The Bible is more than a book. Literally.
The Bible contains many books
The Bible is a collection of 66 books, that were written over a period of about 1500 years. There are two parts, the Old Testament, which are the writings that were there before the birth of Jesus, focussing on the story of Israel. And there is the New Testament, with the story of Jesus and the early church. As you can imagine, the Bible has a lot of variety. It was written in several countries and languages (mostly Hebrew and Greek) by people that had very different positions in life. It contains words of shepherds and kings, prophets and exiles, fishermen and judges, men and women, old and young, powerful and lowly.
The Bible has different genres
The different books that make up the Bible are also different genres. There is a lot of history and poetry, but also law, genealogy, prophecy, and letters with instructions for believers. If you are looking for direction in life, some fantastic stories, or just a beautiful love song, the Bible has all that.
Inspired by God
But there is more. Christians believe that the writers of the Bible were inspired by God to write what they did. When you read the Bible, you can discover what God wants to say to you and what his plans are, not just with your life, but with this world. Even though the Bible is made up of all these different books, it has one message. It is the story of God the creator, who loves His people, even though they rebelled, and sent His Son to reconcile them back to Himself. Through all the stories, poems, laws, and letters, God reveals who He is, who we are, and what will happen to this world.
When you read the Bible, you have to keep in mind what the author was trying to say to the people he wrote it to. Some parts of the Bible tell us what to do, and we should obey. Such as when Jesus says, pray for those who persecute you. But other parts have instructions for a particular people or situation, such as the laws for the temple worship. They are interesting to read, and we can learn from them. But we no longer have to sacrifice sheep, because Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Also, not everything people in the Bible do we should take as an example. If we read of Jacob having two wives and two concubines, that does not mean God wants or allows you to have another wife. So always think when you read the Bible who it was written for, in what situation, and what does it mean for me today.
Reading the Bible
If you are a new reader, I would start with the stories of Jesus at the beginning of the New Testament. He is the Son of God who came to save us and bring the plans of God to completion. As you read on, let the Spirit of God speak to you and change you, as you learn who God is and grow to serve and worship Him! I end with a list of where to find certain topics.
- The beginning of the world: Genesis
- Wisdom for daily life: Proverbs
- The law of Moses: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
- Songs and prayers: Psalms, Song of Songs
- History of the nation of Israel: Joshua, Judges, 1+2 Samuel, 1+2 Kings, 1+2 Chronicles
- The story of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
- The story of the early church: Acts
- The end of the world: Revelation
How does this Bible teaching speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!
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