The Bible has one Divine author—God—and is one book with 66 chapters with each book being a chapter. Each book or chapter of the Bible builds on the book that precedes it as well as the book that follows with the exception of Genesis and Revelation. God, through the Holy Spirit, inspired about 40 writers to pen the words of Holy Writ. The Bible is a book about sin and redemption.
The Old Testament
We begin by listing each book of the Old Testament in its relation to others.
Genesis is an introduction to the Bible, to God, the scheme of redemption, His nature, goodness, and power. It is a book that introduces man, where he came from. In chapter 3 evil enters into the picture and man gives way to evil. The Redeemer is purposed in Genesis 3:15 and in Genesis 12 God promised Abraham and his seed, the One through Whom redemption would come.
In Joseph we have the picture of redemption as it unfolds.
Exodus—procedures of redemption take place. There’s poverty of the spirit when they cried out in their helplessness. We had the preaching of Moses by which their faith was established. The Passover was established—death to those who refused. Worship comes in Exodus 20. The building of the tabernacle that pleased God. There are two things that please God: gifts or service and the pillar of cloud.
Leviticus is an extension of Genesis and Exodus. In Leviticus we see that fellowship is developed with God and one another. Fellowship with God was through sacrifice, priesthood, the tabernacle and the principles of holiness so that other nations could see the righteousness of God.
Numbers is the failure of faith for the first generation. They refused to follow God’s exhortation.
Deuteronomy is the law restated to the second generation and Moses’ farewell address. He sets forth the proper motive for God’s love for us and our love for God and man. Over and over he says do not forget.
Joshua is the redeemed in victory by faith. They go into Canaan. Every victory in Joshua is by faith. Every battle lost was a lack of faith.
Judges—Moses failed to get the people into Canaan. Joshua got them there. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6). When there is no king the people celebrate. In chapter 18 there’s no king for Israel. Chapter 19 no King. Chapter 21:25, the last verse in the chapter there was no king over Israel.
“And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel” (Jud. 2:6-7). Verse 10 then is the background of kings in the book of Judges when every man did what he wanted to do based on his own judgment. There was the song of Deborah and Gideon and the kind of leadership they needed. The judges also provided leadership.
Ruth—during the time of the Judges there’s the breath of redemption. She, a Gentile, was brought into the framework of Israel. She proves to have Christ’s blood in her thus showing that God never intended for redemption to be only for Israel.
First Samuel—the people rejected the prophets and demanded a king and they selected Saul to be the first king. He had no spiritual qualities listed in 1 Samuel 9:2: “And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people”. Young, energetic, handsome above all others, but Israel now has a king like the other nations. This is what first Samuel is about. Saul said “I have played the fool.” 1 Sam. 16 God rejected Saul for God looks on the heart.
Second Samuel—David is a king after God’s own heart. David has his weaknesses and failures but he never assumed that he was the king for he looked to God for that. He never took the kingdom into his own hands this is how he was a king after God’s own heart.
First Kings—the problem of the material glory of the redeemed. They were never larger than during Solomon’s reign. Solomon dedicated the temple. It took seven years to build the temple with 13 years to build his own house, the palace. There is a contrast then in Solomon over the material and spiritual. Fake gods were brought in. Jeroboam divided the kingdom and continued the downfall and every sin from here on was referred to as being like the sins of Jeroboam.
Second Kings—the downfall of the redeemed nations. Second Kings 17 is why the 10 tribes went into Assyrian captivity and when you read this chapter you know they rejected God. In verse 13 God testified against them through the prophets. In verse 14 their heart was hardened. In verse 18 God was angry and removed them out of His sight and verse 29 God let them go the captivity. The rest of Second Kings tells of the fall of Judah into Babylonian captivity.
First Chronicles—God reigns over the redeemed.
Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all” (1 Chron. 29:10-12).
Here David summarizes what is found in first Chronicles. They had rejected God but God was still on the throne.
Second Chronicles is why they failed. They did not give the temple its rightful place.
Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are not in chronological order. Ezra is the return of Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple and he was in the lineage of David. The temple and religion was the heart of the nation. They would never have another earthly king. Ezra was the priest. God’s plan is back in order Ezra 9:4, “Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice”. This represents a return to the law itself.
Nehemiah leads a return and the rebuilding of the walls of the city. They had a mind to work.
Esther—the influence of the redeemed in the world. A godly woman through her influence saved the nation.
Job—the importance of the redeemed and trusting in God. “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15). The book is about things in life that the redeemed cannot unravel so they must trust in God.
Psalms—is the redeemed in God’s presence and there is something for everyday living in the presence of God. Psalm 139 where shall I go to be out of the presence of God?
Proverbs—wisdom for the redeemed for daily living.
Ecclesiastes is a book about what happens when we try to work by sight instead of by faith. We cannot walk by our five senses. The last verse is fear God and keep his Commandments.
Song of Solomon—God’s special love for a redeemed people.
Isaiah—the redeemed and the Redeemer. The throne of grace chapter 6. Chapter 7 the virgin birth is announced and this book reminds me that God is on his throne and His throne is one of grace. Isaiah 53 the suffering servant.
Jeremiah—a prophet’s cry over the redeemed. “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people” (Jer. 9:1).
Lamentations—the prophet Jeremiah’s cry over a people that had backslidden.
Ezekiel—two basic things; the largeness of the Redeemer King and the responsibility of the people. Chapter 3 and chapter 18 God is not a respecter of persons. He punishes the unrighteous and blesses the obedient. Ezekiel sets up the way of return from captivity through prayer and confession.
Daniel—among the first carried into captivity, Daniel prophesied during the time of captivity. He proves there would be 70 years of captivity and that there would be four kingdoms that would arise over a time frame of 490 years. He, as well as others, of the prophets told of the coming kingdom the King and the destruction of Jerusalem.
From Hosea through Zephaniah the minor prophets told in various ways and by sundry warnings of the captivity and what it would be like except the last three prophetical books.
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi belong to the time of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. They are out of captivity and coming back to the land of Canaan.
So, the Bible from the times of Abraham developed around Canaan, and the Jewish people, and redemption. God promised the land and they received all the land of the promise.
The Old Testament closes looking forward to the New that would follow some 400 years later.
The New Testament
There are four biographers of Christ each detailing something about His coming, His promises, His work, His teaching and His death burial and resurrection: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The book of Acts is about the kingdom of the Lord. Any book that opens and closes the way Acts does sets the tone and tenor for its contents. “To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3) and “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:31). It is then rather obvious regarding the content of Acts. Additionally, the New Testament seems to be written with the background of the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in about 70 A.D.
The epistles were written to various places addressing various problems that arose in the kingdom. It appears that no congregation had the same problem as others although the principles and precepts were/are usable to address any problem that occurred or will occur. No two of them are exactly alike because the problems differed. Paul wrote most as an apostle to the Gentiles.
It appears that First and Second Thessalonians were the first New Testament books written though it is very obvious that other events preceded them.
There are personal epistles First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon.
Hebrews is the greatness of the Redeemer and His kingdom over all others.
James, written by the half-brother of our Lord was written to the common man,
First and Second Peter to the strangers scattered through out various areas (cf. 1 Peter 1:1).
First John tells us one can know that he is saved.
Second John was written to a faithful woman and her children.
Third John was written to Gaius a well beloved brother in the Lord.
Jude—also a half-brother of the Lord—wrote urging those to contend earnestly for the faith (vs. 3).
Revelation was written of things which must shortly come to pass. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Rev.1:1). “Shortly” has never meant “longly” and the time was at hand not generations yet to come (cf. Rev. 1:3).