Why is the order of the New Testament important?
The New Testament has the Gospels first because they are of prime importance. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the synoptic gospels for they give a “synopsis” of the life of Jesus. These and the “theological” gospel of John form the basis of our faith. Martin Luther called the Gospels “the cradle of Christ.” The Gospels contain the good news of Jesus, the Christ, which is the essential message of salvation from sin, death, and the power of the devil. (That is why we stand during the reading of the Gospel—out of sheer respect for its importance!)
The book of Acts is next in importance for two reasons: a) the books of Luke-Acts form ¼ of the New Testament and b) Acts tells of the creation of the church, which is the body of Christ on earth.
Next in importance are the letters of Paul, the chief theologian of the church. It leads off with Romans, from which Lutheran theologians (and Luther) get their basics. The books of Romans through Philemon were written by Paul or one of Paul’s disciples.
The next set of books we find are the General Letters (Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2, & 3 John, Jude) which are filled with alternative theologies to Paul. The final book of the New Testament is the Revelation to John. This often-misunderstood book is actually a liturgy of hope for and by the ancient Christian Church. It is a liturgy of hope for all ages as well as a fitting way to end the New Testament.