Session 1: Section 1
We know, of course, that the activity is not really aimless. Tucked away in an office on the building site are drawers full of plans and flow charts listing the dates on which the foundations, walls, roof and services are scheduled to be completed. If we were good at technical drawing we could leaf through the plans and visualise the final appearance of the building, admiring the beauty and practicality of the design. But at first sight, just walking by, we may go home and wonder about it, not understanding what it could possibly be, and doubting its very need.
Looking at God’s Word is very much like that. We shall never see things in perspective unless we step inside the office and look at the plans.
That is where this course is designed to help, by opening up God’s great design, revealed in the Bible.
With that analogy in mind, let’s look at the building blocks of the foundation.
The Bible comprises sixty-six books,
as the chart below shows. There were forty independent writers involved in
its compilation. These writers had twenty different occupations, and lived
in ten different countries. They wrote over a 1,600-year time span. The
book was originally written in Hebrew and Greek (with some short sections
in Aramaic). It has a cast of 2,930 characters in 1,551 places. It covers
a huge number of different subjects. Its message is expressed in all
literary forms (narrative, poetry, prose, letters, etc.).
The following may help you to start remembering where at least some of the books are:
We would encourage you to learn by heart the order of the books of the Bible. This will speed up the effectiveness of your Bible study.
Most of the books of the Bible are divided into chapters. Each chapter is then divided into verses. This helps us to find a particular section easily. When we write Genesis 1 v 2, we mean that the section will be found in the book of Genesis, chapter 1 and verse 2. One or two books have only one chapter, so Jude v 4 means the 4th verse of the book of Jude. This is the convention we will use throughout the course.
We will look at the different types of translation in Session 9 Section 1.
If you are considering buying a Bible, look for one with marginal references. You will see the reason for this advice later in the course.
All versions are translated by people and not God. So it is best not to rely on one version alone, but to compare several versions and then use a Concordance to ensure that the original Greek or Hebrew is translated accurately into English. We will show you how to use a Concordance in the "Concordances" section (Session 5, Section 1).
The Authorised Version is still a very popular version and is frequently used in many churches. Because it was translated in 1611, its language can sometimes appear old- fashioned and difficult. This problem can largely be overcome by using the New King James Version, which is basically the 1611 version with the old-fashioned words brought up to date.
When we quote verses in this course they will be taken from the New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.
As these servants of God were all different types of people, so their writings were designed to be relevant to all. Yet there is no discord. Though they were divided by class, time, country and disposition, there is wonderful harmony in all that they wrote.
There is no contradiction, no disagreement. We will discover why in the next paragraph......
The Bible claims that God is its author.
In the first passage you looked at we are told that all Scripture is "inspired" or "God breathed" as the original word in Greek means. When we speak, the message comes through our breath for all to hear. So God has spoken and the message is in our Bible.
You will often read in your Bible the phrases: "Thus says the Lord....", or "The word of the Lord came to me saying...". The Bible writers never claim that the message is their own. They are not wanting to make a name for themselves or build up their own esteem.
God’s Word is always reliable and it needs no addition from men.
The Bible gives us the information
that we need so that we can understand God’s plan to save us from lasting
Understanding the Bible gives us
real hope for the future. It is "the power of God to
Ignoring the Bible message is fatal
in the long term.
The Bible gives us direction for daily living.
The Word of God gives real meaning
to our life.