'Bible Basics' Course. Part 4&5 'Bible Overview'

Hello friends, and welcome back to the 'Bible Basics' Course from Hope&Grace.

Thanks for being here - it's so lovely to have you join us for this conversation!

As you guys know, this course comes out of the conversation we've been having lately about our relationships with the Bible, and what gets in our way. In this course I want us to address those barriers, and be equipped to approach the Bible with a lot more confidence. Today we are back with parts 4 and 5 - a look at the contents of the Bible - what is in it and why does is matter? In today's videos we have talked in very general terms about ONE way to view the overarching narrative of scripture. I find this one particularly helpful for pointing me in the right direction whenever I am reading scripture. It helps to frame things, and helps me navigate whichever book I've landed in! I hope that this concept helps to make the Bible less scary and more approachable for you. It is true, and it is safe to look at the Bible in this way. It is by no means the only way to see it, talk about it, or the one final note on the story of scripture but, as I've said, I hope we find it a helpful starting point and, actually, it provides a fantastic structure for nuance and deeper concepts to live.

This is a two part section because, as you'll see, one video explains the other in a different way. These videos are for those of us who find the Bible particularly intimidating. I hope to provide you with a basic overview and some tools to change this.

Here are some expanded notes from our fourth video:

- The Bible is not one book, it is many books. A library.

- It is the story of God and his chosen people. It begins with two people in a garden with God. Goes to a family, a dynasty, a nation. And then, eventually, it can include everyone.

- It is the story of a God who is faithful to his people even when they are not faithful to him. A God who has a redemption plan and puts it into action.

I deffo got Abraham and Jacob the wrong way round in the video, so here's a little outline of what does happen in the beginning of the story of God and his people:

In Genesis we see:

  • Adam and Eve created in the Garden of Eden. 2 people. 1 God.

  • Adam and Eve rebel. Sin enters the world. The original design has been corrupted. It needs saving. God has a

  • Adam and Eve leave the garden. They have children... their children have children... and so on. Genesis 1-6 are the story of God being faithful to that family line - from Adam to Noah.

  • After Noah comes Abraham. God says to Abram in Genesis 12 verse 2 'I will make you into a great nation' and later renames him Abraham, meaning 'Father to many'.

  • Abraham has Ishmael & then Isaac, the child promised by God.

  • Isaac marries Rebekah, they have Jacob and Esau.

  • God calls Jacob and says to him 'Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth [innumerable]...all the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring...' (Genesis 28 verse 14)

  • Jacob has 12 sons (one of whom is Joseph: technicolour coat)

  • Genesis 35:10 - God renames Jacob 'Israel' and says 'a nation and a community of nations will come from you...' (v.11)

  • Then Joseph ends up in Egypt, and his family (Israel and his 12 sons) come and reside in Israel too, to escape famine.

  • At the end of Genesis, God has made many covenants with this line of men, has called them a nation & moved them into Egypt where they prosper.

  • In the last pages of Genesis, Jacob dies & anoints his sons.

Exodus begins with the family of Israel (descendants of Jacob) called 'exceedingly fruitful'. They 'multiplied greatly' (Ex 1:7) and, a few generations on we find that the Israelites were a problem for the new Pharaoh who, threatened by their growing number and power, 'put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour...' (Ex 1:11). Thus we have a nation's need to escape oppression. But here's the important thing for our overarching narrative: two people in a garden have grown into an entire nation. And that nation, Israel, is precious to God. So by the end of Genesis/beginning of Exodus, God's chosen people, Israel, is a nation. God liberates them from the Egyptians in Exodus.

Once the nation of Israel is free is is self governing. God leads them. They are unfaithful. They rebel. God is still faithful. In the story of God and Israel God appoints certain people at certain times to lead, give law and organise worship. These are the histories in the first 5 books of the Bible - the Torah - the ancient Hebrew Scripture. As we read these scriptures we see that because of Israel's unfaithfulness, God promises to send a saviour. These five books, along with histories, poetry (psalms and songs), wisdom books & the Prophets make up the Old Testament.

