Each Book of the Holy Bible in 200 Words or Less with Bible Study Plans

  Sunday, October 9, 2022
Contributed by Kailey Lentsch, MSW

The Bible is a huge Book that is made up of many different stories that take place over many years. It is the living Word of God that reveals who He is and what His plan for us is (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). While we may believe it is important to know God’s Word in its entirety, reading the Bible can seem like a daunting task. Even with a helpful reading plan in hand, there are portions of the Bible that can be difficult to read. Sometimes the actual words are difficult to read if we are not familiar with the ancient cities, people’s names, or “church” words. Other portions of the Bible can seem dull, confusing, or unapplicable. This guide offers brief summaries of each of the 66 Books of the Bible that will provide you with background information to make reading and studying your Bible easier and more enjoyable. Before you dive into the summaries, take a moment to consider the following:

  • Although the Bible is made up of 66 individual books, they all work together to tell one great story: the Story of God. Having a better understanding of the overarching story of the Bible and where scripture fits within this larger story can help us recognize how all of Scripture points to Christ. God’s Story can be summed up in four words: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. 
  • Because the Bible was written by several different authors at different points in time, there are multiple literary genres and types found throughout Scripture. It is important to identify the genre and type of writing to best understand its structure so that we can accurately interpret Scripture and apply it to our lives. For example, we need to understand with the author is using figurative language that is not meant to be taken literally. The major genres in the Bible are law, history, wisdom, prophecy, gospels, and epistles (letters). 
  • Understanding historical context is also vital to interpreting and applying Scripture. We do this by identifying the author, the original audience, and when it was written. This helps us better comprehend the original intent of the writing and not take things out of context when we try to apply it to our lives. 

At the beginning of each summary, you will notice the genre, author, audience, date (estimated date of when it was written), major themes, and keywords have been identified for you. Then, each summary attempts to condense and summarize each of the 66 Books of the Holy Bible in 200 words or less. It is not an easy task to articulate the main message of each book in so few words, but if you’re in a hurry to understand the gist of God’s Story – this special JournalOwl guide is created specifically for you!

Within each Bible summary, we provide a link directly into a JournalOwl Bible Study Journey that you can dive into with other Christians around the world. With JournalOwl, you can read, study, and journal about each book of the Bible – chapter by chapter. JournalOwl Bible Study Journeys provide a unique learning experience with rich interactive instructional videos, scripture, and thought-provoking questions to journal about for each chapter in the Bible. Bible study group leaders can take it a step further by hosting an online club with friends, family, and church associates. 

Let’s get started! 

Old Testament

Genesis

Genre: History

Author: Moses

Original Audience: The nation of Israel during their years wandering

Date Written: Approximately 1450-1400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Creation, Rebellion, and Humanity
  • God’s Promises and Provision
  • Generations

Keywords: God said/commanded, Altar, Covenant

The Book of Genesis begins with creation. God created everything by simply speaking it into existence and He called His creation good. God created man and woman in His image; and as such they were pure, holy, and knew no evil. This quickly changed when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sin entered the world. But even in the beginning, God had a rescue plan. The first hint of this plan is found in Genesis 3:15. This would not be an immediate rescue though. In only the fourth chapter, the first murder is committed when Cain killed his brother, Able out of jealousy. God’s people continued to rebel against Him to the point where their thoughts were evil all the time. God wiped out all of humanity with a flood, saving the family of only one man: Noah. Noah’s family wasn’t perfect though, and after the earth was repopulated, it wasn’t long before the people rebelled again. This time, pride was the issue and they started to build a great tower that would reach heaven to show how great they were. God confused their languages and scattered them across the earth. God chose one man, Abraham, and made a covenant with him: he would have many descendants, a special land, and his family would be a blessing to all nations. Abraham’s covenant is passed on to his son, Isaac, and then to Isaac’s son, Jacob, who God renames “Israel.” Jacob had twelve sons. His favorite son, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers but ultimately becomes an important ruler in Egypt. Joseph forgives his brothers and is reunited with his family. All of the Israelites move to Egypt. 

Eager to learn more? Join a Global Online Genesis Bible Study!

Exodus

Genre: History

Author: Moses

Original Audience: The nation of Israel during their years wandering

Date Written: Approximately 1450-1400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Deliverance
  • Rebellion
  • God’s Faithfulness

Key Words: Provision/Passover, Commandment, Tabernacle

Exodus begins about 400 years after the Israelites immigrated to Egypt. God’s covenant to Abraham has begun to come to fruition as his descendants are now a great nation. So great, that Pharaoh feels threatened by their number and enslaves them and ordered for all Hebrew infant males to be killed. One Hebrew woman put her baby boy in a basket and floated him down the Nile where Pharaoh’s daughter found him and adopted him as her own. Moses was raised in the palace, but circumstances led him to run away. God called Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let His people go. God sent ten plagues, the final one being the death of every firstborn Egyptian. Pharaoh allowed the Hebrews to leave, and they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. God provided for them in miraculous ways, but the people often were ungrateful and lacked faith in God’s plan. God promised to be their God and gave them the Ten Commandments and instructions to construct a tabernacle so He could dwell with them. The Israelites rebel against God again and again, yet God is faithful to hold up His end of the Covenant. 

Study and Journal about Exodus in our Online Bible Study

Leviticus

Genre: Law and History

Author: Moses

Original Audience: The nation of Israel during their years wandering

Date Written: Approximately 1450-1400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • God’s Holiness
  • Man’s Sinfulness
  • Sacrificial System and Laws

Key Words: Holy, Unclean, Sacrifice, Atonement

The presence of God entered the tabernacle and God dwelled with His people. This wasn’t like when God was with Adam and Eve in the garden though; there were limitations on who could enter the tabernacle. God is perfect, just, and holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. Because God longs to be with His people, He gave them laws that would help them be holy. The people had been given the Ten Commandments, but the Law was comprised of hundreds of statues. There were laws about who could be a priest and what they could do, strict dietary laws, laws about feasts and festivals to be observed, and laws regarding sacrifices. Many of the laws were set in place to show the Israelites how they should live their lives, which was to be vastly different from the surrounding nations that worshiped idols. It was impossible for everyone to keep every law, and while the penalty for sin is death, God allowed His people to sacrifice animals in their place. The institution of the sacrificial system was a way for God’s people to worship Him by giving thanks and by asking for forgiveness and atonement for their sins. 

Join Other Christians for Leviticus Bible Study

Numbers

Genre: Law and History

Author: Moses

Original Audience: The nation of Israel during their years wandering

Date Written: Approximately 1450-1400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Census
  • Wandering in the Wilderness
  • Rebellion, Disobedience

Key Words: Census, Wandering, Disobedience

The Book of Numbers begins with just that – a count of the Israelite nation. The nation was made up of twelve tribes, which were the descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons. Each tribe was given specific responsibilities as well as a particular location for their tribe to camp in relation to the tabernacle. The Israelites began their trek to the Promised Land, following God’s presence, but they did so with complaining and questioning God’s plan. God graciously continued to provide for their needs despite their constant grumbling. When they neared the Promised Land, Moses sent twelve spies into the land to scout it out. They returned with a wonderful report of the land, but intimidating news of its inhabitants. Only two of the spies were confident that God would give them the land and the other ten swayed the people to refuse God’s gift to them. The punishment for their disobedience was to wander in the wilderness for forty years. The Book of Numbers includes more laws and vows, acts of rebellion, and another census, as well as interesting accounts such as a talking donkey and a vision of the coming Messiah. 

