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An Introduction to the Bible

The following information is compilled from a number of sources over time and through my studies at Bible College. I have used it as a teaching for people who are new to the Bible. I thought I would share it on my website for those who are new to the Christian faith or are interested in an overview of the Bible.

How Christians see the Bible

Christians see the Bible as different from very other book (religious books included) because they believe that its writers were, in a unique way, ‘inspired’ (2 Timothy 3:16). That doesn’t mean God gave these writers ideas that they considered and then wrote about, nor that God gave them ‘heavenly dictation’ which they mindlessly recorded.  The word ‘inspired’ means, literally, ‘God-breathed’. 

To Christians, the Bible is God ‘breathed out’ his word and ‘breathing it in’ to the writers, guiding their thoughts so that what they wrote was exactly what God wanted written.  This is why, to millions of people, the Bible is seen as more than mere history or even good advice, but instead as God’s Word, applicable to every person in every generation.

How the Bible fits together

The Bible is not just one book, but instead a collection of sixty-six, making it a bit like a jigsaw puzzle; and like most jigsaws, once you’ve seen the picture on the lid and know what you’re looking for, it’s so much easier to understand.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament includes the first 39 books of the Bible. It covers from creation to several hundred years before Jesus was born into this world. It is broken into four main sections as we see below.

1. The Law -
Genesis - Dueteronomy

The story of how everything began in the world but then quickly went wrong, and how God started to build a nation (Israel), to whom his laws were given and through whom he planned to save everyone.

2. Israel’s History -  Joshua - Esther

A record of how Israel got their ‘Promised Land’, but then lost it through repeated disobedience.  Nevertheless God, seen as always faithful to his promises, restored the nation, giving them a new start.

3. Poetry and Wisdom - Job - Song of Solomon

Insights into how people can get the best from life by living God’s way.

4. The Prophets - Isaiah - Malachi

Messages of hope bringing challenges to God’s people, especially through the hope of God’s coming messiah.

The New Testament

The New Testament begins in the period just before Jesus Christ is born into this world. Like the Old Testament it is broken into four main sections. It contains 27 books in total.

1. The Gospels - Matthew - John


Records the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the messiah promised in the writings of the Old Testaments.

2. The Book of ACTS

The story of how Jesus’ followers began to spread his message across the world. It is the story of the early church.

3. The Letters - Romans - Jude

Writings to newly established churches, explaining the Christian faith and how to apply it to daily life.

4. REVELATION

A glimpse into God’s final plan to destroy evil and create a new world.

What are the names and numbers?

Each verse in the Bible is referenced so we can find it easily. For example, John 3:16 says this "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life". The first part "John" is the book name, the "3" before the colon is the chapter number, and the "16" after the colon is the verse number.

The Bible did not originally have the chapter and reference numbers. It was just know by the book name or the authors name. Over time they have to been added in to make it easier to find a verse, to study and to memorise section of Scripture.

Can we really trust the Bible is God’s Word?

Over the years I have been asked if we can really trust the Bible. I think this is a very good question because as Christians we base our whole faith on what the Bible says about God, life, salvation and heaven. Here are five reasons that I have found we can trust the Bible.

1. Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled

A prophecy is when a person speaks on God’s behalf and tells what will happen in the future. Hundreds of Old Testament Prophecies from the Bible have come to pass. Many of these refer to the coming, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A careful study shows that Jesus is the promised one that the prophets spoke about.

2. Archaeological Discoveries

Many of the places and cities mentioned in the Bible have been confirmed by archaeological discoveries and research. A number of these cities were destroyed by wars or the passing of time, but have been rediscovered during archaeological digs. It is interesting to note that the Bible is the only “Holy” book that consistently links events with places.

3. Unity of Theme

While it was written over many years by a number of authors (under God’s guidance) it has a unity of theme and purpose. About forty men were engaged in the writing of the Bible, during a period of about 1,600 years – that is, from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 100. The Old Testament (OT) tells of creation, mankind’s separation from God and God’s coming Saviour. The New Testament (NT) re-affirms the OT and points readers to Jesus Christ who was God’s Saviour for all mankind.

4. Original Manuscripts

Until the invention of printing in the middle of the 15th century, all copies of the Scriptures were made by hand. The ancient Jewish scribes copied the OT with extreme care and many of these are still existence today. Evidence for the reliability of the NT text includes about 4,500 Greek manuscripts. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 in a cave and confirmed much of the original writings that had been handed down over time were not changed or added to.

5. Biblical Claims

The Bible itself claims to be the Word of God. A number of verses refer to it being “God-breathed” or inspired. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. It is also interesting to note the phrase “Word of God” appears 48 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

What the Bible says about itself?

1. What does the Bible say it is useful for?

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.

2. What does the Bible say we are if we read and meditate on God’s Word?

Psalm 1:2-3 - Blessed is the man [when] his delight is in the law of the
LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by
streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not
wither. Whatever he does prospers.

3. Where did David keep God’s Word and why?

Psalm 119:11 - I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin
against you.

4. How should we use God’s Word?

1 Timothy 1:8 -  We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.

5. What does the Bible give us as followers of Jesus?

Psalm 119:130 - The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

6. What are some of the things Colossians 3:16 tell us?

Colossians 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

7. How long does the Bible say it will last?

Psalm 119:152 - Long ago I learned from your statutes that you established them to last forever.

8. What four things does Psalm 19:7 tell us?

Psalm 19:7 - The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

9. What does Job tell us God’s Word is more than?

Job 23:12 - I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

10. Where does it say the Bible reaches to?

Hebrews 4:12 - For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSION Australia
 

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