Bible Basics

The Bible is a collection of historical books, letters, prophecies, poems and songs written by a collection of people. It was all written close to the time of the actual events by people who had all the information or were part of the event themselves. We also believe that all the writers were led by the Spirit of God to help them record everything in an accurate way. By doing this, we are given a glimpse of how God has worked throughout history, what He would like to do in our lives, and what He has planned for the future. But what makes the Bible different from many other books is the fact that everything in the Bible is true.

The Bible is essentially divided into two parts: 
The Old Testament   &   The New Testament.

The word “Testament” means agreement, and it is referring to an agreement between God and humans. The Old Testament was that we had to live life perfectly, but we couldn’t, and this is why God came as Jesus to save us. We are currently a part of the new and final agreement between God and the world: The New Testament or agreement which simply means: 

If you want to be saved, all you need to do is accept what Jesus did on our behalf 
with your whole heart, and you will be saved.

Below is a complete list of all the books in the Bible with a short summary/introduction of each book to give you an idea of what you will be reading. These summaries, along with the timeline and quick reference guide, should help you to understand the bigger picture of what the Bible is trying to tell us.

Old Testament Introduction

In the Old Testament we see God creating everything out of nothing and how He has worked throughout history to fulfil His plan to save all those who are willing to admit that they need saving. The Old Testament is filled with action, romance, comedy and wisdom. It gives us the history of the world up to about 2 and a half thousand years ago. But packed along with all the history, are poems and songs that reveal more about who God really is. While the prophetic writings reveal to us more about things to come and we can see how God is working all things together for good.

New Testament Introduction

The New Testament is where the long awaited Saviour of the world appears about 400 years after the Old Testament ends (About 2000 years ago). It starts with 4 different perspectives of the same story, but written by different people. These stories share with us how Jesus lived and how He paid the price for us. After this we see how the first churches started, and we also get to read some of the letters that were written to some of those specific churches during that time. The New Testament then ends with a book that focusses on how the end of the world will be with God’s judgement, but at the same time reminds us that God has everything under control and has already saved us.

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Bible Outline

The Old Testament Books


In Genesis we read how God made everything out of nothing and how the first people rebelled against God, making us all guilty before Him. But God loves us and promised that He would save us when the time was right. We read of how people grew more and more evil up to the point where God flooded the world completely, killing everything and everyone, except for Noah and his family on a big boat. God also saved selected animals along with them. After everything settled again, they started repopulating the world. God then made a promise to Abraham that through his family line, all the nations of the world would be blessed. The book ends with his family settling in Egypt as their new home.

- Historical book


In Exodus, we read how Abraham's family, the Israelites, became slaves under a new Pharaoh (king) many years after moving to Egypt; but God used Moses and miracles to let the Israelites go free. In their escape, God parted the red sea so that they could walk through the sea on dry land, killing the Egyptians that were chasing them when the wall of water that closed behind the Israelites. We also read about how God gave the Israelites the10 Commandments and how the Israelites struggled to trust God, even though He has never let them down.

- Historical book


Leviticus focusses on the ceremonies and feasts God wanted the Israelites to have. Here we read how and why these ceremonies were held. We also read how the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother, was chosen by God as Israel’s formal priesthood. This meant that they would be in charge of all the ceremonies and should be seen as the religious leaders of the nation.
- Historical book


In this book we see their preparations continue as God lets them count everyone in the nation of Israel before going into the promised land, Canaan. We also see how the Israelites sent spies into the Canaan as a way of being prepared for the fight that was ahead, but because they didn't trust God, they could not enter Canaan till God allowed it.
- Historical book


Here we read how after 40 years in the desert, Moses reminded the Israelites of what God expects from them before He allows them to take over Canaan. We read how they start preparations again and Joshua is appointed as the new leader of Israel before the death of Moses.
- Historical book


In this book we see how God allowed Joshua to start the military campaign to poses Canaan, starting with Jericho. In Jericho, Rahab the prostitute was saved because she believed and trusted the God of the Israelites. After the military campaign where the Israelites did not do exactly as God instructed them, God still allowed them to divide the land of Canaan between themselves.
- Historical book