Want more? Join our Numbers Online Bible Study

Deuteronomy

Genre: Law and History

Author: Moses

Original Audience: The nation of Israel during their years wandering

Date Written: Approximately 1410-1400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Remembering
  • Law
  • Obedience

Key Words: Remember, Law, Idolatry

The Israelites’ forty years of wandering was about to end and as they prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses recalled all they had experienced up to this point. He remembered God’s promises and provision as well as the people’s rebellion. Moses urged the Israelites to remember God and to always put Him first. He reminded them of the Ten Commandments and told the people to teach them to their children, to talk about them regularly, to literally bind them to their wrists, and write them on their doorposts and gates (6:7-9). Moses reminded the people that God gave His Law to make them a holy people, unique and set apart from other nations. Much of Deuteronomy describes laws and observances the people must obey. Moses warned the people, reminding them that their obedience would bring blessing, but their disobedience would bring curses. Because of Moses’ own sin, the Lord does not allow him to enter the Promised Land. The book ends with Joshua being appointed as the next leader and Moses’ death. 

Dive into the Word with Deuteronomy Bible Study

Joshua

Genre: History

Author: Likely Joshua

Original Audience: The nation of Israel that first entered the Promised Land

Date Written: Approximately 1380-1370 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Battle
  • Faithfulness
  • Covenant

Key Words: Battle, Allotment/Inheritance, Covenant

The Book of Joshua begins with God essentially transferring Moses’ authority to Joshua. God prepared Joshua to lead the Israelites and Joshua prepared the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. Chapter two includes a story of how God used a foreign prostitute to help His people – a reminder that God can use anyone for His good plan and purposes. Much of the book is an account of the battles the Israelites fought in order to claim their land and nearly half of this book describes the allotment of land to the tribes. The Book of Joshua ends much like the Book of Deuteronomy, with Joshua reminding the Israelites of God’s faithfulness and urging them to be faithful to God. Just before his death, Joshua gathered the people for a covenant renewal.

Seeking Truth? Join a Live Joshua Bible Study

Judges

Genre: History

Author: Likely Samuel

Original Audience: The nation of Israel who was stuck in a cycle of sin, oppression, repentance, and deliverance

Date Written: Approximately 1050-1000 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Rebellion, growing wickedness
  • Earthly Rulers
  • Consequences

Key Words: Rebellion, Judge

When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God commanded them to drive out all the inhabitants of the land. When they failed to obey this command, God raised up judges to help lead the people in the ways of His Law. Some of these judges were good rulers who were faithful to God, such as Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, and Deborah. Gideon was a victorious judge, but he questioned God and doubted God’s ability to use him. The story of Gideon is a reminder that if God calls us to something, He will equip us for it. Some of the judges were not good, such as Jephthah and Samson. They disobeyed God’s commands and faced serious consequences. Throughout the Book of Judges, we see sin and rebellion become a major theme. The Israelites were supposed to be holy and set apart from other nations, but their sin causes them to look just like the nations they despised for their wicked behavior. The book closes by saying, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (21:25). 

Join the Online Judges Bible Study

Ruth

Genre: History

Author: Likely Samuel

Original Audience: The nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 1011-931 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Tragedy and Redemption
  • Loyalty, Faithfulness
  • God’s Sovereignty 

Key Words: Redeemer, kinsman, Moabite, kindness

The Book of Ruth begins with great tragedy when an Israelite woman, Naomi, loses her husband and two sons. She is left with two Moabite daughters-in-law that she cannot provide for so she decides to travel back home in hopes that her people will pity her and care for her until she dies. Naomi urges her daughters-in-law to return to their families as well and to remarry. One daughter does that, but the other, Ruth, refuses to leave Naomi’s side. Ruth travels to Bethlehem with Naomi and immediately begins working in a field to gather scraps of grain to provide for Naomi and herself. The field owner takes notice of Ruth’s hard work and loyalty to Naomi. It turns out that this field owner, Boaz, is a kinsmen redeemer (a relative who would take the place of a deceased husband to carry on the family name and inheritance). Under Naomi’s instruction, Ruth proposes to Boaz and after a closer kinsman redeemer declines this responsibility, Boaz gladly accepts Ruth as his bride. Together, they have a son, Obed, who would become the grandfather of King David. 

Study the Book of Ruth in a JournalOwl Journey

1 Samuel

Genre: History

Author: Likely Samuel, Nathan, and/or Gad

Original Audience: The nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 1000 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Earthly kings
  • Jealousy, Pride
  • Character, Friendship

Key Words: King, Anoint, Righteousness 

1 Samuel begins with Hannah, who begged the Lord for a son. God heard Hannah’s prayer and gave her Samuel. Just as Hannah vowed, she sent Samuel to the temple to live in service to God. He became a righteous prophet for Israel. The Israelites were dissatisfied with judges and pleaded for a human king to rule them. Samuel warned the people this would not be good, but God said to give them what they wanted. Saul was chosen to be the king of Israel and at first, he was successful. However, his pride led to disobedience and God rejected him as king. A young shepherd boy, David was chosen by God to be the next king of Israel, but it would be many years until David would take the throne. During these years, Saul’s pride and jealousy led him to hunt David and attempt to kill him many times. Saul’s son, Jonathan, and David had a deep friendship and Jonathan saved David by helping him flee. During Saul’s pursuit of David, David had the opportunity to kill Saul, but he refrained out of obedience to God. The book ends with Saul and his sons being killed in battle. 

1 Samuel Bible Study is happening now!

2 Samuel

Genre: History

Author: Likely Nathan and/or Gad

Original Audience: The nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 1000 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Covenant, God’s Faithfulness
  • Division
  • Sin, Repentance

Key Words: King, Covenant, Repentance

We can see David’s true character and integrity in the beginning of 2 Samuel when we read that he mourned the death of Saul and his sons. With Saul’s death, David officially took the kingship that was promised to him many years prior. David was a good, righteous, and extremely successful king. God made a covenant with David, promising that his kingdom would endure forever, and David’s son would build a temple, a permanent home, for the Lord’s presence to dwell in. Although David was a man after the Lord’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), he was not perfect. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then tried to cover it up by having her husband killed in battle. The prophet Nathan called David out on his sin and David sought God’s forgiveness, however he still faced the consequences of his sin, including the death of his son with Bathsheba and years of familial dysfunction. The end of 2 Samuel is not chronological, but it tells of many battle victories and includes songs that David wrote about God’s faithfulness.

2 Samuel Bible Study

1 Kings

Genre: History

Author: Jeremiah

Original Audience: The nation of Israel, most likely in exile

Date Written: Approximately 960-850 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Solomon’s Wisdom and the Temple
  • Kingdom Divided
  • Prophets and False Prophets

Key Words: Wisdom, King, Prophet

1 Kings begins with the passing of David and his son, Solomon, rising as the king of Israel. God told Solomon he could ask for anything he wanted, and Solomon asked God for wisdom. God grants Solomon with wisdom and to this day, Solomon is called the wisest man to ever live. Under Solomon’s rule, the kingdom flourished, and a grand temple was built as a permanent dwelling place for the Lord, partially fulfilling God’s covenant with David. However, Solomon broke the covenant with God by marrying hundreds of women and worshipping their gods. As a consequence, God allowed the surrounding nations to become enemies of Israel. When Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam, ascended to the throne and under his leadership the nation of Israel is divided in two. Jeroboam ruled the Northern Kingdom and led the people to idolatry. Both kingdoms had the rise and fall of many kings (the list of kings continues in 2 Kings). This book also introduces the prophet Elijah, who performed many miracles and called out the sin of the evil kings. 

1 Kings Online Bible Study for Christians

2 Kings

Genre: History

Author: Jeremiah

Original Audience: The nation of Israel, most likely in exile

Date Written: Approximately 850-560 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Rebellion, Wicked Kings
  • Judgement, Consequences
  • Exile

Key Words: Idolatry, Judgement, Exile

2 Kings begins with the death of the prophet Elijah and a description of the work of his successor, Elisha. Elisha also performed many miracles and pointed out the rebellion of the kings. This book continues to outline the succession of kings of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). Out of twenty kings in the kingdom of Judah, only eight were considered “good” kings. What’s worse is that out of nineteen kings in Israel, none were found righteous and faithful to God. These evil kings continued to rebel against God and led the people in wickedness, which led to the demise of God’s chosen people. Surrounding nations conquered both kingdoms and the Israelites were exiled from the Promised Land. First, the Assyrians overtook Israel, then the Babylonians conquered Judah.  

