Not only is the Bible divided into two major divisions, an Old and New Testament, but it is also divided into sixty-six books. There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament.
The word Bible comes from the Koine Greek word “ta biblia,” which means “the books.” Although it is the only divinely inspired written revelation of God to mankind, the Bible gets its name from the fact that it is not a single book, but a collection or whole library of sacred books.
The Bible may be further divided into 1,189 chapters and 31,173 verses. Interestingly, the books of the Bible were not originally divided into chapters and verses. Chapters and verses were added by translators in order to reference the stories, quotes, and teachings of the Bible. For instance, if the Gospel of John was not divided into chapters and verses, how would you direct someone to Jesus’ famous words in John 3:16?
The thirty-nine books of the Bible’s Old Testament can be divided into: (1) The Books of Law (2) The Books of History (3) The Books of Poetry, and (4) The Books of Prophecy.
The Books of Law are the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books are also known as: (1) The Books of Moses (2) The Torah, which is Hebrew for “Law,” and (3) The Pentateuch, which is Latin for “Five Books.”
The Books of History are: (1) Joshua (2) Judges (3) Ruth (4) 1 Samuel (5) 2 Samuel (6) 1 Kings (7) 2 Kings (8) 1 Chronicles (9) 2 Chronicles (10) Ezra (11) Nehemiah, and (12) Esther.
The Books of Poetry, which are also known as the Books of Wisdom or Wisdom Literature, are: (1) Job (2) Psalms (3) Proverbs (4) Ecclesiastes, and (5) Song of Solomon or Song of Songs.
The Books of Prophecy may be divided into the Major and Minor Prophets. The Major Prophets are: (1) Isaiah (2) Jeremiah (3) Lamentations, which was written by Jeremiah (4) Ezekiel, and (5) Daniel.
The Minor Prophets are: (1) Hosea (2) Joel (3) Amos (4) Obadiah (5) Jonah (6) Micah (7) Nahum (8) Habakkuk (9) Zephaniah (10) Haggai (11) Zechariah, and (12) Malachi.
It should be noted that the only difference between the Major and Minor Prophets is the size of their books, not the importance of their prophecies. They are all equally important, each being no less or more the Word of God than all of the others.
The twenty-seven books of the Bible’s New Testament can be divided into: (1) The Historical Books (2) The Doctrinal Books, and (3) The Prophetic Book.
The Historical Books begin with the Synoptic Gospels, which are: (1) Matthew (2) Mark, and (3) Luke. The word “synoptic” means “seeing the same” or “similarly.” Next, is the evangelical gospel, the Gospel of John. Finally, there is the Book of Acts, which is actually the second part of Luke’s two-part work, the first part being his Gospel and the second part his historical account of The Acts of the Apostles.
The Doctrinal Books are comprised of the New Testament Epistles or Letters. First, there are the Pauline Epistles, which may be divided into Paul’s Primary, Prison, and Pastoral Epistles. Paul’s Primary Epistles are: (1) Romans (2) 1 Corinthians (3) 2 Corinthians (4) Galatians (5) 1 Thessalonians, and (6) 2 Thessalonians. Paul’s Prison Epistles, letters written by the great missionary apostle while in prison, are: (1) Ephesians (2) Philippians (3) Colossians, and (4) Philemon. Paul’s Pastoral Epistles, letters written by Paul to two young pastors, Timothy and Titus, are: (1) 1 Timothy (2) 2 Timothy, and (3) Titus.
The last of the New Testament’s Doctrinal Books are the General Epistles. The General Epistles are: (1) Hebrews (2) James (3) 1 Peter (4) 2 Peter (5) 1 John (6) 2 John (7) 3 John, and (8) Jude.
The final book of the New Testament is its Prophetic or Apocalyptic Book, the book of Revelation. The Apocalypse,1 another name for Revelation, is without doubt the most important prophetic book in the Bible.
HERE IS A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF ALL OF THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
- Genesis is the book of beginnings, covering the beginning of creation, the human race, God’s chosen people, and God’s plan of salvation for fallen humanity.
- Exodus tells the story of Israel’s miraculous exodus from Egyptian bondage.
- Leviticus is a book of laws for Israel’s Levitical priesthood.
- Numbers is a census book of ancient Israel.
- Deuteronomy is the summation of God’s Law to Israel.
- Joshua tells the story of Israel’s conquest of Canaan under Joshua.
- Judges is a book that tells of the great exploits of Israel’s judges.
- Ruth tells the story of Ruth the Moabitess and great-grandmother of Israel’s King David.
- 1 Samuel tells about the end of Israel’s judges and the beginning of Israel’s kings.
- 2 Samuel tells about the reign of Israel’s King David.
- 1 Kings is a book that tells about the kings of Israel and Judah from David to Ahab and Jehoshaphat.
