Uckfield Methodist Church

Praising God, Sharing the risen Jesus, Rejoicing at the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

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The introductions to each book of the Bible are a very good starting point for understanding the layout of the books within the bible, the background as to why it was written and an indication as to when it was written.
        
All  the introductions are taken from the Good News Bible, in Today’s English Version- Second Edition Copyright 1992 by American Bible Society. Used by Permission.
see www.biblesociety.org.uk for more detailed reading.

King James Bible special section - click here

Old Testament   New Testament 
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi
  Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Acts
Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon
Hebrews
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude
Revelation
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

GENESIS

The name Genesis means “origin”. The book tells about the creation of the universe, the origin of the human race, the beginning of sin and suffering in the world, and about God's way of dealing with humanity. Genesis can be divided into two main parts: (1) The creation of the world and the early history of the human race. Here are the accounts of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the flood, and the Tower of Babylon (chapters 1-11). (2) The history of the early ancestors of the Israelites. The first is Abraham, who was notable for his faith and his obedience to God. Then follow the stories of his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob (also called Israel), and of Jacob's twelve sons, who were the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Special attention is given to one of the sons, Joseph, and the events that brought Jacob and his other sons with their families to live in Egypt (chapters 12-50).

While this book tells stories about people, it is first and foremost an account of what God has done. It begins with the affirmation that God created the universe, and it ends with a promise that God will continue to show his concern for his people. Throughout the book the main character is God, who judges and punishes those who do wrong, leads and helps his people, and shapes their history. This ancient book was written to record the story of a people's faith and to help keep that faith alive.
Outline of Contents
Creation of the universe and of the human race 1.12.25
The beginning of sin and suffering 3.1-24
From Adam to Noah 4.15.32
Noah and the flood 6.110.32
The tower of Babylon 11.1-9
From Shem to Abram 11.10-32
The patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob 12.135.29
The descendants of Esau 36.1-43
Joseph and his brothers 37.145.28
The Israelites in Egypt 46.150.26

EXODUS

The name Exodus means “departure”, and refers to the most important event in Israel's history, which is described in this book — the departure of the people of Israel from Egypt, where they had been slaves. The book has four main parts: (1) The freeing of the Hebrews from slavery; (2) Their journey to Mount Sinai; (3) God's covenant with his people at Sinai, which gave them moral, civil, and religious laws to live by; (4) The building and furnishing of a place of worship for Israel, and laws regarding the priests and the worship of God.

Above all, this book describes what God did, as he liberated his enslaved people and formed them into a nation with hope for the future.
The central human figure in the book is Moses, the man whom God chose to lead his people from Egypt. The most widely known part of the book is the list of the Ten Commandments (20.1-17).
Outline of Contents
The Israelites set free from Egypt 1.115.21
a. Slaves in Egypt 1.1-22
b. Moses' birth and early life 2.14.31
c. Moses and Aaron confront the king of Egypt 5.111.10
d. The Passover and the departure from Egypt 12.115.21
From the Red Sea to Mount Sinai 15.2218.27
The Law and the covenant 19.124.18
The Sacred Tent and instructions for worship 25.140.38

  LEVITICUS


Outline of Contents
Laws about offerings and sacrifices 1.17.38
The ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests 8.110.20
Laws about ritual cleanness and uncleanness 11.115.33
The Day of Atonement 16.1-34
Laws about holiness in life and worship 17.127.34

 

NUMBERS

Numbers tells the story of the Israelites during the nearly forty years from the time they left Mount Sinai until they reached the eastern border of the land that God had promised to give them. The name of the book refers to a prominent feature of the story, that is, the census which Moses took of the Israelites at Mount Sinai before their departure, and again in Moab, east of the Jordan, about a generation later. In the period between the two censuses the Israelites went to Kadesh Barnea on the southern border of Canaan, but failed to enter the promised land from there. After spending many years in that area, they went to the region east of the River Jordan, where part of the people settled and where the rest prepared to cross the river into Canaan.

Numbers is an account of a people who were often discouraged and afraid in the face of hardship, and who rebelled against God and against Moses, the man God appointed to lead them. It is the story of God's faithful, persistent care for his people in spite of their weakness and disobedience, and of Moses' steadfast, if sometimes impatient, devotion both to God and to his people.

Outline of Contents
The Israelites prepare to leave Mount Sinai 1.19.23
a. The first census 1.14.49
b. Various laws and rules 5.18.26
c. The second Passover 9.1-23
From Mount Sinai to Moab 10.121.35
Events in Moab 22.132.42
Summary of the journey from Egypt to Moab 33.1-49
Instructions before crossing the Jordan 33.5036.13

 

DEUTERONOMY

Deuteronomy is organized as a series of addresses given by Moses to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, where they had stopped at the end of the long wilderness journey and were about to enter and occupy Canaan.

Some of the most important matters recorded in the book are as follows: (1) Moses recalls the great events of the past forty years. He appeals to the people to remember how God has led them through the wilderness and to be obedient and loyal to God. (2) Moses reviews the Ten Commandments and emphasizes the meaning of the First Commandment, calling the people to devotion to the Lord alone. Then he reviews the various laws that are to govern Israel's life in the promised land. (3) Moses reminds the people of the meaning of God's covenant with them, and calls for them to renew their commitment to its obligations. (4) Joshua is commissioned as the next leader of God's people. After singing a song celebrating God's faithfulness, and pronouncing a blessing on the tribes of Israel, Moses dies in Moab, east of the River Jordan.
The great theme of the book is that God has saved and blessed his chosen people, whom he loves; his people are to remember this, and love and obey him, so that they may have life and continued blessing.
The key verses of the book contain the words that Jesus called the greatest of all commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (6.4-6)
Outline of Contents
Moses' first discourse 1.14.49
Moses' second discourse 5.126.19
a. The Ten Commandments 5.110.22
b. Laws, rules, and warnings 11.126.19
Instructions for entering Canaan 27.128.68
The covenant renewed 29.130.20
Moses' last words 31.133.29
The death of Moses 34.1-12

