Overview of the Bible and some principles of Interpretation

1. The Bible is divided into an Old Testament and a New Testament or will (See Hebrews 9:16).


2. The Old Testament deals with:

An earthly land, people and promises

Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), the Law


Law, Psalms and Prophets mentioned in New Testament


Lu 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.


Ac 24:14 But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:


Ac 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.


Ro 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.


Genesis-Deuteronomy, The Law

Joshua-Esther, Historical

Job-Song of Solomon, Poetical

Isaiah-Malachi, Prophets

Isaiah-Ezekiel, Major prophets

Daniel-Malachi, Minor prophets


3. The New Testament deals with a spiritual land (heaven), spiritual people (Christians), spiritual promises.

Gospels, biographies and teaching of the Lord

Acts of the Apostles, historical

Epistles, Apostles Doctrine (Acts 2:42)

Revelation, Prophetic (dealing with the Lord's final victory and control).


4. Principles of Interpretation:

The epistles interpret the rest of the Bible.


Look for principles in the Gospels, examples in the Acts, and teaching in the Epistles as well as illustrations from the Old Testament.


The new is in the old contained, the old is by the new explained. Let the new explain the old and not the other way around. We are not Jews, we are Christians.


Let all interpretations be consistent with John 3:16 (the topic sentence of the Bible)


Never let the difficult explain the simple, let the simple passages explain the difficult ones. (If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense).


Always use context to interpret a passage

1. The context of the chapter

2. The context of the book

3. The context of the Bible

Try to recognize the customs and the special language (idioms of the day) in interpreting Scripture.


5. Summary of the Books of the Bible

Genesis, The story of Beginnings

Exodus, The story of Redemption (Exiting Bondage)

Leviticus, The Way to Worship, work of priests

Numbers, Journeying from Egypt to the promised land (or wandering in the desert)

Deuteronomy, The re-giving of (or summarizing) the Law

Joshua, Possessing the Land

Judges, Living in the Land with judges ruling

Ruth, Story of grace

1Samuel-2 Chronicles, Living in the Land under Kings

Ezra-Nehemiah, Re-gathering of exiled Jews (Restoration)

Esther, Godís care of His own even while in ExilePicture of the battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

Job, Why do the righteous suffer?

Psalms, Songs written for temple worship

Proverbs, wise sayings, most written by Solomon

Ecclesiastes, futility of life, written by Solomon while not being faithful to the Lord.

Song of Solomon, Romance between Solomon and a woman that he loved and married (a picture of Christ and the Church)

Isaiah, The Gospel (good news) prophet

Jeremiah, The Dismal prophet

Lamentations, the sorrow of Jeremiah over the fulfillment of his prophecies

Ezekiel, The counterpart of Jeremiah, Jeremiah prophesied in the Land, Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon to those already in captivity.

Daniel, Detailed prophecies of the end times and of the stages of the Gentile Dynasties.

The rest of the minor prophets include two who encouraged rebuilding the temple during Ezra and Nehemiahís day (Haggai, Zechariah), one that includes Godís mercy on a Gentile Dynasty (Jonah--who was swallowed by a great fish).

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar and deal mostly with the Lordís ministry around Galilee

John was written later (50 to 60 years) and deals with the Lordís ministry in Jerusalem on feast days.

Matthew--The Lord as the King

Mark--The Lord as the Servant of Jehovah

Luke--The Lord as the Son of Man

John--The Lord as the Son of God

Acts--The work of the Holy Spirit in building the church, historical and not doctrinal

Epistles, letters written to assemblies, individuals and Christians at large.

Revelation, the Coming of the Lord to reign.


For more information or for a spiritual discussion contact:
Bruce Collins
3828 Memory Lane
Waterloo, IA 50701-9351
Phone 319-230-9140 or email