- 2 Kings is a book about the kings of Israel and Judah from Ahaziah and Jehoshaphat until the captivities of both kingdoms.
- 1 Chronicles is a chronicling of the reign of King David.
- 2 Chronicles is a chronicling of the reign of King Solomon and the subsequent kings of Judah.
- Ezra is a post-exilic book that tells about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.
- Nehemiah is a post-exilic book that tells about the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
- Esther tells the story behind the Jewish Feast of Purim.
- Job is a book about the suffering and restoration of Job.
- Psalms is the Bible’s hymn book.
- Proverbs is a book of wise sayings.
- Ecclesiastes tells the story of Solomon’s search for the meaning of life.
- The Song of Solomon is a love song.
- Isaiah is a book of the Messianic prophecies of Isaiah.
- Jeremiah contains the biography and prophecy of Jeremiah.
- Lamentations is Jeremiah’s lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem.
- Ezekiel is a book containing Ezekiel’s prophecies of the fall, restoration, and glorious future of Jerusalem.
- Daniel contains the biography and apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel.
- Hosea is a book containing Hosea’s prophecy about the spiritual adultery of Israel.
- Joel is a book containing Joel’s prophecy about the coming Day of the Lord.
- Amos contains the prophecy of Amos concerning the coming judgment of God upon Israel and neighboring nations.
- Obadiah contains the prophecy of Obadiah against Edom.
- Jonah tells the story of the reluctant Prophet Jonah and his prophecy against Nineveh.
- Micah contains the prophecy of Micah concerning the sins, destruction, and restoration of both Israel and Judah.
- Nahum contains the prophecy of Nahum against Nineveh.
- Habakkuk tells of the Prophet Habakkuk’s complaints to God and prevailing faith in God.
- Zephaniah is a book containing the prophecy of Zephaniah about the coming Day of the Lord.
- Haggai is a book that tells of the Prophet Haggai’s calling of the returned Jewish exiles to the task of rebuilding God’s temple.
- Zechariah tells of the Prophet Zechariah’s apocalyptic visions and ministry to the returned Jewish exiles in their rebuilding of the temple of the Lord.
- Malachi contains the closing Old Testament prophecy to the Messianic nation and a call for them to prepare for the coming of their Messiah.
HERE IS A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF ALL OF THE BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
- Matthew contains his narrative of the life of Christ as the promised Jewish Messiah.
- Mark contains his narrative of the life of Christ as the Savior of the world.
- Luke contains his narrative of the life of Christ as the Son of Man.
- John contains his narrative of the life of Christ as the Son of God.
- Acts contains Luke’s account of the birth and infancy of the church of Jesus Christ.
- Romans is the Apostle Paul’s masterpiece on the biblical doctrine of justification by faith.
- 1 Corinthians is an epistle of the Apostle Paul dealing with carnality and disorder in the church of Corinth.
- 2 Corinthians is the Apostle Paul’s vindication of his apostleship.
- Galatians is the Apostle Paul’s rebuke of the Galatians for turning from God’s grace to legalism.
- Ephesians is the Apostle Paul’s unveiling of the church as the mystery and eternal purpose of God.
- Philippians is the Apostle Paul’s epistle of joy.
- Colossians is the Apostle Paul’s epistle on the supremacy of Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul’s epistle on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- 2 Thessalonians is the Apostle Paul’s sequel to 1 Thessalonians, written to clear up confusion about the second Coming of Jesus Christ.
- 1 Timothy is the Apostle Paul’s counsel and exhortation to the young pastor Timothy.
- 2 Timothy is the Apostle Paul’s last recorded words to Christian posterity.
- Titus is the Apostle Paul’s counsel and exhortation to the young pastor Titus.
- Philemon is the Apostle Paul’s epistle of intercession to Philemon on behalf of Philemon’s runaway slave Onesimus.
- Hebrews is an anonymous letter written to prove the New Covenant’s supremacy over the Old Covenant.
- James is an epistle of our Lord’s half-brother that teaches genuine faith is proven by good works.
- 1 Peter is an epistle written by the Apostle Peter to encourage persecuted Christians.
- 2 Peter is an epistle of the Apostle Peter’s warning Christians against false teachers and scoffers.
- 1 John is an epistle of the Apostle John written to teach us how to live confidently in Christ.
- 2 John is an epistle of the Apostle John written to warn us about coming false teachers.
- 3 John is an epistle of the Apostle John encouraging Christian hospitality.
- Jude is an epistle of our Lord’s half-brother that warns of coming apostasy.
- Revelation is an apocalyptic book written by the Apostle John that unveils for us the grand finale of the Bible story.
1 “Apocalypse” is the Latin word for “Revelation,” and the title of the New Testament’s concluding book in the Latin Vulgate.