An Overview of the Bible

Jerry C. Brewer

The Bible is the only book on earth that can provide the answers to man’s every problem and secure his happiness—not only in this life, but also in that which is to come. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto good works.” In this remarkable Book is to be found everything that man needs to live right before God and with his fellow man. No other book on earth can provide what the Bible provides.

The word Bible is from a Greek word which means book. When we say The Bible we are saying The Book. We use that term because it is preeminently The Book. This book, which reveals the mind of God to man, calls itself by various terms. It is called the Word of God: “For the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Jesus called it The Scriptures in John 5:39 and it is called the book in Hebrews 10:7: “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.” The Bible also calls itself “The oracles of God.” Hebrews 5:12 says “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat.” Peter also says our preaching and teaching must be in harmony with the Bible. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11) and Stephen called the Bible the “living oracles” in Acts 7:38.

The Bible further applies symbolic names to itself. By the use of symbols for the word of God, we understand some of the properties of the Bible and what it does. For instance, David and Solomon both call it a “lamp” and “light.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105). “For the commandment is a lamp and the law is light” (Prov. 6:23). The opposite of light is darkness. This is true physically, mentally and spiritually and the Bible represents the sinner as living in darkness which only the Bible can dispel. Through the Bible, God lights the way for those in the darkness of sin and offers spiritual light for our souls.

The Bible also refers to itself as a “mirror.”

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (Jas. 1:23-25).

As the mirror reveals our physical features, so the Bible reveals man’s character to himself. By reading the Bible carefully, we can see our own imperfections and spiritual blemishes as plainly as we see our physical faces in a mirror.

Fire is the greatest purifying agent known to man and that is one of the symbolic names the Bible applies to itself. “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29. The word of God is the spiritual fire that purifies our souls. That’s the application Peter makes in First Peter 1:21:

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

The passage in Jeremiah 23:29 also referred to the word of God as “a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces.” The Bible often represents the hearts of men as hard and stony and inasmuch as God’s word subdues the hard and rebellious heart, it is likened to a hammer.

God’s word is also referred to as a sword. A symbol of warfare, the sword is a symbolic name applied to God’s word in Ephesians 6:17. Christians are in a mighty war with Satan and his servants. The word of God is our offensive weapon in this struggle. Jesus used the word of God effectively in repelling Satan when the tempter came to him in Matthew, chapter 4.

The Bible is also called the seed of the kingdom in Luke 8:11. The soil into which this seed is sown is the human heart and as there is no physical life produced in soil until seed is sown, so there is no spiritual life in man until he hears the word of God and it finds welcome lodging (germinates) in his heart.

God’s Library

The Bible is actually a library consisting of 66 books which were written over a period of about 1,400 years by 40 different persons. The writers of the Bible were widely separated by time, distance, culture, language, education and vocations. Various writers of the Bible were shepherds, kings, lawyers, farmers, doctors, soldiers, fishermen and priests. Yet their writings perfectly harmonize. There are no contradictions in the Bible. This fact alone is one of the proofs of the divine origin of the Bible. Ask 40 different people today to write 66 books without consulting each other and see if their writings constitute one perfect whole as does the Bible. That great library of 66 books which we call The Bible is divided into two great sections—The Old Testament and the New Testament. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament is further divided into five classifications. The first five books of the Old Testament are known as the Pentateuch or the Books of Law. The word Pentateuch means five-fold volume—so called because this division contains five books. They are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books recount God’s dealings with men from the Creation, through the flood, the call of Abraham, the Israelites’ bondage in Egypt, their deliverance by Moses, and their wilderness wanderings until the death of Moses.

The second classification contains the books of history. They are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First Samuel, Second Samuel, First Kings, Second Kings, First Chronicles, Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. These books recount the history of Israel from the conquest of Canaan until the Babylonian captivity.

The third Old Testament division contains the books of wisdom. They are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Written in Hebrew poetic style, these books are also called the books of poetry.

The Books of the Major Prophets constitute the fourth division of the Old Testament. They are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. These men prophesied before, during, and during the return from the Babylonian captivity.

The fifth and final classification of Old Testament books is that of the Minor Prophets. The distinction made between the Major and Minor prophets is not one of importance. The Minor Prophets are so-called because of their shorter length.

The New Testament

Containing 27 books, the New Testament can also be divided into five classifications. The first contains the four accounts of the life of Christ. Those books are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The next division, History of the Church, contains a single book—Acts of The Apostles which recounts the beginning of the church in chapter two and its progress from that beginning in Jerusalem until the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome.

The third classification of the New Testament consists of Special Letters to churches and individuals. Those books are Romans, First Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, First Timothy, Second Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Second John and Third John.

The General Letters of the New Testament comprise the fourth division. They are Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, First John and Jude.

The final division of the New Testament is the Apocalypse consisting of the Book of Revelation. Because Revelation is addressed to the seven churches of Asia, it could also be included in the classification of Special Letters.

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Author: Editor

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