What is the Bible? - Part two
This is the third blog of a mini-series covering foundational truths that we must understand in order to rightly steward the Word of God. Find the first one HERE and the second one HERE.
We’re gonna break the bible down TECHNICALLY. (For the book nerds in the front row ... AKA my people.)
You’ll most likely notice these things or already know this about your copy of the Bible…
… It is a book comprised of 66 books
… it is divided into 2 parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
… the Bible is the World’s number one bestselling book
Let’s go a little deeper.
We’ll start with the Old Testament.
The Old Testament is identical to the Tanak, written in Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic. The Christian Old Testament is ordered a little differently and breaks up a few of the books into separate volumes, but the content is the same. It was written by 29-35 authors over a time span of 1,000 years, telling the story of ancient Israel’s history.
In the Old Testament, the Law reveals the sinful nature of mankind and heightens man’s awareness of their sin and their need for a savior. The Old Testament shares the prophecies of several men of God who were tasked with relaying God’s message to His people. There are sporadic collections of narratives, allegories, poems, and songs that are recorded for the benefit of the Israelites as well as for the generations to come (that includes me + you!). There are several heroes in the Old Testament that foreshadow the promised Messiah. All of these imperfect predecessors, preparing the hearts of God’s people for the Messiah, fall short of the blameless sacrifice necessary to bring God’s people back to Him.
Which leads us to the New Testament.
When Jesus was born and began his ministry at 30 years old, He started a movement that is documented in the 27 books of the New Testament. All of the books in the New Testament were written in Greek by authors who started out their lives in an assortment of fields but all ended their lives as devoted disciples of Christ. This portion of the Bible is a collection of the well known Gospels, the book of Acts (which details the beginning decades of the growing Church) 21 letters of correspondence, and lastly, the book of Revelation which tells of the vision that John was given of the end times.
By nature, the Bible as a whole is a collection of individual books but we have to keep in mind that each book was inspired by God and He is the Alpha and the Omega. He knows the details of the beginning that we can’t even begin to fathom and He knows all that is to come.
My girls have always loved sitting and completing a puzzle with Andrew or me. I love to watch them think, and we both love the quality time, so puzzles are a win all around. There are many times that their little brother wants to get involved and when he is turned away, he steals a puzzle piece and runs off. (Yea, we’re in a really fun season right now. ha!) Anyways, both girls will go running after him to get the piece. They understand the value of each individual piece but when they get back to the puzzle after retrieving the puzzle piece, they continue with the task of placing all the pieces together. While they understand the value of each piece, they don’t mistake it for the big picture. They know that in order to rightfully appreciate that one portion of the puzzle, they must have the ability to step back and take in the beauty of the full masterpiece.
Sure, the chronological details, authors, theories about exact locations are all fun “rabbit-trails” to get lost on, but we must always study the books of the Bible in perspective of how they fit into God’s Big Story. There is one overarching, gospel-preaching, soul-saving, life-giving narrative that threads all of the 66 books together, and without understanding that story, it’s hard to truly appreciate the pieces.
As we begin to study scripture on a deeper level, we’ll obviously be studying small sections at a time. Whether we are studying Genesis 1, Revelation 22, or Leviticus 9, it is important to know how that section of scripture fits into God’s Big Story. How that section of scripture fits into the bigger picture of the Bible helps to shape our understanding of God’s Word.
I’ve created a resource for you to download and study on your device (+ one for you to print out and put in your bible if you want) that displays God’s “Big Story”. Check out the resources page & download the Big Story Infographics.
As you read over the resource, ask God to help you to learn and know the ultimate story of His love for you, not just on an academic level, but on a spiritual level. Our identity in Christ is wrapped up in our understanding of God’s love for us, which is told best through the story of the Bible.