THE SECRET COMBINATION TO UNLOCK UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
30 Days to Understanding the Bible. Max Anders. Thomas Nelson, 2004.
The Entire Bible in 90 Minutes! Bill Meiter. Arizona Community Church, 2012.
Why Isn't the Bible in Chronological Order? Madeline Kalu. Christianity.Com, 2020. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/why-isnt-the-bible-in-chronological-order.html
The MacArthur Study Bible. John MacArthur. Thomas Nelson, 2006.
English Standard Version Study Bible. Crossway, 2008.
What was the Old Covenant? GotQuestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/old-covenant.html
Why the Law Was Given. John Piper. DesiringGod.Org, 1981. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/why-the-law-was-given
Why did God give us four Gospels? GotQuestions.Org. https://www.gotquestions.org/four-Gospels.html
THE SECRET COMBINATION TO UNLOCK UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
♫ 17-5-17-5-13-9. ♫
Hello everyone and welcome to another Christianity Engaged video. My name is David Erhart and today I’m going to share with you the secret combination to unlock understanding the Bible.
The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by about 40 authors over a period of about 1,500 years. There is no other book on the planet that is even remotely like your Bible.
While the Word of God is life-changing, it can be a little overwhelming at times. With nearly 1,200 chapters and over 30,000 verses, you could read a chapter every single day and it would still take over 3 years to read the entire Bible.
Whether you’ve been a Christian for days or decades, I want you to be able to open the Bible to any book at any time and know exactly where you are within the overall story arc. This will help you tremendously in understanding the text you’re reading.
So, in this video, I’m going to provide a framework that will help you navigate through the Bible and understand its structure. And in our next video, I’m going to walk through the entire Bible in a few short minutes to help you understand its story.
Are you ready? The secret combination to unlock understanding your Bible is… [drumroll]
17-5-17-5-13-9. Let’s say it together: 17-5-17-5-13-9 or if you prefer a song: ♫ 17-5-17-5-13-9 ♫
The first 3 digits ‘17-5-17’ refer to the 39 books in the Old Testament and the last 3 digits ‘5-13-9’ refer to the 27 books in the New Testament.
Within the Old Testament, we have 17 history books, 5 poetry books, and 17 prophecy books. 17-5-17
And within the New Testament, we have 5 history books, 13 epistles (which are simply letters) written by the apostle Paul, and 9 general epistles written by other leaders of the early church. 5-13-9
So, if you want to read the story of nation of Israel, read the first 17 books of the Old Testament. If you want to read the poetry of Israel, read the next 5 books. And if you want to read the prophecy of Israel, read the next 17 books after that.
Likewise, if you want to read the story of Jesus and the Church He established, read the first 5 books of the New Testament. If you want to read the apostle Paul’s instruction to churches and individuals, read the next 13 books. And if you want to read instruction from men like Peter, James, and John, read the last 9 books of the Bible.
It’s that easy.
Let’s take a quick look at the Old Testament, the 39 books of the Bible written prior to the birth of Jesus.
The first 5 out of the 17 history books were written by Moses. They are also called the Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch. The 17 historical books in the Old Testament cover the creation account, the first sin, the global flood, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the deliverance from Egypt, the giving of the Law, the conquest of Canaan, the period of judges, the period of kings, the division of the kingdom, the exile to Babylon, the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. And all throughout, there is this hope of the promised Messiah.
The Old Testament has a main story arc, but it’s not one long, unbroken story. There are 11 primary historical books that will advance the main storyline and you could say there are 6 secondary historical books that contain repeat or supplemental information. So, if you’re reading the Old Testament for the first time, you may want to focus on these 11 books.
After the 17 history books, the rest of the Old Testament consists of 5 poetry books and 17 prophecy books. All of Israel’s poetry and prophecy was written during the same period of time covered during the 17 history books—and they amplify the story.
For example, Psalm 51 records David’s confession of adultery with Bathsheba, an event which takes place in 2 Samuel chapter 11. Likewise, 2 Kings chapter 20 records how God saved and extended King Hezekiah’s life while Isaiah chapter 38 includes an entire writing by King Hezekiah himself after his illness and recovery.
The 5 poetry books are also called wisdom books and in them you will find a treasure-trove of wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
You will commonly hear the first 5 out of the 17 prophecy books be referred to as the Major Prophets and the remaining 12 the Minor Prophets, simply because they are shorter in length.
A prophet is someone selected by God to be His spokesperson to the people and their leaders. And Old Testament prophecy contains a combination of foretelling, predicting the future, and forthtelling, which is simply proclaiming the words of God.
And that’s the Old Testament in a nutshell. Let’s take a quick look at the New Testament, the 27 books written after the birth of Jesus.
The first 4 out of 5 history books in the New Testament are the Gospels. The term Gospel simply means “good news.” The Gospels tell us about Jesus’ genealogy, his birth, his early life, his ministry, his teachings, his death, and his resurrection.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because they give a similar synopsis of the life of Jesus. The Gospel of John, however, was last to be written. It contains more theological content, and it primarily focuses on events not covered in the other three Gospels.
Each Gospel writer had a different personality and purpose, and as a result, we get to see different aspects of Jesus’ character on display. In Matthew, Jesus is portrayed as the King of the Jews. In Mark, He is the Suffering Servant. In Luke, He is the perfect Son of Man. And in John, He is the divine Son of God.
The final historical book in the New Testament is the Book of Acts, which is also called the Acts of the Apostles. The Book of Acts covers Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the filling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the persecution of the early church which dispersed the believers and actually further advanced Christianity, the apostle Paul’s powerful conversion, his three missionary journeys, his imprisonment, and how he advanced the gospel message all the way to the capital of the Roman empire.
After the 5 history books, the New Testament concludes with 13 letters written by the Apostle Paul and 9 letters written by men other leaders of the early church. Some of these letters were written to churches and others to individuals. They provide encouragement and they address specific problems and issues of the day, but they do so in such a way that the content is universal and timeless. The typical pattern is to provide theological truth and then practical application. Doctrine, then duty. Principle, then practice.
The Book of Revelation is the last book of the Bible. It’s official title is the Revelation of Jesus Christ and it is the only New Testament epistle to contain a combination of instruction to churches as well as a significant amount of prophecy. For this reason, some consider John’s final letter to be in a category of its own.
And that’s the New Testament in a nutshell. 5 history books, 13 letters written by the apostle Paul, and 9 letters written by men like Peter, James, and John.
♫ To help you understand the Bible every single time, 17-5-17-5-13-9. 17-5-17-5-13-9. ♫
Well, it’s no secret anymore. Now you know the combination to navigate through the Bible and understand its structure. You won’t want to miss our next video where we will walk through the entire Bible together in a few short minutes to better understand its story.
I hope these videos are a blessing to you. God bless you all.