UNDERSTANDING THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
I. TEXTUAL THOUGHTS
1. 2 Peter 1:2-3 - God has provided us with all things that relate to life and godliness
2. 2 Peter 3:16 - There are different books in the Bible with different human authors
3. Hebrews 1:1 - It was God's plan to speak through many different people, finally Jesus
4. John 21:25; 20:30-31 - More could be written, but what we have is enough for having life
5. Revelation 22:18-19 - Be careful not to distort what is written in the Bible
II. MAIN THEME - The Bible is one book, and yet it is 66 separate books (letters). How can we
understand the distinctive nature of each book and at the same time keep its theme in
the overall scope of the Bible? Here are some suggestions for studying each book:
1. The Bible has two divisions: Old Testament (39 books) and New Testament (27 books).
Be careful not to confuse these two testaments. The Old Testament mainly describes
the covenant given to the Israelites, and the New Testament reveals the covenant for all
peoples. Exodus 19:1-6; Matthew 28:18-20
2. There is a setting or background for each book of the Bible. If a student of the Bible fails to
recognize the background, sometimes it can cause poor understanding. For example:
a. Acts 15:1-21 - Some tried to force Christians to obey the old covenant.
b. 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 - First you must read 1 Corinthians 5 in order to understand this.
c. Acts 1:1-2 - Acts is the second book that Luke wrote - "Luke" is the first book.
d. Revelation 1:4-5 - John wrote this book to seven specific churches, not just in general.
3. Take note who is the author of each book. This helps understanding the whole book. For
example, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians after he had traveled to visit the Corinthians and
taught them the gospel of Jesus - Acts 18 and 1 Corinthians 1:10-17.
4. Notice the character of each book - what kind of writing is it? For example, in the New
Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts are historical books, while Romans
through Revelation are letters written in order to greet, praise, and teach.
5. Subject matter - it is very important that we try to understand the central theme of each
book. There may be a variety of teachings in one book, but if we miss the central
message, then we have missed the purpose of the book. See Romans 1:16-17
1. Books are named for different reasons: Genesis means "beginning", Exodus means
"exiting". Some books have the name of the recipient: Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Other books have the name of the author: Peter, James, and John.
2. Study about the circumstances and society of the book - Hebrews is a good example.
3. Sometimes, it is a good idea to outline a book in order to see clearly the main theme.
For example, Hebrews is easy to outline because the main theme is the superiority of
Christianity to Judaism because Christ is superior to all that preceded Him.
IV. MEMORY VERSE - John 20:30-31