 

THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

The Book of Joshua is the story of the Israelite invasion of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, the successor of Moses. Notable events recorded in this book include the crossing of the Jordan, the fall of Jericho, the battle at Ai, and the renewal of the covenant between God and his people. One of the best-known passages in the book is, “Decide today whom you will serve...As for my family and me, we will serve the Lord.” (24.15)

Outline of Contents
The conquest of Canaan 1.112.24
The division of the land 13.121.45
a. The land east of the Jordan 13.1-33
b. The land west of the Jordan 14.119.51
c. The cities of refuge 20.1-9
d. The cities of the Levites 21.1-45
The eastern tribes return to their territory 22.1-34
Joshua's farewell address 23.1-16
The covenant renewed at Shechem 24.1-33

 

THE BOOK OF JUDGES

The Book of Judges is composed of stories from the lawless period of Israel's history between the invasion of Canaan and the establishment of the monarchy. These stories are about the exploits of national heroes called “judges”, most of whom were military leaders rather than judges in the legal sense of the word. One of the better known of them was Samson, whose deeds are recorded in chapters 13-16.

The great lesson of the book is that Israel's survival depended on loyalty to God, while disloyalty always led to disaster. But there was more than this: even when the nation was disloyal to God, and disaster came, God was always ready to save his people when they repented and turned to him again.
Outline of Contents
Events up to the death of Joshua 1.12.10
The judges of Israel 2.1116.31
Various incidents 17.121.25

 

THE BOOK OF RUTH

The peaceful story of Ruth is set in the violent times of the Book of Judges

Ruth, a Moabite woman, is married to an Israelite. When he dies, Ruth shows uncommon loyalty to her Israelite mother-in-law and deep devotion to the God of Israel. In the end, she finds a new husband among her former husband's relatives, and through this marriage becomes the great-grandmother of David, Israel's greatest king.

The stories of Judges show the disaster that came when God's people turned away from him. Ruth shows the blessing that came to a foreigner who turned to Israel's God, and so became part of his faithful people.

Outline of Contents
Naomi returns to Bethlehem with Ruth 1.1-22
Ruth meets Boaz 2.13.18
Boaz marries Ruth 4.1-22

 

THE FIRST BOOK OF SAMUEL

The First Book of Samuel records the transition in Israel from the period of the judges to the monarchy. This change in Israel's national life revolved mainly around three men: Samuel, the last of the great judges; Saul, Israel's first king; and David, whose early adventures before coming to power are interwoven with the accounts of Samuel and Saul.

The theme of this book, like that of other historical writings in the Old Testament, is that faithfulness to God brings success, while disobedience brings disaster. This is stated clearly in the Lord's message to the priest Eli: “I will honour those who honour me, and I will treat with contempt those who despise me.” (2.30)
The book records mixed feelings about the establishment of the monarchy. The Lord himself was regarded as the real king of Israel, but in response to the people's request, the Lord chose a king for them. The important fact was that both the king and the people of Israel lived under the sovereignty and judgement of God (2.7-10). Under God's laws the rights of all people, rich and poor alike, were to be maintained.
Outline of Contents
Samuel as judge of Israel 1.17.17
Saul becomes king 8.110.27
The first years of Saul's reign 11.115.35
David and Saul 16.130.31
The death of Saul and his sons 31.1-13

 

THE SECOND BOOK OF SAMUEL

The Second Book of Samuel, the sequel to 1 Samuel, is the history of David's reign as king, first over Judah in the south (chapters 1-4), and then over the whole nation, including Israel in the north (chapters 5-24). It is a vivid account of how David, in order to extend his kingdom and consolidate his position, had to struggle with enemies within the nation as well as with foreign powers. David is shown to be a man of deep faith and devotion to God, and one who was able to win the loyalty of his people. Yet he is also shown as being sometimes ruthless, and willing to commit terrible sins to serve his own desires and ambitions. But when he is confronted with his sins by the Lord's prophet Nathan, he confesses them and accepts the punishment that God sends.

The life and achievements of David impressed the people of Israel so much that in later times of national distress, when they longed for another king, it was for one who would be “a son of David”, that is, a descendant of David who would be like him.
Outline of Contents
David's reign over Judah 1.14.12
David's reign over all Israel 5.124.25
a. The early years 5.110.19
b. David and Bathsheba 11.112.25
c. Troubles and difficulties 12.2620.26
d. The later years 21.124.25

 

THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS

The First Book of Kings continues the history of the Israelite monarchy begun in the Books of Samuel. It may be divided into three parts: (1) The succession of Solomon as king of Israel and Judah, and the death of his father David. (2) The reign and achievements of Solomon. Especially noteworthy is the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. (3) The division of the nation into the northern and southern kingdoms, and the stories of the kings who ruled them down to the middle of the ninth century BC.

In 1 and 2 Kings each ruler is judged according to his loyalty to God, and national success is seen as depending on this loyalty. Idolatry and disobedience, on the other hand, lead to disaster. The kings of the northern kingdom all fail the test, while the record of Judah's kings is mixed.

Prominent in 1 Kings are the prophets of the Lord, those courageous spokesmen for God who warned the people not to worship idols and not to disobey God. Especially notable is Elijah and the story of his contest with the priests of Baal (chapter 18).

