The Bible is the word of God. The Bible is a book of its own kind; it really is a combination of two libraries of books. The Old Testament is the holy book of the Jews. In the Bible there is also the New Testament, which helps us to read the Old Testament with a slightly different understanding. The collection of the Bible contains 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Take a Bible in your hand and get familiar with the different parts. Learn to find the first page of the New Testament with your thumb. Learn the order of the Gospels by heart. Learn to know which books belong to the New Testament.
The Bible starts with the creation of the world and with the common origin of humankind, and ends with what will be the last event in world history. As we arrive to Abraham and God’s chosen nation, it is made clear to us that the nation of Israel is a tool which God is using for his purposes among all nations. Everything in the Bible is written in a certain time and place, and is therefore solidly historical. But the Bible is not limited to its own time, but is the word of God for all times. The focus of everything is God’s plan for salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the seed promised to Abraham, in whom all the nations will be blessed (Gen 22:18 & Gal 3:6-14). The Bible was written during more than ten centuries. The writers are men and women of quite varied positions in society. The personalities of the authors are reflected in their text. Yet the Bible has come about with the leading of the Holy Spirit. “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1:21). They wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore the Bible is entirely written by human beings yet at the same time is entirely God’s word (1 Thess 2:13). The events of the Bible take place in the area of present day Iraq and Spain. Three different languages were used in the original manuscripts: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Bible is never imprisoned just to one place, language or culture. The first Christian congregations were within the Jewish culture, but quite soon the gentile congregations became the majority. Greek as the common language of that time became the home language of Christianity. This language also helped the spread of the Christian faith throughout the entire Roman Empire. The Bible is God’s revelation for the whole humankind. This is why the Bible can be translated into all languages and retranslated, as the language changes over time. It is important to read the Bible to yourself in your mother tongue, even if we read the Bible together in the language that unites us.
Revelation is basically about revealing Himself to us. Our task is to learn to know God. It is the most important purpose in our life. Look at Jesus, the living Word, and you will know what God is like (Col 1:20). The life of Jesus tells us about the love of God. As human beings we are limited, and cannot understand everything – especially we cannot understand God. Yet faith is always seeking to comprehend more. In the Bible God tells the truth about himself, this world and about us.
God speaks in a variety of ways. We can see in the Bible how God speaks through the events of history. Sometimes God speaks through a miracle. God also spoke through dreams to many people, like Jacob, Joseph and Daniel. Maybe you have experienced some of these. In all these it is good to remember that the foremost way in which God speaks is through His word. We have to evaluate every vision in the light of the Bible. Sometimes we speak about general and special revelation. By general revelation we mean that we learn something about God in the nature and in the history. The Bible is God’s special revelation.
The Old Testament consists of three parts: law, writings and prophets. The law is the first five books of the Bible. In these books we learn about creation, the Fall, the story of Noah, Abraham and his descendants until the slavery in Egypt. Moses led the people out of slavery toward the Promised Land. Moses also received the Ten Commandments written in stone in the Sinai desert. Writings contain proverbs, songs and deep thinking about the different aspects of life. Prophetic books tell about how the word of God comes to individuals and nations in the flow of history. There is both a message of judgement and comfort. The New Testament begins with four Gospel accounts. A gospel is telling the good news about the life and teaching of Jesus. One of the Gospel books has a continuation; Luke wrote about the acts of the apostles describing the life of the early church and spreading the news about Jesus into the known world of that time. Thirteen of Paul’s letters have been preserved for us in the Bible. In these letters he is teaching and encouraging the Christians. So also do Peter, John, Jacob and Judah in their letters. The book of Revelation is the last in the Bible.
In the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic church added to the Old Testament a few more more books. The early church did not consider these so called Apocryphic books as the word of God, neither did the Jews ever accept these as part of the Holy Scriptures. These were merely viewed as useful spiritual literature. In the same way, during the early church some Christian literature was written which never was understood to be part of the New Testament.