2 Kings Online Bible Study with Video and Questions

1 Chronicles 

Genre: History

Author: Possibly Ezra but Unknown

Original Audience: The nation of Israel following their return from exile

Date Written: Approximately 450-425 BC

Major Themes: 

  • History, Genealogy
  • Covenant Fulfillment and Faithfulness

Key Words: Descendant, Chronicle, Covenant

1 and 2 Chronicles were written after the Jews returned from exile. While these books retell the history of Israel, we should recognize that God found them important and appropriate to be included in His Word. The Israelites had suffered greatly due to their rebellion against God and remembering their history along with the promise of a Messiah who would make all things right would have been a major source of hope for them. We can read these books with the same expectation of hope. 1 Chronicles begins with genealogies, beginning with Adam and going all the way to their current period of time. The writer then remembers the life and death of Saul, David, and Solomon. The duties of the priesthood are also recounted, along with the building of the temple. In all this, the people are reminded of the covenant God made with David of an unending kingdom. 

1 Chronicles Online Bible Study

2 Chronicles 

Genre: History

Author: Possibly Ezra but Unknown

Original Audience: The nation of Israel following their return from exile

Date Written: Approximately 450-425 BC

Major Themes: 

  • History of Kings
  • Rebellion, Division, Exile
  • Return from Exile

Key Words: King, Rebellion, Exile

The Book of 2 Chronicles continues the history of the Jewish people, picking up with Solomon’s rule and the building of the temple. It then goes on to remind the people of the division within their nation and the string of kings that rose and fell into power. The author remembers the good kings, like Asa and Johoshaphat who were righteous leaders that called for reform. The author also recalls evil kings that practice idolatry and led the people to sin and corruption. The people are reminded that even with good, righteous leaders ruling over them, they continued to rebel against God which led to their exile. The book ends with the king of Persia making a proclamation that allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. 

2 Chronicles Online Bible Study

Ezra

Genre: History

Author: Likely Ezra

Original Audience: The nation of Israel following their return from exile

Date Written: Approximately 460-400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Restoration, Redemption
  • Rebuilding the Temple
  • Worship

Key Words: Return, Rebuild, Temple

The king of Persia allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed when Judah was conquered. Not only were they allowed to go back to Jerusalem, but they had also been given materials to rebuild the temple with. The people rejoiced when the new foundation was laid, however the generation who had seen Solomon’s temple in all its glory are grieved by what was lost. As they rebuilt the temple, they were met with opposition and conflicts throughout the process, but eventually the new temple is completed, and the Passover Feast is observed. Later, more exiles return to Jerusalem, including Ezra, who was a scribe and expert on the Law. Ezra prayed for the people and confessed their sins to God and led the people in worship and repentance. 

Join Ezra Online Bible Study

Nehemiah

Genre: History

Author: Likely Ezra

Original Audience: The nation of Israel following their return from exile

Date Written: Approximately 445-420 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Restoration, Redemption
  • Rebuilding the City Walls

Key Words: Return, Rebuild, City Walls

The Book of Nehemiah overlaps with the Book of Ezra and recounts rebuilding the city walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah was a cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, so even though he was living in captivity, he was given a comfortable and safe lifestyle. Nehemiah heard of the destruction of Jerusalem and is deeply grieved. The king notices Nehemiah’s distress and asks Nehemiah what he wants. With God’s help, Nehemiah tells the king of Jerusalem’s destruction and his desire to return to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city. King Artaxerxes allows Nehemiah to return home and gives him supplies and a military for safety. The people are met with much opposition and threats as they rebuild and the men are forced to build with one hand while yielding their weapon in the other. As in the Book of Ezra, when the building was completed, the people confessed their sins and worshipped God. Nehemiah returned to the king as his cupbearer but soon returns to Jerusalem when he hears the people have already rebelled against God. 

Nehemiah Online Bible Study

Esther

Genre: History

Author: Possibly Mordecai but Unknown

Original Audience: The nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 460-400 BC

Major Themes: 

  • God’s Sovereignty 
  • Rescue/Deliverance

Key Words: Beauty, Evil, Deliverance

Although the name of God is never mentioned in the Book of Esther, it is a beautiful story of His providence and deliverance. The story begins with King Ahasuerus looking for a new queen – a beautiful and obedient queen. Esther is a Jew in exile, but she hides her identity and wins the king’s search. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai heard about a plot to assassinate the king and warns him, earning the king’s favor. All the while, an evil man, Haman is honored by the king and expects everyone else to bow down to him. When Mordecai refuses, Haman plans to kill all the Jews in retaliation and tricks the king into approving this plan. Mordecai informs Esther of Haman’s evil plan, and she risks her life by approaching the king and exposing Haman plot against the Jews. The king is so angered by Haman that he orders for Haman to be executed “on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” (7:10). All of Haman’s estate is given to Esther and the decree to kill the Jews is reversed. The Jews establish a festival to remember the Lord’s deliverance. 

Want to study with others? Join the Online Esther Bible Study

Job

Genre: Wisdom

Author: Possibly Moses but Unknown

Original Audience: The nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 1440 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Suffering
  • Righteousness
  • God’s Sovereignty, Power, & All-Knowing Character

Key Words: Suffering, Worship, Righteous

The Book of Job is about a righteous and wealthy man who loses everything – his livelihood, his possessions, and his ten children – after God allows Satan to afflict Job to prove Job’s righteousness and faithfulness. In the midst of his grief, three of Job’s friends come to visit him and essentially ask what he did wrong to bring such suffering upon himself. Job insists that he has not sinned but even his wife tells him to “curse God and die” (2:9). At last, one friend suggests that suffering may be God’s way to build character and not only a means of punishment. Although Job remains faithful, he questions God. God responds by reminding Job of how He created the universe and everything in it and the power He holds over all things. Job responds with humble worship and repentance. The story ends with God graciously restoring all that Job had lost, plus more! 

Are you suffering? Look for wisdom in this online Job Bible Study

Psalms

Genre: Wisdom

Author: David, Asaph, Sons of Korah, Solomon, and Others

Original Audience: Personal Songs and Poems of the authors and for the nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 537-500 BC (compilation date)

Major Themes: 

  • Praise and Worship
  • Lament
  • Messiah

Key Words: Praise, Meditate, Cry out, Messiah

The Psalms were written by many different authors over the span of centuries, but they are all beautiful songs and poems that direct us in praise and worship of the Creator. The Psalms urge the reader to meditate on God’s Word and live according to His statutes. They also offer hope through prophecies of the coming Messiah. Many of the Psalms remind us that it is OK to cry out to God when we feel abandoned, scared, weak, and exhausted. God is big enough to handle any and all of our emotions. We also see examples of how the authors continued to praise and worship God even in the midst of grief and doubt. The Psalms are full of prophecies about the coming Messiah regarding His birth, ministry, afflictions, death, resurrection, ascension, and future glory. All of these are fulfilled in the New Testament scriptures. The Psalms reflect the emotions, victories, and struggles of real men and provide us with comfort and wisdom for every area of our lives. 

Read, study, and discuss the Book of Psalms with Other Christians

Proverbs

Genre: Wisdom

Author: Solomon and Others

Original Audience: Personal Songs and Poems of the authors and for the nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 900 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Wisdom
  • Righteous Living
  • Warnings

Key Words: Wisdom, Discipline/Training

The Book of Proverbs is like a list of holy fortune cookie sayings that provide us with wisdom and insight on how to live a righteous life that is pleasing to God. Although every Word of the Bible, including Proverbs is inspired by God, these sayings should be regarded as “general truisms” not absolute truths. The sayings in Proverbs offer us wisdom on how we should live our lives, including how we should treat others, parent, receive instruction and discipline, handle conflict and anger, and seek understanding. The book ends with a beautiful poem describing the ideal, God-fearing wife. 

