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Life of the Word

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Public Seminar

The Bible is composed of 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. It was written by about 40 authors with diverse backgrounds who were inspired by the Holy Spirit over a period of approximately 1,500 years. It is an infallible, accurate, and authoritative word of God, which is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

The Old Testament can be divided into four genres such as Law, History, Poetry, and Prophets. The Law includes 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, which record the origin of the world and humanity, the history of the Israelites, the covenant, and guidelines for life. The History genre includes 12 books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, which detail the history of Israel from the time they entered the promised land of Canaan, to their exile in Babylon and Assyria, and their return to Israel. The Poetry genre includes 5 books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, which contain wisdom for life and are also composed of prayers and hymns of praise to God. The Prophets genre includes 17 books: 5 Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and 12 Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), which contain messages of repentance and judgment for Israel and its neighboring nations.

The New Testament is divided into the Gospels, History, Paul's Letters, General Letters, and Prophecy. The Gospels include four books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which describe the life of Jesus Christ. The History book is Acts, which narrates the birth of the church and the spread of the Gospel after the Holy Spirit came. Paul's Letters consist of 13 books: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, which provide theological interpretations and exhortations for each church. The General Letters include Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude, which contain various teachings and exhortations for all believers. Finally, the Prophecy book is Revelation, which contains visions and prophecies of the end times and the ultimate victory of God over evil.

First, Reading the Bible in its entirety

Whether for religious reasons, cultural reasons, or personal reasons, reading the Bible in the order of the canon, from Genesis to Revelation, is called "Bible reading" and is the most traditional way of reading the Bible. This Bible reading brings many benefits, especially for gaining a comprehensive understanding of the Bible, including familiarity with the entire contents of the Bible (history, characters, events, and the location and content of each book), and a good opportunity to understand the context of the Bible. Moreover, by memorizing key verses that touch the heart, you can enjoy the benefits of reading the Bible in one stone, two birds.

Second, Reading the Bible from a Redemptive-Historical Perspective

The Bible is based on the meta-narrative of redemptive history, which includes creation, fall, promise, gospel, mission, and new creation. The story of creation is found in Genesis 1-2, and the story of the fall is found in Genesis 3-11. The promise to restore the fallen people and the world is made to Abraham, who was called out of Ur of the Chaldeans and promised that through him, all nations would be blessed. Through Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, the promise is gradually fleshed out and fulfilled, as seen in the history of Israel from Genesis 12 to the end of the Old Testament, Malachi. The story of the Messiah promised to the Israelites is described in the Gospels, where the birth of Jesus Christ, his perfect obedience, death on the cross, resurrection, ascension, and second coming are recorded. The process of the birth of the church through the ascension of the Lord and the descent of the Holy Spirit, spreading the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit, is described in the Acts of the Apostles, and the content of the letters to each church is also presented in the Epistles. Finally, in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ, who promised to come again, returns to judge all humanity and creates a new heaven and a new earth, completing God's redemptive history.

Therefore, when we read the Bible, we need to read each book from this grand narrative perspective to understand its content properly. This is called "reading the Bible from a redemptive-historical perspective."

Third, Reading the Bible Historically and Chronologically at a Glance

When you read the Bible, you may find that the books are not arranged in the order of the events that occurred. Sometimes, events are repeated or the order is confusing. The reason for this is that when arranging the order of the books, they were grouped together by genre, such as law, history, poetry, wisdom, and prophecy. Therefore, there are cases where the order does not match the chronological order. When reading, please be careful.

So, reading the Bible in chronological order is called Chronological Bible Reading. To read the Bible in chronological order, nowadays you can easily find plans for reading the Bible in chronological order, arranged according to the order of events, or chronologically rearranged Bibles online (Note 1), as well as many books that help with chronological Bible reading. To briefly explain, the Old Testament is divided into two parts: the first part includes Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings; and the second part includes 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. This is a way of reading the Bible by following the history of Israel. Then, if you have time, you can read the Psalms and Proverbs. It is recommended to read the Proverbs after understanding the situational context of each period. When you read the New Testament, after briefly looking at the change of power in Palestine during the middle period of the Old and New Testaments, you should read the Gospels in chronological order, and then read the Acts of the Apostles while connecting them with each of the letters, so that you can understand the New Testament chronologically.

Fourth, reading the Bible from a covenantal perspective The Old and

New Testaments are referred to as Old Testament and New Testament in English. However, the English word "Testament" comes from the Latin "testamentum," which has two meanings: covenant and legal bequest. Therefore, the Old and New Testaments can be understood as books about God's covenant, which is completed and realized in Jesus, as Old Covenant and New Covenant. This way of reading the Bible is called reading the Bible from a covenantal perspective.

The covenants in the Bible began with the eternal redemption covenant made between the Triune God before creation (Ephesians 1:11), and continued with the covenant made regarding the act of Adam, the representative of humanity, in the covenant of good and evil. When Adam failed, the grace covenant was activated based on the eternal redemption covenant made before creation. This includes the Adam covenant (Genesis 3:15, 21), the Noah covenant (Genesis 8:21-22), the Abraham covenant (Genesis 12, 15, 17), the Moses covenant (Exodus 19:3), which promised to bless all nations through the chosen people if they lived according to God's will, the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16), which promised the kingdom of God, and there is New covenant of Jesus prophesied in Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 (Luke 22:20). Reading the Bible from God's covenantal perspective is called covenantal reading of the Bible.

Fifth, reading the Bible through the lens of Jesus.

Jesus said in John 5:39, "These Scriptures testify about me," and not only in John 5:39 but also elsewhere, Jesus said that the Scriptures are about the Savior, the Lord, and Himself as a mediator. In Luke 24:27, He explained to the disciples walking to Emmaus about everything written in the Scriptures about Himself, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, and in Luke 24:44, He appeared to the eleven disciples and said, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms." He opened the disciples' minds to understand the Scriptures and proved that the Scriptures are about Him.

Therefore, reading the Bible through the lens of Jesus, who is the focus of God's grand plan of salvation, is to read the Bible in the original intent of the Bible authors, to properly focus on the Scriptures, and to understand and teach them.

Sixth, reading the Bible from a reformist perspective.

We read the Bible to discern God's will spoken through the Bible, but it is not so easy. All the Scriptures were written by people who were moved by the Holy Spirit, not simply by reporters who passively recorded their thoughts with their mental activity completely stopped. The Holy Spirit moved the Bible writers, illuminating their hearts sovereignly so that their characters, talents, gifts, culture, style, and so on could be used organically to harmonize with God's will and write the Scriptures. Moreover, the Scriptures include the cultural, historical, and temporal characteristics of the time in which they were written.

Therefore, to interpret the objective will of God from the Scriptures, we need the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the literary interpretation-whether it is a historical or poetic literature of the Bible, the grammatical interpretation-the interpretation of tense and meaning for each word, the historical interpretation-which historical background it is based on, and the theological interpretation - how it harmonizes with other biblical teachings. In other words, we need to read the Bible critically and contextually to understand it in the right way.


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