Belle Plaine church of Christ Understanding the Story of the Bible #1. Introduction

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1 Read Genesis Chapters 1 & 2 Belle Plaine church of Christ Understanding the Story of the Bible #1 Introduction God and man; that s the story in the book we call the Bible. Understanding the story can be a little difficult because the style of this book is not in what we are accustomed to finding in a book. The Bible claims to be God s Word, God s version of the story, written by over 44 men over a period of a couple of thousand years. These different writings, which God gave man to record, were collected by man and put in book form. This book we call the Bible. However, these writings were not arranged in this book in chronological order of the time when these events happened, the way we are most familiar with reading a story in a book. When these 66 writings were collected and put in book form they were arranged, grouped together by subject matter; under headings like Law, History, Poetry, etc. instead of being arranged chronologically by the happening of the events. However, you can read a select group of the writings in the Bible and get the overall story of God and man s relationship in chronological order. In the Bible, there are two major divisions of the writings from God. We call these major divisions the Old Testament and the New Testament. If you start reading your Bible in the Old Testament and read 10 writings and one chapter from one other writing, and then from the New Testament read two more writings, you will have the main story of God s relationship with man from Creation until 60 years after the death of Jesus. The writings you will need to read, in this order are: From the Old Testament - Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy chapter 34 (only this chapter of this book), Joshua, Judges, 1 st Samuel, 2 nd Samuel, 1 st Kings, 2 nd Kings, Ezra From the New Testament Luke and Acts. In reading these writings in this order you will pick up the main story line of God s dealings with man from Creation till about 60 years after the death of Christ. Then as you study, you can go back and place the rest of the writings in their proper place on the time line of the story. The Bible claims to be the Word of God and says that God created man and the earth, placed man on earth, and had a relationship with man on earth. Why? Is the question that immediately comes to mind if you accept the above stated fact about God and creation. Why create man? Why create earth? Why did God want to have a relationship with man on earth? As you read and understand God s answers for these questions from His writing, you Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 1

2 will learn that God did not create man and the earth because He needed anything from man; The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-25). You will learn that God s nature is love, and everything He does is because of His nature, so He must have created man because He wanted to share His love. In fact, as you begin reading the Bible story you will learn that God created man in His image and placed him in a paradise we call the Garden of Eden, where everything was perfect and pleasing to man s sight, and He walked and talked with man in that Garden (Genesis 1-3). Get busy, begin reading and familiarize yourself with God s account of His relationship with man. Information About The Make-Up Of The Bible The Bible is not a book even though we have it in book form. The Bible is a collection of writings from God who used men as His writers (2 nd Peter 1:21). This collection of writings, over the years since God began giving them to men, have been collected and put into book form by men. We call this book The Bible. The actual meaning of the word from which our English word bible is derived means the books. So, the Bible is a collection of writings from God, written by men who God guided in their writing, by His Spirit, (1 st Corinthians 2:12-13), that have been collected and put into a single book over the years by men. Your copy of the Bible is a translation. Another word meaning the same thing as translation is version. A translation/version is the work of men and women who are scholars in ancient languages who have taken copies of these writings, written in different languages, and translated them into the languages of their day such as English. Since today most people do not read Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek, scholars of these ancient languages translated those writings from God, written in those languages, into modern day languages, such as English. Because the language we speak, English, is a living language it is necessary for these scholars to continue their translation work, updating translations and producing new translations. A living language is a language where the meanings of words change. Since the meaning of some of our English words have changed, and continue to change, these translators continue to translate. For example, did you know that when the King James translation of the Bible was produced in 1611, the English word spelled let meant to prevent. This is an example of an English word (let) whose meaning changed completely, from keep or stop, to allow. So, the work of Bible translators is to keep presenting the Bible in current English, or other languages spoken and understood by people today. Not that many of our words change meanings rapidly, but some do, so there will continually be a need for updated and new translations. Some of the Bible translations you may encounter are: the King James Version; the New King James Version; the New International Version; the New American Standard Version; the New English Translation; the New Revised Standard Translation and the English Standard Version. (Remember, version is just another word for translation ). This list is Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 2