Outline of Contents
The end of David's reign 1.12.12
Solomon becomes king 2.13-46
Solomon's reign 3.111.43
a. The early years 3.14.34
b. The Temple is built 5.18.66
c. The later years 9.111.43
The divided kingdom 12.122.53
a. The revolt of the northern tribes 12.114.20
b. The kings of Judah and of Israel 14.2116.34
c. The Prophet Elijah 17.119.21
d. King Ahab of Israel 20.122.40
e. Jehoshaphat of Judah and Ahaziah of Israel 22.41-53

 

THE SECOND BOOK OF KINGS

The Second Book of Kings continues the history of the two Israelite kingdoms where 1 Kings leaves off. The book may be divided into two parts: (1) The story of the two kingdoms from the middle of the ninth century BC down to the fall of Samaria and the end of the northern kingdom in 722 BC; (2) The story of the kingdom of Judah from the fall of the kingdom of Israel down to the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia in 586 BC. The book ends with an account of Gedaliah as governor of Judah under the Babylonians, and a report of the release of King Jehoiachin of Judah from prison in Babylon.

These national disasters took place because of the unfaithfulness of the kings and people of Israel and Judah. The destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of many of the people of Judah was one of the great turning points of Israelite history.
The prophet who stands out in 2 Kings is Elijah's successor Elisha.

Outline of Contents
The divided kingdom 1.117.41
a. The prophet Elisha 1.18.15
b. The kings of Judah and of Israel 8.1617.4
c. The fall of Samaria 17.5-41
The kingdom of Judah 18.125.30
a. From Hezekiah to Josiah 18.121.26
b. Josiah's reign 22.123.30
c. The last kings of Judah 23.3124.20
d. The fall of Jerusalem 25.1-30

 

THE FIRST BOOK OF CHRONICLES

The Books of Chronicles are largely a retelling of events recorded in the Books of Samuel and Kings, but from a different point of view. Two main purposes govern the account of the history of the Israelite monarchy in the Books of Chronicles: (1) To show that in spite of the disasters that had fallen upon the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, God was still keeping his promises to the nation and was working out his plan for his people through those who were living in Judah. As a basis for this assurance, the writer looked to the great achievements of David and Solomon, to the reforms of Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, and to the people who remained faithful to God. (2) To describe the origin of the worship of God in the Temple at Jerusalem, and especially the organization of the priests and Levites, by which the worship was carried out. David is presented as the real founder of the Temple and its ritual, even though it is Solomon who builds the Temple.

Outline of Contents
Genealogies and lists 1.19.44
The death of Saul 10.1-14
The reign of David 11.129.30
a. Troubles and achievements 11.122.1
b. Preparations for building the Temple 22.229.30

 

THE SECOND BOOK OF CHRONICLES

The Second Book of Chronicles begins where 1 Chronicles ends, starting with the account of the rule of King Solomon until his death. After recording the revolt of the northern tribes led by Jeroboam against Rehoboam, King Solomon's son and successor, the account confines itself to the history of the southern kingdom of Judah until the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Outline of Contents
The reign of Solomon 1.19.31
a. The early years 1.1-17
b. The Temple is built 2.17.10
c. The later years 7.119.31
The revolt of the northern tribes 10.1-19
The kings of Judah 11.136.12
The fall of Jerusalem 36.13-23

 

THE BOOK OF EZRA

The Book of Ezra is a sequel to the Books of Chronicles, describing the return of some of the Jewish exiles from Babylon and the restoration of life and worship in Jerusalem. These events are presented in the following stages: (1) The first group of Jewish exiles returns from Babylonia at the order of Cyrus, the Persian emperor; (2) The Temple is rebuilt and dedicated, and the worship of God restored in Jerusalem; (3) Years later another group of Jews returns to Jerusalem under the leadership of Ezra, an expert in the Law of God, who helps the people reorganize their religious and social life in order to safeguard the spiritual heritage of Israel.

Outline of Contents
The first return from exile 1.12.70
The Temple is rebuilt and dedicated 3.16.22
Ezra returns with other exiles 7.110.44

 

THE BOOK OF NEHEMIAH

The Book of Nehemiah may be divided into four parts: (1) The return of Nehemiah to Jerusalem, where he has been sent by the Persian emperor to govern Judah; (2) The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem; (3) The solemn reading of the Law of God by Ezra, and the people's confession of sin; (4) Further activities of Nehemiah as governor of Judah.

A notable feature of the book is the record of Nehemiah's deep dependence on God and his frequent prayers to him.
Outline of Contents
Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem 1.12.20
The walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt 3.17.73
The Law is read and the covenant is renewed 8.110.39
Further activities of Nehemiah 11.113.31

 

THE BOOK OF ESTHER

The events of the Book of Esther, which take place at the winter residence of the Persian emperor, centre round a Jewish heroine named Esther, who by her great courage and devotion to her people saved them from being exterminated by their enemies. The book explains the background and meaning of the Jewish festival of Purim.

Outline of Contents
Esther becomes queen 1.12.23
Haman's plots 3.15.14
Haman is put to death 6.17.10
The Jews defeat their enemies 8.110.3

 

THE BOOK OF JOB

The Book of Job is the story of a good man who suffers total disaster — he loses all his children and property and is afflicted with a repulsive disease. Then in three series of poetic dialogues the author shows how Job's friends and Job himself react to these calamities. In the end, God himself, whose dealings with humanity have been a prominent part of the discussion, appears to Job.

The friends of Job explain his suffering in traditional religious terms. Since God, so they assume, always rewards good and punishes evil, the sufferings of Job can only mean that he has sinned. But for Job this is too simple; he does not deserve such cruel punishment, because he has been an unusually good and righteous man. He cannot understand how God can let so much evil happen to one like himself, and he boldly challenges God. Job does not lose his faith, but he longs to be justified before God and to regain his honour as a good man.
God does not give an answer to Job's questions, but he responds to Job's faith by overwhelming him with a poetic picture of his divine power and wisdom. Job then humbly acknowledges God as wise and great, and repents of the wild and angry words he had used.
The prose conclusion records how Job is restored to his former condition, with even greater prosperity than before. God reprimands Job's friends for failing to understand the meaning of Job's suffering. Only Job had really sensed that God is greater than traditional religion had depicted him.
Outline of Contents
Prologue 1.12.13
Job and his friends 3.131.40
a. Job's complaint 3.1-26
b. The first dialogue 4.114.22
c. The second dialogue 15.121.34
d. The third dialogue 22.127.23
e. In praise of wisdom 28.1-28
f. Job's final statement 29.131.40
The speeches of Elihu 32.137.24
The Lord answers Job 38.142.6
Epilogue 42.7-17

 

THE PSALMS

The book of The Psalms is the hymn book and prayer book of the Bible. Composed by different authors over a long period of time, these hymns and prayers were collected and used by the people of Israel in their worship, and eventually this collection was included in their scriptures.

