Basic Bible Knowledge


Where to start in a subject so vast and complex??

Who wrote the Bible?:

The Bible is very well organized. It is helpful to know something about how the Bible is composed or constituted, how it is set up.

The Bible is a collection of 66 Books. God used about 40 men to write the Bible. In some case some were written by the same man, although God is the ultimate Author.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2Tim 3:16)

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.(2Peter 1:21)

- The Books of the Bible were written during a 1,500 year period. That 1,500 year period began with Moses about 3,400 years ago and ended with the book of Revelations about 1,900 years ago.

Difference between old and New Testaments:

The Bible contains two major sections : The Old Testament and The New Testament. (A "testament" means "contract".)

The Old Testament is a compilation of the holy scriptures of the Hebrews, written over a 1,000 year period. The Old Testament has many prophecies about a Messiah or Annointed One. These prophecies were written hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born.

The New Testament contains the sacred writings of the early Christian period. The 27 Books of the New Testament were written in Greek over a period of about 100 years. They tell of Jesus' life and ministry and the growth of the early Church, and present the basics of Christian faith.

Old Testament Groups:

The Old Testament has 39 Books. Scholars generally agree that they were written over a period of about 1,000 years, from the 14th to the 4th century BC. They were written in Hebrew except for a few passages in Daniel which were written in Aramaic.

The OLd Testament is divided into three major divisions : Historical, Poetical and Prophetic. The books are organized partly chronologicaly, and partly according to content.

Old Testament Historical Books:

The Old Testament begins with 17 historical books. The historical books begin with the first five books of Moses, called the "Pentateuch" and they are also referred to as "the Law" or "the Torah".

Esther is the last of what are called the historical books starting with Genesis. Those first books are about the history of the world, the history of God's people, and the history of God's dealings with man prior to the birth of Christ.

Old Testament Poetical Books:

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon are called the poetical books. These are the books used most often in devotional services, in readings and songs, with Psalms and Proverbs the most used in devotionals. Proverbs was primarily written by Solomon, although others were also contributors to this wonderful book. The 31 chapters of Proverbs makes it ideal as a daily reading covering the entire month. Many Messianic prophecies are found in the book of Psalms.

Old Testament Major Prophets:

There are 17 prophetic books, 5 of which are considered "major" and the remaining 12 "minor". The major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are called such not so much due to the size of the book but due to the relative importance of their content.

Even though the book of the prophet Daniel only contains 12 chapters, there are more specific prophecies about the future, time lines and clarifications covering today and tomorow than in any of the other prophetic books.

Isaiah's prophecies cover more information about Jesus that the others. Both about His first coming and also about His second coming. There are more prophecies about the "Milennium" (the thousand year reign of Christ on Earth) found in the book of Isaiah than anywhere else in the Bible.

Jeremiah was known as "the weeping prophet", concerned primarily with the history, the fall, the future and restoration of the Jewish people to Israel, all of which has happened.

Ezekiel also prophecied a great deal about the Jews, although he also had many many prophecies regarding the distant future, particularly about the Anti-Christ, Armageddon and the coming Heavenly City.

Daniel is a prophet of the EndTime ! They all, to some degree, prophecied about the EndTime, although Daniel is the one who's predictions deal primarily with the distant future. He was even told to seal the book until the "time of the end" would come and then it would be revealed.

"But thou, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase. (Da 12:4)

Old Testament Minor Prophets:

This section contains the remaining 12 prophetic books that stretch from after Daniel to the end of the Old Testament at Malachi. Primarily concerned with local and time current prophecies, these "minor" prophets also had some predictions that applied to the EndTime, so important is this in the overall picture of Bible prophecy.

New Testament Groups:

The New Testament is composed of 27 Books. It is divided into three major categories : History (The Gospels and the Book of Acts), Epistles and Prophetic. It parallels the same arrangement as the Old Testament with one notable exception; the central section, instead of Poetic books, contains Epistles.

