LID#16 – Overview of the Bible
This is Dr. Ed Hoskins welcoming you to Lessons in Discipleship, a series designed to help new believers become established in their Christian faith. Today’s lesson is An Overview of the Bible.
Before we get started, let me tell you a little about myself.
I’m a retired physician who spent 34 years in family medicine and student health. I became a Christian 50 years ago and was helped early in my faith by the Navigators, an international, non-denominational Christian organization whose stated goal is “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known.” I have been on associate staff with that organization since 1980. Lessons in Discipleship is a compilation of what I’ve learned from the Bible and under the guidance of the Navigators during that time. What I learned then I now pass on to you. Today’s session is An Overview of the Bible.
Let’s get started. The Bible is not merely a single book. It is a collection of 66 books written down by 40 different people over a period of 1500 years. The Old Testament was written in ancient Hebrew script. The New Testament was almost entirely written in Greek, with the exception of Matthew and Hebrews, which may have been in Aramaic and later translated by someone like Luke the physician into Greek. Although many different people wrote down the Bible, they were all inspired by a single individual, the God of the universe. As a result, the entire Bible has one unique theme. Let’s examine that theme more closely.
The Bible’s unique theme may be summarized as follows. It begins with the story of creation. God’s initial creation was perfect. But it was all devastated by sin at mankind’s choice through the first man, Adam. Adam chose to disobey God’s command not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam listened to Satan instead. This resulted in a perpetual curse placed on all creation and involved all life. Even so, from the very first, God planned to send a special person to rectify and correct and eliminate that curse with the promise in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman (Eve), and between your offspring and hers; he (Jesus the Messiah) will crush your head (Satan), and you will bruise his heel.”
One day, the world and universe as we know it, will end through fire. Everyone will face the Day of Judgment before the throne of God. Many hundreds of years before Christ, his coming was foretold in the Bible. The rest of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, chronicles this single unique theme. Here’s another way to look at this theme. It is pulled together by Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom of God and can be summarized in four parts:
First, the promised Messiah king has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Second, the promised Messiah King came to proclaim good news of freedom from sin. He came to make everything new. Third, Jesus the Messiah would be God’s suffering servant; this is documented in Isaiah 53. This suffering servant would be put to death in our place on the cross and would rise again from the dead three days later, conquering sin and death. Fourth, entrance into God’s Kingdom is by invitation. Entrance is by surrendering to Jesus as Master and Lord. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
Broadly, the Bible is divided into 2 portions: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Testament also means covenant or agreement. The Old Testament is a series of 39 books from Genesis through Malachi. The New Testament consists of the last 27 books from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John up through the end of the book of Revelation.
Let’s look more closely at the Old Testament. It has a total of 39 books. The first 17 of these are books of history. Of these 17, the first five (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are called the Torah. They were written down by Moses. The Torah is followed by twelve books – Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, 1st and 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. These first 17 books of history begin with creation and progress through Adam, Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, King David, his son Solomon, and on through the history of the nation of Israel when they were carried away into Babylon at the time of Nehemiah.
The next five books are known as books of wisdom or poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. Finally, the Old Testament ends with 17 books of prophecy. The first five of these are the major (longer in length) prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel, followed by the twelve minor (shorter) prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi.
Here’s a timeline of the Old Testament through associated prophets, which may be useful. Adam and Eve existed approximately 4000 years before the time of Christ. Noah lived at the time of the flood or approximately 2500 years BC, being a direct descendant of Adam ten generations down. Abraham was about 400 years after the time of Noah or 2100 BC. (That was just before the great King Hammurabi of the First Babylonian dynasty.) Abraham was a direct descendant of Noah, ten generations down. Joseph (the great grandson of Abraham, through Isaac) was born about 1900 BC. He was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers when he was a teenager during Egypt’s Middle Kingdom period. Joseph may have served under the pharaoh Sesostris the 3rd near the end of the 12th Egyptian dynasty.
Moses lived four centuries after Joseph. His departure from Egypt with the children of Israel is known as the Exodus. The Exodus took place around 1446 BC, probably during the rule of Amenhotep the 2nd, the 7th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty during Egypt’s Middle Kingdom period.
David and Solomon lived at approximately 1000 BC. Jonah was sent by God to go Nineveh; that took place about 750 years BC near Mosul, in southern Iraq. Zechariah, John the Baptist and Jesus were born around 4 BC. We don’t say “0” BC because it has to do with changes in our modern calendar. Historians today agree that Jesus was born about 4 BC.
Here’s a look at the New Testament, a total of 27 books. There are five books of history: four gospels (the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) plus the book of Acts. It’s called Acts because they are the acts of what happened in the early church up to the end of the 1st century AD. Acts is followed by 21 letters from the followers of Jesus to the early churches. These include the letters of Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John, and Jude. Finally, the New Testament ends with a single book of prophecy – the book of Revelation. It tells of the very end times and the Day of Judgment, God’s eternal new kingdom known as the New Jerusalem.
Let’s look at a summary of this brief presentation from today. The Bible is an collection of 66 books compiled by approximately 40 individuals over 1500 years with but one author, the creator God of the universe. The Bible is a factual book that begins with the creation of the world and universe. The Bible continues through the fall of mankind via Adam into sin and separation from God. The rest of the Bible shows God making this problem right through the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus, the Messiah. All 66 books of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, have a single unifying theme. God sent his own son in Jesus to die on the cross and later rise from the dead. Entrance into God’s Kingdom is by allegiance to Jesus the Messiah as King and Lord.
We will see you next time when we cover lesson 17 of Lessons in Discipleship when our topic will be Reconciliation Part I. That wraps up today’s presentation of Lessons in Discipleship. Thanks for being a part. Until next time, keep following Jesus. He’s worth it.