The Bible is made up of 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New. They are very varied in their form and content. Several are long and others are very short. They are of various styles: history, narration, poetry, psalms, proverbs, prophecies, letters, doctrine. However, there is a great unity of purpose among all these writings: these 66 books actually form one! This is a remarkable feature: although so varied, the Bible appears as the work of one author: the Spirit of God.
1-) When was it written?
The Bible is the world's oldest, most loved, most widely read book. Its oldest part was written by Moses around AD 1500 BC. The last pages are of the apostle John who wrote them around the year 96.
2-) Its Reason to be.
God created us. He loves us. He wants to speak to us .... God spoke through the Holy Prophets who wrote under inspiration, led by his Spirit. God has taken so much care of their writings, that they have come to us free from errors, and that nothing has ever been able to make them disappear. They are truth and authority. In other words, the Bible is the revelation of God to men, the Word of God.
3-) Its purpose.
- Reveal God as he has shown himself, so that we may know him and love him (John 1:18).
- Proclaim the salvation we have by faith in Jesus, who died for our sins and rose for our justification (Romans 4:25).
- To give a glorious hope: to live eternally with him (Philippians 1.23).
- To make known the will of God and how we must live for his glory and happiness (Colossians 1.9).
4-) Its authors.
Most of us are known, but not all. Moses
is the author of the first five books called Pantateuque. We do not know exactly who wrote the following historical books. Of the 150 Psalms, 73 are attributed to David, 12 to Asaph, others are anonymous. Solomon wrote most of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. The prophetic books bear the names of their authors, eg Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc. The New Testament begins with the four Gospels that were written by those whose names they bear:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The book of Acts of the Apostles was also written by Luke.
Thirteen epistles (Romans to Philemon) are the work of the Apostle Paul. The author of the book of Hebrews is not named. Jacques, Pierre, Jean and Jude also left letters that bear their name. The last book, the Apocalypse, was written by the apostle John, then prisoner of the Romans, on the island of Patmos.
We thus see the diversity of the authors of the Bible, they were kings, priests, prophets, fishermen, shepherds, doctors, servants...
5-) General topics.
- The first eleven chapters of the first book, Genesis, cover a period of about 2000 years. They give a glimpse of the creation of the world and the history of humanity to Araham.
- The great event of the Old Testament is the call of Abraham who became the ancestor of an elected nation, Israel. All the rest of the Old Testament is devoted to the history of this chosen people.
- This people is a sort of historical parable. His existence is both miraculous and figurative. This small nation has gone through experiences that belong to history, but that must be considered as model lessons for all ages. The people of Israel were first captive in Egypt. Then miraculously delivered, he spent 40 years in the Sinai desert. There, Moses promulgated the Ten Commandments and ordinances relating to worship. Laws and ordinances were only temporary, and intended to prepare the perfect revelation that was to be given in the person of Christ. Then the Jews entered the land of Canaan (Israel today) under the leadership of Joshua. It was henceforth their national land, with Jerusalem as its capital. The Temple was erected there, following the order of God, and became the center of religious life, the place where God made his name reside. All of this is the Old Covenant, or the Old Testament.
- The coming of Christ is the establishment of Christianity are the great subject of the New Testament, it is the new covenant.
Romans 1.16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is a power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ...."
6-) Particular divisions.
Here are the groups of the different books that make up the Bible :
a-) The Pentateuch, including the 5 books of Moses, which cover a period of about 2500 years. Here is the main idea of each of these books : - Genesis: "beginning" which speaks of the creation, the flood, of Abraham and his descendants: Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Jacob goes down in Egypt with all his family who becomes the Israel people. - Exodus: "Exit from Egypt" which speaks of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt, their extraordinary deliverance under the guidance of Moses, the proclamation of the Law and ordinances. - Leviticus: "Sacrifice and Adoration" which speaks mainly of the laws governing the worship. - Numbers: "Stay in the desert" which speaks of the history of the Israelites in the desert. - Deuteronomy: "Repetition of the Law" which speaks of Moses, shortly before his death, at the moment when the Israelites would enter the promised land.
b-) The historical books (before captivity). - Joshua: "Entering the promised land". In 1436 BC Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan, conquered and divided the land of Canaan between the twelve tribes. - Judges: "The disorder in the holy land". The people do what they think is good. God often raises judges to deliver Israel; twelve are known among whom Barach, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson are the chief. - From 1 Samuel to 2 Chronicles: Six books tell the story of about 500 years. From King Saul, 1033 Av Jesus Christ, to the captivity of Babylon, in 528 BC Jesus Christ. Samuel, the last of the judges, anointed Saul, first king of Israel. After him reign David, then Solomon. The country is then divided into two kingdoms: Judah and Israel, who are conquered afterwards, and taken captive to Assyria and Babylon. (Israel in 660 and Judah in 528 BC).
c-) Historical books (during and after captivity). Two historical books tell of the return of captivity: - That of Ezra, who rebuilt the Temple, and that of Nehemiah, who rebuilt the city of Jerusalem. Follows the book of Esther, "The captive queen". It tells an episode of captivity. The captivity lasted 70 years. The Edict of Cyrus ended there in 478 BC. The Bible no longer records other historical events until the birth of Christ. There is thus a silence of 450 years between the old and the New Testament.