Seeking wisdom? Start with this Proverbs Bible Study Group

Ecclesiastes

Genre: Wisdom

Author: Likely Solomon

Original Audience: Personal Songs and Poems of the authors and for the nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 935-930 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Wisdom
  • The Meaning of Life, Shortness of Life
  • Warnings

Key Words: Wisdom, Fleeting, Vanity

Ecclesiastes is similar to the Book of Proverbs; in that it urges readers to seek wisdom and understanding. It begins with a preacher (or teacher) pondering the meaning of life. The teacher recognizes the vanity of the world and how short life really is in the grand scheme of things. The response to the teacher recognizes these things as well, but suggests that the purpose of life is to live with wisdom and understanding of God’s Word and will. In essence, he says, life is short so turn to God before it is too late. Ecclesiastes is a reminder that we should live with an urgency and readiness to do God’s will. 

What is vanity? Find out in the Ecclesiastes Bible Study

Song of Solomon

Genre: Wisdom

Author: Likely Solomon

Original Audience: Personal Songs and Poems of the authors and for the nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 965 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Love
  • Marital Satisfaction and Enjoyment
  • Sex

Key Words: Love, Marriage, Attraction

Some people believe that the Song of Solomon is an allegory that describes the relationship between Christ and the church. However, when we look at the language in this book, it beautifully describes earthly marriage and the relationship between a husband and a wife. The book begins by describing the natural longing to find a spouse and love and goes on to describe the physical attraction and relationship between a husband and a wife. The Song of Solomon celebrates marriage and sex as a good gift from God which is countercultural from how society portrays marriage and sex today. Marriage is described as a covenant that should be honored, celebrated, and kept pure. 

Seeking Godly Marriage Advice? Study the Song of Solomon.

Isaiah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Isaiah

Original Audience: Prophet to Judah (Southern nation)

Date Written: Approximately 739-631 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Judgment, Rebellion
  • Messianic Prophecy
  • Repentance, Hope

Key Words: Judgment, Messiah, Return/Turn Back

Isaiah begins his book by identifying himself as the author and describing a vision he received from the Lord calling him to be a prophet to Israel. Isaiah repeatedly tells the people that judgment is coming and necessitates the need for purity and repentance. Several chapters address the burdens the surrounding nations will endure for their wickedness and oppression of Israel. Isaiah tells Israel it too will face judgment, but they have hope because God will send a Savior to rescue them. It is mentioned that part of Israel’s disobedience to God is their reliance on other nations and he warns that rather than being a political asset to Israel, they will come to oppress God’s people. Isaiah then jumps ahead in time to when the exiled Jews are able to return to Jerusalem. He reminds the people of the warning of exile he gave them and how God used that time to discipline His people. He encourages the people to repent and praise God for His deliverance but to also look forward to the day when true deliverance will come through the Messiah.  

Lost hope? Find it again in the Isaiah Bible Study

Jeremiah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Jeremiah

Original Audience: Prophet to Judah (Southern nation)

Date Written: Approximately 640-580 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Warning
  • Judgment
  • Discipline

Key Words: Judgment, Exile, Hope

Jeremiah was just a young boy when God called him to be a prophet to Judah. Understandably, Jeremiah was concerned that his young age would disqualify him from being a prophet, but God assured him that His words would fill Jeremiah’s mouth. Jeremiah warns Judah of the coming judgment and exile and calls the people to repentance. Some of the people rise up against Jeremiah and even threaten his life but he remains faithful to God’s calling. Although much of Jeremiah’s message seems bleak, there is also much hope in the promises God makes to His people. The book ends with prophecies of the coming judgment for the nations surrounding Judah. 

Find discipline in the Jeremiah Bible Study

Lamentations

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Likely Jeremiah

Original Audience: The nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 586 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Jerusalem’s Fall
  • Lamenting (Grief, Crying)
  • Mercy

Key Words: Destruction, Grief, Mercy, Hope

It is likely that Jeremiah was the author of Lamentations, which would be fitting as he was known as the “weeping prophet.” The book begins with the fall of Jerusalem due to the people’s sinfulness and rebellion against God. The writer is full of grief over the destruction of Jerusalem and compares the old Jerusalem, in all her glory, with the city that is now full of poverty and hardship. Although he is deeply stricken with grief, the writer never loses hope in God’s promises. This is beautifully worded in Jeremiah 3:31-32 when the writer says, “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.” The book ends with a plea for mercy and for God to remember His people. 

Greiving? Join the Lamentations Bible Study

Ezekiel

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Ezekiel

Original Audience: Prophet to the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon

Date Written: Approximately 593-565 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Judgment, Lament
  • Symbolism
  • God’s Glory

Key Words: Judgment, Destruction, Temple, Restoration

Ezekiel can be difficult to read because it is full of symbolism and strange behavior. The book begins with a vision of God’s glory no longer dwelling in the temple as Jerusalem has fallen and the people have been exiled. There is a hint of hope when Ezekiel’s vision reveals the presence of the Lord going into exile with the people. God gave Ezekiel many visions and told him to act out prophecies:

  • Ezekiel was forbidden to mourn his wife’s death, symbolizing Israel would lose what was precious to them but their hard hearts would prevent them from mourning.
  • Ezekiel cut his hair to symbolize God cutting off his people and divided it into three parts symbolizing what would happen to the people – a third would die of disease and hunger, a third by war, and a third would be scattered. 
  • Ezekiel was told to act like he was taken captive. He packed his belongings, camped, and shook while eating to symbolize the people would be living in fear.
  • Ezekiel had a vision of dry bones come to life, symbolizing God could restore His spiritually dead people if they would repent and turn back to him.

Join an Online Ezekiel Bible Study

Daniel

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Daniel

Original Audience: Prophet to the Jewish people living in exile in Babylon and Babylon

Date Written: Approximately 605-530 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Faithfulness, Obedience
  • Dream Interpretation
  • Messiah

Key Words: Faithful, Interpret, Deliverance, Vision

Daniel was a young man taken into captivity by the Babylonians. The book begins with a story of how Daniel and three of his friends remained faithful to God and refused to conform to the Babylonian lifestyle. God gave these men wisdom and they became ten times as wise as the king’s wise men. The king demanded for his wise men to interpret his dream, and when they were unable to do so, he ordered for all of them to be killed. Daniel and his friends save all of them by praying to God for wisdom to interpret the dream and then Daniel was able to interpret the king’s dream. The king promoted Daniel and his friends which made others jealous, and they kept trying to catch Daniel and his friends in situations where they would be punished. However, God protected them no matter what they faced and delivered them with divine intervention. The book ends with Daniel having visions about the Messiah and about the fall of surrounding nations. 

Start the Online Daniel Bible Study Today!

Hosea

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Hosea

Original Audience: Prophet to Israel (Northern Nation)

Date Written: Approximately 755-725 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Faithfulness, Unfaithfulness
  • Love
  • Marriage Covenant

Key Words: Unfaithful, Adultery, Love

The book of Hosea is a love story that represents God’s love for his people. God told Hosea to marry a woman who was known to be promiscuous. His wife left him many times, running to other lovers, just as God’s people had repeatedly left him and turned to the gods of the surrounding nations. Hosea remained faithful to his wife and welcomed her back home with love and compassion, just as God said He would welcome his people if they repented and turned back to Him. The book ends with a warning of what will come if the people do not repent and a promise of restoration if they do. Hosea is a book of God’s unfailing love and His eagerness to forgive and restore His people.

Read, Journal, and Discuss Hosea in this Online Bible Study

Joel

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Joel

Original Audience: Prophet to Judah (Southern Nation)

Date Written: Approximately 835-800 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Plague
  • “Day of the Lord”, Judgment, Restoration
  • Repentance

Key Words: Plague, Locust, Judgment, Punishment

When God sent Joel to speak to the people, it was during a horrible locust plague. The people and animals didn't have food to eat or water to drink because the locusts were covering all the land. Joel describes the locusts as an army because there were so many of them and they were doing so much damage! Joel tells the people that the locust plague isn't an accident; they are suffering because they disobeyed God. Some of the people had put on sackcloth and ashes, a physical symbol of their mourning but God tells them this isn’t enough; they must turn their hearts back to God. In return, God promises to give salvation to all those who call on His name. The book ends with the judgment that will fall on the surrounding nations and the restoration that will come to Israel. 

