What is the Bible?
The Bible is the word of God. Every letter, every word, every name, and every number is there by supernatural
design. The Bible is a collection of different books that were written over a period of 1,500 years by 40 different men (most were Jewish) who were inspired (or informed) by God. In fact, the word
"Bible" is derived through Latin from the Greek word biblia which mean "books", specifically the books that are acknowledged as canonical (divinely inspired). The Bible consist of two volumes that are
identified by Christians as the Old Testament (or Old Covenant) and the New Testament (or New Covenant).
The Old Testament
The Old Testament is what the Jews call the Tanakh, and was originally written
- mostly - in Hebrew (a few sections were written in Aramaic). It is believed that the books of the Tanakh were assembled
together as one volume of books during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (around 450 BC). The first five books of the Tanakh are
considered the most sacred by Judaic practicing Jews. These books are collective known as the Torah - which is a Hebrew word
meaning law. They are also called, "The Law" (e.g., Haggai 2:11 and Matthew 5:17), or "The Laws of Moses"
(e.g., Malachi 4:4 and Luke 24:44) because they were written by Moses, or the Pentateuch (Greek for "five books").
These books tell of the covenants God made with the Jews and outline the laws - including the Ten Commandments (although there
are actually several hundred commandments) by which they are to live. The remaining books of the Jewish Scriptures contain
history, poetry (hymns and songs), and prophecies. Although the books that comprise the Tanakh and the same books
found in the Christian Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures consist of 35 books, not 39 as in the Christian Old Testament.
The reason for this is due to several books of the Tanakh being split into two or more books in the Christian Old Testament.
For example, the Old Testament books of 1st Samuel and 2nd Samuel are two separate books in the Christian
Bible where as they are one book in the Tanakh. The same is true for 1st Kings and 2nd Kings, 1st Chronicles
and 2nd Chronicles, and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. These are all separate books in the Christian Bible
but are paired as one book in the Tanakh.
of the Tanakh|
(39 Books of the Old Testament)
Song of Solomon
| Major Prophets|
| Minor Prophets|
(TIP: when evangelizing to a non-believing
Jew, referring to the Tanakh as the Old Testament will not get you very far. Click here for more tips on how
to share the Gospel of Christ).
Jewish worship consists of reading
of the Scriptures from the Tanakh, singing or chanting of psalms and songs of praise, prayers, worship on Saturday (the 7th
day Sabbath), and observance of seven main feast (or holidays) of God. Early Jewish worshipers worshiped around a tent called
the Tabernacle, then later in structures called synagogues (which is a Greek word originally meaning "a bringing together",
or, "a gathering") and then in the temple. Jews believed that until the Messiah comes, salvation is in obeying the
Torah. The watch for the coming of the Jewish Messiah is derived from several places in the Tanakh, i.e., Genesis 3:14, Genesis
49: 8-12, Micah 5:1 & 2, Isaiah 9:6, and many other places. In fact there are over 100 distinct prophecies regarding the
coming of the Messiah in the Tanakh.
The Inter-testament Period
Malachi is considered by
many to be the last book of the Old Testament and Matthew to be the first book of the New Testament. The period of time between
the Old and New Testaments is approximately 440 years. Some historical events that occurred during those 440 years are noted
That Occurred Between the |
Old Testament and New Testament Periods
|400 - 300 BC||The Persain rule over the Jews ended when the
Greeks, under Alexander the Great, defeated the Persians in 330 BC. At the death of Alexander the Great (at age 32) the Greek
empire is divided into four Greek kingdoms. |
The Ptolomies (Greek kings of Egypt) begin their rule.
The Seleucids of Syria gain control of Judea. The Tanakh (Old Testament) is translated from Hebrew into Greek (call the Septuagint).
| The Jewish temple is desecrated by Antiochus
IV (Epiphanes) of Syria; a statue of Zeus is erected and a pig is slaughtered on the altar which leads to the Maccabean revolt.
