MAJOR GROUPS: The first thirty nine books of the Bible are called the Old Testament and are
devoted to preparing the world for the coming of Christ.
The last twenty seven books are called the New Testament and describe that for which the Old Testament was preparing; Christ's life, sacrificial death, resurrection and the calling out of his church, the spiritual equivalent of a nation of believers.
SUB-GROUPS: According to subject matter, the Old Testament may be subdivided into
History: Genesis through Esther
Poetry: Job through Song of Solomon
Prophecy: Isaiah through Malachi
The New Testament may be subdivided into
Gospels: Matthew through John
Epistles: Romans through Jude
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE:
Genesis Creation; Entrance of sin; The flood; Initial steps taken by God to redeem fallen man; Initiation of the Messianic line beginning with the generic yet very specific Seed of the woman (Gen.3:15, Isaiah 7:14) and continuing through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (later renamed by God to Israel). Israel and his descendants are nurtured in Egypt.
Exodus From slavery in Egypt toward the promised land; the superiority of God; organization of the people; formal worship commences with the ten commandments and the tabernacle.
Leviticus How may sinful man approach holy God? The priesthood, sacrificial system and laws which make sin identifiable.
Numbers Unbelief hinders receipt of God's blessing. Forty years in the wilderness to purge unbelievers, toughen his nation and make them accustomed to being dependent upon God.
Deuteronomy The previous generation which worshipped the gods of Egypt has died. For the new generation Moses reviews history, reminding them of laws, warnings and prophecies, and bids them farwell.
Joshua Conquest of Canaan; division of the land among the twelve tribes; Joshua's farewell address.
Judges The history of Israel during the time of the fifteen judges. Israel was a theocracy but repeatedly fell into idolatry (Definition Exodus 20:3) bringing judgements upon themselves in the form of invasion and oppression. Israel would repent and cry out to God who would respond by raising up an individual to lead them in overthrowing the oppressors. Then the cycle would repeat.
Ruth A gentile woman joins the line of Christ. Her son would be the grandfather of David.
1Samuel The last judge; God permits Israel to have an earthly king; The reign of Saul.
2Samuel The reign of David; Military success.
1Kings The reign of Solomon; Dedication of the temple; God's warning against idolatry; Division of Israel into two kingdoms, Judah (tribes of Judah and Benjamin, called the southern kingdom) and Israel (the remaining ten tribes, called the northern kingdom); The prophet Elijah begins his ministry.
2Kings History of the decline of the two kingdoms until the captivity; Ministries of the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
1Chronicles Supplemental information to the books of Samuel and Kings; Expands upon the reign of David; Written from the viewpoint of a priest.
2Chronicles Continuation of 1 Chronicles. Expands upon the reign of Solomon; follows the Kingdom of Judah from Solomon's death until captivity in Babylon.
Ezra An initial group of Jews are permitted to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and restore worship (chapters 1 - 6); Some fifty years later Ezra is sent from Babylon to Jerusalem, bringing with him the treasures of the temple (chapters 7 - 10).
Nehemiah Nehemiah leads the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem following reconstruction of the temple; Ezra reads the Law to the congregation and a great revival follows.
Esther Meanwhile, in Babylon (by then called Persia because Babylon had been conquered by Cyrus the great), God used Esther and Mordecai to prevent a massacre of the Jews.
Job Probably the oldest book in the Bible; deals with one of the oldest complaints of man, " Why do the righteous suffer?" Man's intellect cannot probe the parameters of God's purpose. The same delimma which Adam faced; Since I do not understand what God is doing, shall I rebell against the position in which he has placed me, or shall I have confidence in his righteousness and power?
Psalms A book of praises and encouragement. Many Psalms bear future reference to Christ, noteably Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 45, 69, 72, 89, 110, 118 and 132.
Proverbs A book of moral and religious sayings. Rules by which to arrange one's life.
Ecclesiastes A book of philosophy. Apart from God, what is there of real value in this life?
Song of Solomon A celebration of marital love. Often seen as a picture of God's relationship with his chosen people, the Jews, during happy (Solomon's) times, (compare with Ezekiel 16). Also a picture of Christ's love for his bride, the church of the New Testament.
Isaiah Isaiah, the messianic prophet. While he condemned the sinfulness of the kingdom of Judah and warned of judgement to come (The kingdom of Israel had been carried away to Babylon early in Isaiah's ministry) he also saw that God would keep his promise. Through Judah would come the Messiah who would be a blessing to all nations.
Jeremiah About 100 years after Isaiah God called Jeremiah to give Jerusalem one last opportunity to repent. Jeremiah was persecuted because of his message. He chose to remain with the remnant in Judah while most were carried away.
Lamentations Jeremiah's grief over the destruction of Jerusalem.