Dive into Joel with others! Join the Joel Bible Study

Amos

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Amos

Original Audience: Prophet to Israel (Northern Kingdom)

Date Written: Approximately 767-743 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Judgment
  • Morality, Justice
  • Discipline

Key Words: Justice, Poor, Immoral

The Book of Amos begins with judgment on the surrounding nations but then Amos turns to Israel and Judah and calls out their rebellion and impending judgment as well. Amos focuses on the injustice and moral corruption among the people. He reminds them of God’s commands and tells the people they should compare themselves against God’s Word, not the surrounding nations. Amos gives an explanation of why God’s people were being punished, listing out the ways they had rebelled against God. The priest did not want to hear Amos’s prophecies and tried to silence him. Amos was faithful to continue prophesying and the book ends with visions of judgment and a prophecy of the coming Messiah who would come from the line of David. 

Amos Bible Study

Obadiah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Obadiah

Original Audience: Prophet to Edom

Date Written: Approximately 848-840 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Pride
  • Judgement
  • Blessing

Key Words: Pride, Oppression, Judgment

Obadiah is the shortest book of the Old Testament with only 21 verses. Obadiah was a prophet to the Edomites, who were descendants of Esau. The nation of Edom had oppressed Israel for years and they were prideful of many things including their land, power, wealth, allies, and wisdom. God used Obadiah to remind the people of Edom how badly they had treated the Israelites and warn them that they would be humbled and judged for their pride and evil ways. He essentially says, “what goes around, comes around,” and God would avenge His people by causing Edom to experience the oppression and violence they had put on Israel.

Obadiah Bible Study

Jonah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Jonah

Original Audience: Prophet to Nineveh 

Date Written: Approximately 790 BC

Major Themes: 

  • God’s Call, Obedience
  • Judgement
  • Repentance

Key Words: Flee, Anger

God called Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh to warn them of God’s judgment. Jonah did not want to go to the wicked city and disobeyed God’s command by running away. He boarded a boat to Tarshish, but God caused a terrible storm, which Jonah blames on his disobedience, leading the sailors to throw him overboard. When Jonah was in the water, God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah. He spent three days in the belly of the fish where he cries out to God, recognizing the Lord’s compassion, unfailing love, and mercy. After three days, the fish spits Jonah out and God again tells Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time, Jonah begrudgingly goes and warns the people of God’s impending judgment. To his surprise, the people of Nineveh believe Jonah’s words and repent. When God shows them compassion, Jonah says the people do not deserve God’s mercy and he is so angered that he asks God to let him die. God helped Jonah recognize his bad attitude through a plant. 

Jonah Bible Study

Micah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Micah

Original Audience: Prophet to Israel (Northern Nation) and Judah (Southern Nation)

Date Written: Approximately 740-700 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Judgment
  • Justice
  • Restoration

Key Words: Justice, Mercy, Humility, Grace

The Book of Micah begins by addressing God’s coming judgment and Micah mourning the people’s rebellion. Similarly to Amos, Micah focuses on injustices and how God’s people had treated each other poorly by stealing, oppressing one another, and listening to false prophets and rejecting God’s true prophets. Micah warns the people of the coming destruction but offers a glimmer of hope by saying God will restore His people and bring them peace through His discipline. Micah speaks as if God’s people are on trial to make the point that they cannot defend or justify their rebellion. He then delivers a guilty verdict, sentencing the people to the destruction of Israel. Micah reminds the people of how they should live in one of the most popular Old Testament verses: …and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (6:8). 

Micah Bible Study

Nahum

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Nahum

Original Audience: Prophet to Nineveh

Date Written: Approximately 640-612 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Judgment
  • Justice
  • Goodness and Severity of God

Key Words: Justice, Vengeance, Destruction

About 100 years after Jonah went to the city of Nineveh, God sent another prophet, Nahum to preach to the people. They had already turned their backs on God and fallen back into sin and idolatry, mocking the God of Israel. Nahum describes God’s character showing both His goodness and severity. He describes God’s power and authority, even over nature. Nahum warns the people that they will be destroyed and made an example to the surrounding nations and that God would seek vengeance for His people.  

Nahum Bible Study

Habakkuk

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Habakkuk

Original Audience: Prophet to Judah (Southern Nation) prior to exile

Date Written: Approximately 605-597 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Waiting
  • Justice
  • Trust, Doubt

Key Words: Wait, Trust, Woe, Holy

The Book of Habakkuk is a wonderful reminder that it is OK for us to ask God questions when we don’t understand His plan. The key is to approach God with a genuine and humble heart. This is what Habakkuk did when he pleaded to God to bring freedom and restoration to Israel. God responded by saying destruction and captivity were forms of discipline for his people. Again, Habakkuk questions God, wondering how evil nations could be used for God’s good purposes. This time, God answers through a vision that showed injustice and He pronounced five woes on Babylon (Chaldeans). 

  1. Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his (v. 6)
  2. Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house (v.9)
  3. Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood (v.12)
  4. Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink (v.15)
  5. Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dub stone, Arise, it shall teach! (v. 19)

Habakkuk responds by acknowledging the Lord’s holiness and praying to God offering his full commitment and trust in the Lord. 

Habakkuk Bible Study

Zephaniah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Zephaniah

Original Audience: Prophet to Judah (Southern Nation) prior to exile

Date Written: Approximately 630 BC

Major Themes: 

  • The Day of the Lord
  • Judgment
  • Restoration, God’s joy over His people

Key Words: Judgment, Destruction, Joy

The Book of Zephaniah begins by addressing Judah’s coming judgment. Zephaniah then speaks of the Day of the Lord, when God’s justice, vengeance will be fully made known to the nations. Zephaniah tells the people to ready themselves for this day and then pronounces judgment on Judah’s enemies and Jerusalem. The book ends with a beautiful promise of restoration. God will change the hearts of His people and make them pure and holy. God says He will rejoice over His people with joy, a stark contrast to the judgment and destruction they would face first. 

Zephaniah Bible Study

Haggai

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Haggai

Original Audience: Jews rebuilding the temple after exile

Date Written: Approximately 520 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Rebuilding the Temple
  • “Consider your ways”
  • Encouragement

Key Words: Temple, Rebuild, Consider, Repentance

Once the Lord delivered His people from exile, He brought them back to Jerusalem. God questions them, asking when they will rebuild the temple so His presence can once again dwell with them. He warns them through Haggai, to consider their ways. The people respond with obedience and begin to rebuild the temple. When they become discouraged because the temple will not be as magnificent as Solomon’s temple, God encourages them to keep going and to remain faithful and obedient. As the people work, Haggai calls the people to examine their hearts before the Lord. The book ends with the promise of the coming Messiah. 

Haggai Bible Study

Zechariah

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Zechariah

Original Audience: Jews rebuilding the temple after exile

Date Written: Approximately 518 BC

Major Themes: 

  • Rebuilding the Temple
  • Coming Messiah
  • Encouragement

Key Words: Temple, Rebuild, Messiah, Repentance

Like Haggai, Zechariah encouraged the people as they rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. The book begins with a call to obedience so that the Israelites would not follow in the footsteps of their rebellious ancestors. Zechariah is then given six visions about the exile and destruction of Jerusalem, Israel’s sins, the coming Messiah, and the new Jerusalem. God then tells Zechariah of the coming peace and restoration for His people and judgment for Israel’s enemies. The second half of the book reveals several messianic prophecies that are all fulfilled in the New Testament through Jesus Christ. 

Zechariah Bible Study

Malachi

Genre: Prophecy

Author: Malachi

Original Audience: Prophet to the nation of Israel

Date Written: Approximately 425 BC

Major Themes: 

  • God’s Love
  • Sins of the Priests
  • Day of the Lord

Key Words: Love, Priest, Covenant

The Book of Malachi begins with God declaring His love for Israel. He then calls out the people for their wickedness and rebellion. Through Malachi, God addresses the impure sacrifices the priests made and how they dishonored and disobeyed God’s commands. He then lists the way the people have sinned against Him – stealing, idolatry, and disrespecting God’s name. Chapter three then begins to describe a messenger of the Lord that is coming to prepare the way for the Messiah. The book ends with God’s promise of a day when all evil and wickedness will end, and righteousness will win. Malachi was the last prophet to speak God’s words to His people. It would be over 400 years until God broke His silence. 

