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A Summary

First, let us examine a succinct summary of all sixty six books of the Bible in their present order.

The Old Testament:

Genesis: The historical account of God’s creation of the world and the unfolding of his redemptive covenant promises to Abraham and his descendants.

Exodus- A historical account of God fulfilling his promises to Abraham’s descendants in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and establishing his covenant and laws with them.

Leviticus- Within this book, Moses instructs the Levites in all matters concerning the sacrifices and holy worship of God.

Numbers- A fourth book by Moses telling of all Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness as the people travelled from Mount Sinai to the threshold of Canaan.

Deuteronomy- This book retells many events and teachings of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers and ends with the death of Moses and the appointment of Joshua as his successor.

Joshua- This book accounts Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan and the allotment of land according to their tribes, just as God had promised to Abraham.

Judges- This book recounts how the people of Israel were faithless to God by worshiping other gods but God raised up judges to deliver them from their adversaries.

Ruth- Set sometime during the Judges period, the book of Ruth recounts the life of Ruth, a Moabitess, who abandons her culture and gods, comes to Israel with her mother in law Naomi and finds blessing through marriage to Boaz, the great grandfather of David.

1 Samuel- This book records the institution of Israel’s monarchy during the reign of Saul as king and his conflict with David, God’s chosen king.

2 Samuel- This book records the reign of David as king over Israel and shows his achievements as well as the chaos that ensued upon the kingdom and his family after he sinned against the Lord.

1 Kings- This book begins with the death of David and the crowning of Solomon as king and further tells of the accomplishments of Solomon’s reign and the apostasy that ensued after his reign and the division of the kingdom.

2 Kings- This book continues the account of the disobedience of Israel and Judah up to the fall of Israel at the hand of Assyria and the fall of Judah at the hand of Babylon.

1 Chronicles- This book begins with several genealogies and recounts the history of the kingdom of Judah particularly in the life and reign of David.

2 Chronicles- This book recalls the greatness of Solomon’s reign but also focuses on the fall of Judah into great sin and God’s faithfulness despite their sin.

Ezra- The book of Ezra picks up from the end of 2 Chronicles and recounts the return of the exiles to Judah to rebuild the temple despite many adversaries in the kingdom who oppose the work.

Nehemiah- This book is concerning God’s servant Nehemiah being sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls in spite of great opposition.

Esther- This book recounts the courage of Esther, a Jewess who became the queen of Persia and saved her people from annihilation.

Job- This book shows the test of faith that Job endured as God allowed him to suffer and how the Lord restored him.

Psalms- This book is full of the songs and prayers of the people of Israel and many of them express joy, pain, sorrow, faith, and give praise to God for who He is.

Proverbs- This is the Bible’s book of practical wisdom and central to its theme is the understanding that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom[1]”.

Ecclesiastes- This book contains reflections on the meaning of life by “The Preacher” and the futility of the things of this earth.

The Song of Solomon- This book is a collection of love poems between a man and a woman that celebrates the sexual relationship that God intended for marriage.

Isaiah- This book relates Isaiah’s ministry where he told the people of Israel of the judgment of Lord if they didn’t repent and also foretold the coming of Christ and God’s plan of redemption for his people.

Jeremiah- This is another book of prophecy where Jeremiah declared to the people of Israel the coming judgment of God and urged them to repent.

Lamentations- This book is made of five poems which mourn the loss of the nation of Israel in the fall of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel- This is a book of prophecy by Ezekiel where he warns the Jewish exiles of God’s judgment and the fall of Jerusalem coupled with prophecies of God’s restoration of his covenant to them.

Daniel- This book recounts the prophecies and visions of Daniel during his exile in Babylon especially in regard to future judgment and deliverance by a Messiah.

Hosea- This book outlines the life and prophetic ministry of Hosea as he takes a wife of whoredom to illustrate how Israel was faithless to God.

