[CMN Home]

Lesson 2
Introduction to the Bible

If you open a Bible, you will notice that it is in fact a whole library of books. It is a collection of sixty six different books and letters. They were written in the course of about 1 400 years. These sixty six books are divided into two main sections. The first is called the Old Testament and the second the New Testament. The word "testament" means agreement or covenant. It refers to God's dealing with the human race.

The Old Testament tells mainly about the acts of God from the creation of the universe up to the time of Christ. The New Testament covers the time span from the birth of Christ until the second coming of Christ, which is still in the future. The Old Testament explains why we need to be made free from sin. It also tells of God's promises of a Saviour that will save God's people from sin. The New Testament tells how that Saviour came and how he changes men's lives up to the present day.

The different books of the Bible are grouped together according to their contents. The following sketch will help you to understand:

The Unity of the Bible

The Old Testament has thirty nine books, and the New Testament twenty seven, making a total of sixty six books in all. These were written by more than forty different authors. They cover a span of about 1 400 years, that is, from the writer of the first book to the author of the last book, about 1,400 years passed. Besides, the Bible was written altogether in at least three languages and on three continents, and most of the authors did not know one another, and yet the whole Bible reads like one book with one main theme!

Think about this, dear student, think about this fact that over forty people, living in widely different times and separated by over fourteen centuries from the first to the last, are the authors of the Bible, and ask yourself if men from so many backgrounds and so many ages could have produced one book that has only one message? Is a thing like this possible by any human standards? The holy Book is nothing less than a miracle of God! The only explanation possible is that behind all these authors are one great Author. God himself. That is why the Bible is often called the Word of God.

Chapters and Verses

The books of the Bible are divided into chapters. Each chapter is subdivided into verses. This makes it easy to refer to a specific section of the Bible. Sometimes the names of the Bible books are shortened (abbreviated) when a writer refers to a certain verse. Thus Heb. 11:6 refers to the letter of Hebrews in the New Testament, chapter 11, verse 6. Is. 53:5-7 means Isaiah chapter 53 verses 5 to 7. The contents page of your Bible will help you to find the verse.

Different Translations

At first the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language and the New Testament in Greek. Because most people do not understand these languages today, the Bible was translated into most of the languages spoken today. All honest translations of the Bible have the same teachings.

There are several good translations into modern English available. We use the Good News Bible in this Bible course because its English is easier to understand than most other translations. You can order this translation from: The Bible Society of India, 20 Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bangalore 560 001, India or any local Christian bookshop. You are welcome to email us if you have questions about the translation that you have.

Give the Bible a Chance

In our previous lesson we learnt that God guided all the Bible writers in everything that they wrote down. That is why the Bible is also called the Word of God. Anyone that reads the Bible with an open mind will soon be convinced hat this is truly the Word of God. Millions of people can testify that the message of the Bible has changed their lives.

Every person is entitled to his own opinion about religion. But if you wish to know the truth, there is only one way to be sure. It is to find out what God himself says in his Word, the Bible.

There are many arguments that prove the authority of the Bible. One may mention the fact that the Bible has only one main message even though it is written during about 1 400 years and by many authors. One could point out that its prophecies were fulfilled in detail. One can talk of the greatness of its message; or the fact that it has been preserved up to this day, even though many have tried to destroy it. But the most convincing argument of all is the Bible itself. As you read the Bible, you will be convinced of its truth. Give the Bible a chance. As you read the Bible you will get to know the great and wonderful God who offers you a new life.

How to Read the Bible

Remember that the Bible is a whole library of books. That is why we suggest that you start reading your Bible at one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) in the New Testament. Then read the other New Testament books before you start with the books of the Old Testament. In this way you will find it much easier to understand the teaching of the Bible.

Read your Bible every day, and always pray first and ask God to help you to understand the great truths it contains. Read one Bible book at a time, and underline verses that seem important to you. You are welcome to write to us if you find something that is not clear to you.

Test Yourself No. 2

Fill in your own answers to the following questions. After that you can click here [answers] to compare your answers with the answers given.

1. In which two main sections is the Bible divided ?
2. How many different books are contained in the Bible?
3. What does the word "testament" mean?
4. Why is the Bible called the Word of God?