaving slight variations that underscore the authenticity of each telling.

Here you can see an excellent example of a simple Harmony of the Gospels by Blue Letter Bible. Or if you’re interested in taking a deeper look, you can check out Bible Scholar A.T. Robertson’s classic A Harmony of the Gospels on Amazon.

Another place to see a Harmony of the Gospels is in a good Study Bible.

Acts and the Epistles of Paul

The second grouping is Acts and the Epistles of Paul. The Pauline Epistles are directed toward congregations and individuals.

1 &2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon are known as the Pastoral Epistles. They are addressed to church leaders.

The third and last group is the writings of other authors, like Peter, James, and Jude. And John –in addition to the Gospel of John, also wrote three Epistles, called 1 John, 2 John and 3 John. Then he wrote Revelation, too.

This group (except for Revelation) is known as the General Epistles. They are addressed to large groups of first century believers.

Revelation is the only purely prophetic book, but many New Testament books contain prophecy within their pages without being purely prophetic.

Dates of New Testament Books

Some people like to set later dates for the New Testament books than what scholars have traditionally set. For example, even though there is ample evidence the Book of Acts was written in the 60’s some people set the date later.

And this is true for most of the New Testament books. There is strong scholarship indicating early dates.

But what do we mean by early dates?

One of the first things to consider is that the author had to still be alive to write the books. Certain deaths of the authors are well documented historical facts recorded outside the Bible.

The Bible is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim.


Then there are plenty of cues from the books themselves. The books mention times and places and the names of the emperors, places, and historical events at the time.

Another thing to consider is significant historical events NOT mentioned.

There are claims from some that the Book of Acts, for example, might have been written in the 70’s. But wouldn’t a book such as Acts certainly have mentioned the fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple?

The Book of Acts mentions no such thing. So the scholarship supporting early dates is very solid.

Yet, liberal scholars like to set late dates that are poorly supported simply to cast doubt on these books. They do this because they have a clear and obvious anti-Bible perspective.

Number of New Testament Books

The number of books in the Catholic New Testament is the same as for Protestants. There are 27 books in the New Testament in both the Catholic and Protestant Bibles.

The Catholic Church accepted the Apocrypha (also known as Deuterocanonical books) which date from before the New Testament.

The Apocrypha are not part of the New testament, but they are from the Intertestamentary period. So there’s no difference between the Catholic and Protestant New Testaments.

Who Wrote the Books of the New Testament?

Here’s a brief bio on each writer of the New Testament. Each writer brought a unique perspective to the central truth of the birth, death, resurrection and Gospel of Jesus Christ.

These writers are real people. The Bible records fascinating –even embarrassing- facts about the writers and other characters –greatly supporting the authenticity of the New Testament record.

Frank Turek describes details from the Gospels called the 6 E’s: Early Testimony, Eyewitness Testimony, Embarrassing Testimony, Excruciating Testimony, Expected Testimony, Extra-Biblical Testimony. The case for New Testament reliability is incredibly strong.

Peter’s denial of Christ, Judas’ betrayal of Christ, the discovery of the empty tomb by women whose testimony at that time would never have been accepted in Court –these are all examples of embarrassing and improbable facts.

And there’s a long list of others.

John, son of Zebedee:

John was a fisherman along with Peter. Since they had a big enough fishing business to hire servants (Mark 1:16-20) it’s apparent that when they left their fishing business behind to follow Jesus, they were leaving something substantial.

Along with his brother James he was one of the “sons of thunder” the endearing nickname Jesus gave them in Mark 3:17. They would later live up to their nickname in Luke 9:54 after they asked him if they should call down a curse from heaven on inhospitable people in a Samaritan village.  

John was also a disciple of John the Baptist, and may (along with John the Baptist) have been a cousin of Jesus (see John 1:35). John also was personally acquainted with the High Priest (John 18:15-16)

John wrote the Gospel of John, the Epistles 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and the major prophetic book of Revelation.

He was a member of Jesus’ inner circle along with his brother James and Peter. John and James were likely cousins of Jesus, as was John the Baptist.

If you want to read the complete story of John the Baptist –including details hidden in the pages of the Bible you never noticed before, you’ll want to see the Amazing Back Story of John the Baptist you never knew!