3 neither exhaustive nor intended to imply these are the only good translation. It is given so you can see there are many different translations of the Bible available today. If you are not familiar with Bible translations ask someone who is an older, more mature Christian to help you pick out a good translation or ask the minister of the church where you attend what is the most commonly used translation in that congregation. The quotations of scriptures in this study are from the English Standard Version. However, you do not have to have, or use an English Standard Translation of the Bible to complete this study. The Bible says, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 nd Timothy 3:16-17). Breathed out by God is translated as inspired by God in some translations and the phrase implies that the words of the Bible were spoken by God. However, everything contained inside the covers of this book we call the Bible is not from God. Over the years, after these writings were collected and put in book form for publication, men added information they believed would help a person as they read and studied the Bible. Some of the things added are study guides, dictionaries of Bible words, introductions to the different writings, information about some of the significant people in the Bible, as well as other study helps and tools. It is important to remember that only the inspired writings are God s word. Because something is contained inside the cover of the book we call the Bible does not mean it is God s Word. The words from God in your Bible can be found in 66 writings that men have collected and placed in two categories: Old Testament and New Testament. The word testament means book, law, or covenant. Contained in the Old Testament are 39 writings from God that were written before the life of Jesus. In fact, these writings of the Old Testament were collected and put in book form at least 200 years before the birth of Jesus. The Septuagint, a translation of the writings of the Old Testament into the Greek language, was accomplished by a group of Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt, and was available to, and quoted from, by Jesus. During the life of Jesus, the Word of God was only the Old Testament as God had not yet given the writings of the New Testament. Jesus often quoted from these Old Testament writings and told the people God s real meaning in these writings. In the New Testament are 27 writings from God written from the time of the life of Jesus to about 60 years after His death, or about 100 A.D. Sometimes you will see a collection of the writings from just the Old or New Testament brought together and published in book form. They generally are just called Old or New Testaments. However, these are still the words of God but they are just part of the words of God. Men are the ones who put together Bible translations and determine in what form these books will be published, not God. However, regardless of the published form, the information contained in these writings is the Word of God. Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 3

4 Books of the Old Testament Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 st Samuel, 2 nd Samuel, 1 st Kings, 2 nd Kings, 1 st Chronicles, 2 nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Books of the New Testament Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 st Corinthians, 2 nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 st Thessalonians, 2 nd Thessalonians, 1 st Timothy, 2 nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 st Peter, 2 nd Peter, 1 st John, 2 nd John, 3 rd John, Jude, and Revelation. More information about some of the writings; the men God used to write them; the approximate time of their writing; and the general theme of the writings will be discussed in later studies. The above information is technical information about Bible translations and the makeup of the Bible and the way it is put together for publication. This lesson is not intended to prove the Bible is the Word of God; rather it is designed to help you understand the Bible makeup and give you a simple way to read the Bible to obtain the overall story of God s dealing with man. However, believing the Bible is the Word of God, and knowing the story of God s dealings with man is not sufficient. If the Bible is going to be useful for you as God intended for it to be, you must understand why God gave you the Bible. About itself, the Bible says, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 nd Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible is breathed out by God so that it can fashion and form the people that God created, to do His work in the world. In other words, the Bible isn t there simply to be an accurate reference point for people who want to look things up and be sure they ve got them right. It is there to equip God s people to carry out His purpose on earth as they live in a relationship with Him. The lessons in this series will tell the Bible story, pointing to information that should help you understand God and His dealings with man. At the beginning of each lesson you will see some scripture notations, like Genesis Chapters One thru Three. Please read the noted scriptures before you start that lesson. If you just need to read a part of the book for the lesson, the scripture notations will be expressed in the following form: Genesis 1:1 3:24. That notation is saying from the Book of Genesis, start reading in the first chapter, the first verse, and read through chapter three, verse twenty-four. After each lesson you will find a Question Sheet to help you reconsider the information you have just read. Knowing the story of the Bible will not give you a relationship with God. That only comes through obedience to His plan and purpose as revealed in the Bible. Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 4

5 If at any time during these studies you have questions about your relationship with God, please contact me, Glenn Redmond, at or and we will be glad to discuss your questions and concerns or put you in touch with someone who can assist you with your concerns. May God bless your efforts as you study and learn about Him. Lesson Two can be accessed by clicking the Tab for Lesson Two on the Web site or by contacting the Belle Plaine church of Christ at Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 5

6 Understanding the Story of the Bible #1 Lesson Questions & Study Sheet 1. What is going to be the standard by which God will judge men at the final judgment? 2. What is the original meaning of the word Bible? 3. Who wrote the Bible? 4. How many different writings (books) are there in the Bible? 5. What are the major divisions of these writings in the Bible? 6. How did men arrange the writings in the Bible? 7. What is a Bible translation? 8. My Bible translation is. 9. My questions from this study: Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 6

7 Understanding the Story of the Bible #1 Question Answers 1. What is going to be the standard by which God will judge men at the final judgment? The Bible, the Word of God. 2. What is the original meaning of the word Bible? The Books 3. Who wrote the Bible? God is the author of the Bible but He used men, guided by His Spirit, to put it in written form. 4. How many different writings (books) are there in the Bible? There are 66 writings or books in the Bible. 39 of these writings are contained in what we call the Old Testament; 27 of the books are contained in the New Testament. 5. What are the major divisions of these writings in the Bible? The Old and New Testament 6. How did men arrange the writings in the Bible? By subject matter, not in chronological order of the time the events recorded took place. 7. What is a Bible translation? A translation of all the books/writings from God that make up the Bible, from the ancient languages to current languages. Generally, the publishers include more information, like study aids, a concordance, maps and many other useful study tools in their translation. Translations are also called Versions. 8. My Bible translation is. The translation used in this study is the English Standard Version. Yours may be different but you can do this study with any Bible translation. and request lesson #2 and it will be ed to you or mailed to any address you give. Understanding The Bible - Lesson #1 (revised 10/17) Page 7

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