The Bible Basics: Books and Classifications

The Holy Bible is a spiritual book revealing the glorious truth of our Lord Jesus Christ and instructing the believers to a life of holiness. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

At the same time, it is a work of literature that has literary aspects. It is a book consisting of 66 books, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Different genres are found in the Bible and are essential to correctly understand the message/ meaning of a particular book or biblical passage.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament (OT) was originally written in Hebrew. It is composed of 39 books with five classifications: Pentateuch (5), History (12), Wisdom (5), Major Prophets (5), and the Minor Prophets (12).

Pentateuch – the books of the law that include the first five books of the Bible.

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Leviticus
  4. Numbers
  5. Deuteronomy

– contain the history of the nation of Israel.

  1. Joshua
  2. Judges
  3. Ruth
  4. 1 Samuel
  5. 2 Samuel
  6. 1 Kings
  7. 2 Kings
  8. 1 Chronicles
  9. 2 Chronicles
  10. Ezra
  11. Nehemiah
  12. Esther

Poetry/ Wisdom – consists of poems, songs, and/or wise teachings and instructions.

  1. Job
  2. Psalms
  3. Proverbs
  4. Ecclesiastes
  5. Song of Solomon

Major Prophets – prophetic writings that have longer contents.

  1. Isaiah
  2. Jeremiah
  3. Lamentations
  4. Ezekiel
  5. Daniel

Minor Prophets – prophetic accounts shorter than the major prophets but not less inspired nor less important.

  1. Hosea
  2. Joel
  3. Amos
  4. Obadiah
  5. Jonah
  6. Micah
  7. Nahum
  8. Habakkuk
  9. Zephaniah
  10. Haggai
  11. Zechariah
  12. Malachi

The New Testament

There are 27 books in the New Testament (NT) classified into the following: Gospels (4), History (1), Letters/ Epistles (21), and Apocalypse (1). The NT was written in Koine (common) Greek.

Gospels – record the life and ministry of Christ–including His death, and resurrection.

  1. Matthew
  2. Mark
  3. Luke
  4. John

History – record the works of the Holy Spirit in and through the lives of the apostles and the early Christian church.

  1. Acts/ Acts of the Apostles

Letters/ Epistles – letters written in the New Testament.

Pauline Epistles – letters from the apostle Paul to specific churches, and church leaders (pastoral epistles).

  1. Romans
  2. 1 Corinthians
  3. 2 Corinthians
  4. Galatians
  5. Ephesians
  6. Philippians
  7. Colossians
  8. 1 Thessalonians
  9. 2 Thessalonians
  10. Philemon
  11. Titus (Pastoral epistle)
  12. 1 Timothy (Pastoral epistle)
  13. 2 Timothy ((Pastoral epistle)

General Epistles– letters to the “universal” audience.

  1. Hebrews
  2. James
  3. 1 Peter
  4. 2 Peter
  5. 1 John
  6. 2 John
  7. 3 John
  8. Jude

Apocalypse – the revelation of the future events, specifically, the end times.

  1. Revelation

These genres/ classifications are important in our Bible study. Without the knowledge and understanding of these genres, we are prone to misinterpret and misapply passages in the Scriptures. Therefore, these must always be considered as we read and study God’s Word. In the next posts, I will share more Bible basics, steps on how to study the Bible correctly, and the importance of “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). God bless you.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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