Bible Course

Lesson 1 (NIV) - The Bible


All Bible quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

The Contents

The Bible is a collection of books divided into two main sections. The 39 books of the Old Testament were written before the time of Jesus Christ and the 27 books of the New Testament after the time of Christ. You will find a list of them at the front of your Bible. They were written by about forty different writers over a period of 1500 years. They were written in a number of different countries — such as Israel, Egypt, Italy and Babylon.

The Bible makes great claims. It clearly states that its author is God — the Creator of the universe. It claims to reveal God and His purpose and it speaks with authority. If these claims cannot be upheld, then the Bible is the greatest and the most cruel deception. If however the claims of the Bible can be supported, then we are in possession of the world‘s greatest treasure.

Let’s look more closely at its claims.

One of the New Testament writers, the apostle Paul (apostle means messenger, especially of the Gospel), says of the Old Testament books:

‘All scripture is God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3. 16)

Another New Testament writer, the apostle Peter, stressed the same message to his readers:

‘Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men from God spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ (2 Peter 1. 21)

These two apostles believed that God was the absolute authority for the books of the Old Testament written centuries before their own days. This Divine authority is responsible for the complete harmony of the teaching revealed in the Bible. The writers were separated by time, education, occupation, experience and social position, yet their writings all combine to form one united Book.

All 66 books of the Bible combine in one consistent theme — the theme of God’s purpose with mankind, from the very beginning (recorded in Genesis) to a future time when,

‘The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people.’ (Daniel 2. 44)

‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ and he will reign for ever and ever.’ (Revelation 11. 15)

Why Was The Bible Written?

The Bible tells us how the human race began and how God’s plan of salvation — His plan to save your life — will lead to the final victory of right over wrong and the destruction of every trace of sin and evil. The purpose of the Bible is to make known to dying men and women this way of salvation through Jesus Christ. The Old and New Testaments combine to present Jesus as the only Saviour of mankind.

‘These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ (John 20. 31)

‘Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4. 12)

In the pages of the Bible we find all the teaching necessary to understand God’s definition of right and wrong, and of our duty to God and to fellow men and women. (Read 2 Timothy 3. 15-17; Titus 2. 11-14)

Finally, the Bible has been given to tell us, in broad outline, what the future holds, so that we might be prepared for the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. (Read 2 Peter 3)

The Old Testament

The 39 books of the Old Testament were written in Hebrew and Aramaic (the language of the Israelites) and fall into four main sections.

1. The Books of Moses.

The first book is called Genesis, which means the beginning. It tells us about God’s interactions with the first men and women on the earth: especially how God chose a man called Abraham and made a covenant (a binding contract) with him and with his descendants, the people of Israel/Jews. After Genesis come Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which describe how God rescued Abraham’s descendants out of slavery in Egypt and gave them the land we call Israel, almost 1500 BCE.

2. The Historical Books

These, from the Book of Joshua to the Book of Esther, are a record of the history of the Israelites (or Jews) and of God’s interaction with them.

3. The Poetic Books

The books of Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs were written in poetic form. They contain very important teaching about the ways of God, and the feelings and duties of man.

4. The Books of the Prophets

The word prophet means ‘seer’ — one who sees, who has insight or visions, not only about future events, but also about what God requires men and women to do. The long books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are followed by 12 shorter ones.

The New Testament

The 27 books of the New Testament were written in Aramaic and Greek and fall into four main sections

1. The Gospels

These are four separate descriptions of the life of Christ, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; each writer explains the Gospel (the good news about Jesus and the Kingdom of God) in his own way.

2. The Book Called ‘The Acts of the Apostles’

This is a detailed, eye-witness account, written by Luke who was a doctor and believer in Jesus, to explain what happened after Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. We are told how the apostles carried the message of the Gospel to many countries in the Roman Empire around the Mediterranean Sea, and how this resulted in scattered groups of new believers, sometimes called early believers, or the early church

3. The Letters

These were written to the early believers by apostles of Jesus to help them (and all later believers) understand the will of God and obey him.

4. The Book of Revelation

This was the last message of Jesus, given in vision to the apostle John, it’s also the last book of the Bible.

Jesus Christ Believed Every Word Of The Old Testament

Jesus Christ is the central figure of the Bible. When he was born the New Testament did not exist, so the Scriptures which he used and studied were the Old Testament. Jesus believed these Scriptures, he based his teaching on them and accepted them as the complete authority.

Look at these passages:

John 5. 46,47

Luke 24. 27

Luke 24. 44-48

Matthew 22. 29

Mark 7. 6-13

Jesus speaks of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Solomon, and of many other people that we read about in the Old Testament and bases his teaching on the fact that these people were real and that all of the Old Testament is the Word of God.