These religious poems are of many kinds: there are hymns of praise and worship of God; prayers for help, protection, and salvation; pleas for forgiveness; songs of thanksgiving for God's blessings; and petitions for the punishment of enemies. These prayers are both personal and national; some portray the most intimate feelings of one person, while others represent the needs and feelings of all the people of God.
The psalms were used by Jesus, quoted by the writers of the New Testament, and became the treasured book of worship of the Christian Church from its beginning.
Outline of Contents
The 150 psalms are grouped into five collections, or books, as follows:
Psalms 1—41
Psalms 42—72
Psalms 73—89
Psalms 90—106
Psalms 107—150

 

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of moral and religious teachings in the form of sayings and proverbs. Much of it has to do with practical, everyday concerns. It begins with the reminder that “To have knowledge, you must first have reverence for the Lord” (1.7), and then goes on to deal with matters not only of religious morality, but also of common sense and good manners. Its many short sayings reveal the insights of ancient Israelite teachers about what a wise person will do in certain situations. Some of these concern family relations, others business dealings. Some deal with matters of etiquette in social relationships, and others with the need for self-control. Much is said about such qualities as humility, patience, respect for the poor, and loyalty to friends.

Outline of Contents
In praise of wisdom 1.19.18
The proverbs of Solomon 10.129.27
The words of Agur 30.1-33
Various sayings 31.1-31

 

ECCLESIASTES

Ecclesiastes contains the thoughts of “the Philosopher”, a man who reflected deeply on how short and contradictory human life is, with its mysterious injustices and frustrations, and concluded that “life is useless”. He could not understand the ways of God, who controls human destiny. Yet, in spite of this, he advised people to work hard, and to enjoy the gifts of God as much and as long as they could.

Many of the Philosopher's thoughts appear negative and even depressing. But the fact that this book is in the Bible shows that biblical faith is broad enough to take into account such pessimism and doubt. Many have taken comfort in seeing themselves in the mirror of Ecclesiastes, and have discovered that the same Bible which reflects these thoughts also offers the hope in God that gives life its greater meaning.

Outline of Contents
Does life have a purpose? 1.12.26
Sayings about life 3.111.8
Concluding advice 11.912.8
Summary 12.9-14

 

THE SONG OF SONGS

The Song of Songs is a series of love poems, for the most part in the form of songs addressed by a man to a woman, and by the woman to the man. In some translations, the book is called The Song of Solomon, because it is attributed to Solomon in the Hebrew.

These songs have often been interpreted by Jews as a picture of the relationship between God and his people, and by Christians as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church.
Outline of Contents
First song 1.12.7
Second song 2.83.5
Third song 3.65.1
Fourth song 5.26.3
Fifth song 6.48.4
Sixth song 8.5-14

 

THE BOOK OF ISAIAH

The Book of Isaiah is named after a great prophet who lived in Jerusalem in the latter half of the eighth century BC. This book may be divided into three principal parts:

(1) Chapters 1-39 come from a time when Judah, the southern kingdom, was threatened by a powerful neighbour, Assyria. Isaiah saw that the real threat to the life of Judah was not simply the might of Assyria, but the nation's own sin and disobedience to God, and their lack of trust in him. In vivid words and actions the prophet called the people and their leaders to a life of righteousness and justice, and warned that failure to listen to God would bring doom and destruction. Isaiah also foretold a time of worldwide peace and the coming of a descendant of David who would be the ideal king.
(2) Chapters 40-55 come from a time when many of the people of Judah were in exile in Babylon, crushed and without hope. The prophet proclaimed that God would set his people free and take them home to Jerusalem, to begin a new life. A notable theme of these chapters is that God is the Lord of history, and his plan for his people includes their mission to all nations, who will be blessed through Israel. The passages about “the Servant of the Lord” are among the best-known in the Old Testament.
(3) Chapters 56-66 for the most part speak to a time when people were back in Jerusalem and needed reassurance that God was going to fulfil his promises to the nation. Concern is expressed for righteousness and justice, and also for Sabbath observance, sacrifice, and prayer. A notable passage is 61.1-2, words used by Jesus at the beginning of his ministry to express his calling.
Outline of Contents
Warnings and promises 1.112.6
Punishment of the nations 13.123.18
God's judgement of the world 24.127.13
Further warnings and promises 28.135.10
King Hezekiah of Judah and the Assyrians 36.139.8
Messages of promise and hope 40.155.13
Warnings and promises 56.166.24

 

THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

The prophet Jeremiah lived during the latter part of the seventh century and the first part of the sixth century BC. During his long ministry he warned God's people of the catastrophe that was to fall upon the nation because of their idolatry and sin. He lived to see this prediction come true with the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, the destruction of the city and the Temple, and the exile to Babylonia of Judah's king and many of the people. He also foretold the eventual return of the people from exile and the restoration of the nation.
The Book of Jeremiah may be divided into the following parts: (1) The call of Jeremiah; (2) Messages from God to the nation of Judah and its rulers during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah; (3) Material from the memoirs of Baruch, Jeremiah's secretary, including various prophecies and important events from the life of Jeremiah; (4) Messages from the Lord about various foreign nations; (5) A historical appendix, giving an account of the fall of Jerusalem, and the exile to Babylonia.