In the book of Judges we read how Israel had no official leaders at that time and how they kept repeating a cycle of losing focus of God, and then turning back to Him when they were in need. They kept worshipping other gods, which led to them losing God’s protection and blessing. This kept leading to them being oppressed by oppressed by other nations. But because God loves His people, He kept raising chosen people to rescue them out of trouble and turn them back to God who loves them.
- Historical book


This book tells the story of an outsider named Ruth who married an Israelite and when everything in her life went bad, she stayed committed to God and her new family. This led to a prosperous future.
- Historical book

1 Samuel

This book continues the story from the book of Judges with two great men of God, Eli and Samuel, who both unfortunately had evil sons. This caused the Israelites to ask for a king to rule over them despite God’s warning. Saul becomes the first King of Israel and a teen boy, David, kills the enemy giant Goliath, which causes Saul to hate David out of jealousy.
- Historical book

2 Samuel

This book carries on from 1 Samuel and we see how David is made the new king of Israel and wins many great battles. We see how God promises David that his family line will reign forever, but also how King David commits adultery with a married woman (Bathsheba) and has her husband killed. Because of this we see David’s family completely split apart. On a good note, he does have a God fearing son named Solomon who gives hope to the Israelite nation.
- Historical book

1 Kings

In 1 Kings; David names Solomon, his son, as the new king of Israel and because he put God first in his life, God gave him more wisdom, wealth and power than anyone who had ever lived.  Solomon also built God’s temple as God instructed him, but unfortunately Solomon loses focus of God near the end of his life. We see how Rehoboam, his son, take over as the new king, and how during his reign, the Jewish nation is split into 2 nations namely: Israel and Judah. 
Judah’s leadership continues from David’s descends and stays in the promise of God, while Israel removes themselves from this promise and appoint different kings. We also see how a godly prophet name Elijah defeated 45o false prophets because he kept his faith in God.
- Historical book

2 Kings

This book continues from1 Kings and we see how Elijah was taken to Heaven without dying. Unfortunately Israel gets defeated and is taken into captivity by the Assyrians. We also see the nation of Judah defeated and the capital, Jerusalem being destroyed while most of the people are taken into captivity by the Babylonians. On a positive side the new Babylonian king shows kindness towards Jehoiachin, who was the king of Judah when the Babylonians attacked.
- Historical book

1 Chronicles

This book gives a historical summary of what God’s people have gone through so far, starting with Adam and ending with Solomon being made king and the death of his father, King David. 
- Historical book

2 Chronicles

This book continues from 1 Chronicles where Solomon was made king. We see how the Jewish nation was split into 2 nations: Israel and Judah. Then continues to describe the different kings of the nation of Judah up until it was destroyed by Babylon. The book ends with the Jewish people being allowed to rebuild God’s temple
- Historical book


Here we see how Nehemiah who was still serving in Persia was allowed to go back to Judah to lead the reconstruction of the city’s walls that the rest of the people have been unable to complete for almost 100 years. Thanks to God, Nehemiah completed it in 52 days.
- Historical book


This book tells the story of how Esther became Queen of Persia without anyone knowing she was Jewish. She then risked her life by asking the king to protect the Jewish nation against planned killings. 
- Historical book


Here we read how God allowed Job to be tested by Satan, but Job never turned away from God, not even when everyone encouraged him to do so. For staying faithful, God blessed Job, more than ever before.
- Historical book


This book is a collection of poems, songs and prophecies written by various people. Some of the writers include King David, King Solomon and Moses.
- A book of poems, songs and prophecies


This book is a collection of practical tips for living for every aspect of life and is still applicable today. It was written by the wisest and wealthiest man that ever lived - King Solomon.
- Practical tips for living


The book was written by King Solomon near the end of his life. After he tried everything and owned everything a man could. He realized that nothing in life can give you true complete fulfilment, except honouring God, as this gives and shows you true purpose in life.
- A practical look at life with tips for living it

Song of Solomon

This book is an erotic love song written by King Solomon. It was written in a way that combines poetry with a story-like play.
- Poetry-like song