Historical : Gospels and Acts:

This covers the first five books of the New Testament. The Gospels deal with the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts covers the major happenings of the "early church" over a period of approximately 30 years and is a sequel to the Gospels.

The first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, LukeJohn, the youngest of the disciples, is known as the "Salvation Gospel" as it shows in the most understandable way the life and ministry of Christ and the need for faith in His name.

The Epistles:

The word "epistle" means letters. The apostle Paul wrote 14 of these "letter" and the other 7 are considered "general epistles". There are called "general" because they are not addressed to anybody in particular, whereas the earlier Epistles were written specifically to certain people. Paul's epistles (letters) to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians ect... are all to specific individuals, groups or believers and are named after who the letters were addressed to. The remaining epistles from James through Jude are named after who wrote them.

Paul's epistles are deep, legal theology. Paul was a lawyer and he was interpreting the Gospels for the sake of lawyers and legalists like himself, to his own kind like the Pharisees and the Scribes, proving to them in legal language and legal arguments that he was right, and he does a wonderful job of it. It was important for Paul to explain in convincing legal arguments why the Gospel had to be so, why Jesus had to come and why things were different now; no longer under the Law but under Grace. He also demonstrated that much of the Old Testament Law is no longer relevant.

Prophetic : Revelation:

Revelation or "The Apocalypse" is the last book in the New Testament. This book is a message from Jesus that was given to John, the same John that wrote the Gospel of John and three general epistles. The Book of Revelation is the only book in the New testament devoted entirely to prophecy. There are other prophetic passages in the New Testament, but Revelations is the only one dealing entirely with prophecy, similar to the prophetic books of the Old Testament.

How the Bible came into being

The first recorded instance in the Bible of God telling someone to write is in the book of Exodus. Following a victory in battle, God instructed Moses "Write this for a memorial in the book" (Exo 17:14). In another example, several chapters later, " Moses wrote all the words of the Lord ... then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people." (Exo 24:4,7) From that time until the end of the New Testament age, the writting of the many books and parts of the Bible continued.

None of the original Biblical documents has survived. But before they disappeared, they were copied. These copies of the original documents are the texts on which the Authorized King James version of the Bible are based.

The process of copying and recopying the Bible has continued to our time. Until the middle of the 15th century AD all the copying was done by hand. Then, with the invention of printing in Europe, copies could be made in greater quantities by using this new process. Each copy of the Bible had to be produced slowly by hand with the old system, but now the printing press could produce thousands of copies in a short time. This made the Scriptures available to many people, rather than just the few who could afford handmade copies.

How the Bible was put together

It's quite amazing when you realize that here is a book that was written over a 1,500 year span, 40 generations. It has over 40 authors from all walks of life; kings, shepherds, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars ect... Yet the Biblical authors wrote in harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. There is one unfolding story : God's redemption of man.

This grouping of the Old Testament that you study today was put in this final canonical form and organized in this order by a group of 70 scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, somewhere between 250 - 100 BC.

These 70 scholars decided on which were authentic Books, recognized as genuinely inspired. That was probably the most important gathering of scholars for thouroughly translating all of the Old Testament Hebrew-language Books.

Their product was a translation into Greek and became the accepted Authorized Greek Version of the Old Testament, which was the literary language of the people of the day, of both the Greek and Roman Empires. They called it the Septuagint, meaning the one produced by 70 men, and that has been the accepted Authorized Version of the Bible ever since.

In the second century AD, when officials of the early church sought to make a list of books about Jesus and the early church that they considered authoritative, they retained the Old Testament, on authority of Jesus and His apostles. Along with these books they recognized as authoritative the new writings; four Gospels, or biographies on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, the letters of Paul, and the letters of other apostles and their companions. The Gospel collection and the apostolic collection were joined together by the Book of Acts, which served as a sequel to the Gospel story, as well as a narrative background for the early epistles.

The primary standard applied to a book was that it must be written either by an apostle or by someone close to the apostles. This guaranteed that their writing about Jesus and the early church would have the authenticity of an eyewitness account. The apostolic writings formed the charter, or foundation documents, of the Christian movement.

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