Summary: Discovering the characteristics and divisions of the Bible.
The Bible Under Investigation: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Introduction: These two verses in 2 Timothy make two very controversial claims. What are they?
If you are a non-believer, how would you investigate these claims?
There are various names for the Bible in the Bible used interchangeably for the same thing: the Bible.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
- Ephesians 6:17, “…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
We see just in these few verses that the Bible can be referred to as not only the Bible, but the “Scriptures,” the “sword of the Spirit,” and the “Word of God.”
Remember that there is a Table of contents in the front of your bible. This is the best was to get acquainted with the order of the books. Turn to it when you are on your own every once in a while and just notice the order and the brake down. This helps get you familiar with how the Bible is put together in our English translations.
The Construction of the Bible: The Bible is composed of two main sections: The Old Testament, which contains 39 books, and the New Testament, which contains 27 books. Sometimes you will see the New Testament or Old Testament referred to by abbreviation: O.T. and N.T.
Keep this in mind when reading through your Scriptures. The Bible could be described as a Library that contains 66 books. When you go buy a book to read, you don’t just try to find your favorite quotes, do you? No! You read the whole book! It is overwhelming to think that you will eventually read the whole Bible, but think of it like you are going to read each book in the Library, one at a time. There is nothing wrong with finding your favorite Scriptures or looking for specific ones to help in specific situations, but it is always a good Idea to understand the context in which the verse is written, who is saying it, and who is listening.
Divisions of the Old Testament: The O.T. can be divided into 5 parts.
1. The Pentateuch. The first five books of the Bible, written by Moses, are also are called the books of the law or the “Pentateuch.” These five books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
- Genesis records the creation of the universe and of man, and it shows how man was created to have fellowship with God, but because of man’s stubborn self-will, he chose to go his own independent way and fellowship with God was broken.
- Exodus is the story of Israel’s leaving the bondage of Egypt and beginning their journey to the Promised Land. While on their journey, God gives the Law by which His nation is to live.
- Leviticus contains detailed instructions of the Law.
- Numbers and Deuteronomy tell of Israel’s wondering in the wilderness and coming to the Promised Land.
These stories are very applicable to our modern day lives. What stories, examples, or events from these five books have inspired you?
2. The Historical Books. The next twelve books tell us of the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, of Israel’s repeated turning from God to sin, and finally of the Assyrian and Babylonian exile – God’s punishment.
- Paul tells us in the N.T. that these narrations of the Hebrew history were given to be examples for us: Joshua, Judges, and Ruth- pre-kingdom era. 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles- tells of the duration of the kingdom. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther- exile and post-exile period.
3. Poetry. Of the next five books, Psalms – the Hebrew hymnbook – is probably the best known. Let’s list the five books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.
- Try and think of how God has used these books to comfort and strengthen you in a difficult situation.
4. Major Prophets. Written shortly before Israel was taken into captivity and during the exile, these books prophesy the coming Messiah and other world events. They also contain warnings of impending disaster if Israel did not turn from her wicked ways. Let’s list the five books of the Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel.
- Some of these prophecies have already been fulfilled and others are yet to be fulfilled. A knowledge of these prophecies is essential to understanding how completely Christ fulfilled the role of the Messiah.