Jeremiah was a sensitive man who deeply loved his people, and who hated to have to pronounce judgement upon them. In many passages he spoke with deep emotion about the things he suffered because God had called him to be a prophet. The word of the Lord was like fire in his heart—he could not keep it back.
Some of the greatest words in the book point beyond Jeremiah's own troubled time to the day when there would be a new covenant, one that God's people would keep without a teacher to remind them, because it would be written on their hearts (31.31-34).
Outline of Contents
The call of Jeremiah 1.1-19
Prophecies during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah 2.125.38
Events in Jeremiah's life 26.145.5
Prophecies against the nations 46.151.64
The fall of Jerusalem 52.1-34

 

LAMENTATIONS

Lamentations is a collection of five poems lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and its aftermath of ruin and exile. In spite of the mournful nature of most of the book, there is also the note of trust in God and hope for the future. These poems are used by the Jews in worship on the annual days of fasting and mourning which commemorate the national disaster of 586 BC.

Outline of Contents
The sorrows of Jerusalem 1.1-22
The punishment of Jerusalem 2.1-22
Punishment and hope 3.1-66
Jerusalem in ruins 4.1-22
A prayer for mercy 5.1-22

 

THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL

The prophet Ezekiel lived in exile in Babylon during the period before and after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. His message was addressed both to the exiles in Babylonia and to the people of Jerusalem. The Book of Ezekiel has six principal parts: (1) God's call to Ezekiel to be a prophet; (2) Warnings to the people about God's judgement on them and about the coming fall and destruction of Jerusalem; (3) Messages from the Lord regarding his judgement upon the various nations that oppressed and misled his people; (4) Comfort for Israel after the fall of Jerusalem and the promise of a brighter future; (5) The prophecy against Gog; (6) Ezekiel's picture of a restored Temple and nation.

Ezekiel was a man of deep faith and great imagination. Many of his insights came in the form of visions, and many of his messages were expressed in vivid symbolic actions. Ezekiel emphasized the need for inner renewal of the heart and spirit, and the responsibility of each individual for his own sins. He also proclaimed his hope for the renewal of the life of the nation. As a priest, as well as prophet, he had special interest in the Temple and in the need for holiness.
Outline of Contents
Ezekiel's call 1.13.27
Messages of doom on Jerusalem 4.124.27
God's judgement of the nations 25.132.32
God's promise to his people 33.137.28
Prophecy against Gog 38.139.29
A vision of the future Temple and land 40.148.35

 

THE BOOK OF DANIEL

The Book of Daniel was written during a time when the Jews were suffering greatly under the persecution and oppression of a pagan king. Using stories and accounts of visions, the writer encourages the people of his time with the hope that God will bring the tyrant down and restore sovereignty to God's people.

The book has two main parts: (1) Stories about Daniel and some of his fellow-exiles, who through their faith in God and obedience to him triumph over their enemies. These stories are set in the time of the Babylonian and Persian Empires. (2) A series of visions seen by Daniel, which in the form of symbols present the successive rise and fall of several empires, beginning with Babylonia, and predict the downfall of the pagan oppressor and the victory of God's people.
Outline of Contents
Daniel and his friends 1.16.28
Daniel's visions 7.112.13
a. The four beasts 7.1-28
b. The ram and the goat 8.19.27
c. The heavenly messenger 10.111.45
d. The time of the end 12.1-13

 

THE BOOK OF HOSEA

The prophet Hosea preached in the northern kingdom of Israel, after the prophet Amos, during the troubled times before the fall of Samaria in 721 BC. He was especially concerned about the idolatry of the people and their faithlessness towards God. Hosea boldly pictured this faithlessness in terms of his own disastrous marriage to an unfaithful woman. Just as his wife Gomer turned out to be unfaithful to him, so God's people had deserted the Lord. For this, judgement would fall on Israel. Yet in the end God's constant love for his people would prevail, and he would win the nation back to himself and restore the relationship. This love is expressed in the moving words: “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you?...My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is too strong.” (11.8)
Outline of Contents
Hosea's marriage and family 1.13.5
Messages against Israel 4.113.16
A message of repentance and promise 14.1-9

 

THE BOOK OF JOEL

Little is known about the prophet Joel, and it is not clear just when he lived. But it seems likely that the book comes from the fifth or fourth century BC during the time of the Persian Empire. Joel describes a terrible invasion of locusts and a devastating drought in Palestine. In these events he sees a sign of the coming day of the Lord, a time when the Lord will punish those who oppose his righteous will. The prophet conveys the Lord's call to the people to repent, and his promise of restoration and blessing for his people. Noteworthy is the promise that God will send his Spirit upon all the people, men and women, young and old alike.
Outline of Contents
The plague of locusts 1.12.17
Promise of restoration 2.18-27
The day of the Lord 2.283.21

 

THE BOOK OF AMOS

Amos was the first prophet in the Bible whose message was recorded at length. Although he came from a town in Judah, he preached to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, about the middle of the eighth century BC. It was a time of great prosperity, notable religious piety, and apparent security. But Amos saw that prosperity was limited to the wealthy, and that it fed on injustice and on oppression of the poor. Religious observance was insincere, and security more apparent than real. With passion and courage he preached that God would punish the nation. He called for justice to “flow like a stream” (5.24), and said, “Perhaps the Lord will be merciful to the people of this nation who are still left alive.” (5.15)
Outline of Contents
Judgement on Israel's neighbours 1.12.5
Judgement on Israel 2.66.14
Five visions 7.19.15

 

THE BOOK OF OBADIAH

This short book comes from some undetermined time after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, when Edom, Judah's age-old enemy to the south-east, not only rejoiced over the fall of Jerusalem, but took advantage of Judah's plight to loot the city and help the invader. Obadiah prophesied that Edom would be punished and defeated, along with other nations that were the enemies of Israel.
Outline of Contents
The punishment of Edom 1-14
The day of the Lord 15-21

 

THE BOOK OF JONAH

The Book of Jonah is unlike other prophetic books of the Bible in that it is a narrative, describing the adventures of a prophet who tried to disobey God's command. God told him to go to Nineveh, the capital of the great empire of Assyria, Israel's deadly enemy. But Jonah did not want to go there with God's message, because he was convinced that God would not carry out his threat to destroy the city. After a series of dramatic events, he reluctantly obeyed, and finally sulked when his message of doom did not come true.

