What significance does the New Testament have for Christians?

Jesus is everything that God would like to tell us.  The entire Old Testament prepares for the Incarnation of God's Son and all of God's promises find their fulfillment in Jesus. To be Christian means to unite oneself ever more deeply with the life of Christ.  To do that, one must read and live the Gospels.
[Catechism: 124-127, 128-130, 140 or read more in the section of What We Believe in Youcat]


The Bible is a part of divine revelation. What is “revealed” or made known to us is God Himself. He wanted us to know Him, to know His name, so that we could love Him and so that we could become “divinized”. It is true that we could already know certain truths about God from our reason, but revelation gives us more certainty to what reason tells us; it also reveals what we could never have known otherwise.

Jesus is the fullest revelation. “For He sent His Son, the eternal Word, who enlightens all men, so that He might dwell among men and tell them of the innermost being of God.” (Dei Verbum 4) So if I want to know God, His innermost being, I have to know Christ, and I find Him in the New Testament, especially in the Gospels: “It is common knowledge that among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence, and rightly so, for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our savior.” (Dei Verbum 18) You’ve probably heard that quote from St. Jerome: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

The Gospels are where I need to get to know Jesus. The apostles who lived with Jesus, spent time with Him, listened to Him, were interested in everything He said, and who loved Him deeply, were led by divine inspiration to let people know all they had lived and seen (1Jn 1:1). “Some of them, moved by that same Spirit, wrote down what they had seen or learned.” (Dei Verbum 7) And that´s the key: not only was it written by people who had witnessed extraordinary events, but above all because it is God Himself who speaks through their inspired words.

God enters into dialogue with us in the New Testament. Our attitude then has to be one of prayer. With the Bible, we should not only read it, study it, memorize it, learn it, but above all “pray” it. We pray Sacred Scripture “so that God and man may talk together; for 'we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying'.” (Dei Verbum 25) St. Jerome said that it was like spouses speaking and listening to each other.  And how much more will God speak to us through the words and actions of His Son.

You can learn to pray the New Testament by meditating on what you read. “And what is meditation? It means 'remembering' all that God has done and not forgetting his many great benefits (cf. Ps 103:2b). We often see only the negative things; we must also keep in mind all that is positive, the gifts that God has made us; we must be attentive to the positive signs that come from God and must remember them.” (Benedict XVI)

And the effect on your life will be surprising. It won’t only have consequences for you and your life, but for those that you know and love: “I feel that we too often focus only on the negative aspect of life, on what is bad. If we are more willing to see the good and the beautiful things that surround us, we would be able to transform our families. From there, we would change our next-door neighbors and then others who live in our neighborhood or city. We would be able to bring peace and love to our world which hungers so much for these things.” (Mother Teresa)

Here are a few more ways that the reading of the New Testament can help you: It makes us wise and serene; one “maintains the equilibrium of the soul”; we can overcome any difficulty with Christ´s help; it helps us to have a good relationship with God, which in turn helps us to overcome sadness and depression, so rampant today; it has a "capacity to enter into dialogue with the everyday problems which people face.” (Verbum Domini 22)

Here are a couple attitudes that reading the new Testament we should encourage us to have: love it passionately; read it along with what the Church teaches; it should have an effect on our lives and how we act; it helps us to fulfill our responsibility to teach others, especially by our example.

The love of Christ, nourished with study and meditation, makes us rise above every difficulty: 'Let us also love Jesus Christ, always seeking union with him: then even what is difficult will seem easy to us' (Ep.22, 40).” (Pope Benedict XVI)