What’s the Primary purpose of the New Testament? Is it to preach the Gospel to the lost or is it to enable believers to glorify God by their lives? The question might seem unnecessary but for the insistence upon the first option by some who do all they can to promote it and to debunk the latter view. So, it is necessary to consider the matter.

There are those who seem to think that option number one is the larger, more comprehensive one. However, the opposite is the case. Surely, 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, James—or most any other NT book you examine is written to believers about their lives.

“What of the Gospel of John?” you ask.

It was written to unbelievers to help them believe and be saved. But what of 1 John? It was written to believers to help them to come to an assurance of their salvation—and it states so. It was not primarily written to bring people to faith in Christ. That’s clear. And, as for Luke/Acts, these books were written to a Christian that he might know the historical certainty of what he believed. Many purposes. Eh?

Do, then, we have two distinct purposes for the NT? Or, perhaps more?

Let’s look at things from another angle. If believers did not quote or hand John’s Gospel to the unsaved it would not achieve its purpose—whatever that may be. Yes, there are various sub-purposes for the New Testament writings as well as for those who initially distributed, transcribed, and transmitted them, and, now, in any variety of ways, who make them and their messages known to the appropriate persons today.

So, we may say in the most general sense, that the purpose of these books is to move us to faithfully see to it that those who need them get them for the purposes for which they need them.

By that, I mean, the prime purpose for you and for me is to obey material in those books that pertains to us, and to get out to others what particularly pertains to them (not that all Scripture, in one way or another, pertains to everyone).

So the prime purpose is to see that everyone gets what he was intended by God to receive. Then he is to believe or obey as the case may be. In that way, God may be honored and His Word exalted.


Resources for you.

Study with Dr. Jay Adams. Learn at your convenience. We are an ACBC Certified Training Center.

Visit the INS bookstore for books by Dr. Jay Adams and all your biblical counseling resource needs.

The INS podcast with Dr. Jay Adams features a new (classic) message every Monday and Thursday.

Join Our Newsletter.

We are regularly sending out ministry news so that you can keep updated with the Institute for Nouthetic Studies.