The Bible Cannot Be Proved False

All the developments of modern thought and technology have combined to establish that the Bible is factually and historically accurate. Many enemies of the Bible, including some very clever people, have tried to prove it wrong but they have all failed. Since truth cannot contradict itself, we should naturally expect a book that claims to have been written by God to be in harmony with observable scientific knowledge.

A further evidence of the authority of the Bible is the way in which it has been preserved over the centuries. The Bible has triumphantly withstood every effort of man to destroy it. It has been suppressed and withheld from the common people; large numbers have been burned in the past and many books have been written in attempts to disprove it. No other book has been subjected to such continuous and determined opposition; the Bible still stands, immovable and unconquerable.

The evidence of archaeological discoveries in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Israel and Iraq are all striking confirmations of the truth of Bible history. Exhibits in museums all over the world clearly demonstrate this. The writings of nations which fought against Israel also confirm the Bible accounts of the events, ancient customs and local habits of those times. Present-day archaeology continues to add material supporting our reasons for believing that the whole Bible is true.

Even critics who claimed that the original writings have been distorted by copying errors over the centuries, have been proved wrong by the discovery of ancient manuscripts. The remarkable discovery of ancient scrolls in caves by the Dead Sea in Israel in 1947, has provided yet more valuable evidence of the accuracy of the Bible. These Dead Sea Scrolls, as they are called, are some of the earliest available examples of parts of the Old Testament scriptures, dating back to the second century BCE. Despite their age, there are only slight variations of spelling between these and later copies of the same parts of the Old Testament. The teachings, prophecies and historical facts have been faithfully copied for thousands of years.

So the work of the archaeologist confirms in a remarkable way the truth and reliability of the Bible, and therefore indirectly that it is the Word of God.

Prophecy Proves The Bible True

God Himself has chosen prophecy as a great proof of His infinite superiority over all other beings. (Read Isaiah 42. 8,9; 43. 1-13; 45. 5-25; 46. 8-10)

The Bible speaks from time to time of events that would come to pass hundreds of years later. In Matthew 2. 2 it is recorded that the wise men came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?’ When Herod asked the chief priests this question, they at once replied, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea,’ because hundreds of years before, this had been prophesied in one of the books of the Old Testament. (Micah 5. 2)

In addition to prophecies about Jesus Christ, there are many about ancient nations and, in particular, about the Jewish people. Many of the ancient nations have disappeared from the world but the Bible said that the Jews would survive (Read Jeremiah 30. 10,11). The Jewish people still survive today in spite of many efforts to destroy them. The Jews are still with us today with their own nation state, Israel, and its capital city Jerusalem. After nearly 2000 years they have returned to Israel — the land promised to Abraham — just as God said they would (Read Ezekiel 11. 16,17)

This is a powerful proof that the Bible is the Word of God and that it’s message is true.

The Bible Is The Word of God

Here is a summary of some of the good reasons for believing the Bible is the Word of God

  1. The unity of its message in spite of the number of writers who wrote over a long period of time.
  2. Its miraculous preservation.
  3. The archaeological evidence of the truth of its statements.
  4. The fulfilment of Bible prophecies (further examples are given in later lessons).

Our Response To God

If we accept the Bible is the Word of God, then we should want to read it and understand it. To do this Jesus said we must become teachable like little children. (Matthew 11. 25)

We must want to find out for ourselves the truth and wisdom of God’s Word. (Proverbs 2. 3-6)

We must believe that God will reward us in our search. (Hebrews 11. 6; James 1. 5-8)

We must be willing to bring our lives into harmony with God’s commandments. (Romans 12. 1,2)

Jesus said,

‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.‘ (John 13. 17)

And also,

‘Not every one that says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’ (Matthew 7. 21)

Studying The Bible

As with any course of study, regular and planned reading of the textbook is the most helpful.

The Bible itself is its own best interpreter. In order to build a complete picture of Bible teaching always consider the teaching of a particular verse in the context of surrounding verses, and compare different verses in the Bible which explain the same topic.

As you go through this course, you will see that every basic belief is supported by clear and positive scripture. With this foundation all apparently ‘difficult’ or ‘contradictory’ verses can be understood.

The purpose of this course is to help you to understand the Bible for yourself, so that you can have confidence that it is the Word of God, offering the hope of everlasting life to all who will hear and obey it.

May God bless your efforts to search and believe His Word.

Other Bible Reading

2 Timothy 3

2 Peter 1

Luke 24

Isaiah 8. 20

Acts 28. 23-31

Ephesians 4. 21-32