Introduction to the Bible
The Bible is a book, but it is like no other book.
HOW THE BIBLE FITS TOGETHER
INTRODUCTION | PART THREE
Before you read the Bible, it is good to know how the Bible fits together. The Bible has two main parts. We call the first part of the Bible the Old Testament*. We call the second part the New Testament*. Both parts of the Bible are a collection of other books. The books are not in the Bible in the order of when they were written. The books are in order by the kind of stories in the book. That is true of the books in both parts.
We sometimes call the first five books the books of Moses. That is because Moses is the man who wrote them. These books tell the story of the beginning. They tell about the beginning of the heavens and the earth. And they tell about the beginning of the nation of Israel*. These books also include the laws that God gave to Moses to guide the people. That is why we sometimes call these books ‘the law’. These first five books are the first part of the Old Testament*. Sometimes, people call these books ‘the five scrolls*’.
THE BOOKS OF MOSES
The next books are books of history. There are 12 books in this group. Each book tells a part of Israel’s* story. The first book of history is the book of Joshua. His story begins just after the death of Moses. The last book of history is the book of Esther. Her story takes place almost 900 years after the stories in Joshua. These books of history show how God kept his promises to Israel*. He blessed* them when they obeyed him. He punished them when they did not obey him. He kept his promise to keep them as his own people.
THE BOOKS OF HISTORY
We call the next part of the Old Testament* the ‘wisdom’ books. Sometimes, we call these the books of poetry. Some of the writers told stories of people who lived during the time of Abraham. The book of Job is one of those. Other writers lived through the time of the kings of Israel*. Some of the parts are songs by people who lived during the last part of the Old Testament* story. The books are filled with wise words, as well as psalms* and poems to help the people worship* God.
THE BOOKS OF WISDOM
Song of Songs
The last section is the largest section. These are the books of the prophets*. These books make up the last 17 books of the Old Testament*. Because some of the books are larger, we call them the ‘Major Prophets*’. We call the smaller books the ‘Minor Prophets*’. These books are the prophets’ messages. The prophet* Jeremiah wrote the book called Lamentations. That book is also part of the books of the Major Prophets*.
In the times of the prophets*, the people were not following God. Almost all of the prophets* warned the people to return to God. They warned the people that God would punish them. But the people did not listen. So God sent nations to fight against them. Some of those nations defeated Israel* and seized them. They took them away from their land. Some of the prophets* spoke during that time of the exile*. They told the people that God remembered them. God would bring them back to the land some day. And God did bring them back. Some of the prophets* spoke to the people who returned to the land.
THE BOOKS OF MAJOR PROPHETS*
THE BOOKS OF MINOR PROPHETS*
The prophets* spoke messages from God. Sometimes, they spoke words of hope*. Sometimes, they told people that God would punish them. But the best message of the prophets* was about a person. They told of a saviour*, the Messiah*. The prophets* said that he would come to rescue the people and rule the world. They said that when the promised saviour* came, all of the nations would worship* the true God. They said that when the Messiah* came, God’s people would find rest.
What is the New Testament*?
The New Testament* is also a collection of books. These books are in groups by the kinds of writing in the books. These books tell us that the promises of the prophets* have now come true. God did send a saviour*, the Messiah*. He is Jesus. The promise of a ‘new covenant*’ is now here. This new ‘testament*’ began when Jesus died and rose again. The books of the Old Testament* are God’s words. Now, the words of the New Testament* are also from God.
Each of the first four books is a ‘gospel*’. The word gospel* means ‘good news’. Each gospel* tells about events in the life of Jesus. They record his words and many of the surprising things he did. The books do not tell everything that Jesus said or did. But they tell us who Jesus is. They show how Jesus’ life and death answered the promises of the Old Testament*. And they tell how God raised Jesus from death.
THE BOOKS OF GOSPELS*
We call the next book ‘the Acts’. Acts is a book of history. The book tells the story of how the people who believed in Jesus spread the good news. They told the entire ancient world the good news about Jesus. Many of the Jews* in that day did not accept this message. Acts tells how the Gentiles* welcomed the good news. This book tells the stories of how that happened.
THE BOOK OF HISTORY
The next part of the New Testament* is ‘the epistles*’. The word epistles* means ‘letters’. This section has 21 letters in it. The leaders of the new church* wrote these letters. A man named Paul wrote most of them. Peter, James, and John wrote most of the other letters. These letters tell the readers how to live as God’s people. The letters remind them that God will keep his promises. They warn people about false teachers. They tell them that they might suffer because of what they believe. Many of the letters tell them that Jesus is coming back. He will judge the world and he will make everything right again. The letters tell people how to live as they wait for him.
THE LETTERS OF PAUL
The last book of the New Testament* is a book of prophecy*. Like the Old Testament* books of the prophets*, this book talks about the future. It tells the story about a man named John. He had a dream, or a revelation*, from God. God showed John many strange things. So John wrote them down. His book tells about the time that Jesus will return to the earth. It shows us that Jesus will win over evil*. It tells of a new heaven* and a new earth. In that place, there will be no tears. No one will be sad and there will be no pain. God will be there and Jesus will be king.