Inspired by God & Written by Men
Christians believe that the Bible was not dictated to man but instead that the Holy Spirit guided at least 40 different authors to write exactly what God wanted to communicate to humanity.
For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:21
Everything that is written in the Bible is from God and for us to know Him and to walk in His ways.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
2 Timothy 3:16
The Bible is God’s revealed Word to us so that we would know and glorify him. God wants a relationship with us, and through reading his word we are able to know him and to know ourselves better. The Bible is not a rule book or a religious book that can only be understood by scholars. Instead, the Bible is written to be understood and applied to your life so that you may not just have a purposeful life here on earth, but eternal life with God.
The Bible is God’s message to all mankind. It is written to the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the educated and uneducated, all nations, all tribes, all tongues.
The Old Testament is the first section of the Bible that covers the creation of the world by God, Noah and the great flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the rulers of Israel, the exile of the Jews to Babylon, and then their return to Judea. It is composed of 39 books that were written over a period of about 1000 years in the timeframe between 1450-500 B.C.
The New Testament is the second section of the Bible that covers the life of Jesus Christ, the early church, and important teachings in the Church. It is composed of 27 books written between 44 A.D. and 96 A.D.
This time period was before the invention of paper books that we have today. Each ‘book’ in the Bible would have been a separate document written on a scroll. Years later, councils were made that decided on what would be canonized, meaning complied together and considered as scripture from God.
1400–500 B.C. Books of the Hebrew Old Testament written
44–96 A.D. Books of the Greek New Testament written
200B.C. – 200 A.D. Old Testament is canonized
367 A.D. Athanasius’s Festal Letter lists complete New Testament
397 A.D. New Testament formally canonized at Council of Hippo and Council of Carthage
Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew but the sections of Genesis 31:47; Jeremiah 10:11; Ezra 4:8–6:18; 7:12–26 were written in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.
Old Testament – Jews and Christians are both in full agreement that the books of the Old Testament are from God and scriptures to live by. It is divided into the five sections listed below.
- Torah – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy
- History – Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, 1st and 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
- Poetry – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon
- Major Prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel
- Minor Prophets – Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi
New Testament – this is the second part of the Bible that is accepted by Christians as from God and scriptures to live by. It is divided into the six sections listed below.
- The Life of Christ – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
- Early Church History – Acts
- Paul’s Letters to Churches – Romans, 1st & 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st & 2nd Thessalonians
- Paul’s Letters to Leaders – 1st & 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon
- General Letters to the Church – Hebrews, James, 1st & 2nd Peter, 1st & 2nd & 3rd John, Jude
- Apocalypse – Revelation
One Unified Story
While the Bible is very long, it is helpful to read as one long story with one unified message. Think of the Bible as a long movie. If you are watching a movie and stop every time something happens that you don’t understand, you’ll never get through the movie and won’t enjoy it at all. Each book of the Bible is just a part of the grand story of God’s salvation of man. From Genesis to Revelation the story is consistent in how sin entered the world and broke the relationship between God and man, but then how God provided a way for that relationship to be brought back together through the perfect sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ.
As you read keep this story in the back of your mind to be aware of how what your reading is part of the grander story.
Where to Start?
A good place to start would be the Gospel of Mark or Luke. These will get you familiar with the life of Jesus Christ. After that reading the other gospels or going to the Old Testament and reading Genesis and Exodus would be a good plan.
Struggling to Understand?
Many people start reading the Bible and say that it is confusing or too hard to understand. This is just not true. There are countless illiterate Christians who can’t even read, yet can understand the scriptures very well. At the same time, there are people with doctorates in theology who have been reading the scripture for over 50 years who are still learning new things daily as they read the Bible. The Bible is meant to be understood, always remember this.
One helpful practice that I recommend to everyone who reads the Bible is that before they start reading the scriptures, pray and ask God to send them the Holy Spirt to teach them, guide them, and reveal to them what God wants them to learn.