Ezekiel Ezekiel was taken to Babylon a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem and ministered to the "whole house of Israel". His message pointed out that Israel and Judah had brought this punishment upon themselves but in the end Jerusalem would be restored and God honored. His vision extends forward to the time of the Revelation. Of particular interest is the departure of the glory of God from the temple shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel 10:18-19 and Ezekiel 11:22-23, and the predicted return to the messianic temple, Ezekiel 43:1-5.
Daniel Also a captive in Babylon, slightly preceeding Ezekiel. God granted Daniel the ability to interpret dreams which made him highly respected and emphasized the power of God. Daniel's later prophecies identify world events relating to Israel, including the sacrificial death of Messiah, Daniel 9:24-27, and the great tribulation which preceeds the messianic kingdom, Daniel 12:1, also described by Christ himself in Matthew 24: 15-31.
Hosea Ministered to the northern kingdom (Israel) shortly before it went into captivity; Contemporary of Amos in the northern kingdom and Isaiah and Micah in the southern kingdom; Apostacy is a form of spiritual adultery; Call to repentence; Promise of future forgiveness.
Joel Pre-captivity; Prophesied to Judah (southern kingdom); A plague of locusts foreshadowed an invasion by a human army if Judah did not repent; Reassurance of future judgement of the nations and deliverance of Israel.
Amos Pre-captivity; Warned both Israel and Judah that their wickedness would bring inevitable punishment; Promised eventual restoration of the Davidic kingdom.
Obadiah Edomites were descended from Esau, brother of Jacob(Israel); The grudge Esau held toward Jacob continued to be nurtured among the Edomites; Edom to be punished for their attitude toward Israel.
Jonah Pre-captivity; Instructed by God to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and preach repentance; Attempted to flee to Tarshish to avoid doing so but was returned by God via "Great fish express"; Preached to Nineveh; Nineveh repented; Jonah disappointed that Nineveh would be spared.
Micah Pre-captivity; Judgement is coming! Assurance that God will keep his promises to Abraham and Jacob; Eventually the Messianic kingdom will arive; Birthplace of Messiah is predicted to be Bethlehem, Micah 5:2.
Nahum Pre-captivity; Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah; Now, a little more than a century later, Nineveh had returned to idolatry; God is furious; The city is doomed.
Habakkuk We know that God is furious with his adversaries. Why have not the Chaldeans been destroyed? Answer: The Chaldeans are reserved to be a hammer of judgement upon other nations. Note: the Chaldeans were early inhabitants of Babylonia.
Zephaniah Pre-captivity; Prediction of the coming judgement upon the kingdom of Judah. Although Jerusalem had witnessed God's judgement upon surrounding nations, Jerusalem failed to understand its own need for repentance. Assurance of eventual restoration.
Haggai Late captivity; About 50,000 of the Jewish exiles had been sent by Cyrus to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. They began well but faltered and became preocupied with their own personal interests. Haggai reminds them of their responsibility.
Zechariah A Contemporary of Haggai; Exhorts people to to rebuild the temple; Gives a long distance view of the future of Israel. Many prophecies regarding the Messiah are quoted in the New Testament as pertaining to Jesus Christ.
Malachi Post captivity; A bleak picture of a despondent remnant. The people carried out forms of traditional worship but their hearts were not in it. They were longing for Messiah to deliver them from their problems as had the Judges of old.
The Intertestament Period. Nearly 400 years after Malachi the nation Israel was mostly dispersed among the Persian empire. The remnant in Palestine had experienced a succession of occupations by Greece, Syria, Egypt and finally Rome. Frequently false Messiahs appeared on the scene, hoping to lead a successful revolt and reestablish the Davidic kingdom. While the kingdom remained part of God's covenant with Israel, God's immediate interest was in providing for the redemption of all mankind.
Matthew The description of Christ's time on Earth is so important that God inspired four different men, each with a different perspective, to author accounts. Matthew, a Jew and a government official, directed his Gospel toward Jewish readers, presenting Christ as King, the genuine Messiah, descended from Abraham and David. The Gospel quotes many Old Testament prophecies.
Mark Mark directed his Gospel toward the non-Jewish (Gentile) Christians, and presented Christ as a servant, doing his Father's will on Earth. Not much reference to the Old Testament since the Gentiles were not necessarily familiar with the Jewish Scriptures. Concentrated on Christ's actions to prove his diety.
Luke Luke was a physician and as such was particularly interested in the physical aspects of humanity. As a scientist of his time, Luke was careful to present a complete and orderly description of Christ's life as a human.
John The Apostle John had a clear understanding of the nature of Christ's mission and the results it produced. He presented Jesus as God, who became flesh and dwelt among men, and who, by his sacrifice redeemed sinfull man. The words of John the Baptist as recorded by John the Apostle make this very clear. John 1:29.
Acts Jesus had been crucifed and resurrected and, as Luke tells us, taught additional disciples about the Old Testament prophecies regarding himself, Luke 24:13-27 and the kingdom of God Acts 1:1-5. The apostles were hoping to see the kingdom set up right away but Jesus told them there was yet work to be done, Acts 1:6-8. Acts describes the development of the early church and the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to areas as far away as Rome. .
