The Books of the Bible (66 Glimpses into what to Expect)

Hands grasp a closed Holy Bible.

The books of the Bible were written by different authors at different times but all encompass tenant teachings of the Christian belief system.

Each book of the Bible tells a unique story or perspective that is important for understanding God’s plan for mankind. The Bible is divided into two main sections: The Old Testament, which contains the books of the Hebrew Bible (such as the books of the major and minor prophets). While the New Testament contains the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and other writings of the early Christians.

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Key Takeaways on the Books of the Bible

The Bible contains 66 books written by over 40 authors over a period of 1500 years. Despite the diversity of authors and time periods, the Bible tells one unified story of God’s plan for salvation through Jesus Christ.

Here are some key takeaways on the books of the Bible:

  • The Bible is divided into the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). The Old Testament covers God’s interactions with humanity before Christ while the New Testament centers on the life and teachings of Jesus.
  • The Old Testament books include the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy), the Historical books (Joshua through Esther), the Poetic books (Job through Song of Songs), and the Prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi).
  • The New Testament begins with the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) which recount Jesus’s life and ministry. Acts details the early church while the epistles contain letters of teaching to various churches and individuals. Revelation prophesies future events.
  • Each book provides vital doctrine, history, prophecy, and instruction for living a godly life. Together, the books weave a complete story of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation.
  • Key people in the Old Testament include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and the prophets. The New Testament centers on the life of Jesus Christ and the ministries of his apostles and early church leaders.
  • There are different genres within the books, including history, poetry, prophecy, gospel, and epistle. Each genre contains different literary styles.
  • The overarching theme of the Bible is God’s redemption of humanity from sin and death through the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy.
  • All Scripture testifies to Jesus Christ and provides insight into how God interacts with the world and His people. The books of the Bible equip readers for a life of faith and service.
An extreme close-up of the opening page of Genesis.

The Old Testament

The Old Testament is made up of 39 books and tells the story of the Israelites from their creation to their exile. Old Testament books are important for understanding the history and culture of the Jews, as well as the origins of Christianity.

1. Genesis

Written by Moses, Genesis tells the story of creation, the fall of man, and God’s promise to send a Savior. Genesis is the first book of the Bible and sets the stage for the rest of the Bible to come. It is important for understanding the gospel message.

2. Exodus

Written by Moses, Exodus tells the story of how the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt. It also tells the story of Moses himself, who led the Israelites out of Egypt and received the Ten Commandments from God at Mount Sinai.

3. Leviticus

Written by Moses, Leviticus contains the laws that God gave to the Israelites, how to worship Him, and present themselves as holy. This book is important for understanding the priesthood of Jesus and the sacrificial system of the Old Testament.

4. Numbers

Written by Moses, Numbers contains a record of the Israelites’ forty years wandering in the wilderness, scouting campaigns of Canaan, and their failure to trust and obey God. This book is important for understanding the Promised Land and how God fulfilled His promise to the Israelites, as well as Israel’s history and how it relates to the New Testament.

5. Deuteronomy

Written by Moses, Deuteronomy contains Moses’ final words to the Israelites and tells the story of how the Israelites were to conquer the Promised Land and live according to God’s laws. This book is important for understanding the covenant that God made with the Israelites, how it applies to Christians today and the importance of obedience to God’s laws.

6. Joshua

Written by an unconfirmed author, Joshua tells the story of how the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, conquered the Promised Land and distributed its territories to the twelve tribes of Israel. This book is important for understanding how Christians are to take possession of the spiritual kingdom.

7. Judges

Written by an unconfirmed author, Judges tells the story of Israel’s history and how the Israelites entered a cycle of sin and turned from God. Suffering defeats and being oppressed, they call to God for deliverance and He sends leaders, called judges, to rescue them.

8. Ruth

Written by an unknown author, Ruth tells the story of two widows who lose everything and find hope in the Lord. One of these Moabite women re-marries and sets the stage for the birth of King David.

9. 1 Samuel

Written by an unconfirmed author, 1 Samuel tells the story of Samuel, who was raised by Eli the priest, and how he became a prophet and judge for the Israelites. God’s people reject their chosen leader and demand a king.

10. 2 Samuel

Written by an unknown author, 2 Samuel tells of the life of David, who was a shepherd boy that became the king of Israel. David was a great king, grew the kingdom in size, and is an example of how God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes.

11. 1 Kings

Written by an unknown author, 1 Kings tells of Solomon, who was the son of David and became the king of Israel after his father’s death. Under the leadership of Solomon, Israel has a time of peace and prosperity until his death when the kingdom of Isreal is split in two under his son Rehoboam.

12. 2 Kings

Written by an unknown author, 2 Kings tells of how Isreal and Judah, the two kingdoms born of the split of Isreal, both ignore God and his prophets. After falling captive to other empires, their people find themselves exiled to remote lands and surrounding nations.

13. 1 Chronicles

Written by Ezra, 1 Chronicles tells the history of Israel, emphasizing King David and his spiritual significance in the commissioning of the Temple in Jerusalem.

14. 2 Chronicles

Written by Ezra, 2 Chronicles continues 1 Chronicles, as King David’s son Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem before Isreal is split and the Babylonians destroy it.

15. Ezra

Self-written, Ezra is important for understanding how God worked to restore His people after they had been exiled. The Israelites learn to once again obey God’s laws and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. This book is a testimony to the power of God’s grace.

16. Nehemiah

Self-written, Nehemia tells how, after being exiled, Nehemiah returns and leads the effort to rebuild Jerusalem. In just 52 days, the people rebuild the walls around the city of Jerusalem which is a testimony to the power of God’s protection.

17. Esther

Written by an unknown author, Esther, a Jewish Queen to a Persian king, saves the lives of her people when she reveals the genocidal plot of Haman, the king’s advisor, to kill all the Jews in Persia.

18. Job

Written by an unconfirmed author, Satan challenges God and claims that Job, a righteous man, will curse God in the face of unsurmountable torment. God accepts this challenge but forbids Job from being killed. Job is indeed tormented, beginning with the death of his children, servants, and livestock. But he does not curse God. Job instead maintains his faith and only relents in cursing himself and the day he was born.

19. Psalms

Written by David and other Israelite poets, the book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs of worship and praise to (and with) God. The Psalms are organized into 5 sections: The first section covers the creation of the world and man’s relationship to God. The second section covers the Exodus and deliverance from slavery. The third section celebrates His dealings with the nation of Israel. The fourth section laments sin and suffering while showing confidence in God as a protector of His people. The fifth section hymns God’s majesty, love, and goodness towards his people.

20. Proverbs

Primarily written by Solomon, the book of Proverbs is a vessel for God’s wisdom, written to guide His people towards making wise decisions and live good lives. These are divided into different sections that address various topics such as wisdom, folly, women, marriage, alcohol, work, money, and speech.

21. Ecclesiastes

Written by Solomon, Ecclesiastes covers the meaning of life and how to find true satisfaction. Solomon explores different areas of life such as work, pleasure, wisdom, and death to show that none of these things are meaningful without God.

22. Song of Songs

Written by Solomon, Song of Songs is a love song between a man and a woman, and it is a celebration of marriage and God’s relationship with us. The book speaks to the physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy that exists between a husband and wife.

23. Isaiah

Self-written, Isaiah prophecizes the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel. It is written by one of the major prophets and contains God’s warnings to those who disobey Him and the coming of God’s judgment.

24. Jeremiah

Self-written, Jeremiah is about a prophet sent to Isreal to warn them of the coming judgment for their sins. He tells of the coming Babylonian captivity and is ignored, thus fulfilling his prophecy.

25. Lamentations

Written by Jeremiah, the book of Lamentations laments the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the Israelites at the hands of the Babylonians. Jeremiah mourns the destruction of the city and his people’s sufferings as a result of their disobedience to God.

26. Ezekiel

Self-written, Ezekiel is a man called to God’s service to be a prophet to the exiles in Babylon. Ezekial prophesies of God’s restoration of Israel and their future glory. He brings a message of judgment and hope to the people of Israel in order to show them the error in their ways.

27. Daniel

Self-written, Daniel, like Ezekial, is held in captivity in Babylon. He receives prophetic visions from God that foretell the future of Israel and the world at large. Daniel’s faithfulness to God is tested through great persecution and trials but he perseveres.

28. Hosea

Self-written, the book of Hosea is a love story about the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer. The book is a metaphor for God’s love for Israel, even though they have been unfaithful to Him. Hosea’s love for Gomer shows God’s never-ending love and forgiveness for His people.

29. Joel

Self-written, the book of Joel describes a plague of locusts sent by God on the people of Judah. Joel warns of the coming day of judgment and calls on the people to repent of their sins before it’s too late. The people repent and God restores them.

30. Amos

Self-written, Amos is a warning to the people of Israel to turn from their wicked ways or face judgment. A shepherd named Amos is called by God to prophesy against the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He criticizes their idolatry and sinful ways and warns them of the consequences. Amos also prophesies the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel.

31. Obadiah

Self-written, the Book of Obadiah warns the people of Edom for their sin of pride and their treatment of Israel. God will judge them for their wickedness and they will be destroyed. God will protect Israel and they will inherit the land of Edom because of their actions during the Babylonian exile and captivity.

32. Jonah

Self-written, Jonah is a reluctant prophet who is called by God to preach to the people of Nineveh. Jonah disobeys and tries to run away but is swallowed by a giant fish. He leans the futility of trying to run from God and preaches to the people of Nineveh, who repent.

33. Micah

Self-written, Micah confronts the people of Israel with their sin and their need for a savior. While God will be merciful, He will also judge them for their disobedience. Micah prophesies the coming of the Messiah who will bring justice and peace to the world.

34. Nahum

Self-written, Nahum is the prophet of the destruction of Nineveh. God will judge them for their wickedness and violence. The city will be destroyed and its people will be wiped out.

35. Habakkuk

Self-written, Habakkuk was written to confront the people of Judah with their sin. Habakkuk cries out to God in despair, questioning why He allows evil and wickedness to prosper. God answers Habakkuk and tells him that He is sovereign and will judge the wicked in due time. Habakkuk learns to trust in God’s justice and sovereignty.

36. Zephaniah

Self-written, Zephaniah warns the people of Judah of the coming judgment of God. He urges them to repent of their sin and return to God. Zephaniah also prophesies the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Judah as it becomes increasingly clear Jesus is the fulfillment of all these prophecies as his time draws near. Babylonian conquest will claim Judah and the Southern Kingdom will fall to Nebuchadnezzar’s army but Zephaniah’s message is one of hope as God will ultimately redeem His people.

37. Haggai

Self-written, Haggai is written after the Babylonian captivity. The people have returned to Judah and are rebuilding the temple, but the seeds of opposition grow. Haggai urges them to put God first and to finish His house. Like many of the authors before him, he also prophesies the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of Israel.

38. Zechariah

Self-written, Zechariah works with Haggai to see the temple finished and calls on the people to repent and rebuild the temple. He also prophesies the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of Israel. Zechariah is one of the most detailed books of prophecy in the Bible. He is most well-known for his visions of the coming redemption, including the return of the Jews from exile and the coming of the Messiah.

39. Malachi

Self-written, Malachi is the last book of prophecy in the Old Testament. Malachi confronts the people of Judah with their sin and their need for a savior. While God will be merciful, He will also judge them for their disobedience. God shows his love for a nation that has turned their back on Him.

An open bible showing a page with the text "The New Testament."

The New Testament

There are 27 New Testament books in the Bible and they tell us the story of how God sends his one and only Son, Jesus, to save the world from sin. It is important for understanding the teachings of Christianity and how the religion developed.

40. Matthew

Self-written, the Gospel of Matthew was written as an account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was written to a Jewish audience to show them that Jesus is the Messiah and the one true king. It is proof of many Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled.

41. Mark

Self-written, the Gospel of Mark is a brief account that highlights Jesus’ earthly ministry, with an emphasis on his servanthood and the many miracles he has performed.

42. Luke

Self-written, the Gospel of Luke includes eyewitness accounts of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Theophilus, to whom the book is addressed, was a lost man and may have been a hopeful Gentile convert in the eyes of Luke. Luke himself was a Gentile and was clearly writing an account of Jesus’ life for those outside of the Jewish faith. He goes into greater detail about Jesus’ birth, ministry, and teachings than the other gospel writers.

43. John

Self-written, the Gospel of John is a different perspective on the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was an eyewitness account, written to show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him, people can have eternal life. It lists the various signs and miracles of Jesus, along with detail about who he is and His relationship with the Father.

44. Acts

Written by Luke, the book of Acts is a historical account of the early church. The Holy Spirit comes down on the disciples at Pentecost and empowers them to preach the gospel. The church spreads throughout the world as people are saved and added to it. It also records the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the early church.

45. Romans

Written by Paul, Romans is a letter from Paul to the church in Rome. Paul writes that he plans to visit them soon and wants to introduce himself and the gospel to them. He also addresses some of the theological issues that they are likely struggling with, such as justification by faith and the role of law.

46. 1 Corinthians

Written by Paul, 1 Corinthians is one of two letters from Paul to the church in Corinth. Corinth was a church that was rife with problems – sexual immorality, division, and false teaching were just a few of the issues. Paul writes instructions on how to live the Christian life and how to deal with these problems.

47. 2 Corinthians

Written by Paul, 2 Corinthians is the second of the two letters to the church in Corinth. After writing 1 Corinthians, Paul visited Corinth and was met with opposition. In this letter, he defends his apostleship and corrects the false teaching that had infiltrated the church. He also encourages them to live in unity and love.

48. Galatians

Written by Paul, Galatians is a letter from Paul to the churches in Galatia. The churches in Galatia were being influenced by false teachers who were teaching that Gentile converts needed to follow the Jewish law in order to be saved. Paul’s letter is a rebuttal of this false teaching, stressing that by faith and grace we can obtain salvation in Christ alone.

49. Ephesians

Written by Paul, Ephesians is a letter Paul writes during his imprisonment to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a church that was struggling with division and false teaching. In this letter, Paul exhorts them to unity and points them to the gospel as the source of their unity. He also teaches on how to walk in grace, peace, and love.

50. Philippians

Written by Paul, Philippians is an encouraging letter to the church in Philippi. The Philippians were a church that Paul had a great affection for, and he thanks them for their financial support while he was in prison. He also encourages them to live lives worthy of the gospel, stand firm in the face of persecution and have joy in the Lord.

51. Colossians

Written by Paul, Colossians refutes false teaching that had infiltrated the church in Colossae. This false teaching was a blend of Gnosticism and Judaism, and it threatened to lead the believers astray. Paul’s letter points them back to Christ as the source of their hope and salvation.

52. 1 Thessalonians

Written by Paul, 1 Thessalonians encourages the church in Thessalonica who were going through persecution. Paul writes to thank them for their faith and endurance, and he gives them instruction on how to live the Christian life, encouraging them to continue excelling in faith, hope, and love.

53. 2 Thessalonians

Written by Paul, 2 Thessalonians is a response to standing firm in the face of persecution. Paul had written 1 Thessalonians to encourage them in their persecution, and in this letter he gives them more instruction on how to stand firm. He also assures them that the Day of the Lord is coming and urges them to be prepared.

54. 1 Timothy

Written by Paul, 1 Timothy is one of two letters given to his protege Timothy, who was leading the church in Ephesus. In this letter, Paul gives Timothy instruction on how to lead the church, including how to deal with false teachers, how to appoint elders and deacons, and set a godly example with sound teaching. This is a great book for church leadership that is still relevant today.

55. 2 Timothy

Written by Paul, 2 Timothy is the second of the two letters from Paul to Timothy as he nears the end of his life. This letter is full of encouragement and exhortation as Timothy faces persecution. Paul reminds him of the gospel and the truths that they share, and he urges Timothy to continue to teach these truths faithfully.

56. Titus

Written by Paul, Titus is a letter to his protege Titus, who was leading the churches in Crete. In this letter, Paul gives Titus instruction on how to deal with the challenges facing him and exhorts the believers in Crete to live holy lives.

57. Philemon

Written by Paul, Philemon is a letter from Paul to his friend Philemon. In it, Paul asks Philemon to forgive Onesimus, a runaway slave who had wronged him. This short letter is a great example of how the gospel can change our hearts and bring us to forgive others.

58. Hebrews

Written by an unknown author, Hebrews is a letter to the church in Jerusalem encouraging Jewish believers to persevere in their faith. The author points to the superiority of Christ and the new covenant over the old covenant, and he urges them to hold fast to their faith in Christ.

59. James

Self-written, the half-brother of Jesus, James is a letter written to encourage believers to live out their faith. He urges believers to be doers of the word and not just hearers, and he gives practical instruction on how to live a life of faith.

60. 1 Peter

Self-written, 1 Peter is a letter written to encourage believers who are facing persecution. Peter points them to Christ as their hope and encourages them to stand firm in the faith. He also gives practical instruction on how to live out their lives while being oppressed in the Roman Empire.

61. 2 Peter

Self-written, 2 Peter reminds believers of the return of Christ and the coming Day of the Lord and urges them to be prepared. He also points out the dangers of false teaching and warns believers against being led astray.

62. 1 John

Self-written, 1 John is a letter written to counter the false teaching of Gnosticism. In it, he urges believers to live a life of love and points them to Christ as the source of their salvation.

63. 2 John

Self-written, 2 John briefly encourages believers to walk in love and truth. He also warns against false teachers and urges believers to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ. The letter is addressed to “the chosen lady” and may simply be a reference to the church, though this is up to interpretation.

64. 3 John

Self-written, 3 John is the shortest book in the Bible and commends Gaius for his faithfulness and hospitality. John urges Gaius to continue in this good work and to help those who are in need. He thanks Demetrius for his good testimony and urges him to remain faithful.

65. Jude

Self-written, the half-brother of Jesus, Jude, urges believers to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ and to contend for the faith against teachers of false doctrine. He also gives a warning of the judgment that is to come and that Christians shall defend the truth of the Good News.

66. Revelation

Written by John, Revelation is a prophetic vision that John received of the future and end times. In it, he describes the return of Christ, the defeat of Satan, and the final judgment. Revelation is a book of hope and assurance for believers who are living in difficult times.

Two hands grasping a closed Bible. The front cover shows the image of a cross.

Closing Remarks on the Books of the Bible

The books of the Bible are a testament to God’s love and His desire for us to have a special relationship with Him. These books contain the words of prophets and apostles, as well as the words of Jesus Himself, and they teach us about God’s character and His plan for our lives. God sends us the Bible as a source of hope and comfort for believers, and it is a guide for us all as we live our lives in this world. Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection are the central events of human history, and the Bible tells us about these things so that we can know God and His love. Thanks be to God for His Word.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105, ESV

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How many books are in the Bible?

There are 66 books in the Bible – 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

What are the major divisions of the Bible?

The major divisions are the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains the books that were written before Jesus’ life on Earth. The New Testament contains the story of Jesus’s ministry, the early church, and prophecies about the future.

What types of books are in the Old Testament?

The Old Testament contains books of law (like Exodus and Deuteronomy), history (like 1 and 2 Kings), poetry and wisdom (like Psalms and Proverbs), and prophecy (like Isaiah and Ezekiel).

What are the four gospels?

The four gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These provide four accounts of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.

Who wrote most of the New Testament?

Most of the New Testament was written by the apostle Paul. Paul wrote letters to encourage and teach the early churches he helped establish. Other New Testament books were written by apostles like Peter, James, and John.

Which is the oldest book of the Bible?

Many scholars believe Job is the oldest book of the Bible, written sometime between the 7th and 4th centuries BC. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are also contenders and likely come from the same early period.

Which is the newest book of the Bible?

The New Testament book of Revelation is considered the newest book, written around 95 AD by the apostle John while in exile on the island of Patmos.

What is the shortest book of the Bible?

The shortest book is 3 John, with only around 300 Greek words. 2 John is the second shortest with 245 Greek words.

What is the longest book of the Bible?

The longest book is Psalms. It contains 150 chapters and over 43,000 words total.

How did the Bible come together?

The books of the Old Testament were written from approximately 1500 BC to 400 BC. The canon was established by Jewish rabbis by 200 BC. The New Testament books were written between 50-100 AD. The 27 books were confirmed as authoritative by the mid-2nd century AD.