Joel- In this book, the prophet Joel prophesied the “day of the Lord” when God would pour out his Spirit on all flesh and urged the people of Israel and many of the surrounding nations to repent and turn to the Lord.

Amos- Within this book, Amos condemns the people of Israel for their apostasy and corruption and warns of God’s judgment for breaking his covenant but still promises that the Lord would remain faithful to his people.

Obadiah- This is a book of prophecy of judgment upon the nation of Edom who aided the Babylonians against Israel.

Jonah- In this book, God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh to call them to repent and when he rebels, God sends a great fish to swallow him and Jonah repents and goes to Nineveh to fulfil his mission.

Micah- In this book of prophecy, Micah warns the rich people of Israel to relent from oppressing the poor and warns them of coming judgment but also prophesies about a time of peace between all nations.

Nahum- This book contains prophecies of Nineveh’s fall after they would not repent.

Habakkuk- In this book, Habakkuk prophesies of the fall of Assyria and Babylon and preaches about how God can use ungodly nations for his own purposes.

Zephaniah- Within this book of prophecy, Zephaniah tells the nation of Judah of God’s coming judgment but also of God’s plan of restoration and the remnant the Lord would save.

Haggai- Haggai preaches to the returned exiles in Jerusalem to repent of their vanity and calls them to rebuild the temple.

Zechariah- While Haggai urged the people to repent and rebuild the temple, Zechariah told the people to repent and renew the covenant with God and also encouraged them with promises of God’s care despite the persecutions of others around them.

Malachi- Malachi prophesies the coming of the Messiah and his messenger and calls the people of Israel to reform the priesthood, their worship, and many other areas in which they had provoked God.

The New Testament:

Matthew- The first of the Gospel accounts of Jesus Christ’s life and ministry which puts special emphasis on Jesus’s dealings with the religious people in his day and his being Israel’s Messiah and the Son of David.

Mark- John Mark’s Gospel account begins with Jesus’ baptism and focuses on the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

Luke- Luke’s Gospel account, like that of Matthew, that begins with the birth of Jesus and continues to his ascension; it is perhaps the most historical of the Gospel accounts.

John- As John 20: 30-31 relates, this book records much of what Christ did on earth that people may believe “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” and contains more theological commentary on Jesus’ incarnation and ministry than the other Gospel accounts.

The Acts of the Apostles- This book, written by the apostle Luke, gives the historical record of what happened to the first century church from the Ascension of Jesus Christ up to the Apostle Paul’s coming to the city of Rome.

Romans- This letter by the Apostle Paul to the church in Rome is a very detailed and well-drawn out exposition of the gospel wherein the author deals first with man’s sin and God’s judgment, salvation by faith, and our life as Christians.

1 Corinthians- Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians addresses many of the various issues that plagued that church such as sexual immorality, worship, church unity, spiritual gifts,  and the resurrection.

2 Corinthians- In this second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul defends his own ministry of the gospel and encourages the believers in to give generously and to be unified with one another.

Galatians- In this letter to the Galatian church, Paul challenges those who came into the church preaching that the gentile Christians must also be circumcised to be saved and shows how we have been set free from sin and from the burden of the law.

Ephesians- Paul addresses the Ephesian church in the indicatives and imperatives of the gospel and how the church is behave.

Philippians- Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi encourages the Christians to be filled with joy and thanksgiving in all circumstances just as he was thankful and rejoicing in prison.

Colossians- Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae is focused on addressing the false teachers in their midst and to warn them not to be enslaved to rules about food or drink, or other such rules.

1 Thessalonians – Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica encourages the Christians to stand in their faith, to live lives pleasing to the Lord, and gives them encouraging words about those who have died in Christ.

2 Thessalonians- This letter instructs them about the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and encourages them to stand firm in their faith.

1 Timothy – This is Paul’s first letter of encouragement to Timothy wherein he gives him instructions concerning the government of the church.

2 Timothy- Paul’s second letter to Timothy is an exhortation and encouragement to remain firm in the faith and to remain steadfast in his gospel ministry.

