Tuesday, January 15, 2008
What is the Major Theme of The Bible?
Some people think the Bible is a collection of 66 separate books on different subjects. They do not realize that the Bible is united by a major theme. From beginning to end, the Bible reveals God's special purpose which is summarized in the book of Ephesians:
Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself;
That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him;
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. (Ephesians 1:9-11)
The Bible reveals the mystery of God’s plan which is the unifying theme of the Bible. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinful mankind. Jesus explained how the Old Testament centered on Him:
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.
With this introduction, Jesus continued and . . .
. . . opened He their understanding that they might understand the scriptures.
What was the key Jesus gave them to understanding the Scriptures? The fact that its major theme focused on Him:
. . . Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day;
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And Ye are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-4)
The Old and New Testaments both tell the story of Jesus. The Old Testament prepares us for its happening and the New Testament tells how it happened. This unites the Bible in one major theme. The people who looked forward to Jesus under the Old Testament were saved from their sins through faith in God's promise. Everyone who looks back to it as having been fulfilled in Jesus Christ is saved in the same way: Through faith that it happened just as God promised.
DIVERSITY OF THE BIBLE
When we speak of the "diversity" of the Bible we mean that the Bible has variety. It records different ways in which God dealt with people and the different ways in which they responded to Him.
The Bible is written in different moods. Some portions express joy while others reflect sorrow. The Bible includes different types of writing. It contains history, poetry, prophecy, letters, adventure, parables, miracles, and love stories. Because of its variety, the Bible has been further divided into major groups of books.
OLD TESTAMENT DIVISIONS
The books of the Old Testament are divided into four major groups: Law, history, poetry and prophecy.
THE BOOKS OF THE LAW:
There are five books of law. The names of these books are:
These books record the creation of man and the world by God and the early history of man. They tell how God raised up the nation of Israel as a people through which He could reveal Himself to the nations of the world.
These books record the laws of God. The best known parts are the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17), the greatest of all commandments (Deuteronomy 6:5), and the second greatest commandment (Leviticus 19:18).
Open your Bible and locate the books of Law in the Old Testament. Locate the three verses mentioned in the preceding paragraph and read them. These are an example of the laws of God recorded in these books.
THE BOOKS OF HISTORY:
There are 12 books of history in the Old Testament. The names of the books of history are:
I and II Samuel
I and II Kings
I and II Chronicles
Locate these books in your Bible. They are found right after the books of law. The books of history cover a thousand year history of God's people, Israel. Naturally they do not tell everything that happened, but they record the major events and show the results of both following and ignoring God's law.
THE BOOKS OF POETRY:
There are five books of poetry. The names of the books of poetry are:
Song of Solomon
These books are the worship books of God's people, Israel. They still are used in worship by believers today. Turn to Psalm 23 and read it. This is an example of the beautiful worship poetry contained in these books.
THE BOOKS OF PROPHECY:
The books of prophecy are the Old Testament are divided into two groups which are called Major and Minor prophetical books. This does not mean the Major Prophets are more important than the Minor Prophets. The title is simply used because the Major Prophets are longer books than the Minor Prophets. There are 17 books of prophecy in the Old Testament. The names of the books of prophecy are:
These books are prophetic messages from God to His people about future events. Many of the prophecies have already been fulfilled, but some remain to be fulfilled in the future. Find these prophetic books in your Bible. They are the last books in the Old Testament.
NEW TESTAMENT DIVISIONS
The New Testament has also been divided into four groups: Gospels, History, Letters, and Prophecy.
There are four books in the Gospels. The names of these books are:
Matthew Mark Luke John
These books tell about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Their purpose is to lead you to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God. Find the Gospels in your Bible and then read John 20:31 which states this purpose.
THE BOOK OF HISTORY:
There is one book of history in the New Testament, the book of Acts. This book tells how the church began and fulfilled Christ's commission to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Locate this book in your Bible.
There are 21 letters in the New Testament. The names of these letters are:
I and II CorinthiansPhilemon
PhilippiansI and II Peter
ColossiansI, II, and III John
I and II ThessaloniansJude
I and II Timothy
The letters are addressed to all believers. Their purpose is to guide them in living and help them do what Jesus commanded. Romans 12 is a good example of their teaching. Turn to this chapter in your Bible and read it. The letters are also sometimes called "epistles" which means letters.
Revelation is the only book of prophecy in the New Testament. It tells of the final victory of Jesus and His people. Its purpose is to encourage you to keep living as a Christian should live until the end of time. Its message is summarized in Revelation 2:10.