The book portrays God's absolute sovereignty over his creation. But above all it portrays God as a God of love and mercy, who would rather forgive and save even the enemies of his people, than punish and destroy them.
Outline of Contents
Jonah's call and disobedience 1.1-17
Jonah's repentance and deliverance 2.1-10
Jonah's message against Nineveh 3.1-10
God's mercy on Nineveh 4.1-11

 

THE BOOK OF MICAH

The prophet Micah, a contemporary of Isaiah, was from a country town in Judah, the southern kingdom. He was convinced that Judah was about to face the same kind of national catastrophe that Amos had predicted for the northern kingdom, and for the same reason—God would punish the hateful injustice of the people. Micah's message, however, contains more clear and notable signs of hope for the future.
Passages especially worth noting are the picture of universal peace under God (4.1-4); the prediction of a great king who would come from the family line of David and bring peace to the nation (5.2-5a); and, in a single verse, the summary of much that the prophets of Israel had to say: “What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God.” (6.8)
Outline of Contents
Judgement on Israel and Judah 1.13.12
Restoration and peace 4.15.15
Message of warning and hope 6.17.20

 

THE BOOK OF NAHUM

The Book of Nahum is a poem celebrating the fall of Nineveh, the capital city of Israel's ancient and oppressive enemy, the Assyrians. The fall of Nineveh, near the end of the seventh century BC, is seen as the judgement of God upon a cruel and arrogant nation.

Outline of Contents
Judgement on Nineveh 1.1-15
The fall of Nineveh 2.13.19

 

THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK

The words of the prophet Habakkuk come from near the end of the seventh century BC, at a time when the Babylonians were in power. He was deeply disturbed by the violence of these cruel people, and asked the Lord, “So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are?” (1.13). The Lord's answer was that he would take action in his own good time, and meanwhile “those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.” (2.4)
The rest of the book is a prophecy of doom on the unrighteous, with a concluding psalm celebrating the greatness of God and expressing the undying faith of the poet.
Outline of Contents
Habakkuk's complaints and the Lord's replies 1.12.4
Doom on the unrighteous 2.5-20
Habakkuk's prayer 3.1-19

 

THE BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH

The prophet Zephaniah preached in the latter part of the seventh century BC, probably in the decade before King Josiah's religious reforms of 621 BC. The book contains the familiar prophetic themes: a day of doom and destruction is threatened, when Judah will be punished for her worship of other gods. The Lord will punish other nations also. Although Jerusalem is doomed, in time the city will be restored, with a humble and righteous people living there.
Outline of Contents
The day of the Lord's judgement 1.12.3
The doom of Israel's neighbours 2.4-15
Jerusalem's doom and redemption 3.1-20

 

THE BOOK OF HAGGAI

The Book of Haggai is a collection of brief messages that came from the Lord through the prophet Haggai in 520 BC. The people had returned from exile and had lived in Jerusalem for some years, but the Temple still lay in ruins. The messages urge the leaders of the people to rebuild the Temple, and the Lord promises prosperity and peace in the future for a renewed and purified people.

Outline of Contents
The command to rebuild the Temple 1.1-15
Messages of comfort and hope 2.1-23

 

THE BOOK OF ZECHARIAH

The Book of Zechariah has two distinct parts: (1) Prophecies from the prophet Zechariah, dated at various times in the years from 520 to 518 BC. These are largely in the form of visions, and deal with the restoration of Jerusalem, the rebuilding of the Temple, the purification of God's people, and the messianic age to come (chapters 1-8). (2) A collection of messages about the expected Messiah and the final judgement (chapters 9-14).

Outline of Contents
Messages of warning and hope 1.18.23
Judgement on Israel's neighbours 9.1-8
Future prosperity and peace 9.914.21

 

THE BOOK OF MALACHI

The Book of Malachi comes from some time in the fifth century BC after the Temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt. The prophet's main concern is to call priests and people to renew their faithfulness to their covenant with God. It is clear that there is laxity and corruption in the life and worship of God's people. Priests and people are cheating God by not giving him the offerings that are rightly due to him, and by not living according to his teaching. But the Lord will come to judge and purify his people, sending ahead of him his messenger to prepare the way and to proclaim his covenant.

Outline of Contents
Israel's sins 1.12.16
God's judgement and his mercy 2.174.6

THE NEW TESTAMENTS

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW



This Gospel presents Jesus as the great Teacher, who has the authority to interpret the Law of God, and who teaches about God's kingdom. Much of his teaching is gathered by subject matter into five collections: (1) The Sermon on the Mount, which concerns the character, duties, privileges, and destiny of the citizens of the Kingdom of heaven (chapters 5-7); (2) Instructions to the twelve disciples for their mission (chapter 10); (3) Parables about the Kingdom of heaven (chapter 13); (4) Teaching on the meaning of discipleship (chapter 18); and (5) Teaching about the end of the present age and the coming of the Kingdom of heaven (chapters 24-25).
Outline of Contents
Genealogy and birth of Jesus Christ 1.12.23
The ministry of John the Baptist 3.1-12
The baptism and temptation of Jesus 3.134.11
Jesus' public ministry in Galilee 4.1218.35
From Galilee to Jerusalem 19.120.34
The last week in and near Jerusalem 21.127.66
The resurrection and appearances of the Lord 28.1-20

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK




Jesus' public ministry in Galilee 1.149.50
From Galilee to Jerusalem 10.1-52
The last week in and near Jerusalem 11.115.47
The resurrection of Jesus 16.1-8
The appearances and ascension of the risen Lord 16.9-20

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE

The Gospel according to Luke presents Jesus as both the promised Saviour of Israel and as the Saviour of the whole human race. Luke records that Jesus was called by the Spirit of the Lord to “bring good news to the poor” (4.18), and this Gospel is filled with a concern for people with all kinds of need. The note of joy is also prominent in Luke, especially in the opening chapters that announce the coming of Jesus, and again at the conclusion, when Jesus ascends to heaven. The story of the growth and spread of the Christian faith after the ascension of Jesus is told by the same writer in Acts.