The Maccabean revolt is successful and the Jews regain control of Judea. The Festival of Lights
(Hanukkah or the Feast of the Dedication) celebrates the rededication of the cleansed temple. |
| The Romans, under Julius Caesar, conquer Jerusalem. Judea is under
Roman rule. Julius Caesar appoints Herod Antipater governor of Judea. Later his son,
Herod the Great, is appointed “king of the Jews” by the Roman senate. Herod spends 10 years
restoring the Jewish temple. Julius Caesar is killed by members of the Roman senate and is succeeded by
Augustus (Octavian) Caesar. |
The Bible that is used by most
protestant (non Catholic) churches consist of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament) while the Bible used by the Catholic and Eastern
Orthodox churches consist of 73 books. These 7 additional books found in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bible are referred
to as Deutero-Canonical books (secondary books) or apocrypha (apokryphos in the Greek) meaning "hidden things"
or "kept hidden". Although these and other apocryphal books were written during the time between the Old and New
Testament period, they were never part of the original Jewish Tanakh, and are considered by most Jewish and protestant scholars
to be non-canonical. The first time these books appeared in the Holy Scriptures was when the Tanakh was first translated into
Greek. The Greek translation of the Tanakh is called
the Septuagint (meaning seventy) and is frequently identified by the Roman numerals LXX (70). Its name commemorates the 70
Jewish scholars who were commissioned in Alexandria, Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus between 285-247 BC to
translate the Jewish Scriptures into Greek. During that time Greek had replaced Hebrew as the common language of the Jews
in Judea, which thus created the need for translating the Jewish Holy Scriptures into Greek.
Additions to the
book of Daniel (also known as The Songs of the Three Children, and Bel and the Dragon)
|Judith*||1st Maccabees* |
to the book of Esther||2nd Maccabees* |
Book of Wisdom*
|3rd Maccabees |
|Ecclesiasticus (also known as The Wisdom of the Son of Sirach)*||4th Maccabees |
|Baruch*||The Prayer of Manasseh|
|*These books are included in the Roman Catholic Bible.|
The New Testament
The New Testament books are believed by most scholars to have been originally
written in Greek, however, a few scholars believe that some may have been originally written in Hebrew and later translated
into Greek. Most of the books that comprise the New Testament are actually letters (or epistles) that were written either
to a specific person (e.g., 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, etc.), to a specific church (e.g., 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians,
etc.), to a specific group of churches (e.g., Galatians, Colossians), or to all the churches (e.g., the letters found in Revelation
2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, and 3:22). The early churches were specifically encouraged by the writer to share their
letters with one another (Colossians 4:16).
Like the Old Testament, the books of the New Testament are not arranged in chronological
order. For example, although the first book of the New Testament is Matthew, the first book written of the New Testament was
the espitle of James. Like the Old Testament, the chapter numbers and subject headers found in the New Testament were not
part of the original writings but were added much later.
The books of the New Testament can be categorized by four divisions -
the 4 books telling the gospel of Jesus Christ (each with a different focus), 1 book of history, 21 letters, and 1 book of
|New Testament Books*|
|Gospel of Jesus Christ|
Matthew (concentration on the Jewishness of the Messiah)
Mark (concentration on the
servitude of the Messiah)
Luke (concentration on the humanity of the Messiah)
on the divinity of the Messiah)
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians,
Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter,
1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude.
|*Note: Each book of the New Testament contains information found within each
of the main divisions of theology. For example, the Gospel of Christ can also be found in the book of Romans,
eschatological (end-time) information can also be found in 1 Thessalonians, etc. |
**Note: When studying church letters
(or epistles) do not neglect the seven most important church letters written by Jesus Christ in Revelation chapters 2
We know from historical events that all of the New Testament books, except Revelation,
were most likely written before 70 AD - when the Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans. Although some scholars have placed
the dates these books were written much later, since none of these books reference the destruction of the highly important
Jewish temple, or make any reference to the temple's destruction as a fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy that is recorded
in Matthew 24:1-2, Mark 13:1-2, and Luke 21:5-6, it is more likely that these books were written before the temple was destroyed.
The book of Revelation, written
by the apostle John during his exile to the island of Patmos, was the last book written of the New Testament and was written
about 95 AD. Although other books, such as the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, have surfaced
over the years, these books are non-canonical, filled with contradictions, and some have been proven to be deliberate frauds
written by gnostics or gnostic supporters.
The Connection Between Judaism and Christianity
Christianity is the response to the arrival
of the Judaic Messiah Jesus Christ. However, Christianity did not begin with Jesus' birth, but rather with His death.
Early Christians were first called people of "the Way" (Acts 9:2, 24:14, 24:22) (in reference to their lifestyle
reflecting the teachings of Jesus Christ) and assembled in groups called churches that met in homes. They taught and studied
from the Old Testament because there were no New Testament writings at the time the first Christian churches were established.
