Basic Christianity  – Session 2



Two parts:

·         Old Testament (from Latin word meaning covenant or agreement) – 39 books

·         New Testament – 27 books


OLD TESTAMENT – The record of how God dealt with His chosen people to show them (and us!) what God is like, who God is, what God desires from His people.  There are five major sections to the Old Testament.

1.      The Law – 5 books (also called the Pentateuch, which means “five books” and the Torah, which means “Law” or “Teaching”) – Written around 1400 BC

a.       Genesis – The book of beginnings.  Deals with the fall of man and God's selection of His people, the Jews, to be the channel for His great plan of redemption.

b.      Exodus – God delivers His people from Egypt

c.       Leviticus – Atonement (being made right with God), holiness (living God’s way), worship

d.      Numbers – God’s people continually disobey and wander in the wilderness for 40 years

e.       Deuteronomy – The word means “second law.”  Mainly a collection of Moses’ instructions to the Israelites to prepare them to enter the land God promised to give them

2.      History – 12 books - Written between 1400 – 450 BC.  These books deal with Israel's conquest of the Promised Land and their general failure to fulfill their covenant obligations to God. Their disobedience ultimately brings God's judgment.

a.       Joshua

b.      Judges

c.       Ruth

d.      1 Samuel

e.       2 Samuel

f.       1 Kings

g.      2 Kings

h.      1 Chronicles

i.        2 Chronicles

j.        Ezra

k.      Nehemiah

l.        Esther

3.      Poetry – 5 books – Describe in poetry and song God’s greatness and goodness in dealing with His creation

a.       Job – The suffering and faithfulness of a man who loved God

b.      Psalms – Songs of praise and instruction

c.       Proverbs – God’s practical wisdom for daily life

d.      Ecclesiastes – The futility of life without God

e.       Song of Solomon – A celebration of marital joy

4.      Major Prophets – Called “major” not because they are more important but because their length.

a.       Isaiah

b.      Jeremiah

c.       Lamenations

d.      Ezekial

e.       Daniel

5.      Minor Prophets – Called “minor” not because they are less important but because they are generally shorter in length than the “major” prophets.

a.       Hosea

b.      Joel

c.       Obadiah

d.      Jonah

e.       Micah

f.       Nahum

g.      Habakkuk

h.      Zephaniah

i.        Haggai

j.        Zechariah

k.      Malachi


NEW TESTAMENT – The revelation of Jesus Christ.  Like the Old Testament, NT also has five major sections.

1.      Gospels – Unique literary style in which real life events are arranged to tell a story.  Not just straight history.  If that were so, would expect all four gospels in NT to be exactly same.  The Gospels are designed to tell us about Christ's ministry (His doings and teachings) with a special focus on His birth and death.   Note how much space (nearly 1/3 of the gospel accounts) is devoted to the last week of Jesus’ life. The gospels are divided into two sections: the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke--which share much of the same material) and the fourth gospel, the Gospel of John. Why so many gospels? Because each writer has a different audience with different perspectives that require a unique emphasis. 

a.        Matthew--Writes as a Jew to Jews. He represent Jesus as the Messiah who fulfilled the O.T. prophecies (note the numerous O.T. quotations). Key section for study is the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7, which contains kingdom principles not only for the future--but for living life here and now. 

b.        Mark--Writes to the action-minded Romans. He represents Christ as the busy Servant of God who demonstrates supernatural power over nature, disease, demons, etc. This book is the shortest--yet most active of the Gospels. Key section for study is Jesus' warning against legalism in Mark 7 (very pertinent for believers today). 

c.        Luke--Writes to the Gentiles, picturing Christ as full of compassion for the poor and sinful. The most complete gospel, written entirely in chronological order.

d.        John--Gives a theological portrait of Christ. He does this by demonstrating through several key signs and speeches that Jesus is Deity come in humanity in order to save His people from sin. John states his purpose very clearly in John 20:3 to bring readers to saving faith in Jesus Christ. (No wonder so many have been saved through passages like John 1:12 and 3:16!)

2.      Church History – One book … Acts Luke wrote this book as a sequel to his gospel (Acts 1:1-2). It is a book of missionary history as it follows the spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome. Its major emphasis is the continued acts of Jesus from heaven by the Holy Spirit through His Church.

3.      Paul’s Letters – 13 books

a.        Romans

b.        1 Corinthians

c.        2 Corinthians

d.        Galatians

e.        Ephesians

f.         Philippians

g.        Colossians

h.        1 Thessalonians

i.         2 Thessalonians

j.         1 Timothy

k.        2 Timothy

l.         Titus

m.      Philemon

4.      General Letters by various authors

a.        Hebrews

b.        James

c.        1 Peter

d.        2 Peter

e.        1 John

f.         2 John

g.        3 John

h.        Jude

5.      Prophecy – Revelation

Distribute “Overview of Biblical History” handout

Distribute “Period of Hebrew Kingdom” handout


The following tools will aid you as you seek to understand God’s Word:

·         A Bible translation such as the New International Version (NIV), first published in 1973 and updated in 2011, or the New American Standard Version (NASB), first published in 1960 and most recently updated in 1995.  A translation of the Bible seeks to follow as closely as possible the text of the original languages.

·         A Bible paraphrase such as The Message by Eugene Peterson or The Living Bible Kenneth Taylor.  Paraphrases differ from translations in that they contain more of an interpretation of the biblical text.  They are helpful in study but should never take the place of a good translation.

·         A Bible concordance.  A concordance is simply an alphabetical listing of the key words in the Bible.  Many Bibles have a limited concordance in the back.

·         A Bible dictionary.  A Bible dictionary differs from a concordance in that it provides information about key places, people, and concepts mentioned in the Scripture.

·         Bible commentaries.  Commentaries give detailed information about the grammar, the meaning, and the application of biblical passages.

All of these tools are available for free at  In addition, there are many other free online sources of Bible study tools.  Just a word of caution, do not believe everything you read.  Just because someone wrote it down does not make it true.  Especially when you begin using commentaries, it is best to use multiple sources to verify an interpretation of Scripture.

Another free website that has an abundance of Bible interpretation tools is

Steps in the Bible study process:  Three questions:  (Use Matthew 28:16-20 to illustrate this process.)

1.      What does the passage say?  (You have no right to talk about what the Bible means until you know what it says!)

a.       Read the passage several times.  Take your time and do not rush through it.

b.      Look for key words (especially the action words – verbs).

c.       Ask basic who, what, when, where questions such as:

                                                              i.      Who is speaking?  Who is being spoken to?

                                                            ii.      What is the primary message or messages?

1.      Is there a command to obey?

2.      Is there a promise to claim?

3.      Is there an example to follow?

4.      Is there a warning to heed?

                                                          iii.      When did the event take place?

                                                          iv.      Where did the event take place?

2.      What does the passage mean? (This is where you would use some of the Bible study tools such as a concordance, Bible dictionary, commentary, etc.)

a.       Consider the immediate context and the larger context of Scripture. 

b.      Read any parallel passages.

c.       Look at the grammar.

d.      Find definitions of the key words.

e.       Explore any cultural references that may shed light on the meaning.

3.      How does the passage apply to my life?  A simple tool to use is to follow the acronym SPECS.  Is there a:

a.       Sin to forsake?

b.      Promise to claim?

c.       Example to follow?

d.      Command to obey

e.       Stumbling block to avoid?