There are two sections (chapters 1-2 and 9-19) which contain much material that is found only in this Gospel, such as the stories about the song of the angels and the shepherds' visit at the birth of Jesus, Jesus in the Temple as a boy, and the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Lost Son. Throughout the Gospel great emphasis is placed on prayer, the Holy Spirit, the role of women in the ministry of Jesus, and God's forgiveness of sins.
Outline of Contents
Introduction 1.1-4
Birth and childhood of John the Baptist and of Jesus 1.52.52
The ministry of John the Baptist 3.1-20
The baptism and temptation of Jesus 3.214.13
Jesus' public ministry in Galilee 4.149.50
From Galilee to Jerusalem 9.5119.27
The last week in and near Jerusalem 19.2823.56
The resurrection, appearances, and ascension of the Lord 24.1-53

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN

The Gospel according to John presents Jesus as the eternal Word of God, who “became a human being and lived among us.” (1.14) As the book itself says, this Gospel was written so that its readers might believe that Jesus is the promised Saviour, the Son of God, and that through their faith in him they might have life (20.31).

After an introduction that identifies the eternal Word of God with Jesus, the first part of the Gospel presents various miracles which show that Jesus is the promised Saviour, the Son of God. These are followed by discourses that explain what is revealed by the miracles. This part of the book tells how some people believed in Jesus and became his followers, while others opposed him and refused to believe. Chapters 13-17 record at length the close fellowship of Jesus with his disciples on the night of his arrest, and his words of preparation and encouragement to them on the eve of his crucifixion. The closing chapters tell of Jesus' arrest and trial, his crucifixion and resurrection, and his appearances to his disciples after the resurrection.
The story of the woman caught in adultery (8.1-11) is placed in brackets because many manuscripts and early translations omit it, while others include it in other places.
John emphasizes the gift of eternal life through Christ, a gift which begins now and which comes to those who respond to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. A striking feature of John is the symbolic use of common things from everyday life to point to spiritual realities, such as water, bread, light, the shepherd and his sheep, and the grapevine and its fruit.

Outline of Contents
Prologue 1.1-18
John the Baptist and the first disciples of Jesus 1.19-51
Jesus' public ministry 2.112.50
The last days in and near Jerusalem 13.119.42
The resurrection and appearances of the Lord 20.1-31
Epilogue: another appearance in Galilee 21.1-25

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES

The Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of Luke. Its chief purpose is to tell how Jesus' early followers, led by the Holy Spirit, spread the Good News about him “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. (1.8) It is the story of the Christian movement as it began among the Jewish people and went on to become a faith for the whole world. The writer was also concerned to reassure his readers that the Christians were not a subversive political threat to the Roman Empire, and that the Christian faith was the fulfilment of the Jewish religion.

Acts may be divided into three principal parts, reflecting the ever widening area in which the Good News about Jesus was proclaimed and the Church established: (1) The beginning of the Christian movement in Jerusalem following the ascension of Jesus; (2) Expansion into other parts of Palestine; (3) Further expansion, into the Mediterranean world as far as Rome.

An important feature of Acts is the activity of the Holy Spirit, who comes with power upon the believers in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and continues to guide and strengthen the Church and its leaders throughout the events reported in the book. The early Christian message is summarized in a number of sermons, and the events recorded in Acts show the power of this message in the lives of the believers and in the fellowship of the Church.

Outline of Contents
Preparation for the witness 1.1-26
a. Jesus' last command and promise 1.1-14
b. The successor of Judas 1.15-26
The witness in Jerusalem 2.18.3
The witness in Judea and Samaria 8.412.25
The ministry of Paul 13.128.31
a. The first missionary journey 13.114.28
b. The conference in Jerusalem 15.1-35
c. The second missionary journey 15.3618.22
d. The third missionary journey 18.2321.16
e. Paul a prisoner in Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome 21.1728.31

PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMANS


Paul then develops this theme. The whole human race, both Jew and Gentile, needs to be put right with God, for all alike are under the power of sin. People are put right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Next Paul describes the new life in union with Christ that results from this new relation with God. The believer has peace with God and is set free by God's Spirit from the power of sin and death. In chapters 5-8 Paul also discusses the purpose of the Law of God and the power of God's Spirit in the believer's life. Then the apostle wrestles with the question of how Jews and Gentiles fit into the plan of God for humanity. He concludes that the Jewish rejection of Jesus is part of God's plan for bringing the whole human race within the reach of God's grace in Jesus Christ, and he believes that the Jews will not always reject Jesus. Finally Paul writes about how the Christian life should be lived, especially about the way of love in relations with others. He takes up such themes as service to God, the duty of Christians to the state and to one another, and questions of conscience. He ends the letter with personal messages and with words of praise to God.
Outline of Contents
Introduction and theme 1.1-17
The need for salvation 1.183.20
God's way of salvation 3.214.25
The new life in Christ 5.18.39
Israel in the plan of God 9.111.36
Christian conduct 12.115.13
Conclusion and personal greetings 15.1416.27

PAUL'S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS


Factions in the church 1.104.21
Sexual morality and family life 5.17.40
Christians and pagans 8.111.1
Church life and worship 11.214.40
The resurrection of Christ and of believers 15.1-58
The offering for the Christians in Judea 16.1-4
Personal matters and conclusion 16.5-24

PAUL'S SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS


Paul and the church at Corinth 1.127.16
The offering for the Christians in Judea 8.19.15
Paul's defence of his authority as an apostle 10.113.10
Conclusion 13.11-13

PAUL'S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS


Paul's authority as an apostle 1.112.21
The gospel of God's grace 3.14.31
Christian freedom and responsibility 5.16.10
Conclusion 6.11-18

PAUL'S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS

Paul's Letter to the Ephesians is concerned first of all with “God's plan...to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head”. (1.10) It is also an appeal to God's people to live out the meaning of this great plan for the unity of the human race through oneness with Jesus Christ.