This book focuses on the prophet Isaiah who warned the nation of Judah that they should turn back to God or else He would allow them to be conquered by the Babylonians. Later in the book it describes how even though they would not listen to the warning, God still promised to restore His people and set up His eternal kingdom. Isaiah also has a lot of prophecies relating to the coming saviour who would bring salvation to the world.
- Prophetic book with historical content


Here we can read about how Jeremiah served as a last chance warning to the nation of Judah.  They were warned to turn back to God or else He would allow them to be conquered. For this Jeremiah was beaten and imprisoned, but yet his words came true at the end of the book.
- Prophetic book with historical content


This book is a sorrow-filled cry by Jeremiah as he was seeing everything happen that he warned the nation of Judah about, ending with a prayer for mercy.
- Poetry that reveals history


Here we read about the prophet named Ezekiel reminding the nation of Judah of the sin that had caused them to be captives, but it also offers hope of restoration.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


This book tells the story of Daniel and 3 companions. They were taken from Jerusalem to serve under the Babylonian king after the nation of Judah was conquered, and later even the Persian king. Their story shows how God protects those who have faith in Him. In this book we see many miracles, and even God using miracles to save them from life-threatening situations because they trusted Him fully. The book ends with prophetic visions of the future given to Daniel by God. These visions include visions of what can be expected at the end-times.
- Historical book that includes a lot of prophecy


This book tells the story of a prophet called Hosea and how God sometimes works in mysterious ways. Hosea was told by God to marry an unfaithful prostitute and start a family with her. Through his story we see Hosea warning Israel to return to God and stop living evil lives. We see symbolism of God staying faithful to us, even though we are unfaithful to Him at times. This book shows God’s love for us even though we don’t deserve it.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


This book tells the story of how a plague of locusts invade the nation of Judah, and causes devastation everywhere. Here the prophet Joel warns them that there is coming a day when God will judge people for their sins and this will be much worse. With this call to turn back to God also comes a promise of restoration for those who do. He also clearly tells how God will send His Holy Spirit to empower His people.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


Here we read how the prophet Amos warned the Israelites to stop worshipping other fake gods, and turn back to the One True God. He warned them that God was going to judge them because they were not living the way they should. It ends with the promise that God intends to restore everything perfectly.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


Obadiah reveals the message of judgement God gave to him to give to the nation of Edom. God warned them that they would be judged for helping the Babylonians invade the nation of Judah, and that God’s people will inherit their possessions.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


This book tells the story of Jonah being sent to an evil nation to warn them that they should turn to God, but Jonah, thinking they were too evil, got on a boat and went the opposite direction. God then caused Jonah to be thrown overboard and get swallowed by a whale. After spending 3 days inside the whale, Jonah apologised and agreed to go. The evil nation changed their ways and God spared them, but Jonah thought they didn’t deserve it and was unhappy. Through this God showed that He loves all people and wants all people to be saved, no matter what they have done.
- Historical book written in poetry form


Here we can see how Micah warned God’s people that He was going to punish them for being evil and worshipping other gods. He also told them that God wanted them to have the glorious ending some people may experience.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


A book that focuses on the evil city Jonah had warned some time before. When Jonah warned them that God was going to punish them, they listened and turned to God. As a result, God spared them, but then lost their way some time later. This time when Nahum warns them, they don’t listen and God allows them to be destroyed.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


This book tells the story of how Habakkuk asked God why He was allowing so much evil in the nation of Judah, and how God informed him about the punishment that was about to happen. God would be using an even more evil nation to punish the nation of Judah for being so evil. God then explained how He is using the other nation to accomplish His purpose for now, but will make sure that in time they are also punished for their sins. Ultimately Habakkuk realizes that he has no right to question Almighty God.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


Here we read how the prophet Zephaniah was warning the nation of Judah of a coming day when God will judge every person for what they have done. This serves as a warning to change our ways, and to be patient because there is coming a time when there will be no more pain or suffering. A time when all will be restored.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


In this book we see Haggai speaking to the people of Judah after they were released from the Persian empire in order to rebuild their destroyed ancestral city. Instead of rebuilding the temple of God like God had told them, they focus on building and upgrading their own homes. Haggai tells the people that they should focus on God instead of themselves, and that they should rebuild His temple. He tells them that this is only way to stop the drought that has been plaguing the area, and to receive the abundant blessing God has promised.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