John tells us in his Gospel that he was a faster runner than Peter, because he made it to the empty tomb first.

John also tells us just a few verses earlier that he’s the disciple whom Jesus loved. John had the best understanding of all the disciples of what it is to be loved by God!

Simon Peter

His given name was Simon, but as soon as Jesus met him, he dubbed him “Peter.” Simon means “reed” –a thin stalk that bends easily.

But Peter means “rock” –as in solid and immovable. We can even think of him as being something like Rocky from the Sylvester Stallone movie, because later he became that rocky kind of guy. 

And that’s what an encounter with Jesus can do. Jesus has transformed many a life when we get close enough to him, and the story of Peter is a great story of transformation.

Peter was in Jesus’ inner circle along with fellow disciples James and John.

They were all fishermen. They knew everything about boats, and nets, and fish. It was to Peter, James and John that Jesus said “I will make you fishers of men.”

Peter was the only disciple to attempt to walk on water with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee.

He was the only disciple to try to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He cut off the ear of Malchus.

Many say Peter wasn’t such a good swordsman. He was probably trying to cut off Malchus’ head. But Jesus picked up the ear and put it back on Malchus’ head.

This same Peter denied Jesus three times when Jesus needed him the most. At this point, he was still very reed-like.

But the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed all that. Peter became rock-like, and bold and strong and his ministry change many lives!

Peter was right behind John when they ran to find Jesus’ empty tomb.

Peter wrote the books of 1 Peter and 2 Peter.

While Paul’s three missionary journeys were epic and are well-reported, Peter went on three shorter missionary journeys of his own. He raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-41), and performed other miracles during his ministry.

He also met one of the early Gentile converts to Christianity, the Roman Centurion Cornelius. Later, Peter was himself delivered from prison by an angel.

Though the Bible was written over sixteen centuries by at least forty authors, it has one central theme–salvation through faith in Christ.

max lucado

But Peter exhibited his newness –and rock-likeness- after the Resurrection, when he preached boldly. Then he endured the many persecutions and was finally martyred –according to church tradition- by crucifixion- upside down.


James the half-brother of Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary. He is a different James than James Zebedee, the other of the “sons of thunder” listed above with his brother John.

Recall that Jesus was born by the Virgin Mary after the being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary started a family the usual way.

James –along with Jesus’ entire family- had serious doubts about what Jesus was doing during his ministry. According to the Bible, they didn’t believe he was the Messiah.

But it’s very interesting to note that after Jesus’ resurrection, they all came to believe in him! Of course, James –the half brother of Jesus believed in Jesus after the resurrection. And his brother Jude wrote a small and powerful book of his own.

He wrote the book of James.


Matthew –also known as Levi, was a tax collector for the Romans. We don’t know much more about him before he became a follower of Christ.

As a tax collector, he had to have been quite well to-do. Tax collectors had to have a lot of capital to be able to pre-pay taxes to Rome in anticipation of getting the receipts from the taxpayers.

Tax collectors were despised because they charged interest to their fellow Jews, which was forbidden by the Law.

But Matthew gave it all up to follow Jesus Christ. He wrote the book of Matthew, perhaps the most-read book of the New Testament.

John Mark

Better known as Mark, John Mark wrote the book of Mark.

We know the occupations of the other Gospel writers, (Luke/physician, Matthew/tax collector, John/fisherman) but we do not know Mark’s occupation.

He was a close associate of Peter, so the Gospel of Mark is regarded as being seen through the eyes of Peter. (Luke was closely associated with Paul. See below) Mark was not one of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples, so it makes sense he would have gotten the details from Peter.

Each Gospel has a specific emphasis. For Mark, it’s the deity –the superhuman-ness- the miracles- of Jesus. 

Mark emphasized the actions of Jesus over the words of Jesus. So his book is shorter, because he doesn’t go into as much detail about the things Jesus said.

Mark’s mother opened her home to the early church were it was used for ministry. Peter went there after his release from prison (Acts 12:12). Mark may have been a Levite. (Col. 4:10, Acts 4:36).