In the first part of Ephesians the writer develops the theme of unity by speaking of the way in which God the Father has chosen his people, how they are forgiven and set free from their sins through Jesus Christ the Son, and how God's great promise is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. In the second part he appeals to the readers to live in such a way that their oneness in Christ may become real in their life together.

Several figures of speech are used to show the oneness of God's people in union with Christ: the church is like a body, with Christ as the head; or like a building, with Christ as the cornerstone; or like a wife, with Christ as the husband. This letter rises to great heights of expression as the writer is moved by the thought of God's grace in Christ. Everything is seen in the light of Christ's love, sacrifice, forgiveness, grace, and purity.
Outline of Contents
Introduction 1.1-2
Christ and the church 1.33.21
The new life in Christ 4.16.20
Conclusion 6.21-24

PAUL'S LETTER TO THE PHILIPPIANS


Paul's personal circumstances 1.12-26
The life in Christ 1.272.18
Plans for Timothy and Epaphroditus 2.19-30
Warnings against enemies and dangers 3.14.9
Paul and his Philippian friends 4.10-20
Conclusion 4.21-23

PAUL'S LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS


The nature and work of Christ 1.92.19
The new life in Christ 2.204.6
Conclusion 4.7-18

PAUL'S FIRST LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS


Gratitude and praise 1.23.13
Exhortation to Christian conduct 4.1-12
Instructions about the coming of Christ 4.135.11
Final exhortations 5.12-22
Conclusion 5.23-28

PAUL'S SECOND LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS


The apostle emphasizes the need for his readers to remain steady in their faith in spite of trouble and suffering, to work for a living as did Paul and his fellow-workers, and to persevere in doing good.
Outline of Contents
Introduction 1.1-2
Praise and commendation 1.3-12
Instructions about the coming of Christ 2.1-17
Exhortation to Christian conduct 3.1-15
Conclusion 3.16-18

PAUL'S FIRST LETTER TOTIMOTHY


Instructions concerning the church and its officers 1.33.16
Instructions to Timothy about his work 4.16.21

PAUL'S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY


In all this, Timothy is reminded of the example of the writer's own life and purpose — his faith, patience, love, endurance, and suffering in persecution.
Outline of Contents
Introduction 1.1-2
Praise and exhortation 1.32.13
Counsel and warning 2.144.5
Paul's own situation 4.6-18
Conclusion 4.19-22

PAUL'S LETTER TO TITUS


Church officers 1.5-16
Duties of various groups in the church 2.1-15
Exhortations and warning 3.1-11
Conclusion 3.12-15

PAUL'S LETTER TO PHILEMON


Praise for Philemon 4-7
Appeal for Onesimus 8-22
Conclusion 23-25

THE LETTER TO THE HEBREWS


Christ's superiority over the angels 1.42.18
Christ's superiority over Moses and Joshua 3.14.13
The superiority of Christ's priesthood 4.147.28
The superiority of Christ's covenant 8.19.22
The superiority of Christ's sacrifice 9.2310.39
The primacy of faith 11.112.29
Pleasing God 13.1-19
Closing prayer 13.20-21
Final words 13.22-25

THE LETTER FROM JAMES


Faith and wisdom 1.2-8
Poverty and wealth 1.9-11
Testing and tempting 1.12-18
Hearing and doing 1.19-27
Warning against discrimination 2.1-13
Faith and works 2.14-26
The Christian and his tongue 3.1-18
The Christian and the world 4.15.6
Various instructions 5.7-20

THE FIRST LETTER FROM PETER


Along with his encouragement in time of trouble, the writer also urges his readers to live as people who belong to Christ.
Outline of Contents
Introduction 1.1-2
Reminder of God's salvation 1.3-12
Exhortation to holy living 1.132.10
The Christian's responsibilities in time of suffering 2.114.19
Christian humility and service 5.1-11

Outline of Contents
Introduction 1.1-2
The Christian calling 1.3-21
False teachers 2.1-22
The final coming of Christ 3.1-18

THE FIRST LETTER FROM JOHN


Light and darkness 1.52.29
Children of God and children of the Devil 3.1-24
Truth and error 4.1-6
The duty of love 4.7-21
Victorious faith 5.1-21

THE SECOND LETTER FROM JOHN


The primacy of love 4-6
Warning against false doctrine 7-11
Conclusion 12-13

THE THIRD LETTER FROM JOHN


Gaius is praised 5-8
Diotrephes is condemned 9-10
Demetrius is commended 11-12
Conclusion 13-15

THE LETTER FROM JUDE


Character, teaching, and doom of the false teachers 3-16
Admonition to keep the faith 17-23
Benediction 24-25

THE REVELATION TO JOHN


Opening vision and the letters to the seven churches 1.93.22
The scroll with seven seals 4.18.1
The seven trumpets 8.211.19
The dragon and the two beasts 12.113.18
Various visions 14.115.8
The seven bowls of God's anger 16.1-21
The destruction of Babylon, and the defeat of the beast, the false prophet, and the Devil 17.120.10
The final judgement 20.11-15
The new heaven, the new earth, the new Jerusalem 21.122.5
Conclusion 22.6-21

     
     


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Rev Malcolm Newman, The Manse, 42 Hart Close, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 2DA, England

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