There are many Bible study guides available on the Internet. This one, I suspect, is not like many of the others.
The Holy Bible, the Word of God, is a unique and symmetric document. It is a unit, even though it is divided into sixty-six books. It is symmetric. That which is opened in the first book, Genesis (sin, the rebellion of man, and Mystery Babylon) is closed in the last book, the Revelation (the defeat of Satan and Mystery Babylon).
The Bible was written by about forty different men, most of whom did not know each other, over approximately a sixteen-hundred year period. And remarkably, it is a cohesive document.
Most know that the Bible is divided into two major components; the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is primarily written in Hebrew, with some Aramaic. The New Testament is almost entirely written in Greek. The Old Testament was written from about 1450-1400 B.C. until about 400 B.C. The New Testament was written in the years immediately following the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd discovered the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls include much Old Testament Scripture, and have been dated back to the first century before the time of Jesus. One of the largest books in the Bible, the Book of Isaiah, was found in its entirety. A complete version, or a portion, of every book of the Old Testament, with the exception of the Book of Esther, has been found. Other extra-Biblical books have also been discovered.
The amazing thing is that the Scriptures that were found agree with the Hebrew texts that we have today. The only exceptions are spelling differences and an occasional missing word.
Let’s get a picture of the overall Bible.
The first book of the Bible is foundational to the entire document. Genesis contains the Creation account. It contains the principle of choice; God gave Adam and Eve the choice of all the trees in the garden, with the exception of one tree that was forbidden. The appearance of the Devil shows us his true nature. The first words he spoke to Eve questioned what the Lord had said. And then he lied. That is what the Devil still does.
Genesis delivers the account of the Great Flood and the beginnings of Mystery Babylon. In Genesis the Lord chose Abraham, a righteous man, to be the ancestor of a great nation, and ultimately the ancestor of Jesus, the Messiah or the Christ. Messiah is Hebrew for “anointed one.” Christ is the Greek word for the same phrase.
Toward the end of Genesis, the descendants of Abraham moved to Egypt because of famine. These people were known as the Children of Israel, the grandson of Abraham. Another name of Israel is Jacob. His father was Isaac.
When the Children of Israel first moved to Egypt, they were viewed with favor by the pharaoh. But about four-hundred years later a different pharaoh enslaved the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Book of Exodus is about how the Lord delivered them from Egypt about 1430 B.C. This book contains the account of one of the most well known of the Lord’s feasts, Passover, and the giving of the Ten Commandments.
In the Book of Leviticus Moses records many of the laws and prohibited actions given by the Lord. These included matters that moral people today still believe to be wrong, such as murder, incest, rape and fraud.
This book is so named because it begins with a census of men of fighting age. There were around 650,000 men which indicates, considering wives, children and parents, a group of people totaling well over two million. You can imagine the difficulty of feeding and finding water for two million people, plus their livestock.
Because of the lack of faith exhibited by the Children of Israel when they got to the Promised Land, they were condemned to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Twelve men were sent to scout out the land. They returned with reports of giants, and the scouts did not believe that they could overcome the giants. Only two men had faith in God; Joshua and Caleb.
Moses presented a summary of the history of the Children of Israel after they left Egypt in the Book of Deuteronomy. He also prepared them for entering the Kingdom, the Promised Land.
These first five books of the Bible are known as the Torah in Hebrew, or the Pentateuch in Greek. The observant Jews of today consider the Torah to be the Bible. The remaining thirty-four books of the Old Testament are considered to be historic and prophetic commentary. These remaining books are called the Tanach.
After the close of forty years the Children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land. The Book of Joshua records the military conquests of Canaan and the division of the land into twelve parcels, one for each “tribe” or family of Israel.
It must be noted here that Canaan was occupied by giants and wicked pagans. The giants are reported in extra-Scriptural documents to have been cannibalistic because their need for sustenance was so great. The pagans practiced pederasty and also sacrificed their infants in fire to their pagan gods. The Lord told the Children of Israel to totally eliminate these people and their practices. For this reason, critics say that God is not a God of love. The Lord was trying to stop these wicked pagan rituals.
