An Overview of the Bible

If you want to learn architecture, you must first learn how buildings are put together. If you want to learn sailing, you must first learn how ships are put together. And if you want to understand the Bible, you must first learn how the Bible is put together. — Max Anders

WELCOME

Welcome to 30 Days to Understanding the Bible! This is the first step on a journey that can revolutionize your understanding not only of Scripture, but also yourself and the world around you. The Bible is the bestselling, most-loved, and most-impactful book ever written. Actually, the Bible isn’t a single book — it is a collection of sixty-six books written by more than forty individuals over a period of more than 2,000 years. It’s an enormous volume that contains a huge amount of information on a wide range of topics — including history, poetry, prophecy, geography, instructions, epistles, commandments, promises, and more.

For these reasons, the Bible can often seem intimidating… and even overwhelming. Maybe you have tried to learn about the Bible in the past and found it difficult to understand. Maybe you have been reading the Bible for years, yet you still lack confidence when it comes to expressing what it is and what it says. Or, maybe this is the first time you have opened its pages.

Regardless of your level of experience, what you will encounter with your group over the course of the next six weeks will provide a key to unlocking what the Bible says, what it teaches, and how to apply it to your everyday life. Through the videos that accompany each session, and the daily interactions in this study guide, you will build a solid foundation for engaging and understanding the most important book ever written.

SHARE

To get started, take a few minutes to introduce yourself to anyone you do not know in the group. Then jump into the theme of this session by discussing the following questions:

  • How would you describe your level of understanding of the Bible at this point in your life? Beginner? Intermediate? Advanced?
  • What are you hoping you will learn about the Bible during this study?

WATCH

Play the video segment for session one. As you watch, follow along with the main points listed in the outline below and record any key thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.

I. The Promise: If you commit to spending fifteen minutes a day in this study for the next six weeks, you will receive an understanding of the entire Bible.
A. It possible to understand each of the major people, major places, and major events of the Bible.
      1. The problem many people have with the Bible is that they start out by studying the details without ever getting the big picture.
      2. This study will focus on the big picture first and save the details for later.
B. When gaining an understanding of the Bible as a whole, it is important to focus on the broad strokes.
      1. There are thousands of mountain peaks in Colorado, but there are only fifty-three that rise over 14,000 feet.
      2. This study will focus on the “fourteeners” of God’s Word, which is a manageable amount of information to process.

II. Structure: A key to mastering the Old Testament is under- standing that it contains only three types of books.

A. These three types of books are:
      1. Historical books
      2. Poetical books
      3. Prophetical books
B. There are seventeen historical books in the Old Testament.
      1. Only eleven of those books are primary. The other six are secondary.
      2. So, if you want to get your mind around the story of the Old Testament, you need to read Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
      3. These eleven books create a timeline into which you can fit the secondary historical books, the poetic books, and the prophetic books.

III. Geography: In addition to understanding the structure of the Bible, it is important to also understand the broad strokes of biblical geography.

A. The entire area described in the Old Testament is about the same size as the state of Texas.

B. Israel, the promised land for God’s people in the Old Testament, is roughly the same size as New Hampshire.

OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS

IV. History: The Bible’s historical books cover twelve eras of the biblical story.

A. In the Old Testament:
      1. Creation Era: the creation of the world and humankind, and early events.
      2. Patriarch Era: the birth of the Hebrew people through a family of patriarchs, covered a period of 200 years.
      3. Exodus Era: the exodus of the Hebrew people as they are delivered out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt to return to their Promised Land.
      4. Conquest Era: the conquest of the Promised Land by the Hebrew people after their exodus from Egypt.
      5. Judges Era: a period of 400 years during which Israel was governed by rulers known as judges.
      6. Kingdom Era: an additional period of 400 years during which Israel was a full-fledged nation ruled by a monarchy.
      7. Exile Era: a period of seventy years during which the Jewish people were in exile, having been conquered by foreign powers.
      8. Return Era: the return of the exiled Jewish people to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple.
      9. Silence Era: a final period of 400 years between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament.
B. In the New Testament:
      1. Gospel Era: the life of Jesus of Nazareth as told in the Gospels.
      2. Church Era: the formation of the Christian church.
      3. Missions Era: the expansion of the church into the Roman Empire through missions.

V. Creation Era: The story of creation, the fall, the flood, and the tower of Babel.

A. Creation: God created everything in the universe out of nothing.

B. Fall: Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan and chose to rebel against God, which ushered sin into the world.

C. Flood: God performed a radical surgery on the world’s population, removing the cancer of evil through a worldwide flood.


D. Tower of Babel:
Humanity again rejected God’s command to spread out, inhabit and civilize the earth, instead attempting to establish a single civilization.

Review

    1. The structure of the Old Testament includes historical books, poetical books, and prophetical books.
    2. Knowing the geography the Bible enables its history and its story to come alive.
    3. The Creation describes the earliest events in God’s Word, including the creation the world, the Fall, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.

DISCUSS

After watching the video, use the following questions to unpack what you learned as a group.

  1. What did you find most interesting about the teaching in this session? What is your greatest takeaway from what was covered?
  2. What questions do you have after watching the video?
  3. In your mind, why is it helpful to understand the structure of the Bible and the types of material that it contains?
  1. How does it influence your understanding of the Bible to learn that most of the action takes place within an area that is only the size of Texas?
  2. In the teaching, you were introduced to the concept of “fourteeners” in the Bible, which means focusing on just those people and ideas that are most critical to understanding the broad strokes of the Bible. What are some “fourteeners” from the Creation Era of the biblical timeline?
  3. The Fall is the low point of the Creation Era. How would you explain, in your own words, why Adam and Eve sinned?

APPLY

Understanding the Bible is a critical step for anyone who seeks to follow God — but it is never the final step. Instead, understanding what God’s Word says should always lead you to apply those truths in your life. In other words, knowledge should always lead to obedience. For this reason, each section of this study will include both material to learn and recommendations for putting what you have learned into practice.

Furthermore, following the truth of the Bible is not only something you do as an individual, but also something you do in community with other Christians. For that reason, the application sections in this study will encourage you to connect with a partner (or a small group of fellow participants) as you put what you learn into practice.

To get started, choose a partner or partners (or if your group is smaller, you may choose to do this as a group) who will join with you in seeking to grow over the next six weeks of this study. As you close this session, take a moment to discuss your thoughts. What are you feeling as you get started? What was something that stood out to you in this first lesson? What are you hoping to learn or experience as a result of going through this study?

Excerpted with permission from 30 Days to Understanding the Bible Study Guide: Unlock the Scriptures in 15 Minutes a Day by Max Anders, copyright Max Anders.

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Max Anders

Max Anders (Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary, D.Min. Western Seminary) is the author of over 20 books and the creator and general editor of the Holman Bible Commentary. Dr. Anders has taught on the college and seminary level, was one of the original team members with Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, and has pastored for over 20 years. He is the founder and president of 7 Marks, Inc., a ministry specializing in discipleship strategies and materials for local churches.

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