Thursday, January 28, 2016

Overview of the Bible

The Bible (Latin biblia, Greek biblios = book) is one book made up of many different books. It has unity and diversity just as its Author is one God in three persons. God used about 40 different writers (various backgrounds and locations) over a period of about 1,500 years to write the 66 books of the Bible. These books cover 7,000 years of human history and give glimpses into eternity past and future. The Bible is not everything God knows, but it is everything God wants us to know about Him and His plan and purposes. The revelation was given progressively. That 66 books make up one book without error or contradiction proves that the Bible is given by inspiration of God.

There are 1,189 chapters, 31,101 verses, and 791, 328 words in the KJB. Not only did God inspire and preserve His words so that we have a perfect copy of it today in our own language, He lead men in the proper arrangement of its books as well the chapter and verse divisions so that the Bible is laid out in a divine order perfectly designed for our edification. Chapter and verse divisions greatly enhance our ability to search the scriptures. With the invention of computers searching the scripture is easier than it has ever been and yet it is probably more neglected than it ever has been!  

The Bible is a big book, an inexhaustible gold mine of divine revelation. We could spend a lifetime studying it in detail and never learn it all but we should seek to learn as much as possible. The purpose of learning the Bible is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God. The Bible is God’s perfect revelation of Himself to man. It is important in Bible study to have a basic overview of the Bible in our heart and mind because that will greatly help us in studying its details. Sometimes we can't see the forest because of the trees. It is best to start with a panoramic view of the whole Bible before we examine its books, chapters, verses, and words. A key in Bible study is to understand the larger context. In other words, a verse must be studied in light of the surrounding passage, the passage in light of the chapter, the chapter in light of the book, the book in light of the testament, and the testament in light of the whole Bible.

There is unity in the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16):
It reveals one God – Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1; 1 Jn. 5:7; Rev. 22:21
It reveals one main purpose – the glory of God
It reveals one main theme – the person and work of Christ
It reveals one main goal – the establishment of God’s kingdom on the earth
It reveals one plan of redemption – by the blood of Christ 
It reveals one set of moral principles (Paul teaches 9 of 10 commandments, no sabbath)
It reveals one main enemy – Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9
It reveals a harmonious unfolding of progressive revelation – changes, no contradictions 

There are divisions in the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15):
Failure to acknowledge the divisions God put in His word is the root cause of all manner of heresies (1 Cor. 11:19). The most obvious division is between the OT (39) and NT (27). However, it is not correct to say that the whole OT was the Law and the whole NT is grace or that the OT was for the Jews and the NT is for the church (only Rom. – Phil. Was written TO the body of Christ). The main division is not between the OT and NT but between the prophetic kingdom program of God’s earthly people (Israel) and the mystery program of His heavenly people (Body of Christ). The burden and emphasis of the prophecy spoken to Israel is the King and His kingdom. Prophecy concerns that which was SPOKEN since the world began through all the prophets (Acts 3:19-21). The burden and emphasis of the mystery revealed through the apostle Paul is the spiritual organism, the Body of Christ. The mystery concerns that which was kept SECRET since the world began (Rom. 16:25). The things that were SPOKEN by the prophets since the world began can not be the same things that were kept SECRET and hid from the prophets since the world began. 
Prophecy  - Earth, from the foundation of the world, Christ the King, Israel over the Gentiles 
Mystery - Heaven, before the foundation of the world, Christ the Head of one Body, neither  

Basic outline of the Bible according to its major theme:
The King and His Kingdom
OT – promised and prophesied 
Gospels –presented and rejected 
Acts – re-offered and rejected, transition 
Pauline Epistles –postponed, mystery of one Body revealed
Hebrew Epistles – kingdom program resumed
Revelation – kingdom established

The words “ covenant” and “testament” are related but distinct (for example a testament requires blood, but a covenant does not, Heb. 9:15-20). Technically, the OT began with the OC in Exodus 19. The NT began with the shed blood of Christ on the cross (Matt. 26:28). The NC which will be made on the basis of the NT will not be made until the 2nd coming of Christ (Heb. 8:6-13). Both covenants are made with Israel. Nowhere in scripture is the church said to be under a covenant. 

The four Gospels as well as the first part of Acts is not about this present age of grace because it was a mystery revealed through Paul. Christ conducted His earthly ministry under the Law. The disciples in early Acts lived by the law (Acts 21:20; 22:12). Though Christ abolished “the law of commandments contained in ordinances” on the cross, it was not revealed until Paul. However, beginning in Matthew 1 everything is moving toward the NT and therefore it is proper to begin the books of the NT with Matthew. Although the body of Christ is not under a covenant, we are saved by the blood of the NT (2 Cor. 3:6).

Genesis begins the OT because it preparatory to giving of the OT. Beginning in Genesis 1 everything is moving toward the call of Abraham and the formal giving of the Law in Exodus. It is proper to call the books written before Matthew the OT (2 Cor. 3:14). The OT is primarily about the nation of Israel. God devotes just 11 chapters to the first 2,000 of history. He gets to Abraham quickly and from Genesis 12 – Malachi, Gentiles are only mentioned in connection with Israel. We must not interpret this to mean that God did not care about the Gentiles. Though He “gave up” (Rom. 1) on the Gentile world in Genesis 11, He promised to bless them through Israel. Israel was to be a witness of the one true God in the midst of universal idolatry, be an example to the Gentiles of the blessedness of serving the one true God, be the instruments to receive and preserve the scripture, and produce the Messiah. 

Jesus Christ taught that the OT was inspired scripture (John 5:39) and He confirmed the 39 books of its canon. 
Matt. 23:35 – Abel was killed in Genesis 4 and Zacharias in 2 Chron. 24. In the Hebrew OT the first book was Genesis and the last book was 2 Chronicles. In this verse, Jesus confirms the whole OT canon. Same books, different arrangement and order. 
Luke 24:27, 44 – The Hebrew OT was divided into 3 groups. Paul refers to the law, prophets, and Psalms is his sermon in Acts 13 (v.26-41).  

There is nothing wrong with the order of OT books in our King James Bible. They are laid out in a practical manner for English readers (the layout of the KJB revealed in Isaiah): 
1) Law (5, Genesis – Deuteronomy) 
2) History (12, Joshua – Esther) 
3) Wisdom (5, Job – Song of Solomon)
4) Prophecy (5 and 12,  Isaiah – Daniel, Hosea - Malachi) 

Christ gave a pre-authentication of the NT (Jn. 14:26 = Gospels; 16:12-14 = Epistles). Peter referred to Paul's writings as scripture (2 Pet. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16). 

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