The Book of Judges records the time following the death of Joshua when Israel was led by counselors, or arbitrators. Many times these judges were also military leaders when Israel was under attack. This book is a book of cycles. The Israelites would drift away from the Lord and He would allow a country to attack them. They would cry to the Lord and He would send a leader who would deliver them. Then they would drift way, again.
The story of Ruth the Gentile bride and Boaz the Redeemer occurs during the time of the judges. It could almost be considered an appendage to the Book of Judges. The Book of Ruth is a story of honor and redemption. It contains a wonderful foreshadow of the Gentile Church and Jesus, our Redeemer.
First and Second Samuel
These two books represent the time of transition for Israel. Samuel was the last judge of Israel. The people began calling for a king, so they could be like everybody else. The Lord chose Saul to be king. However, Saul became disobedient to the Lord and the Spirit of the Lord left him. It was at this time that David was anointed to be king of Israel, and then later defeated Goliath the giant. In round numbers, David became King of Israel about 1050 B.C.
First and Second Kings
A history of the Kingdom of Israel is found in these two books. The history ranges from the time when King David neared death and Solomon became king, until the capture of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah by the Babylonians. It also includes the division of the kingdom into two parts; the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah.
Here it is necessary to point out that the northern kingdom, Israel, was deported to the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. The southern kingdom, Judah, remained until the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The ten northern tribes were lost to history. The southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were the Kingdom of Judah, which is why the people are still known as Jews.
Because of the disobedience of the Jews, the Lord allowed Babylon to invade and capture Jerusalem. Many of the Jews were deported to Babylon. First and Second Kings ends with the “Babylonian Captivity.”
First and Second Chronicles
Again, these two books are a history of Israel. The Chronicles largely parallel First and Second Kings, but the accounts are written in a more positive manner. The Chronicles end with the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, and the Babylonia Captivity of the Jews.
Ezra and Nehemiah
After the people of Judah (Jews) were in Babylon for seventy years, they were allowed to return to Jerusalem. While many remained in Babylon, those that returned were allowed to rebuild the Temple. Ezra and Nehemiah describe this period.
The Book of Esther occurs about 445 B.C. It is criticized because the name of the Lord is not mentioned in it, but His fingerprints are found throughout the book. Esther records the attempt of Satan, through a man named Haman, to totally eliminate the remaining Jewish people. Haman failed.
This book is thought by some scholars to be the oldest book of the Bible. It contains the well known account of the trials of Job, a righteous man. It is also a picture of Israel. Job had great riches and family and lost it all. In the end Job received double in riches and family. Israel had great riches. The description of Solomon’s wealth and political power are superlative. Israel has lost those riches and “family,” but according to prophecy, in the Millennial Kingdom Israel will have double what they lost.
The psalms were written by David, Asaph, Moses, and others. They contain some of the most beautiful imagery in the Bible, and are a favorite of many. And the psalms are prophetic. David was called a prophet by the Lord Jesus (Luke 24:44). The Apostle Peter described David as a prophet (Acts 2:29-30). Matthew notes that David was a prophet (Matthew 13:35).
The Book of Proverbs contains the wisdom of King Solomon, who succeeded his father, David, as king. Solomon was famous in the ancient world for his wisdom. It also includes the wise sayings of other authors.
The Book of Ecclesiastes is thought to have been written by King Solomon after he realized how far he had fallen. In the interest of diplomatic connections and geopolitical harmony, Solomon married many women from many nations. These women led him toward pagan worship and Solomon sinned. Even though he was extremely rich and had hundreds of wives (!?!) and great power and influence, Solomon came to the conclusion that without the Lord, all was vanity. This may be considered the theme of Ecclesiastes.
The Song of Solomon
On the surface this book appears to be a love story, but at a different level it appears to be a prophecy of the love of God for His people. The story may prophesy the relation between Jesus, the Messiah, and Israel.
Isaiah prophesied around 700 B.C. While the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon are prophetic, or have prophetic undertones, the Book of Isaiah begins a series of books of pure prophecy. Isaiah may have been the greatest of these prophets. This book is a model of the entire Bible. It contains sixty-six chapters, just as there are sixty-six books in the Bible. In many cases, the theme of the chapter follows the theme of the corresponding book.