d-) Poetic books. Five books without date and in chronological order come next: - Job: "The ministry of suffering". Great epic poem of the patriarchal era. - The Psalms: "Thanksgiving". This book contains the magnificent songs of King David, the great singer of Israel, and those of some other authors. - Proverbs: "Parables of wisdom". This book is a collection of proverbs for most of Solomon. Many are aimed at youth. - Ecclesiastes: "The cry of the preacher". This book seeks to show the vanity of things here below. - The Song of Songs: "The heart of the beloved". It is an oriental song, where many like to celebrate the love of Christ for his Church.
e-) The prophetic books. There are 17 books that contain the writings of the prophets whose names they bear. One distinguishes between "great" and "small" prophets according to the length of their writings. There are four great prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah (author of two books), Ezekiel and Daniel, and twelve little prophets. These prophets ministered at various times in the stories of Israel: Isaiah and Jeremiah before captivity, Ezekiel and Daniel during captivity. The twelve little prophets each have their particular message. All relate to the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, often in connection with neighboring nations, except the book of the prophet Jonah, dedicated to Nineveh. The general books of these books are: - The call of the two kingdoms (Judah and Israel) to repentance, and the announcement of divine judgments. - The announcement of the coming of the Messiah, Christ. Many details are given about this, especially by Isaiah whose book is sometimes called "the fifth gospel". Chapter 53 of this book dramatically prophesies the Savior's atoning death. - The promise, for the last time, of a very great blessing for the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, united under the same scepter.
The second part of the Bible, the New Testament, begins with:
a-) The Four Gospels: These books record the birth, life, words and deeds, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. These four stories speak of the love of God who sent his only and beloved Son into the world to reveal himself thus to men in a human life, and to save them. They contain the story of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, "He dwelt among us ... doing good," and then sacrificed ourselves for us, thus abolishing the sin that separated us from God.He is resuscitated, He has sat to the right of divine majesty. This is the message of the four gospels.
Each of them describes an aspect of Jesus Christ, the central idea of each of the Gospels is:- Matthew: "Here is your King"; Luke: "Here is the man"
Mark: "Here is my servant"; John: "This is your God." Matthew speaks especially to the Jews. He shows them Jesus as the Messiah announced by the prophets. He is indeed the King whom the Jews were waiting for, the New Testament is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old. The other evangelists address universally to all men.
b-) The Acts of Apostles: contain the historical account of the first conquests of the Gospel after the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The first part is about the ministry of Peter, the apostle of the Jews, the second part is devoted to the ministry of Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, that is to say non-Jews. A new people, elected according to the Grace of God, is aroused by the preaching of the Gospel: it is the Church. This Church is made up of all who believed the gospel and accepted Jesus as their Savior and Master. They received the baptism of the Holy Spirit who unites them into one body of which Christ is the head. All believers are members of the body of Christ and each receives a special ministry that is to serve the edification of all.
c-) The Epistles: There are 21 of which 13 of the Apostle Paul. The epistle to the Hebrews is without author's name. Then come the epistle of James, two epistles of Peter, three of John and one of Jude. These letters expose the Christian doctrine, and make known "the faith transmitted once for all"; they constitute the sacred deposit of truths useful for the edification of all Christians. They are therefore eminently practical, of great value, they are filled with love and wisdom.
d-) The Apocalypse: the last book of the Bible. John wrote when he was a prisoner on Patmos Island. This is the "revelation of Jesus Christ" to the Apostle John. This revelation was given to him to make known the "things that must happen soon". It's the story of a vision, it's a prophecy. It is difficult to understand, it predicts the events that must take place until the end of time. She speaks, among other things, of the final triumph of Christ over his enemies. "The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of God and His Anointed One". He who has every right over us will reign with his saints in glory.
7-) Discover the Bible.
- First, the Bible teaches you about salvation and your new life in Jesus Christ. You can be sure of your salvation. - Second, the Bible helps you grow in your faith. "Faith comes from what we hear and what we hear comes from the Word of God." Third, the Bible gives you spiritual power in the face of evil. Jesus Christ on his journey through the desert, when tempted by Satan, manifested power and victory through his Word. The Bible is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." - Fourthly, The Bible can teach you how to live. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light on my path." - Fifth, The Bible can show you what is good or bad in your life. Often we are blinded by our own faults, just as in the darkness where you can not distinguish the difference between a light or dark shirt. The Bible "judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Sixth, you can use the Bible to help others. God wants us to be victorious over sin and evil. "For it is not a spirit of timidity that God has given us, but a spirit of strength, love, and wisdom." God has given you great spiritual power through faith in His Holy Word.
Conclusion : when we read the Bible, we discover the truth for all men, it is the world bestseller. It is estimated that 40 million Bibles are distributed each year around the world, including about 280,000 in France. The Word of God, can have a considerable impact in our life, it is the Sword of the Spirit. She supports the whole universe and will not pass. The Bible teaches us how to live and must be a faithful and diligent reading habit to lead, learn and encourage all Christians to move toward one goal: repentance with our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus God can make his Word understood by every man who seeks him in sanctification.
Hebrews 4.12 : "For the word of God is alive and efficacious, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the point of sharing soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and judging the feelings and thoughts of the heart." Amen!