Malachi Bible Study

New Testament

Matthew

Genre: Gospel

Author: Matthew

Original Audience: All people but primarily Jews

Date Written: Approximately AD 60

Major Themes: 

  • Jesus is the Messiah
  • Jesus’s Life and Ministry
  • Covenant Fulfillment

Key Words: Generation, Christ

The Book of Matthew is the first of the four gospels that tell of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Matthew’s gospel is primarily written for Jews, so much of the focus is on how Jesus fulfilled the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. Matthew references the Law and Old Testament scripture to point out that Jesus was the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. Matthew begins his book with Jesus’s genealogy beginning with Abraham and then writes about the birth of Jesus. Matthew briefly introduces John the Baptist, who was the messenger God promised through Malachi. Most of the gospel is an account of the many miracles and teachings of Jesus during His earthy ministry that demonstrated His power and authority. Some people followed Jesus and believed He was the Messiah, but many were against Him and plotted how they could kill Him. Towards the end of the book, Matthew writes about Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The very people who praised His name, would turn against Him and have Jesus crucified. The book ends with the risen Christ giving His disciples a commission – go tell the world about me. 

Matthew Bible Study

Mark

Genre: Gospel

Author: Mark

Original Audience: All people but primarily gentiles in Rome

Date Written: Approximately AD 59-68

Major Themes: 

  • Jesus is the Messiah
  • Jesus’s Life and Ministry
  • Salvation for Non-Jews (Gentiles)

Key Words: Christ, Gentile, Messiah

The Book of Mark is the second gospel account in the Bible and the shortest gospel. Mark worked closely with Peter and Paul, and much of what is written in his book is likely based off of Peter’s teachings and witness testimony. Because Mark’s primary audience was not the Jews, his book contains less references to scripture, covenants, and law and more references to how Jesus truly was the Son of God. Mark begins his gospel with John the Baptist and then moves straight into Jesus’s life and ministry where he focuses on the idea that Jesus came to serve others. He then writes about the people’s rejection of Jesus as the Messiah which led to the His death. Mark concludes his gospel with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and the commission to tell the world about Jesus. 

Mark Bible Study

Luke

Genre: Gospel

Author: Luke

Original Audience: Theophilus and Gentiles

Date Written: Approximately AD 62-65

Major Themes: 

  • Humanity of Christ
  • Compassion of Christ
  • Salvation for Non-Jews (Gentiles)

Key Words: Son of Man, Christ, Gentile

The Book of Luke is the third gospel account, written by the Greek physician, Luke. Like Mark, Luke’s writing was geared towards the Gentiles, but Luke seemed to have greatly researched the life of Christ by gathering many stories and testimonies from those who were with Jesus. Luke focuses primarily on the humanity of Christ, noting that Jesus faced temptation, hunger, pain, and grief just like we do. In fact, Luke dedicates two whole chapters about Jesus’ birth and the events leading up to it. Luke also includes the only account of Jesus’s childhood, where he describes the boy Jesus going to the temple. Luke’s gospel is not completely out of order, but he does arrange it so as the reader gets an introduction to Jesus, then a focus on miracles, followed by a focus on teaching, and ends with the death and resurrection of Christ, focusing on His authority. 

Luke Bible Study

John

Genre: Gospel

Author: John

Original Audience: Christians familiar with the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke

Date Written: Likely after AD 70

Major Themes: 

  • Divinity of Christ
  • Son of God
  • Salvation 

Key Words: Son of God, Christ, Salvation

Contrary to Luke, John focuses more on the divinity of Christ, proving that Jesus was in fact, God. John begins his gospel by pointing the reader back to the very beginning of creation to make the point that Jesus always existed with God. John’s gospel provides more information that is not included in the other gospel accounts, and he uses a lot of symbolism and poetic language in his writing. John includes more information about John the Baptist and describes the teachings and miracles of Jesus in a way that highlights His power and authority. Just as the other gospels, John goes through the life and ministry of Jesus, followed by His death, burial, and resurrection. The book ends with John saying, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (21:25). John’s point here is that even with the new information he provides, we can never fully grasp how much Christ did for us. 

John Bible Study

Acts

Genre: History

Author: Luke

Original Audience: Gentiles after the death and resurrection of Christ

Date Written: Approximately AD 60-65 

Major Themes: 

  • The First Church
  • Persecution
  • Faithfulness, Boldness

Key Words: Holy Spirit, Persecution, Faith

The Book of Acts is a historical account of the establishment and growth of the first Christian church. Luke wrote this book as a sequel to his gospel. The book begins with Jesus’s closest followers meeting together in secret but then the Lord sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within the believers, giving them a new boldness to proclaim the gospel. This indwelling of the Spirit also means that each believer is now the temple, or home, of God’s presence and a physical temple is no longer needed. The Book of Acts follows the apostles as they preach and teach about Jesus and perform many miracles in His name. Even though they were persecuted, imprisoned, threatened, beaten and stoned, and some put to death, they faithfully preached the Good News. Much of Acts focuses on Paul’s conversion and missionary journeys where he faced various trials such as shipwrecks, multiple imprisonments, being bitten by a snake, and many beatings. The book ends by saying Paul continued to preach and teach the Good News, not allowing any man to stop him. 

Acts Bible Study

Romans

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul

Original Audience: Christians in Rome, primarily Gentiles

Date Written: Approximately AD 57-58 

Major Themes: 

  • Justification, New Life
  • Sin
  • Unity

Key Words: Sin, Salvation, Unity

The Book of Romans brings an assurance of faith for all who have trusted in Jesus for their salvation. Paul reminds the readers that in their new life, it does not matter if the are Jew or Gentile. He does this by addressing four main ideas:

  • Whether Jew or Gentile, all who have trusted in Christ for their salvation have received His righteousness
  • Whether Jew or Gentile, all Christians are called to live a new life through the power of the Holy Spirit
  • Whether Jew or Gentile, all believers have received the grace of God
  • Whether Jew or Gentile, all Christians are now united to one another through Christ

Paul ends his letter with a list of what “new life” looks like for the believer. 

Romans Bible Study

1 Corinthians 

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul and Sosthenes

Original Audience: Gentile Christians in Corinth

Date Written: Approximately AD 55-56 

Major Themes: 

  • Unity
  • Misunderstanding of Christian beliefs
  • Church Function, Guidelines

Key Words: Unity, Conduct, Freedom

1 Corinthians addresses many issues within the church at Corinth including, disunity, sexual immorality, and divisions regarding food ethics and church doctrine. Paul addresses these issues by reminding the Corinthians that they are united through Christ. Regarding misconduct, Paul reminds them of the grace freely given to them but states that they should not abuse this grace by continuing to sin, rather they should pursue holiness. Paul frequently mentions the freedoms we have in Christ, but also warns that just because it is lawful to do something, doesn’t mean we should, and wisdom and discernment are necessary for these circumstances. Paul reminds the Corinthians of how they should present themselves, how the church should function, and how spiritual gifts should be used. 

1 Corinthians Bible Study

2 Corinthians 

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul 

Original Audience: Gentile Christians in Corinth

Date Written: Approximately AD 56-57

Major Themes: 

  • Reconciliation, Forgiveness
  • Comfort, Strength
  • False Teachers

Key Words: Forgiveness, Strength, Giving, False Teachers

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he begins by addressing the hardships of ministry and the broken relationship between him and the church at Corinth. Although the church has caused issues, Paul’s genuine love and concern for the church is evident in his writing. He is quick to reconcile with the church and encourage them to practice reconciliation and forgiveness. Two chapters are used to address giving and the idea of good stewardship in order to advance the gospel. Paul defends his authority to be an apostle and proclaimer of the Gospel and warns the church against false teachers. Paul then continues to address some of the hardships he has experienced and how his strength comes from Christ alone, showing his humility and full dependence on God. Paul ends his letter by encouraging unity, love, and fellowship. 

