The Bible, Part 2
The Books of the Bible:
We will review the books of the Bible and their make up. There are 66-books in the entire Bible including the Old and New Testament and exclude the apocryphal books. Here we will only discuss the books in our Bible. Later, we will discuss the Apocryphal books. We begin with the Old Testament.
The Old Testament:
The Old Testament contains thirty-nine books; it came into the hands of men before the incarnation of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. It records the first three dispensations of human history, (the Age of Innocence [Garden of Eden], the Age of the Patriarchs, and the Age of Israel).
It begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth and ends with the nation of Israel in about 425 B.C, and includes end times prophecies. It also recorded the poetic and prophetic expressions of the spiritual life written by the inspired men during those many years.
It has been said that in the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ is concealed, while in the New Testament, He is revealed and this is very true. Throughout all the Bible, Old and New Testament, there is the witness of Christ, who Himself said: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me,” John 5:39.
The Old Testament, in type and in promise, looks forward to the advent and sacrificial suffering of Israel’s Messiah, the Savior and to His reign of righteousness upon the throne of David. Blood is the thread which runs through the pages of the Old Testament, always pointing ahead to the blood of the Lamb of God, which as determined in the counsels and foreknowledge of God, was to be poured out on the Cross of Calvary for man’s redemption. As early as the third chapter of Genesis, a Redeemer is promised, Gen 3:15, 20, the seed of the woman. From that point forward, the Word of God is occupied with His program of man’s salvation through Himself in the person of His Son. No one will ever wholly understand the Old Testament, unless he looks for and finds Christ in its pages. Keep that in mind whenever you read it.
The Books of the Old Testament are Generally Divided into Four Classifications:
The Pentateuch or The Books of the Law:
The word “Pentateuch,” is from two Greek words that mean “Five Books”, and refers to the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which our Lord Himself ascribed to Moses.
In these books, the Law of Moses is found, and so they are often referred to collectively as the Law. For example, “the law and the prophets,” Mat 7:12. The Pentateuch introduces that which is taught in all God’s Word, it shows man’s fallen condition and his need of redemption, and it reveals the loving grace of God to provide a covering for sin through the blood of the altar and His assurance of a Redeemer.
- Genesis is the book of beginnings.
- Exodus, the book of deliverance.
- Leviticus, the book of worship.
- Numbers, the book of experience.
- Deuteronomy, the book of instruction or exhortation.
The Books of History:
While the whole of the Old Testament is, in a sense, historical, there are twelve books in particular, namely, Joshua to Esther, which record the history of the nation of Israel during approximately 1000 years, from about 1450 to 445 B.C.
In this period, the nation entered Palestine, the promised land of blessing. Israel was ruled by judges and then later by kings in this era. Israel was divided into two kingdoms, the northern and southern kingdoms, Israel and Judah respectfully. During this time, because of sin, Israel was conquered by Assyria, and Judah later fell into captivity to Babylon. Though a remnant was later restored to the land, this was not the fulfillment of the covenant of Deut 30, as the nation was dispersed again in A.D. 70 at the hands of the Romans. The final national regathering is still future and will occur after the Second Advent of our Lord when He establishes His Millennial reign.
The Books of Poetry:
There are six poetical books, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. Although many of these writings are in lyric style as songs or poems, it does not mean that the writers, (primarily Job, David, and Solomon), made all lines rhyme with each other, or that the lines of the original writings can be read rhythmically. The writings referred to are rather the expressions, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, of the spiritual experiences of their writers. In the Revised Versions, all of these books, except for two and a half chapters in Job, (1-2, 42), and much of the book of Ecclesiastes, are printed in poetic rather than prose form. Parts of Ecclesiastes, (1, 3, 7) are poetic.
The Books of Prophecy:
There are sixteen prophetic books in the Old Testament. They begin at Isaiah and continue, (omitting Lamentations already mentioned), to the end of the Old Testament with the book of Malachi. Some of the writers, namely, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, are known as “Major Prophets” in contrast with the others, often called the “Minor Prophets.” These terms do not have to do with the importance of the events prophesied; rather, the words major and minor simply distinguish the length of the books between the longer and shorter ones. Every message of the Word of God is of major importance.
The nature of the prophecies varies, though almost without exception, they have to do with the Jewish people. Sometimes, they specifically refer to Judah and sometimes to Israel, but most often to the nation as a whole, and her relationships to the Gentile nations.
In some cases, the prophecies are purely local. In other instances, they have a near and distant meaning, the former symbolic of the latter. Others make predictions that are wholly distant, not yet fulfilled. A reading of the context and knowledge of Bible history are the keys to understanding them. Also, some of the prophetic writings were future when penned and are now history, while others are still future.
As to the prophets themselves, some lived and wrote before the Babylonian captivity, some during it, and others after the remnant returned. They may be classified, then as follows:
Pre-exilic: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah.
Exilic: Jeremiah, (whose prophecies extended from pre-exilic days to exilic days), Ezekiel, and Daniel.
Post-exilic: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
The Old Testament concludes with the words of Malachi the prophet looking forward to the coming of Israel’s, (and the entire world’s), Messiah and Deliverer, (both in His first advent, Mal 3:1, and second advents, Mal 4:2), our Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant – Son, and the Sun of Righteousness. Following these promises, the very Word of God, God was silent for four centuries.