The tone of Isaiah clearly changes between chapter thirty-nine and chapter forty. Scholars have called the first thirty-nine chapters of Isaiah the “Book of Judgment” and the twenty-seven chapters the “Book of Comfort.” Of course, these division correspond exactly with the books of the Old and New Testaments.
Jeremiah prophesied to the Kingdom of Judah for forty years. Over and again, he tried to warn them that because of their disobedience the Lord was going to send the King of the Babylonians, Nebuchadnezzar, against Judah and Jerusalem. They would not listen. At one time Jeremiah was imprisoned. The book ends with the captivity of Judah in 586 B.C.
This book laments over the destruction of Jerusalem. The author is not named, but ancient Jewish tradition ascribes it to Jeremiah. In Hebrew the title is “How?” (could this have happened?).
The Prophet Ezekiel lived during the time of the Babylonian Captivity. He was taken to Babylon in the first wave of deportations. The Book of Ezekiel contains much pure prophecy and is where the famous prophecy of Gog and Magog is found (chapters 38 and 39). The prophecy of Gog and Magog is considered by the rabbis as the Old Testament equivalent of the New Testament end time Battle of Armageddon.
Daniel was a young man, possibly in his late teens, when he was taken to Babylon. Daniel, because of his wisdom provided by the Lord, counseled King Nebuchadnezzar, King Belshazzar, and the Mede-Persian conqueror of Babylon, Darius. When Darius conquered Babylon, Daniel was possibly ninety years old. There are strong parallels between the prophecy of Daniel and the end time prophecy found in the Revelation.
The Book of Daniel contains the only chapter in the Old Testament (chapter 4) written by a Gentile, King Nebuchadnezzar. The king ends by praising the Most High God! Daniel prophesied the coming of the Medes, the Persians, Alexander the Great and the four generals that succeeded him upon his death. So historically accurate are the prophecies of Daniel, that apostate “Bible scholars” claim that his prophecies were written after the fact.
The Twelve Prophets
The following books of prophecy are known as the “Minor Prophets,” not for lack of importance, but because of lack of size. The consistent theme of most of these prophets is warning against idolatry and disobedience to the Lord. The time of their writing varies from about 700 B.C. to about 435 B.C.
The Book of Jonah is a clear exception to the warnings to Judah and Israel. Jonah was sent to warn the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. Assyria was a great enemy of Israel, and later conquered and deported the northern Kingdom of Israel. The warning of Jonah was heeded. From the king down to ordinary citizens, the people repented. Jonah was the only successful prophet in the Old Testament.
Here are the Twelve Prophets:
This ends the Old Testament.
Matthew, the first of the four Gospels, begins with a genealogy of the Lord Jesus and is largely a biography of His life here on earth, and particularly of the years of His ministry. The Book of Matthew concludes with the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
The Gospel of Mark is a concise story of the ministry of Jesus. Mark begins with the baptism of the Lord Jesus and reports on His life through His resurrection. The last twelve verses of Mark are erroneously omitted by “modern” translations, ending Mark’s account with the women trembling and bewildered. The gospel properly ends with the Lord Jesus being taken up to Heaven and sitting at the right hand of God.
Luke, the physician, wrote this gospel in a very factual and exacting manner. This gospel contains some material not found in the other gospels and the information in the Gospel of Luke usually has more detail than the more concise Gospel of Mark.
The gospel of the beloved Disciple John also has material not found in the other gospels. The Gospel of John has more detail about the Last Supper and what Jesus told the Disciples at that time. On the other hand, the Gospel of John does not include the Olivet Discourse, the answers the Lord Jesus provided to four of the Disciples regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and regarding His return.
The Book of Acts was also written by Luke the physician. It is a history of the early Church and provides an example for the Church today. Acts contains the story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the Apostle Paul. The last half of the Book of Acts is largely about the missionary journeys of Paul.
The Letter or Epistle to the Romans is the first of a series of letters written by the Apostle Paul to various churches. Romans is a book of basic theology and doctrine. Many Scriptures frequently heard come from the Letter to the Romans. An example: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
First and Second Corinthians
The Greek city of Corinth was noted for its immorality. Paul began a congregation in Corinth and later received disturbing news about the church. These two letters from Paul were for correction, instruction and encouragement of this new congregation.