2 Corinthians Bible Study

Galatians

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul 

Original Audience: Jewish and Gentile Christians in Galatia

Date Written: Approximately AD 49-56

Major Themes: 

  • Freedom
  • Comfort, Strength
  • False Teachers

Key Words: Forgiveness, Strength, Giving, False Teachers

Paul begins his letter to the churches in Galatia by calling out their quick desertion of the gospel and how they turned to false teachers. Before Paul corrects the church, he reestablishes his authority by recounting his calling by God and the apostles’ acceptance of him. Paul then addresses several incorrect teachings and reminds them that the Gospel is for both Jews and Gentiles. Paul calls for righteous living but also freedom, reminding the church that they are no longer bound by the Old Law. Rather, they are to live according to the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance – for against these things there is no law (5:22). 

Galatians Bible Study

Ephesians 

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul 

Original Audience: Multiple churches in the area near Ephesus

Date Written: Approximately AD 62-63

Major Themes: 

  • Unity with Christ
  • Unity with Others, Relationships
  • New Life

Key Words: Unity, Marriage, Armor of God

The Book of Ephesians is full of ways we can practically apply the gospel to our lives. Paul tells the believers that through Christ they are reconciled to God and because of the unity they have with God, they can have unity with one another. Paul describes righteous living of believers by addressing conduct, the marriage relationship, parenting, work, and how believers should treat others. He ends his letter by urging the readers to put on the armor of God – the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. 

Ephesians Bible Study

Philippians

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul 

Original Audience: Primarily Gentile, Roman Christians in Philippi 

Date Written: Approximately AD 61-62

Major Themes: 

  • Thanksgiving
  • Suffering, Endurance/Perseverance
  • Joy

Key Words: Thanksgiving, Persevere, Joy

Paul begins his letter by thanking God for the Philippians. He acknowledges how they have worked alongside him to preach and teach the Gospel and have been a source of encouragement to him. Paul then addresses some of the hardships he has experienced but expresses his contentment, knowing that his hardships have led others to believe in Christ. Paul proves himself a living example for the church for the instruction he gives them throughout the letter. He encourages the believers to have endurance and to persevere through the midst of trials and suffering and to find joy and contentment in Christ. Paul addresses individual members of the church, encouraging them to work together. Paul ends his letter by reminding them to stay focused on whatever is good and lovely. 

Philippians Bible Study

Colossians

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul and Timothy

Original Audience: Christians in Colossae 

Date Written: Approximately AD 58-62

Major Themes: 

  • False Teaching
  • Sufficiency of Christ
  • New Self

Key Words: Created, Authority, Put on

Paul begins this letter with thanksgiving for the church at Colossae. He then writes about Jesus Christ, focusing on Jesus as the Creator and Ruler of all things. Paul addresses many false teachings within the church such as Jewish legalism, combining religions and following other religions, and mysticism. Paul reminds the readers that Christ is sufficient, and these other religions will not satisfy them the way Christ can. Paul encourages the believers to put to death all wickedness and to put on the new self that is characterized by mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, charity, and unity. 

Colossians Bible Study

1 Thessalonians

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul, Silas, and Timothy

Original Audience: Gentile Christians in Thessalonica 

Date Written: Approximately AD 50-52

Major Themes: 

  • Persecution
  • Faith, Hope
  • Sanctification

Key Words: Suffering, Faith, Hope

Paul gives thanks for the Thessalonians and acknowledges the persecution they have been experiencing. Paul not only shows sympathy for them, but he is empathetic, fully understanding the persecution they are facing because he has experienced it as well. Paul briefly describes his ministry to the Thessalonians and expresses his desire to see them again. Paul had previously sent Timothy to the church in Thessalonica and is encouraged by his report. He then encourages the church to live a life pleasing to God and encourages them to remain faithful and steadfast and not fall prey to the culture around them. Paul offers the believers hope by reminding them Jesus will return and relieve them of all persecution and suffering. Paul ends the letter with final instructions and a blessing to the church. 

1 Thessalonians Bible Study

2 Thessalonians

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul, Silas, and Timothy

Original Audience: Gentile Christians in Thessalonica 

Date Written: Approximately AD 51-52

Major Themes: 

  • Persecution
  • Faith, Obedience
  • Judgment

Key Words: Suffering, Hope, Judgment

Paul opens his second letter to the Thessalonians by reminding them of the righteous judgment of God that will come when Christ returns. He addresses the issue of a false teacher who has been teaching in Paul’s name. Paul asks for prayers from the church and then warns against idleness. He ends this short letter with a benediction, or blessing, of peace and unity. 

2 Thessalonians Bible Study

1 Timothy

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul

Original Audience: Timothy 

Date Written: Approximately AD 62-66

Major Themes: 

  • False Teaching
  • Church Instruction and Leadership
  • Encouragement

Key Words: Doctrine, Pray, Bishop (Elder), Deacon

Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus and then sent him this letter to encourage him in his ministry. He begins the letter by warning against false teachings and encouraging Timothy to remain faithful and be prepared to “war a good warfare” (1:18). Paul then instructs Timothy on how to pray for others and how men and women should conduct themselves. A good portion of Paul’s letter addresses qualifications for church leaders and instructions for how the church should care for the needy. Paul gives another warning against false teachers and doctrine and encourages contentment. He ends the letter by encouraging Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith” (6:12) and remain focused on eternal life.   

1 Timothy Bible Study

2 Timothy

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul

Original Audience: Timothy 

Date Written: Approximately AD 67

Major Themes: 

  • Guard the Gospel
  • Working for Christ, Godliness
  • Inspiration of Scripture

Key Words: Gospel, Preach, Godliness, Scripture

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he encourages Timothy to remain faithful and guard the gospel, meaning he should uphold the integrity of Scripture and be faithful to share it with others. Paul acknowledges that this is what has led to his imprisonment but tells Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (1:7). Again, Paul warns against false teachers and states that all scripture is from God, Himself, and is useful for sound doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction (3:16). Paul ends his letter with personal instructions for Timothy and asks for Timothy to visit him in prison, as he expects he will soon die. 

2 Timothy Bible Study

Titus

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul

Original Audience: Titus

Date Written: Approximately AD 66

Major Themes: 

  • Qualifications for Church Leaders
  • Teaching Sound Doctrine
  • Christian Living

Key Words: Elder, Doctrine, Rebuke

Paul’s letter to Titus is similar to the first letter he sent Timothy. Paul begins by greeting Titus and then addresses the qualifications for church leaders. Titus was a church leader in the church in Crete, where the people were rebellious and needed to be rebuked. Paul encouraged Titus to rebuke the Cretans as needed and to teach sound doctrine. Paul urges them to live a new life in Christ, marked by good works and faithfulness. Paul ends his letter with instructions and greetings for specific individuals. 

Titus Bible Study

Philemon

Genre: Epistle

Author: Paul and Timothy 

Original Audience: Philemon

Date Written: Approximately AD 60

Major Themes: 

  • Love
  • Mercy
  • Unity in Christ

Key Words: Love, Bondservant, Mercy

Paul’s letter to Philemon is brief and begins with Paul reminding him of the unity they have through Christ. Paul thanks Philemon for his dedication to and love for the church. Paul then mentions Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway servant. Paul acknowledges that Onesimus was wrong to run away, however, Onesimus is now a Christian. Paul urges Philemon to receive Onesimus, not as a servant, but as a brother in Christ and with full forgiveness. 