Mark went on the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 12:25). But Mark left early to return to Jerusalem. Then Paul refused to take Mark on the Second missionary journey. But later Mark was in Rome working with Paul. See Col. 4:10)


Luke was a Physician who wrote the books of Luke and Acts. He addressed both of these letters to Theophilus –a man we know very little about. So even though Luke does not identify himself in Acts, it is obvious he is the author.

Luke was a close companion of Paul and it’s clear from many passages in Acts that they traveled together extensively. Like Paul, Luke was well-educated. He fully mastered the Greek language.

His writing style indicates his audience is the Gentiles, so many scholars assume Luke was also a Gentile.

Luke has a reputation as one of the greatest historians of the day. Scholars marvel over his historical accuracy and attention to detail.

Archaeologists have used historical details from Luke’s citations of times, places and persons to locate many sites of interest. Luke’s history has done a lot to build the credibility of the Bible and the work of the early church.

If you want to study Luke, the other writers, and the Books of the Bible in detail, take a look at Halley’s Bible Handbook on Amazon.


Saul of Tarsus was the man we call Paul. Saul was his Jewish name and Paul was his Greek name.

He was “a Pharisee of the Pharisees” –committed to everything Jewish. He was committed to a faith that persecuted the early followers of Jesus Christ.

He was a natural born Roman citizen, and a chief persecutor of Christians. The Bible records that Saul was present at the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:58.

Young Saul was an excellent student of the scriptures. He studied under Gemaliel –the strictest and most celebrated Rabbi of the day. He also learned the vocation of tent-making, which would serve him all his life.

Saul’s education was approximately the same as what we would call a PhD today. And he said in Philippians 3:5 that he was “of the tribe of Benjamin –a Hebrew of the Hebrews.”

Nobody had a better idea of what Jewishness was than Saul of Tarsus.

But then he had a vision on the road to Damascus that blinded him. Everything changed after that.

Some say that Paul had to follow Christ because of the vision. But following Jesus is a daily decision Paul made every day for the rest of his life.

There’s probably no more dramatic example of New Testament repentance than Paul, who was headed to Damascus to persecute Christians –but after his encounter with Jesus Christ- immediately preached of the risen Savior while in Damascus.

20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,[a] saying, “This man is the Son of God.”[b] 21 All[c] who heard him were amazed and were saying, “Is this not[d] the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging[e] those who call on this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners[f] to the chief priests?” 22 But Saul became more and more capable,[g] and was causing consternation[h] among the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving[i] that Jesus[j] is the Christ.[k]

Acts 9:20-22

It’s one of the greatest points of evidence of the risen Christ. A man who was totally against the Christian faith immediately turned from persecution of Christians to preaching Christ in the synagogues!

But Paul didn’t stop there.

As a serious student of the scriptures, he went to Arabia (Gal 1:17) and studied the Tanakh (Old Testament) for years to find what Jesus was talking about when he told the disciples on the road to Emmaus that the scriptures were all about him.

27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.

Acts 24:27, NET

 Paul is famous for his three epic missionary journeys in Greece, Macedonia, Asia Minor (Turkey) and the island of Cyprus. He left behind him a legacy for many missionaries and ministers to follow.

But most of all, Paul shows us that God can use even the most improbable saints.


Jude wrote one of the shortest books in the Bible. It’s only one page. It’s surprising to note that there are four other books in the Bible that are even shorter than Jude!

If you’ve ever heard of Power Words, you’ll love Jude. His book is jam-packed with power epithets against the false teachers and heresies of the day.  

Jude did not mince words. Here are a few things he said against these “Godless men.”

They “deny Jesus Christ”

“Like unreasoning animals, they destroy themselves.”

“Clouds without rain”

“Trees without fruit”

“Boasting about themselves”

We sure need his book today, and it’s a good thing we’ve got it.

Jude is traditionally regarded as being the half-brother of Jesus, because we know he’s the brother of James. It’s possible he’s a different Jude, but there’s no clear evidence of that.

Jude is a variant of Judah, which means “praise.”

List of New Testament Books

Here is a list of every New Testament book along with the author’s name and approximate date of completion. Other relevant historical events are listed for context.


