The New Testament records stories and teachings about the life, ministry, and followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Each book is either written by an apostle of Jesus (e.g., Paul) or a close companion to one (e.g., Mark to Peter). Whether a book is a Gospel, a historical record, or a letter, each has chapter divisions, leading some to wonder how many total chapters the New Testament has.
The 27 books of the New Testament have 260 total chapters. The average number of chapters per book is 9.6. Acts and Matthew have the most chapters, with 28. Four books contain just one chapter: Philemon, 2 and 3 John, and Jude. Chapter divisions aren’t original to any New Testament book.
What section of the New Testament, like the Gospels or letters of Paul, have the most chapters? What author wrote the most chapters in the New Testament? What percentage of the New Testament did John and Paul write? Who created the chapter divisions? Did God inspire them? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.
Also, see Who Wrote the New Testament? to learn more.
Total Chapters In the Gospels and Acts
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, known as the four Gospels, are the first books listed in the New Testament. In total, the Gospels have 89 chapters, averaging 22 per book. Matthew has the most chapters with 28, and Mark has the fewest with 16.
However, having more chapters doesn’t necessarily mean one book has more content than another. For example, Luke contains more words than any of the Gospels, even though Matthew has four more chapters.
|The Gospels: 89 Chapters|
|The Gospel of Matthew – 28 chapters|
|The Gospel of Mark – 16 chapters|
|The Gospel of Luke – 24 chapters|
|The Gospel of John – 21 chapters|
With 28 chapters, the book of Acts comprises about 9% of the New Testament. It’s tied with Matthew for having the most chapters among the books in the New Testament. Since Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts, he has the distinction of writing 52 chapters, or 20% of the New Testament, the second most of any writer.
|Acts: 28 Chapters|
|Acts – 28 chapters|
The book of Acts’ genre or writing style is historical as it tells the story of the early church. The most common genre in the New Testament is letter or epistle (more below). A few genres are only represented by one book, like Hebrews (i.e., a sermon), Revelation (i.e., apocalyptic), and Acts.
Also, see How Many Books Are in the New Testament? to learn more.
Total Chapters In the Letters of Paul
Paul wrote 87, or 33%, of the 260 chapters in the New Testament. His 13 letters average over six chapters per book. The genre of Paul’s writing is letters because they are his correspondence with churches and individuals. Yet, in common usage, it’s common to call them “books” like other writings in the Bible.
|The Letters of Paul: 87 Chapters|
|Romans – 16 chapters|
|1 Corinthians – 16 chapters|
|2 Corinthians – 13 chapters|
|Galatians – 6 chapters|
|Ephesians – 6 chapters|
|Philippians – 4 chapters|
|Colossians – 4 chapters|
|1 Thessalonians – 5 chapters|
|2 Thessalonians – 3 chapters|
|1 Timothy – 6 chapters|
|2 Timothy – 4 chapters|
|Titus – 3 chapters|
|Philemon – 1 chapter|
Paul’s letters aren’t arranged chronologically in the New Testament but according to their size. Romans and 1 Corinthians are listed first because they have 16 chapters. 2 Corinthians is next with 13. The others have less than ten chapters each. Philemon has the fewest chapters with one.
Also, see What Language Was the New Testament Written In? to learn more.
Total Chapters in the General Epistles
“General Epistles” describes Hebrews, James, 1-2 Peter, and Jude. The term distinguishes between Paul’s letters and the five others wrote. These five books comprise over 9% of the New Testament.
|General Epistles: 27 Chapters|
|Hebrews – 13 chapters|
|James – 5 chapters|
|1 Peter – 5 chapters|
|2 Peter – 3 chapters|
|Jude – 1 chapter|
Total Chapters In John’s Other Writings
John’s “other” writings refer to the books he wrote in addition to his Gospel. Since his Gospel is 21 chapters and his other writings add up to 29, John wrote 50 chapters, or over 19%, of the New Testament, the third most after Paul (87) and Luke (52). Revelation has the fourth most chapters in the New Testament (22), after Matthew and Acts (28) and Luke (24).
|Other Writings of John: 29 Chapters|
|1 John – 5 chapters|
|2 John – 1 chapter|
|3 John – 1 chapter|
|Revelation – 22 chapters|
108 chapters, or over 41% of the New Testament’s total chapters, are letters. This consists of Paul’s letters (87), James, 1-2 Peter, and Jude (14), and 1-3 John (7).
Who created the Bible’s chapters divisions?
Stephen Langton (1150-1228 A.D.), a Roman Catholic clergyman in 13th-century England, is credited with dividing the Bible into the chapters and verses in use today.
Many people before him created unique chapter and verse divisions, which were too complex to use. For example, one version of Matthew consisted of over 100 chapters.
Others assigned a verse number to each phrase in a passage, so a number appeared in the text every three to five words. Such divisions made passages nearly unreadable. As a result, they never gained widespread use in the church.
People found Langston’s divisions easy to use. He was also in a position of influence in the church, which enabled him to implement his system in churches more easily.
Did God inspire chapter divisions?
Chapter divisions aren’t inspired like the text of the Bible is. According to 2 Timothy 3:16, God inspired the writings of the Bible: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (ESV).
However, chapter divisions aren’t Scripture and don’t fit the theological definition of inspiration. Chapter divisions are often helpful to people, but readers must use them with discretion.
For example, some chapters start with words like “therefore” (e.g., Rom. 5:1). In such cases, readers must make an extra effort to understand the context of a passage.
Also, see Are There 46 Books in the Old Testament? to learn more.
Over 2,000 years ago, people who walked and talked with Jesus of Nazareth wrote the 27 books of the New Testament. The drive to preserve and spread Jesus' teachings and stories about him led the...
The New Testament is the most significant collection of writings in world history. Each gospel, letter, historical account, and sermon describe the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and the...