Romans Addressed to the Christians in Rome, at that time the seat of the world's political government. Under the inspiration of God Paul makes it clear that Jew and Gentile alike, all are under sin, Romans 3:9-11, and the same remedy applies to all, Romans 3:21-30. A very logical and thorough discussion of justification and Christian living.
1Corinthians Corinth was a particulary wicked seaport city and the church had a problem with the immorality of the environment seeping in. Practical advice for caulking the seams.
2Corinthians A long standing political tactic has been, "If you don't like the message, discredit the messenger." In first Corinthinans Paul had addressed a division in the church based upon personalities. Instead of repenting the disputers challenged his authority, prompting Paul to send a very personal letter defending his ministry and authority.
Galatians Paul established churches in several cities of Galatia. Later, teachers came along who confused the churches by claiming that it was necessary to keep Jewish law and tradition in order to be a Christian. That was false teaching. The issue had already been settled by the apostles at Jerusalem, Acts 15:23-29. Paul now explains in depth the relationship of law and faith.
Ephesians The subject is the true church, the called out ones, the body of Christ. Not a discussion of local church administation but of the believer's position in Christ and individual responsibility toward Christ. Jewish and Gentile Christians have equal standing in the church, having been saved in the same manner, through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-22.
Philippians Paul was in prison in Rome and the church at Philippi had sent a gift, probably money. Paul responds with a letter of appreciation and encouragement.
Colossians Some teachers at Colosse, passing themselves off as enlightened thinkers, were teaching that Christ was only one of many mediators between God and man. Paul reinforces the fact that Christ is truly God, truly the Savior and truly the head of the church.
1 Thessalonians From the outset the church at Thessolonica had endured violent persecution. Paul received from Timothy a good report of the status of the church. Paul speaks of the eventual end of persecution of the church at the rapture. John 14:1-3, 1 Thess. 4:13-18
2 Thessalonians Paul's reference in 1 Thessalonians to the rapture of the church created a stir in the minds of many and apparently caused some of them to abandon their Christian work, expecting the imminent return of Christ. He warned them that there was still work to do and time in which to do it.
1 Timothy As the church grew so did the need for individual pastors to lead the local congregations. This letter from Paul to young Timothy provides guidiance for future leaders.
2 Timothy As the end of his earthly life approaches, Paul sees the future and the challenges which lie before Timothy and his successors. In 1 Timothy he advised regarding conduct and adminisration. In 2 Timothy he urges Timothy to be faithful to the word of God no matter what.
Titus It takes backbone to be a pastor. Titus was charged with bringing order to the churches on the island of Crete. The epistle suggests a number of subjects which should be taught to immature Christians to enhance their growth.
Philemon Philemon was a Christian. One of Philemon's slaves had come under Paul's influence in the Roman prison (probably a runaway) and had become a believer. Paul sent Onesimus back to his master along with a letter of intercession.
Hebrews As the letter to the Romans was written to teach non-Jewish Christians, the letter to the Hebrew Christians was written to teach those who were well acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures. Christianity is not a new religion but the predicted progression of the Hebrew Old Testament faith.
James James, a younger brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, became the head of the Christian church in Jerusalem and carried much influence with Christians everywhere. His letter to the "twelve tribes scattered abroad" is filled with practical advice regarding living the Christian life.
1 Peter Peter is amazing!. We tend to dwell upon his brashness as a disciple, but this letter reveals a man of knowledge and wisdom and great spiritual strength, encouraging Christians who are suffering for their faith.
2 Peter Peter's farewell letter. As he was awaiting martyrdom, he takes the opportunity to remind his Christian family of his personal faith in Christ and warn them against false teachers who will attempt to lead them into error.
1 John John, the Apostle, lived to be an old man and watched the expansion of Christianity through several generations with much the same feeling that a grandparent has toward his family. John had an insight into how God feels toward his children. He reminds them of their relationship with the Father through Christ and discusses the enticements of the world.
2 John John expands upon the dangers to the family which come from false teachers.
3 John John specifically points out the wickedness of Diotrephes, "Who loveth to have the preeminence among them,". Personal ambition is contrasted with ambition to serve the Lord.
Jude Another of Jesus' brothers, Jude, is moved by the Holy Spirit to write a strong warning against false teachers and to exhort Christians to, "Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints."
Revelation The book of conclusion; how human history will ultimately play out. The vision provided to John was similar to a stage play presented on two levels; the lower stage, Earth, and the upper stage, Heaven. Much of the Revelation is future and not yet easily understood, but as time passes some mysteries become evident. For example, in my youth I wondered how the entire earth would be able to see the dead bodies of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-12.
The Revelation teaches us that in the final outcome God will be exhalted as God of the universe, Christ will be confirmed as "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" and all mankind will be held accountable for their acceptance or rejection of the gospel of Christ.
Copyright (C) 2004,2010 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved.