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Are you looking for a Bible summary? A summary of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation?
Well friend, you have come to the right place!
The Bible is a wonderful work of art. In fact, it’s a masterpiece.
It was written over the course of 1500 years, by as many as 40+ authors, and in several different languages.
It documents the rising and falling of major kingdoms throughout history and speaks of the love and sovereignty of our God through it all.
It’s a redemption story of God’s love for humanity, and the sacrifice He was willing to make for all of mankind.
But most of all, it is the unshakeable and infallible Word of God. It’s God’s mouthpiece to us here on earth and is the main resource God has given us to know Him more.
Now, that’s one heck of a book!
However, what I hear from most people is they struggle reading and understanding the Bible. Which is why I am writing this post.
This Bible summary is a summary of the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
By understanding the big picture of what is going on in the Bible as a whole, it will help you understand how each story in the Bible interlink and come together to reveal one giant story of God’s love and redemption. Let’s dive in!
Let’s start by doing a Bible overview! Now, first thing to point out is to even refer to the Bible as one book is kind of misleading. The reason for this is because the Bible isn’t just one book but is instead a collection of books.
As mentioned above, it was written by as many as 40+ authors in three main languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek.
If that weren’t exciting enough, it’s not like the authors of the Bible knew each other’s name and came together to write these books within the same timeframe, or even the same lifespan. Instead, the books of the Bible were written over the course of 1500 years, roughly between 1000 BC to 120 AD.
Read More: Who Wrote the Bible?
So, we’re talking large spans of time have gone by throughout the course of the Bible being written with major changes in kingdom rulership, social customs, and political ideologies.
All of this can definitely make reading the Bible rather difficult, but no worries friend, this is a problem we can overcome. 🙂
The second most important thing to point out is this collection of books (66 in total) is actually split into two major sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament.
There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.
But, what’s a “testament”?
Testament is actually an old English word meaning “covenant”, and a covenant is simply an agreement between two parties.
Now, this is extremely important when it comes to summarizing the Bible because what these two major sections of the Bible represent are the old and new agreements, or covenants, that God made with His people.
Because of this, it would make way more sense for our modern-day English speakers to refer to the Bible as the Old and New Covenant, instead of the Old and New Testament…
But alas…let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 🙂
Now, if you are like me at all, you might be a visual learner, so let’s take a look at our Bible overview visually.
Bible Overview Chart
The above Bible overview chart showcases all 66 books of the Bible, organizing them by their placement in either the Old or New Testament.
The chart also categorizes each book into their Biblical genre, which is a detail I personally appreciate.
Understanding the Biblical genres, why each book was written, and for what purpose each book was written will help you in understanding the story of the Bible as whole.
Old Testament Summary
Now we’re going to start diving into the two major sections of the Bible, the Old and New Testament, starting with an Old Testament Summary!
As mentioned above, the Old Testament consists of 39 books, beginning with the Book of Genesis.
Genesis tells the story of the creation of the world and everything in it including the heavens and the earth, the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. It also tells the story of the fall of man into sin, and the consequences of the fall which is separation from God, our Creator and source of eternal life.
However, in the next few pages we are let in on the beginning of God’s redemption plan for humanity, which includes God creating a separate nation for Himself, often referred to as His chosen people.
These chosen people are the Hebrews, later known as the Israelites, or the Jews.
This story begins somewhere around 1800 BC when God makes a covenant with a man named Abraham to make his descendants a great nation. These people are to be blessed by God so that they can be a blessing to all the nations of the world.
The Book of Genesis tells how some of the first descendants of Abraham migrated to Egypt to escape a famine in their own land. After many generations (and approximately 400 years) the descendants had grown to over 2 million people, but they had become enslaved to the greatest kingdom at that time, the Egyptians.
The enslaved Hebrews cried out to God for help, looking forward to the day when God would rescue them from slavery.
Hearing the people’s cry, God sent a leader and prophet named Moses to lead the Hebrews out of slavery and into the Promised Land.
During this time God gave Moses the 10 Commandments which Christians to this day still base their spiritual and moral life upon.
All of this is covered in the Book of Exodus
The Law, the Wilderness, and the Promised Land
God then established His covenant with the people of Israel through the giving of the Law. The Law served as a binding agreement between God and His people. The requirements of the Law were designed to set apart the Israelites as God’s chosen people, protecting them and leading them on the path towards righteous living.
Much of this is covered in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Despite God revealing Himself through miraculous signs and wonders, the Israelites turned away from God and lapsed into idolatry and sin again-and-again, delaying their journey into the Promised Land.
After 40 years of wandering around in the desert, God rose up another leader, Joshua, who was called to lead this new generation of Israelites into the Promised Land.
With Joshua’s leadership the Israelites finally conquered the land of Canaan and entered into the Promised Land.
Much of this is covered in the Book of Joshua
Judges and Kings
However, once Israel was an established nation, the Israel begins a nasty cycle of abandoning God and falling captive to oppressive nations. Once again, they found themselves crying out to God for help and to be rescued.
Despite the people’s disobedience, God saves His people again-and-again using “heroes” called Judges. These Judges provided council and leadership to the people of Israel and delivered them from their oppressors.
All of this is covered in the Book of Judges
Up until this point, the nation of Israel did not have an earthly king like the nations around them. Furthermore, God did not want them to have a king, and instead encouraged them to lean on Him as their Ruler and King.
However, despite God’s warning that a king would only lead to oppression and mistreatment, the people of Israel demanded a king, to which the Lord obliged.
One resource I appreciate for understanding the Bible is The Story by Max Lucado. Click here or the image below to check it out!
The books of 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles cover the kings of Israel including Israel’s first king, King Saul, and Israel’s greatest king, King David.
Under the reign of King David and his son, King Solomon, Israel reached its peak of power and prosperity. However, at the end of King Solomon’s reign, the downfall of Israel began.
The once great nation of Israel split into two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Judah in the South and the Kingdom of Israel in the North. It was also during this time that the Temple, which was established during King Solomon’s reign, was destroyed.
Now let’s move on to discussing the largest bulk of the Old Testament, the writings of the prophets.
The prophets were people who were anointed by God to give warnings and future prophecy to the people of Israel. These warnings were often times consequences the Israelites would face if they continued to sin against God, and against one another.
The Old Testament actually has two major sections for these prophets:
- The major prophets, and
- The minor prophets
PS: The term “major and minor prophets” does not mean some prophets were more important than others, but instead is referring to the length of the book.
If you look at the Bible overview chart below, you’ll find the books in the Bible that are classified as the minor prophets, and the ones that are classified as major prophets.
God used the prophets to lead the Israelites away from sin and back on the path of righteousness.
A large portion of the Old Testament is actually written by the prophets. Many of these prophets predicted and foresaw the coming Messiah (which means “anointed one”), who was prophesied to be the long-awaited Savior and liberator of the Jewish people.
What’s important to note when reading the Bible is the writers made no attempt to hide the sins and failings of the Israelites. Throughout the Old Testament you’ll read really messed up stories of murder, adultery, incest, idol worship, and more.
These stories aren’t to be used for moral justification but are instead meant to show the depravity of humanity without Jesus at the center.
Check out Max Lucado’s book, The Story to get an even more in-depth summary of the Bible! Click here or the image below to view.
The world is lost, broken, and devoid of hope when we don’t have the Way, the Truth, and the Life (aka Jesus) on the throne of our hearts.
So, this Old Testament summary is really a story of God redemption plan to eliminate sin and death and restore all of humanity to Himself. His plan begins by singling out the Israelites (God’s chosen people) from all the nations of the world and giving them His Law.
However, because of man’s inability to follow the Law, much of the Old Testament showcases how the Israelites continually fall back into sin and oppression, despite God revealing Himself through miraculous signs and wonders.
Throughout the Old Testament we see that the Israelites are in need of a savior, and by the end we are left in suspense anticipating the coming of the promised Messiah. The One who will free the Israelites from captivity once-and-for all and set up a new kingdom from which He will rule and reign.
400 Years of Silence
Dun, dun, dun, the 400 years of silence. After the last book in the Old Testament (the Book of Malachi) God’s messengers, aka the prophets, grow silent.
Between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there is a time lapse of 400 years where God is silent and did not send any prophets to speak to His people. Many scholars refer to this period of time as the “intertestamental period”.
However, during these 400 years the Israelites continued to hold onto the promise that God would one day send a Savior, the Messiah, to deliver them out of bondage and captivity, and into freedom.
New Testament Summary
YAY, now let’s move on to the New Testament summary! The major things to take note of here as we enter into the Gospel of Matthew (New Testament) is the change in the political atmosphere from where we left off in the Book of Malachi (Old Testament).
At this point in history Israel has lost its power as a nation and Rome and Greece are the leading nations in culture, influence, and religion with the Roman Empire being the most powerful nation in the known world.
In addition to that, Israel is once again living under foreign oppression after having been invaded by the Romans and subjected to Roman rule.
So, this is the socio-economic climate in Israel when Jesus comes upon the scene in the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
One of my favorite resources for understanding the New Testament are commentaries! N.T. Wright offers one of my favorite commentary on the New Testament. Click here or below to check them out!
The New Testament begins with the 4 gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) which recount the story of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
Although exact dates are unknown, what we do know is Jesus was born around 6 and 4 BC in Bethlehem and was destined from birth to fulfill the role of the promised Messiah, or Christ.
The Messiah was prophesied to be a great leader of Israel, freeing the Israelites from Roman oppression and captivity, and establishing a new kingdom under His rule and domain.
We see the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Jesus Christ.
Luke 4:17-22 is one of the most direct passages of Scripture where Jesus declares that He is the prophesied Messiah:
“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then He rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on Him.
He began by saying to them,
“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:17 – 22 (NIV)
By saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” Jesus is saying that the Messiah prophesied years ago in the book of Isaiah has now been fulfilled in Him.
So, because Jesus is the promised Messiah, understanding who He is, is extremely important. That is why the authors of the New Testament give us not just one book documenting the life and ministry of Jesus, but four.
However, although all four gospels are similar, they are also very different. Each gospel was written for a specific purpose, to a specific audience, and gives us a slightly different perspective and viewpoint into who Jesus was, and still is, today.
Let’s take a look.
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience and focuses on how Jesus is the King of the Jews. It was written primarily for believers, which is why you’ll find that it is teaching heavy, highlighting to the reader how we are to live in the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.
Matthew’s gospel spends a lot of time recording Jesus’ preaching. If you have a red-letter Bible, you’ll see a lot of red in this gospel because it focuses on what Jesus said, including some of His most famous sermons like the Sermon on the Mount.
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Mark is written primarily for a Roman audience (Gentiles) and focuses on how Jesus is the Son of Man. Mark is shorter than the other gospels and is a nice little snapshot of what Jesus did.
You’ll find that Jesus is always in action in this gospel, highlighting His miracles, His death, and His resurrection.
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke is written primarily for the Greeks (Gentiles) and portrays Jesus as the Savior of the World.
This portrayal of Jesus is most noted in the opening of Luke’s gospel where he traces Jesus’ genealogy back to the first man, Adam. What Luke is doing is showing that salvation through Jesus is available to the whole world, regardless of whether you are Jew or Gentile.
The Gospel of John
The Gospel of John is personally my favorite gospel. It is the most distinct and unique gospel and stands out from the crowd by emphasizing the identity of Jesus.
The other three gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are called the “Synoptic Gospels” because they present and describe the events of Jesus from a similar point of view.
However, the Gospel of John is different.
The Gospel of John has universal appeal, meaning it is written for believers and unbelievers alike, and focuses on Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
This gospel digs deeper into the person of Jesus, zeroing in on who He was as a man, and what motivated Him. In it we see insights into Jesus’ character and personality, helping us understand what Jesus was like as a person.
In this gospel we also read more one-on-one conversations Jesus has with people individually, versus Him preaching to large crowds.
The Gospel of John is also unique in that we have a clear take-away for the exact reason John wrote his gospel.
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
John 20:31 (NIV)
Believing is a major theme in the Gospel of John. The reason John wrote his gospel is so through our belief we will have life in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
One of the most significant things that should be included in this New Testament summary is the establishment of God’s new covenant through the person of Jesus.
The Old Testament tells us how God’s old covenant with the Israelites was established through the Law. However, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, and the New Testament represents the greater covenant that is now established in its place.
The Gospel of Matthew says:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17 (NIV)
The Law was never meant to lead us to salvation but was instead meant to show us how we are in need of a perfect savior who can save us from sin and death.
Now, because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, everyone who believes in Him is given eternal life. Jesus did what we could not do, live a life without sin so He could overcome sin and death for all who believe.
The Book of Acts
The Book of Acts is the book of the Bible that documents the birth of the early church. It follows the life of Peter, Paul, and a small group of disciples who are empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the good news of Jesus across the Roman Empire.
We begin by reading about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, and then the book segways into the story of Paul and his conversion to Christianity.
The second half of Acts focuses primarily on Paul’s missionary journeys and his trials and efforts in spreading the gospel to the countries in-and-around the Mediterranean Sea.
What we see is as the Good News spreads, new believers spring forth and churches begin to pop up creating the need for centralized teachings and discipleship. So, in answer to this need we have the Epistles, or the letters, of the New Testament.
The Epistles (or Letters)
Now let’s take a look at what is honestly the bulk of the New Testament. Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 21 of them are epistles, or letters.
Many of these letters were written by the Apostle Paul to the churches he founded throughout his missionary journeys.
As you can tell, Paul is recognized as being one of the most energetic and influential interpreters of Jesus’ life and teachings.
In his letters Paul explains the gospel of Jesus, gives instruction on proper forms of worship, and even reprimands the early church for heretical, or immoral behavior.
Most importantly Paul clarifies that the only way to salvation and eternal life is to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not through obedience to the Old Testament Law.
One of my favorite resources for understanding the New Testament are commentaries! N.T. Wright offers one of my favorite commentary on the New Testament. Click here or below to check them out!
Although 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament are traditionally accredited to Paul, many scholars agree that he could have written only seven or eight of the epistles. These books of the Bible go by a few names, namely the Pauline epistles, the Epistles of Paul, or the Letters of Paul.
The epistles that are unanimously agreed upon to be written by Paul are:
- Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon
Each of the epistles addresses valuable wisdom and advice.
- Ephesians teaches on how to walk in grace, peace, and love
- 1 Timothy teaches on how to lead a church
- Hebrews teaches on Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and on how to cling to Christ despite persecution
- Colossians teaches on how believers are to identify ourselves by who we are in Christ
And much more!
The Book of Revelation
Lastly, we come to the final book of the New Testament, and therefore the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation.
Revelation comes from the word “apocalypse” and is actually a Greek word meaning revelation. Thus, it is in a genre all to itself called the “apocalyptic” genre.
This book of the Bible is largely accredited to being written by John, who is in exile on the small Greek island of Patmos. It is a fascinating book to read and foretells future events regarding the end times.
In Revelation, John writes of visions revealed by an angel which provides encouragement and hope to those who are faithful, while imparting a warning to Christians who have grown apathetic in their walk with the Lord.
Revelation is like the sci-fi book of the Bible leaving many Christians fascinated, puzzled, stumped, and ultimately divided on how to interpret it.
A key part in understanding the book of Revelation and end times theology (“Eschatology”) is having an understanding of the different views regarding the return of Christ, His millennial reign, and the Great Tribulation.
All of which I am grossly unqualified to teach on or explain.
However, what I can share with you are the main viewpoints.
First you have the Millennial views:
Then there’s the Tribulational views:
- Pretribulationism – the view that Christ will take the church to Himself prior to the tribulation
- Posttribulationism – the view that Christ will take the church to Himself after to the tribulation
- Midtribulationism – the view that Christ will take the church to Himself mid-way through to the tribulation
Each of these views are highly debated, leaving a giant question mark in the body of Christ on what the end times will actually look like.
Trying to figure God out is something I gave up on a long time ago, so when it comes to the end times, I thoroughly enjoy researching and studying the Bible, but ultimately my life and the world is in God’s hands and I have peace in letting things play out according to His perfect will.
This gives me peace and comfort.
However, a fun, but fictional, interpretation of Revelation was created in the extremely popular Christian fiction book series Left Behind.
Left Behind is written by authors, Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, and is based on their own interpretation of the end times. I’ve read both the kids and adult version and they really make for an enjoyable read but is not something you should base your end times theology on.
However, regardless of the many interpretations of the book of Revelation, the central theme is clear: Revelation is a book that shares the message of hope for God’s people in the ultimate glory, dominion, and triumph of God over evil.
I truly hope this Bible summary has helped you in your own journey of reading and studying the Bible.
In what ways did this Bible summary give you a useful summary of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation? Let me know in the comments below!
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