Jesus is Crucified and Rises Again   
AD 29   
Matthew, Mark, Luke & John   

AD 29 is regarded as the most likely year of the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ.
Paul becomes a Christian on the road to Damascus   
AD 35   
Luke (Acts)   

The conversion of Paul didn’t lead to immediate authorship, or even evangelism. He spent many years after this studying the scriptures before beginning his active ministry.
Book of James   
AD 46   
James, half brother of Jesus   

It’s surprising to many to learn the book of James is the earliest New Testament book.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey   
AD 46   
Luke (Acts   13:4 -14:26)   

Acts 13:9 is the first mention of Saul also being known as Paul. His first missionary journey began in Antioch (in what we now call Syria) on to the island of Cyprus, then to Asia Minor (Turkey). It lasted about 2 years and 1200 miles.
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey   
AD 51   
Luke (Acts 15:36 – 18:22)   

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey took about 3-4 years and covered about 1900 miles. He started at Antioch, went by land through Asia Minor (Turkey) through Greece and Macedonia and then back to Jerusalem)
1 Thessalonians   
AD 52   
Paul wrote this book from Corinth.    
2 Thessalonians   
AD 53   
Paul wrote this book from Corinth.   
Paul’s Third Missionary Journey   
AD 54   
Luke (Acts)   

Paul’s Third Missionary Journey lasted for at least 3 years. He covered many of the same places he visited in his First and Second Journeys.
Nero Becomes Emperor of Rome   
AD 54   
Not mentioned in Scripture   
Nero Becomes Emperor of Rome   
AD 56   
Paul wrote this book while staying in the city of Corinth   
First Corinthians   
AD 57   
Written by Paul from Macedonia   
Second Corinthians   
AD 57   
Written by Paul from Macedonia   
AD 58   
Written by Paul from Corinth   
1 Peter   
AD 58   

Probably written from Rome –scholars believe “Babylon” means Rome in 5:13. To the believers in Asia (Turkey).
AD 59   
Luke (Acts)   
Paul is Imprisoned at Caesarea   
AD 59   
Written by Paul during his imprisonment in Caesarea   
Book of Matthew   
AD 50-60   
Theme: Christ the King   
AD 61   
Luke (Acts)   
Paul is Imprisoned at Rome   
AD 61   
Written from Rome by Paul   
AD 61   
Written from Rome by Paul   
Book of Mark   
AD 61-68   
John Mark   
Theme: Christ the Servant   
AD 62   
Written from Rome by Paul   
AD 62   
Written from Rome by Paul   
AD 62   
Paul released from prison in Rome   
1 Timothy   
AD 62   
Written from Macedonia by Paul   
AD 63-68   

The leading candidate for authorship is Paul, and the literary evidence for Paul’s authorship is very strong. Other possible authors are Luke, Barnabas and Apollos. No authorship claim is made in the book itself.
AD 64   
Paul is imprisoned again.   
AD 64   
The Great Fire of Rome started by Nero and blamed   on Christians   
2 Peter   
AD 65   
Written from Rome by Paul   
2 Timothy   
AD 65   
Written from Rome by Paul   
AD 67   

The Book of Acts is Written by Luke. Though his name isn’t in the book, there is ample evidence of Luke as the author. For example, his reference to Theophilus in Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1.
AD 68   
Paul is martyred at Rome   
AD 69   
Jerusalem is besieged by the Romans   
AD 69   
Vespasian Becomes Emperor of Rome   
AD 70   

Jerusalem and the Temple are Destroyed and the Jews are Deported
AD 73   
The Jews Commit Mass Suicide at Masada   
AD 79   
Titus Becomes Emperor of Rome   
Book of John   
AD 85-90   
Theme: Christ in His Deity   
Book of 1 John   
AD 90-95   

The First Epistle of John, likely written in Ephesus
Book of 2 John   
AD 90-95   

The Book of 2 John, likely written in Ephesus
Book of 3 John   
AD 90-95   

The Book of 3 John, likely written in Ephesus
Book of Jude   
AD 68   
Jude, half brother of Jesus   
A tiny, one-page, powerful letter of correction.   
Book of Revelation   
AD 95   
Written by John from the Greek Isle of Patmos   

Is your Faith Founded on Fact? Have you committed to follow Jesus?

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