I use Biblical references in my writing a lot. I do that because I believe the Bible is the written revelation of God to humanity. It is God’s message to each of us and all of us. But, it occurs to me, that some of you might not have that same foundation of faith or be confused about the Bible. So, I’m writing today to answer the question, “What is the Bible?”
A Book of Books
The Bible is a book of books. It is one book, written over about 1,500 years by approximately 40 authors. It is divided into two major sections: the Old Testament, written before Jesus was born, and the New Testament, written after the birth of Jesus. The Old and New Testaments are further divided into smaller sections.
|Old Testament||New Testament|
|Number of books||39||27|
Pentateuch (first 5 books)
History (12 books)
Poetry & Wisdom (5 books)
Major Prophets (5 books)
Minor Prophets (12 books)
Gospels (4 books)
History (1 book)
Paul’s Letters (13 books)
General Letters (8 books)
Prophecy (1 book)
|Number of authors||25 or more||9|
|Years to write||Approximately 1500 years||Approximately 50 years|
The Bible is diverse in its themes. For example, the theme of Genesis is beginnings and the theme of John is Jesus, the Son of God. However, overriding those themes, the Bible has a theme as a whole: the theme of Redemption. So, Genesis is the beginning of creation, the covenant, nations, and sin, but also the beginning of redemption. Also, John is about the Son of God, but also the Son of God as Redeemer, the perfect God-Man who provides the way of salvation.
I should point out that other people have different opinions about the overarching theme of the Bible. Some believe it is Jesus, while others believe it is God’s relationship with humanity or the kingdom of God.
The Bible is diverse in its authors. The authors were shepherds, farmers, kings, prophets, musicians, fishermen, and even a tax collector. Some were well-educated (Solomon, Luke, Paul), while others were not as learned (Amos, Peter). All were well-versed in the existing Scripture of the day, for the Israelites valued the Word of God highly. The end result, however, is of a unified whole – one book of many books.
The Bible is diverse in its literary styles. The books include poetry, narrative stories, parables, proverbs, historical records, and prophecies. Because of the wide array of styles, there is likewise a wide usage of figures of speech. Metaphors, similes, and personification are three examples of figurative language that are frequently used.
God’s Revelation to Humanity
Everything God wanted us to know, He included in the Bible. We have everything we need to live a godly, fulfilled, and joyful life. It is a guide for our choices and a lighthouse to lead us through troubled times.
Additionally, the Bible reveals the only way to salvation. “There is no other name under heaven…by which [people] must be saved [than Jesus].” (Acts 4:12). There is no salvation in any other name – including a person’s own name and efforts.
Finally, the Bible is full of biographical, historical accounts of real people navigating a real faith and real relationship with a real God. These ‘stories’ – such as Joshua conquering Jericho, Daniel in the lion’s den, Esther saving her people, and David defeating Goliath – teach us in the way we learn best: from the lives of others. But they are not just stories – they are history! When we get to glory, we will meet the heroes of the faith whose stories are included in the Bible – those who led the way before us (Hebrews 12:1).
The One Book You Should Read Every Day
The Bible is “God’s love letter” to you. If you had no way of communicating with your loved ones, other than letters, you would read and re-read, save and savor, each letter. You’d read the letters repeatedly until you practically had them memorized. The Bible is God’s love letter to you – you need to read it as if it was the best thing in the world – better even than coffee or chocolate!
If you are confused about where to start reading, I have a few suggestions. Just want a chapter to read? Try Psalm 1, Psalm 23, or Psalm 91. Want a small book with encouragement to live a godly life? Try Philippians or Colossians – only four chapters each. How about a book about the life of Jesus? Choose either Mark (the shortest gospel) or John (the gospel I’d choose). Finally, if you want a picture of the church when it was young – read Acts. It’s a long book, but well worth reading. What will you read today?