HOW THE BIBLE IS ORGANIZED
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
The Bible is a marvelous and fascinating book. In
sense it is one book, but in another sense it is a collection of books.
is one in the sense that it is united, consistent, and harmonious. But
is also a full library of books collected under one cover. There are 66
in all - 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New
The Bible was given to be
read, studied, understood, and obeyed (Matt. -29).
Many people seem to read, however, without understanding what they read. Did God give a book that cannot be understood? Some seem to think this is the case, and they conclude that the Bible means whatever each individual wants it to mean. But the Bible itself clearly teaches that honest and earnest students of the word can know and understand what God has revealed. Jesus said, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John ).
The apostle Paul stated, "Wherefore be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. ). The noble Bereans searched the scriptures daily to see whether the things they heard were true (Acts ). Furthermore,
we are to be judged by the things written in the books (Rev. 20:12; Rom. ). How could we be judged if we could not comprehend?
The reason some cannot understand is because they have no grasp of the structure of the Bible. The Bible is set forth and organized in a systematic and well-ordered manner. It is not arranged chronologically, i.e., the books do not necessarily appear in the order in which they were written; but it is arranged logically. The books of the Bible are categorized by subjects or types of literature. The following simple outline is immensely helpful in recognizing how the Bible is organized:
1. Law of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
2. History of
3. Poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)
4. Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel)
5. Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
One can easily remember the number of books in each section with the easy count of 5, 12, 5, 5, 12. A knowledge of these divisions will always be helpful in understanding the content and structure of the scriptures.
2. History of Church (Acts)
3. Specific Epistles (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews)
4. Generic Epistles (James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude)
5. Prophecy (Revelation)
It is noteworthy that the books of the New Testament are arranged in the precise order of the plan of salvation. The section on the life of Christ produces faith (John -31), the history of the church shows gospel obedience [repentance and immersion in water] (Acts -47), the epistles set forth the Christian life (2 Pet. 1:5-11), and the book of prophecy manifests the final victory of the saints of God (Rev. 2:10; ). If one should read the New Testament from beginning to end, he/she would believe in Christ as the Son of God, obey the gospel, live faithfully to Christ, and ultimately be triumphant and victorious!
Above all, as we study the Bible, let us remember
that "no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God,
by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. ,