God does send a saviour to his people, Israel. This is Jesus. We find him in the Gospels in the New Testament. Israel wants a King, God sends Jesus. Israel rejects Him. Jesus triumphs over sin and death. And makes a way for everyone (not just Israel) to know him and be saved through him. God's invitation to his chosen people just changed: it is no longer focussed on just Israel, but on the whole of humanity.

The Old Testament looks forwards to the fulfilment of God's promise to redeem everything and bring a true king for his people, Israel, who will truly liberate them once and for all. The New Testament is the writings of the early church, the people of Jesus who are going to worship him. The New Testament looks back at the Old and says 'here is the man who fulfils God's promises. Here is God himself. Will you follow Him?'

The New Testament looks back at the Old Testament and says here is the man who fulfils God's promises. Here is God himself. Will you follow Him?

Here are some expanded notes from our fifth video:

Watch the 5th video with your Bible open too. Hopefully it'll help to give an overall narrative for when you dip into the Bible.


The story of God and his people, who continually rebel and reject him (sound familiar!?), and God's continuing promise to rescue.

  • The first five books are Jewish Scripture. They tell the establishment of Israel as a nation & the law that their God gave to them. They are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy.

  • Next we have histories. These tell the story of God's dealings with his people. They each centre around different people chosen by God to do things in his power for his people/surrounding nations. These are from Joshua - Esther.

  • Then we have wisdom books, sometimes called wisdom literature: Job - Ecclesiastes & Lamentations.

  • Some wisdom books overlap with the Poetry books: Psalms, Proverbs & Song of Songs.

  • From Isaiah - Malachi we have the Prophetic books. These are records of God's comment, instruction, warnings and faithfulness to his people, when God spoke to his people (Israel) through specific people.


The story of Jesus, God incarnate, who came to God's promise to save Israel once and for all, and to make the same offer of salvation to the whole of humanity. Through Jesus, God's salvation is open to everyone. And the writings of the Early Church.

  • The Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke. & John are our records of Jesus' ministry. They hold his words. They show us that Jesus is the fulfilment of God's promise.

  • Acts, is a history & a letter. It tells us about the very first movements of the early church, as it organises itself and spreads the good news of Jesus; repentance, redemption and salvation.

  • Then we have the letters of the early church. These pinged back and forth between the apostles as they built the church and spread the gospel. They show us how far the gospel reached in those early days & are also the formative guide the Church has ever had on how to be the Church & live out life in the light of Jesus.

  • The New Testament culminates in Revelation: a vision of Jesus in his full glory, as the saviour and redeemer of the earth.

Today's encouragement:

The Bible tells the story of God and his faithfulness to his people. In the beginning Adam and Eve are important because God said so. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are important because God said so. Israel is important because God said so. And, in the New Testament, we see Jesus talk about salvation being available for the Jews AND the gentiles [non-Jewish people]... By the end of the New Testament we see that ALL OF HUMANITY is important because God says so. The invitation to be God's chosen people is available for everyone. And that, my friend, is very good news. In the story of God and his chosen people we see God being faithful throughout. That is important. We need to know that God's character is unchanging, and throughout all of human history he has shown himself to be faithful to those he loves. And today that includes us.

Action point:

After Each section we are going to have an action point (or three). Here are today's.

  • Note down the general sections of the Bible.

  • Watch through video 5 with your Bible open, tracking as we go.

  • Get familiar with this overarching narrative of the Bible. I pray it helps.

I'd love to hear if this overview helps to make the Bible more approachable & less intimating...

The truth is that friend, the same God who has been faithful throughout history to Israel inspire of their continual rejection of him is the same God who loves us throughout all of our rebellion.He is faithful & always good. This is the God that the Bible tells us about.

Alright then friends. See you on Monday for part 6!

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