The Basic Divisions of the Old Testament:
The Law (Pentateuch)—5 books
- Song of Solomon
- 1 Samuel
- 2 Samuel
- 1 Kings
- 2 Kings
- 1 Chronicles
- 2 Chronicles
Prior to the Bible’s inclusion of the New Testament, the Israelites typically divided the Old Testament in three categories:
The Hebrew Old Testament was arranged as follows: a) The Law, b) The Prophets, c) The Writings.
The Law (Torah)
The Prophets (Nevi’im)
1) Former Prophets
2) Latter Prophets
- The Twelve
The Writings (Kethuvim)
1) Poetical Books
2) Five Rolls (Megilloth)
- Song of Songs
To that arrangement, the early Christian Fathers added the books of the New Testament, which were classified in four groups: Gospels (four books), History (one book), Epistles (twenty-one books), and Prophecy (one book). Further, the twenty-one Epistles were subdivided into the Pauline (thirteen), and the General (eight). In the Eastern Church, the tendency was to classify them as fourteen Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) and seven General. The Western Church tended to follow the former classification.
The New Testament:
The New Testament, contains twenty-seven books, and is that portion of Scripture which has come down to us since the earthly ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospels, in particular, record all that was done by and all that happened to our Lord, including the results of His passion and miraculous conquest over death and the grave; and His ascension. It then picks up with the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This testament is new in contrast to the old, because of the work that our Lord Jesus Christ performed here, leading God the Father to establish a new covenant; whereby, our sins are washed away in the blood of His Son: Mat 26:27-28, “And He, (the Lord Jesus Christ), took the cup… saying… This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Under the old covenant, man was responsible to keep the Law, and failing, he offered the blood of the sacrifice which God accepted as a covering for the sin committed and confessed. The blood sacrifice was symbolic of the blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God, which was to be shed on the Cross. Thus, under the old covenant, man was saved by faith, as it were, on credit, looking forward to Christ’s death. This new covenant is better than the old, Heb 8-9.
As a result of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, God the Father ushered in a new dispensation called the Age of Grace or the Age of the Church, and a New Covenant came into being, and it is of this New Covenant that the last twenty-seven books of the Bible are concerned, as written in what we call the New Testament.
The Books of the New Testament can be Divided into Four Classifications.
The Gospels, or The Books of Grace and Truth.
The Gospels contain inspired accounts of certain incidents in the life of Christ. Though they may be termed biographies, no one of the Gospels, nor even all of them combined contains the full record of our Lord’s life on earth, John 21:25. The first three Gospels (called the Synoptics) generally agree as to the events in the three and a half years’ service of the Servant Son, while the fourth Gospel, John’s, is occupied more with the personal and intimate words of our Lord than with His deeds. More than a third of John deals with the last week of Christ’s life.
Each of the Gospel writers presents a particular emphasis of our Lord’s person:
- Matthew presented the King, written for emphasis especially to the Jews.
- Mark presented the Servant, written for emphasis especially to the Romans.
- Luke presented the Son of Man, written for emphasis especially to the pagan Gentiles.
- John presented God the Son and His Deity, written for emphasis especially to Christians.
The Gospel records take us through the Cross, and so lead us from one dispensation to another, from Law to Grace. John 1:17, “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
A Book of History:
The Acts of the Apostles introduces us to the ascension of Jesus Christ and the advent of the Holy Spirit to dwell within the believers. It is through the power of the Spirit, and not in their own strength, that the disciples of Christ witnessed with such wisdom and blessing, and to such results during the Apostolic age. This book gives us a history of the early church from the time of our Lord’s ascension until a few years prior to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70.
The Books of the Letters or Epistles.
There are twenty-one epistles, or letters, in the New Testament, from Romans through Jude, (the first 3 chapters of Revelation could also be considered epistles). These are divided into two groups, we might say, called The Pauline Epistles (Romans to Philemon), and the Jewish-Christian Epistles (Hebrews to Jude). The former give us church doctrine, while the latter carry us through the difficult transition from Law to Grace, and show us that as we are all one in Christ, Jews and Gentiles alike, it is much better than in former days. Of the Pauline epistles there are two categories, church epistles, written to specific churches, (Romans to Thessalonians and Philemon), and the Pastoral epistles, written to young pastors like (Titus and Timothy), instructing them on church leadership and church conduct.
The Book of Prophecy – The Last Things:
All that is written in the book of Revelation, after the third chapter, is future. This book tells of the time of Great Tribulation to come upon the earth, the overthrow of Satan and his vice-regents at Armageddon, the Millennial reign of the Son of David, Satan’s final uprising and defeat, and looks through the beautiful gates of eternity. Revelation is the complement of Genesis. The Bible begins in a garden from which man is cast out because of sin. The Bible ends, as it were, in a garden wherein, cleansed from his sin, man rests beneath the leaves of the tree of healing power.
GOSPELS – 4 books
HISTORY – 1 book
EPISTLES – 21 books
Pauline – 13 books
1) Church Epistles:
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- 1 Thessalonians
- 2 Thessalonians
2) Pastoral Epistles:
- 1 Timothy
- 2 Timothy
3) General – 8 books
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter
- 1 John
- 2 John
- 3 John
4) PROPHECY – 1 book
Why the New Testament is Divided into Parts:
The Gospels present the great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union.
The Book of Acts is the history of the transition between the great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union and the great power experiment of the Church Age.
The Epistles delineate the great power experiment of the Church Age; i.e., what is expected of you after your salvation through faith in Christ.
The Book of Revelation presents the transition between the Church and the Kingdom of Christ, the Tribulation.