Bible Basics Lesson #2 "The Bible"
Introduction. Do you want to learn more about the greatest book ever known to man? The Bible is the greatest book because the Creator of the universe and of you and me gave it to man. Speaking of prophecy (scriptures) the apostle Peter wrote, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1: 21). While written by men, the Holy Spirit supplied even the very words used (1 Cor. 2: 13). Hence, the scriptures are inspired (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17, "inspiration" is from theopneustos, theos, God, and pneo, to breathe; Hence, God breathed). It is in the Bible that we learn of our origin, purpose, and destiny (Gen. 1, 2; Eccl. 12: 13, 14; Matt. 25: 46). It is in the Bible that we learn of God - a being so perfect that he is love and how he loved man so much that he gave his only begotten Son (1 John 4: 8, John 3: 16, Acts 17: 22-34).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17).
The word "Bible" is derived from the Greek biblos which means a book. Since the Bible is a revelation to man from God, it is pre-eminently The Book.
God used about forty persons in writing the Bible. The Holy Spirit inerrantly guided these men so there would be no mistakes (1 Cor. 14: 37, Acts 1: 1-4). A number of books which are purported to be inspired actually make no such claim. "And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things then these . . ." writes one of the writers of the Book of Mormon (Mormon 8: 12). The first writer of the Bible was Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and the last John (Revelation). About 1500 years were consumed in writing the Bible. The Bible contains 66 books. These books have the internal and external vestiges of authenticity and they have been subjected to every imaginable test to determine their canonicity and have endured.
"Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Cor. 2: 13). "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14: 37).
Major Divisions in the Bible. There are two major divisions or components in the Bible: the Hebrew scriptures (Genesis through Malachi, 39 books) and the New Testament (Matthew through Revelation, 27 books). The New Testament was written mostly in Koine Greek. Three dispensations are generally recognized in the Bible: Patriarchal (Adam till Moses), the Jewish (Exodus 20 till Acts 2), and the gospel age (Acts 2 until end). We are living in the gospel age or New Testament period.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness" (2 Tim. 2: 15, 16).
The Hebrew scriptures are arranged into four sections or divisions: the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy, 5 books), History (Joshua through Ester, 12 books), Poetry (Job through Song of Solomon, 5 books), and Prophecy (Isaiah through Malachi, 17 books). The New Testament is generally divided into five divisions: The Gospels (Matthew through John, 4 books), History (Acts), the Epistles of Paul (Romans through Hebrews, 14 books), General Epistles (James through Jude, 7 books), and Prophecy (Revelation).
"And he said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me" (Luke 24: 44).
Men assigned the names to the sixty-six books of the Bible. Most of the assigned names help in the study of the Bible. For instance, "Genesis" is from the Greek word genesis which means origin or beginning. The first book is so named because it contains the record of a number of origins, beginning with the world and man. "Exodus" means departure and it contains the account of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. "Colossians" (New Testament book) is so named because it was originally written to people called Colossians who lived in the city of Colosse. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were written by eight men, four of whom were apostles.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Col. 1: 1, 2).
The books of the Bible were originally written on animal skins called parchments. There are 4, 500 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament alone. The oldest of the manuscripts are known as Uncials and were written in all upper case or capital letters, they number about 300. The Bible was divided into chapters by Hugo in 1240. The Hebrew scriptures were divided into verses in 1445 and the New Testament in 1551 by Robert Steven.
"Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Ps. 119: 104, 105).
The Bible is one of the most misunderstood books because of the careless way people approach it (see Eph. 3: 1-4). The Bible is seldom studied, just randomly read. We are to "handle aright the word of truth," this necessitates study (2 Tim. 2: 15, ASV). Some simple study rules are: Establish the design of a given book before studying it in detail, learn of the author, circumstances of the writing, use a good Bible dictionary to define words, study the context in which a verse occurs, study the verse (observe rules of grammar and syntax), establish to whom spoken, by whom, and why spoken. When you are considering a subject, gather all the information found in the Bible on that subject before arriving at a conclusion.
"How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph. 3: 3-5).
The practicality of the Bible. The chief function of the word of God is that of constituting our creed (belief system). The scriptures are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17). In fact, human creeds are forbidden (Mk. 7). Moreover, the word gives light and understanding (Ps. 119: 130), purifies our souls (1 Pet. 1: 22), serve as the means of obtaining salvation (Acts 11: 14), the law of the Lord is "perfect converting the soul" (Ps. 19: 7), and God's word is involved in the essential new birth (1 Pet. 1: 23). We are to be doers of the word (Jas. 1: 22) and the word shall judge us in the last day (John 12: 48). The Bible is the final revelation from God to man (Jude 3). It is no surprise, then, that the gospel (word of God) is the "seed of the kingdom" and God's power unto salvation (Luke 8: 11, Rom. 1: 16). The Bible contains a solemn warning to any who would pervert or distort it (Rev. 22: 18, 19, Gal. 1: 6-9).
"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1: 6-8).
Conclusion. The Bible is the book that tells us how to live and also it is the book to comfort us in time of death. It is truly the Book of books. We should therefore, "…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (Jas. 1: 21).
For additional study material from our archives, see the following:
- "B" for "Bible"
- "C" for "Christian Evidences"