Another congregation was started by Paul at the Gentile city of Galatia. After Paul moved on to begin other churches, some came to the church to tell them that they had to be circumcised, that they had to basically become Jews before they could become Christians. Paul argues against this in the Letter to the Galatians. He shows the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old.
Ephesus was a city in Asia Minor, known now as Turkey. The letter of Paul to this church is not a letter of correction, but rather a letter of encouragement to these new Christians. Paul speaks of “heavenly places” five times in the letter and encourages the readers to “put on the whole armor of God.”
In Acts 16:16-34 Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Philippi. An earthquake loosened their bonds, but they did not escape. Instead they used the miraculous action of the Lord to convert their jailer and all his family. This family became part of the foundation of the church at Philippi. In Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, he thanks them for the gift the congregation in Philippi sent to him while he was detained at Rome. It is a letter of thanks and encouragement.
In addition to some trying to require new Christians to be Jews first, there were also those who tried to derail the early Church. One of these groups were the Gnostics, who claimed to have “special knowledge.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the congregation at Colossi to counter some heretical doctrines that had been presented to the church in that city. In this letter Paul was showing that Jesus was superior to various heretical doctrines.
First and Second Thessalonians
The Apostle Paul only spent three weeks with the congregation at Thessalonica, and yet in that short time he taught them about the coming of the Lord Jesus. This is a subject that churches today are afraid to teach. Someone had sent a letter to the church telling them that they had missed the “Day of Christ” and His coming. In these letters Paul reinforces what he had taught them earlier.
First and Second Timothy
Timothy was a young man whom Paul converted to Christianity. Timothy became an evangelist spreading the Gospel. In these two letters the Apostle Paul sent instruction and encouragement to Timothy.
Titus was a Gentile convert to Christianity who accompanied Paul on one of his missionary journeys. Titus was on the Island of Crete and Paul wrote him with instructions and warnings about false teachers.
Philemon was a Christian who had a servant named Onesimus, who had run away and was assisting Paul while he was in prison in Rome. Paul sent Onesimus home, telling Philemon that Onesimus was like a son to him, and offering to pay any debts of the servant, and reminding Philemon that Onesimus was a Brother-in-Christ.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews is not disclosed. Many students of the Bible (myself included) believe it was written by the Apostle Paul. This letter was written to show the superiority of the Lord Jesus and the New Covenant to the Law and the Old Covenant.
The Letter of James is clearly Jewish in nature and was probably written while the early Church was largely Jewish. James was the brother of Jesus. During His ministry, the brothers of Jesus were not Believers. The fact that James became a Believer is an excellent testimony to the truth of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This is a letter of instruction and encouragement.
First and Second Peter
These are two letters of Christian doctrine written by the Apostle Peter. The letters were apparently written to the Church at large. In the second letter, Peter reminds the recipients about prophecy and the Day of the Lord.
First, Second and Third John
John the Apostle is the author of these three letters. The “beloved Disciple” wrote about love and faithfulness. The “elect lady and her children” in Second John is the subject of much discussion. These letters were written in the latter part of John’s life. He identifies himself as “the elder.”
The author of this short letter identifies himself as the brother of James. Therefore, he was a brother of the Lord Jesus, but in his humility does not claim it. The Letter of Jude is a warning against false teachers, perhaps Gnostics, who were leading the early Church astray.
The proper title of this book is The Revelation of Jesus Christ. This famous last book of the Bible is a complex, multi-layered book of prophecy. It is the revelation of the Lord Jesus to John the Apostle about “things which must shortly come to pass.” Bear in mind that with the Lord a thousand years are like a day. (Second Peter 3:8) John had been exiled to the Isle of Patmos, an uninhabited (at the time) rock in the Aegean Sea. John was given a series of visions by the Lord.
This complex book has many significant features. One feature is the numerous uses of “seven.” Seven is the number of completion. It appears that the Revelation is about completion. The Greek word for Church, ecclesia, is not used after chapter three, indicating that the Church is not part of this prophecy. Grace, which Christians have received in such abundance, is ominously not found in the body of the Revelation. The word “grace” only appears in the introduction and the final verse of the book.
There is a promise of blessing to those who read the words of prophecy contained in the Revelation. Do not be discouraged from reading this important book. Read it and be blessed!