Titus- Paul’s letter to Titus is focused on the unity and order of the church, especially in regard to elders and the work of the church.

Philemon- Paul’s letter to Philemon is one of reconciliation, exhorting Philemon to receive his former slave as a brother in the Lord.

Hebrews- This letter, written by an unknown author, was written as a letter of encouragement and instruction to Jewish Christians who were wanting to slip back into Judaism.

James- This is a letter to churches to exhort them in practical ways and to affirm that faith without works is dead.

1 Peter- This letter to the churches by Peter is filled with encouragement and exhortation to stand firm in their trials and to walk in love with one another in the various areas of fellowship (church and family).

2 Peter- This epistle deals with warnings against false teachers but also reminds them to be looking forward to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John- This book was written by the apostle John for the encouragement of the church regarding persecution, hope in what Christ has accomplished, and to call unbelievers to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 John- In this letter, John exhorts us to love one another and to be warned against false teachers.

3 John- This is a letter of encouragement for Christians to imitate good and to be loving toward our fellow believers.

Jude- This letter warns of false teachers and to encourage the brethren to contend for the faith and to persevere.

Revelation- The final book in the Bible is concerned primarily with visions concerning God’s judgment on the earth in the last days and the establishment of the new Heavens and the new Earth.

 

The Development of the Central Message of the Bible

            Woven skilfully by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there lies a central thread throughout the whole of the Bible: the theme of redemption. In Genesis, God created the whole universe and entered into a personal relationship with creatures whom he fashioned after his own image[2]. When sin entered the world shortly thereafter, God’s plan of redeeming his chosen image bearers was manifested in Genesis 3:15. Therein was redemption promised. Through the whole of the Old Testament, there is the constant theme of God’s covenant being remembered and kept for God’s chosen people, despite Israel’s unfaithfulness. God’s plan of redemption, signified in the Old Testament sacrifices and Passover, are constantly pointing forward to the redemption of his chosen people, a redemption that Adam and his descendants hoped for. The historical books record for us how God was keeping his promises to Israel and disciplining them for breaking his commandments. The Prophetical books are often filled with prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and the promises of redemption for his chosen people. As many passages in the New Testament declare, the Law and the Prophets (and the Psalms) point forward to the fulfilment of Genesis 3:15 in Jesus Christ[3].

            God’s plan of redemption was finally fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus Christ and is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. On many occasions, Jesus pointed out how the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) were written about him[4]. These four books of the New Testament bear witness to how Christ accomplished redemption that was promised in the Old Testament. In the many epistles that follow, the apostles explain how Christ fulfilled the Law and the Prophets and how the Holy Spirit now applies the work of the Christ to us. Many of these books, especially Romans and Hebrews, are saturated with Old Testament quotes and references to show how Christ accomplished redemption in his death and resurrection. Furthermore, they point forward to the second coming of Christ, when he shall come to judge the world.

Conclusion

            The Old Testament points forward to our redemption in Christ and is filled with the unfolding of the promises that God promised Abraham in Genesis 15 and 17, that he would be their God and remain faithful to them. The New Testament bears witness to the coming of the redemption in Jesus Christ, that we no longer need sacrifices or temples since Christ is our one and only Atoning sacrifice. Furthermore, they explain how that redemption is applied to us as believers and how God’s covenant people are made of all nations, tribes, and tongues[5]. The Old Testament points forward to the coming of Jesus Christ and the New Testament records his coming and explains in many theological letters how redemption is applied to all God’s chosen people, Jew and Gentile, and how we are to live as the redeemed.

 

[1] Proverbs 1:7

[2] Genesis 1:26

[3] Romans 3:21, Luke 16:16, Acts 24:14; John 1:45, Matthew 11:13, Luke 24:44, Acts 28:23

[4] Luke 24:44

[5] Ephesians 2:11ff, Revelation 7:9.

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