Bible 101 #4: How is the Bible put together?

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After realizing that all the Bible is about God’s kingdom, how does that affect our understanding of how the Bible is put together? This is something I think enriches our grasp of the content of the Bible immensely. Most people know about the two Testaments, but few are aware that the books in the testaments are actually arranged according to a certain structure.

Well, allow me to take you on a quick overview that highlights each section and its function within the Bible. This is based on the arrangement of the books in our modern Bibles. Again, some may call this too reductionistic, but the point is to capture a key feature of each section in the Bible. So open your Bible to the table of contents and follow along as we take a quick walk through the Bible:

The Old Testament (Genesis – Malachi): The announcement of the kingdom of God

The historical books (Genesis – Esther): God’s history with God’s people from God’s perspective. Focuses on what God did by walking the reader through the stages of the kingdom.

The wisdom books (Job – Song of Solomon): The response of God’s people to this history. Focuses on how to express one’s experiences and conduct oneself rightly in light of this kingdom history.

The prophetic books (Isaiah – Malachi): God’s commentary on this history. Focuses on God’s evaluation of this history by pronouncing judgment on the old order and anticipating the renewed kingdom.

The New Testament (Matthew – Revelation): The establishment of the kingdom of God

The historical books (Matthew – Acts): The coming of the King and the expansion of His realm. Focuses on the words and deeds of Jesus, especially his death and resurrection.

The letters (Romans – Jude): God’s explanation of the King and his realm. Focuses on the ramifications of the coming of Jesus, for both now and for the future.

The prophetic (apocalyptic) book (Revelation): The consummation of the kingdom. Focuses on the kingdom of God triumphing over all other kingdoms for all eternity.

The end. In a nutshell, this is how the Bible is put together, at least as seen through the kingdom lens. In the last post of this short intro series to the Bible, we will consider the reliability of the Bible as a literary work.

 

 

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