The first time followers of Jesus Christ were called "Christians" was in Antioch (of Syria) in 46 AD (Acts 11:26).
Early Christians not only preached and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ exclusively from the Old Testament, but they also
proved that Jesus was the Messiah exclusively from the Old Testament, e.g., by Jesus in Luke 24, by Peter in Acts 2, by Philip
in Acts 8:26-40, by Paul in Acts 17:1-4, and by Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla in Acts 18:24-28. Today, Christians assemble
in church buildings, learn and teach from both the Old and New Testaments, and worship on the first day of the week -
the day our Lord Jesus was resurrected.
Jesus was born a Jew and practiced Judaism, grew up to become a rabbi (or teacher) and started
His ministry at the age of 30 and lived a perfect sinless life. Jesus taught that salvation is in Him, through faith in God.
He summarized all the commandments of God, all of His teachings, and the meaning of life in just two commandments - "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind", and "love your neighbor as yourself." His ultimate mission was to die on behalf of all mankind because
of our sins, so that we can be healed and reconciled back to God. His death is the most famous, most controversial, must debated,
and most document death of a human being. Although He committed no sins, no crimes, and wronged no-one, and although the high
ruler of the land, Pontius Pilate, had publicly declared His innocense three times (Luke 23 verse 4, 14, and 22), He was brutally
beaten, whipped, and tortured to death at the age of 33. He was buried in a tomb for 3 days and was resurrected from the dead
on the 3rd day and ascended to Heaven 40 days later with a promise that He will return. His return will not
be as the Lamb - the suffering servant, but this time as the Lion from the tribe of Judah - the Reigning King of Kings and
Lord of Lords, with all Power and Glory. He will defeat the enemies of God and usher in an everlasting peace as He reign
and rule on Earth forever and ever. Amen!
Bible Facts to Remember During Studying
of the entire Bible - more than 3/4th of it - is about God's relationship with the nation Israel (from Genesis 12 through
Acts 2, and Revelation 4 through the end).
than 1/4th of the Bible is about God's relationship with the church (Acts 2 through Revelation 3).
entire Bible is mainly Jewish in culture, tradition, customs, and observances, (a very important point to remember during
- The Bible was not originally written in English, nor does it contains western or European
customs, traditions, or observances (another important point to remember during your studies).
- The books
of the Bible are not necessary arranged in chronological order. For example, the book of Job is the oldest book of the Bible;
written between 300 and 400 years BEFORE Moses wrote Genesis. In fact, some chapters within books are not in chronological
order (just something to be sensitive about).
- The original writings did NOT contain chapter and verse numbers (they
were added much, much later).
- The chapter headings, comments in the margins, and commentary remarks
found in today's Bibles are NOT part of God's words. They are comments of the editor(s) and should NOT be openly accepted
as factual or divinely inspired without taking The Berean Approach (click here for more information on taking The Berean approach).
- What identifies Jesus as the Messiah is not the miracles that He performed, but rather that He fulfilled every prophecy
written of the Messiah.....everything involving His birth, His ministry, His execution, His burial, and His resurrection.
In light of the fulfillment of these and many other prophecies, remember, He also prophesied that He will return!
- Jesus taught that a Christian is not a
person who simply believes in Him, but rather a Christian is a person who OBEYS Him (John 8:31 and John
because a particular doctrine or worship practice was embraced by early church fathers does not necessarily mean that the
doctrine or worship practice was correct and accepted by Jesus Christ. Of all the letters in the Bible that were written to
churches, (including the seven letters to the seven churches written by Jesus Christ in Revelation 2 & 3) almost all of
them were described as having some degree of false doctrine or false worship practices (some were very serious errors). How
do you guard yourself against such false things? You must judge these doctrines and practices against the authority of the
Scriptures to determine if they are biblically correct before embracing them. Let the Spirit of God be your guide. Ask God
to help you understand and have faith that He will answer you - and He will (Matthew 21:21-22). Remember, He promised that
the Holy Spirit will teach you all things (John 14:26). Search the Holy Scriptures daily to determine if what you are taught
and what you are practicing is in agreement with the Word of God and be prepared to make the necessary corrections in your
life. Always remember, your spiritual growth does not depend on what you know, but rather on what you do with what you know.
May God bless you in your spiritual journeys.