Like Haggai, Zechariah also urges the people to complete the temple of God, and we see it being completed in this book. Along with this, there is also a promise of the coming saviour and king who would bring peace and unity to the people of God.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history


In Malachi we read how he spoke to the people after they have rebuilt the temple of God. He criticises them for living so badly and thinking they can serve God with half-hearted efforts. He informs them that God will punish those who do not change their ways, but assures them that God blesses the obedient.
- Prophetic poetry that reveals history

The New Testament Books


This book tells us about the life of Jesus and how He is the realization of what was promised to us throughout the Old Testament books. All people are evil and deserve punishment, but this book shows us how Jesus took the punishment for us. It tells us why and how He did what He did. It explains that anyone can now avoid the eternal punishment that we rightly deserve, and all we have to do is accept what He has already paid for on our behalf. But more than that, if we accept this offer, we get to experience real life with an everlasting future in Heaven with God.
- Historical book & fulfilment of prophecy


This book tells us about the life of Jesus and how He came to save us. Jesus, being God in human form deserves to be worshipped and served, but He came to set an example for us. He came and did for us, what we cannot do for ourselves. He showed us that to be really great, we have to set others before ourselves. Because He loves us, He died for us. But then He was raised from the dead and is waiting for the right time to return for those who accept His offer to be saved.
- Historical book & fulfilment of prophecy


This book shares with us the life of Jesus and focusses on His attitude towards people. It shows his compassion for people that were hurt, sick and alone. Jesus came to give hope to everyone, but especially to those not cared for by the world. Throughout this book we see what a perfect life Jesus truly lived.
- Historical book & fulfilment of prophecy


Throughout this book we get to see how Jesus truly is the physical presence of God All Mighty. It shows us that God had to become a human so that we could escape eternal punishment, if we accept His offer. We also see how He willingly gives His life so that we might have life. Simply because He loves us in a way that we do not understand. 
- Historical book & fulfilment of prophecy


This letter shares with us how Jesus returned to Heaven and what His final instructions were to all those that believe. We get to read how the Christian church started and how the first Christians received the Holy Spirit. We read of men and woman actually fulfilling their purpose and living with the power of the Holy Spirit. We read that everyone has access to that power, and what we can accomplish if we keep our focus on God. 
- Historical letter and fulfilment of prophecy


The letter to the church in Rome is very clear and easy to read. It explains many of the Christian core beliefs; like why we need to be saved, how we are saved, and what our responsibilities are now.

- Letter to a church

1 Corinthians

This letter was written to a church that had lost its way. They had many problems in the church, ranging from leadership issues, church members taking each other to court, and even someone who had a relationship with his step-mother. It was written to encourage and guide this group of believers to become a healthy church again.
- Letter to a church

2 Corinthians

After the first letter (1 Corinthians), we can see that many of the problems this church was facing had been solved. We also see a glimpse of everything the writer, Paul had gone through so that other people might hear the good news of Jesus, and we are encouraged to test whether we are truly saved or not.
- Letter to a church


This letter written to the churches in the Galatia region serves as a reminder that we are all saved, because we have faith in what Jesus did on our behalf, and not because we live perfectly. We should live according to how God wants us, but we should never think that we can save ourselves. God saved us because He loves us, we did not save ourselves.
- Letter to churches


Through this letter, Paul was explaining to the Church in Ephesus how we are connected to Jesus and what this all means. He explains that there should be no more division in the church in regards to nations, cultures or gender. Through Jesus we are all now equal and should be united.
- Letter to a church


Even though Paul wrote this letter while in prison for being a Christian, he wrote to encourage and remind the church in Philippi to always be happy. We are saved because God loves us and now God lives in us, so we should do all things in a way that brings glory to His name. Through this many more people can be saved.
- Letter to a church


This letter to the church of Colosse was written because they had started adding false teachings to the Christian faith that were not from God, and were not necessary. It serves as a reminder that we should be careful not to add human elements to what God has done perfectly already. If we focus on God then everything else will fall into place.
- Letter to a church