Philemon Bible Study

Hebrews

Genre: Epistle

Author: Unknown 

Original Audience: Christians in Rome, primarily Jewish Christians 

Date Written: Approximately AD 65

Major Themes: 

  • Supremacy of Christ
  • Jesus’s Fulfillment of the Law
  • Faith

Key Words: Priest, Faith

The Book of Hebrews begins by recognizing Jesus’s supremacy as the Creator of the World, exact image of God, and higher than the angels. It also recognizes Jesus as the greater High Priest because He is the mediator between God and man, fully divine and fully human. The divinity of Christ made Him the perfect substitute for our sins and His humanity allowed Him to sympathize with our struggles and temptations. Towards the end of the Hebrews letter, the author encourages the readers to have faith and lists what is known as the “Hall of Faith” which includes Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel (Ch. 11). The writer states that Jesus is the “author and finisher” of our faith (12:2) and encourages the readers to have patience and endure life’s race.

Hebrews Bible Study

James

Genre: Epistle

Author: James

Original Audience: Jewish Christians 

Date Written: Approximately AD 45-50

Major Themes: 

  • Godly Living
  • Wisdom
  • Good Works

Key Words: Endurance, Faith, Works

James’s letter begins by acknowledging the trials that Christians must face in their daily walk with Christ. He encourages the readers to count it as joy when they face temptation because this builds character and grows faith. James explains that it is not enough for Christians to simply know God’s Word, but they must also obey and do God’s Word. The idea here is not to go back to legalism or trying to earn salvation through works, but rather that because of our salvation and faith, we should do good works in response to what Christ has done for us. James warns against careless or hurtful speech and encourages the readers to seek wisdom. He also warns the people about worldliness, exhorting them to remain focused on eternity rather than the fleeting things of this life. He ends his letter with again encouraging the reader to remain steadfast and faithful in trials. 

James Bible Study

1 Peter

Genre: Epistle

Author: Peter

Original Audience: Jewish and Gentile Christians  

Date Written: Approximately AD 64-65

Major Themes: 

  • Hope
  • Holiness
  • Incorruptible 

Key Words: Hope, Holy, Inheritance, Salvation

Peter begins his letter by reminding the believers of the hope they have in Christ. He focuses on the eternal and states that their hope is incorruptible, undefiled, and unending (1:4). He then addresses the new life of the believer and how we are called to be holy just as God is holy. Peter reminds the readers that through Christ they are adopted into the family of God and therefore share in the inheritance of Christ, which is eternal life. Peter addresses living out the gospel through submission to authority, love and submission within marriage, and suffering for the sake of righteousness. He reminds the church leaders to lead according to the grace and gifts that has been given to them and to protect their flock. Peter ends his letter by encouraging the believers to stand firm in truth and grace.

1 Peter Bible Study

2 Peter

Genre: Epistle

Author: Peter 

Original Audience: Jewish and Gentile Christians 

Date Written: Approximately AD 65-68

Major Themes: 

  • Sanctification
  • False Doctrine
  • Day of the Lord

Key Words: Knowledge, Grace, Understanding

Peter begins his second letter by urging the believers to grow in their wisdom and understanding of Christ, as this is how they will know everything they need to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God. He acknowledges Christ’s glory and the trustworthiness of Scripture and then warns against false prophets and teachers. Peter ends his letter with the reminder that this life will perish though we do not know the day or time of Jesus’s second coming. Peter encourages the readers to be ready and to live with an urgency to pursue holiness and share the gospel. 

2 Peter Bible Study

1 John

Genre: Epistle

Author: John 

Original Audience: Christians in multiple churches, likely near Ephesus

Date Written: Approximately AD 85-95

Major Themes: 

  • Love
  • Light and Darkness
  • Faith

Key Words: Word, Light, Abide

John begins his first letter by recognizing Jesus as the Living Word. He uses the stark contrast between light and darkness to show how Christians should change their life and sinful ways and live in righteousness. John then recognizes Jesus as our advocate. John uses the word love over 50 times in his brief letter, commanding the readers to love one another, to love God, and to not love the world. He warns against antichrists and encourages the believers to have confidence in Christ and to test teachers to ensure they are teaching truth. John speaks of God’s love for His children throughout the letter and urges the readers to abide in Christ. He ends his letter by assuring the testimony they have heard concerning Jesus is true and trustworthy.  

1 John Bible Study

2 John

Genre: Epistle

Author: John 

Original Audience: “the elect lady”  

Date Written: Approximately AD 685-95

Major Themes: 

  • Love
  • Obedience
  • Truth

Key Words: Love, Truth, Obey 

John’s second letter is addressed to “the elect lady and her children” (vs. 1). There is some debate if this is addressed to an individual woman and her children or if the “elect lady” is a church and her “children” are the members. John expresses his joy to know that the “children” are walking in truth and obedience to God’s Word. As in his first letter, John encourages the readers to love one another and beware of false teachers. He concludes his letter by expressing his desire to be with the readers in person soon. 

2 John Bible Study

3 John

Genre: Epistle

Author: John 

Original Audience: Gaius 

Date Written: Approximately AD 85-95

Major Themes: 

  • Obedience
  • Opposition
  • Do Good

Key Words: Truth, Opposition

Similarly to his letter to “the elect lady,” John begins this letter by expressing his joy that his friends are walking in truth. John then goes on to address a church leader, Diotrephes, who has been rejecting John’s authority and opposing the work of the apostles. John contrasts Diotrephes with Demetrius, a leader who has been well-spoken of and does what is good and right. John concludes his letter by expressing his desire to meet with Gaius face to face again.  

3 John Bible Study

Jude

Genre: Epistle

Author: Jude 

Original Audience: Christians (general audience) 

Date Written: Approximately AD 60-80

Major Themes: 

  • Truth
  • False Teachers
  • Obedience

Key Words: Truth, Obey

Jude begins his letter by stating that he intended on writing the believers about their common salvation, but upon hearing about false teachers, he felt it necessary to “contend for the faith” (vs. 3). Jude condemns the false teachers and urges the readers to abide in truth, remembering the words of the apostles. Jude ends his letter by encouraging the believers to build up their faith through prayer, continue in love and mercy, and to show compassion.

Jude Bible Study

 

Revelation

Genre: Epistle and Prophecy

Author: John

Original Audience: Christians, primarily those in the seven churches listed in chapters 2-3

Date Written: Approximately AD 90-95

Major Themes: 

  • Hope
  • End of this World
  • New Creation

Key Words: Victory, Evil, Holy, New Creation

The Book of Revelation can be intimidating, or even frightening to many people, but it is important to remember that this book is full of figurative language and metaphors that would have been relevant to the original audience. John wrote this letter to seven different churches in Asia to address specific issues each church was facing. John was given visions of the resurrected Christ, the throne room of God, and the new creation, all of which are described in his letter. Rather than approaching this Book with fear and confusion, we can approach it with hope because Jesus has already won – the victory belongs to the Lord! John speaks of plagues and uses personification to prophesy the destruction of idolatrous nations. But this section ends with the defeat of Satan. John concludes his letter by describing the new heaven and new earth, where God will dwell with His people. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there by any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (21:4). 

Revelation Bible Study

I hope you have found this summary of the Holy Bible to be a helpful starting point for you as you dive in to studying God’s Word. Reading and studying are vital to every Christian’s life and walk with Christ. Hopefully you found this guide to be engaging, informational, and useful in providing you with an overview of the Story of God. Be sure to join a Journey on JournalOwl and start journaling your way through the Bible! 

 

About Kailey Lentsch, MSW

Kailey Lentsch is the Chief Editor of JournalOwl. Her goal is to incorporate her knowledge of mental health and evidence-based techniques with sound biblical theology to provide readers with well-rounded, Christ-centered information and advice.

Prior to becoming a writer, Kailey worked as a community social worker providing counseling and case management for clients. She also taught special education in the autism unit for two years. Kailey stepped away from the classroom to focus on her growing family and to better serve her church and community through volunteer work.

Kailey is a graduate of The University of Central Florida with a master’s degree in Social Work and a certification in Children’s Services. She currently is enrolled in theology courses to expand her Bible knowledge and follow 2 Peter 3:18 by growing “in the grace and knowledge” of Christ.

Kailey and her husband are Florida natives and enjoy spending time with their three kids. They love being outdoors or doing anything sports related.

Health Disclaimer

JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.

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