The Bible is the inspired book of God. It was written by over 40 authors and has 66 different books. It spans over 1500 years of human history and records the story of man’s relationship with God. It begins with some very bad news: God’s creation that He created in His likeness, to live in love with Him and to worship Him, rebelled against Him and chose the way of sin. It also begins with a prophecy, that one day a rescuer would crush the head of the snake that caused the fall of mankind, and that man would be free again to worship and love God – that rescuer is Jesus.
The Bible is divided into two sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is about God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, or the Jewish people. It records the struggle that His people had under sin. He sent prophets, priests, kings and His law to teach people to obey Him but they did not have the power to and continually rebelled against Him. The Old Testament also spoke of a Messiah who was to come and bring hope and freedom for the Jews. Christians believe that that Messiah is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Jesus of the Bible, and that He would bring restoration and order.
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is made up of the following books that are divided into sections related to their meaning, rather than their chronological order in history:
Section 1: The Pentateuch
The books about God’s law
Section 2: The Historical Books
Books that chronical the history of the Jewish people, called the nation of Israel.
Section 3: The Books of Poetry
The Song of Solomon
Section 4: The Books of Prophecy
Section 4a: Major Prophets
Longer books of prophecy. Prophets were chosen by God and filled with His Holy Spirit to tell people what He wanted them to know.
Section 4b: Minor Prophets
Shorter books of prophecy made by prophets.
The New Testament
The New Testament describes the birth, life and death of Jesus as well as the life of the early church and letters that were written to churches to encourage them in their faith in Jesus.
Section 1: The Gospels
Four different accounts by four different authors (the gospels are named after the authors who wrote them).
Section 2: The Birth of the Early Church
Section 3: The Epistles
Letters to the churches, named either after the recipients or their authors.
Where to start?
All scripture is God-breathed and useful for us to grow in our knowledge of God. People usually do not read the Bible the way they do any book- from the beginning to the end. It is best to start in the middle, with a book of the gospel. Most people recommend to start with the book of John. The book of Romans is a lengthy interpretation of the gospel and so is a useful place to go to next. The Bible was not originally written in English: it was written in Hebrew and Greek. There are many different translations to choose from. Most people choose to read the translation of the Bible that is used in their church services. If you find your Bible difficult to follow, choosing a different translation may make it easier to understand.