1 Thessalonians

In this letter, Paul answered some questions this church had been having about when Jesus would come again. He explained to them that the exact time they will not know, and this is why they need to live in such a way that they were always ready. Now that we know the truth, we should use the time we have left to help save those around us.
- Letter to a church

2 Thessalonians

This letter served as reassurance to the Thessalonian church that Jesus had not returned yet. Unfortunately this church had been receiving false teachings about Jesus, and when He would return. Paul reassured them with the truth, and reminded them to keep working hard in all that they do till our Saviour returns.
- Letter to a church

1 Timothy

In this letter Paul gave guidance to young Timothy, a close friend and fellow Christian. Timothy had taken some sort of leadership position at the church of Ephesus and Paul was helping them know how to move the church forward. This letter covers many areas of church responsibility, as well as what is required of a person for them to be in a leadership position. 
- Letter to an individual, 
but applicable to a church

2 Timothy

This final letter that Paul wrote to Timothy shows Paul’s passion and emotion. This letter was written as a possible final farewell, but focusses on Paul urging Timothy to stand strong against persecution. Paul reminds him that the life of a Christian is a hard one. The world is against us because the world doesn’t know the truth. They are blinded by their selfish ways. Christians should be different and live godly lives. They should hold on to the truth and not be confused by false teachings or teachers.
- Letter to an individual, 
but applicable to a church


This letter was written to Titus as a way of guiding him in forming a very young church. Paul instructs him on how to appoint leaders in the church, how to deal with false teachers and how to live godly lives. 

- Letter to an individual, but applicable to a church


This is one of Paul’s letters that is the most personal in nature. He wrote it to a close friend to ask him to forgive and receive back a runaway slave who had become a Christian. Remembering that cultural rules were very different when it was written makes this letter more understandable and helps us use the same principles today.

- Letter to an individual and helpful to all people


This letter was written to Christians who were once Jewish (The Israelite people). It serves as a reminder that Christianity is the completion of the old Jewish religion. Temporary sacrifices are no longer needed. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and it is through faith in Him, and what He did, that we are saved forever, not by doing good deeds.
- Letter to group of believers


This letter by James was written with the practical side of life in mind. James reminds us that even though good deeds do not save us, it should come naturally now that we are saved. He even goes so far as to say that faith without good deeds is worth nothing because the one is evidence of the other.
- Letter written to a group of believers

1 Peter

During the time of the early church, the Christians were being killed and persecuted simply for being Christians. Peter wrote this letter to remind them that even Jesus was persecuted, and that they should see these persecutions as tests for greater rewards in Heaven. Even though it is terrible, they should remember that God is in control and allows everything to happen for a greater purpose, even when it might be tough to understand.
- Letter to a group of believers

2 Peter

Peter wrote this letter to remind us that the more a Christian grows in understanding and faith, the stronger they will be against false teachings and in persecution. It also focusses on the fact that Jesus will return to start the final judgement.

- Letter to a group of believers

1 John

John wrote this letter to confirm that Jesus truly was God in human form and not just a spirit. It also helps us understand that knowledge leads to faith, and faith leads to living a godly life. In this letter, John reminds us that God will forgive us for being sinful, if we draw close to Him and confess our sins.
- Letter to a group of believers

2 John

It was written to remind us to stay away from all forms of false teachings and encourage us for the times that lie ahead.
- Letter to a group of believers

3 John

This was a personal letter to encourage Gaius to continue his good work and godly life, but also to remind him not to follow the bad examples of some people around him.
- Personal letter all can learn from


Jude wrote to a group of believers to remind them that God’s love and forgiveness is not a reason to start sinning. He urges them to stop doing what others among them have started doing, and rather help those that are sinning, to stop and live better.
- Letter to a group of believers


This book is unlike any other book in the Bible because it focusses purely on 1 prophecy. A prophecy that Jesus gave to John through an angel. The prophecy is about the end times and how things will happen before God judges everything and everyone. It explains everything that will happen in a very dream like manner, so some things are not as clear as other parts of the Bible. But the one thing we can hold onto is that Jesus is coming to save those that accepted His offer to be saved. The rest of the people, unfortunately and as terrible as it might be, will go to hell with Satan and his evil angels for ever and ever.

- Prophecy of the end-times