Question & Answer Forum

Is there a pattern in the books in our Bible?

Books have been written on this subject and others could be written. Perhaps there are some “seed thoughts” in the following suggestions. Since “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10), the question, “Where is He?” (Matthew 2:2), summarizes the Old Testament. The answering statement, “We have found Him” (John 1:45), summarizes the New. It has often been said of the two Testaments, “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.”

Abraham’s covenant is basic in understanding Scripture. Its importance is reflected in Abraham’s being the first Old Testament personage mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 1:1). The covenant to Abraham promises the land (Israel) and the lineage (the Heir, Christ) (Genesis 17:4-8). Considering these promises, we may divide both the Old and New Testament books into 5 groups of five. “The Law” (Genesis – Esther) has three of those groups that deal with the historical facts of possessing the land in the past. The five “Writings” (Job – Song of Songs) give the spiritual secrets of possessing the land at any time. Grouping “the Prophets” into 5 (the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, the “Minor Prophets”), we have the Scriptural assurances of possessing the land in the future. Similarly, in those 3 divisions -Law (history), Writings, and Prophets – we have the preservation of the household of the Heir, the praises of the honor of the Heir, and the prophecies of the hope of the Heir, respectively.

In the first division, the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy cover the dawning of the nation the promise of the land and their preparation for receiving it. Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings cover the development of the nation- the possession of the land and their problems in retaining it. The last 5 books cover the departure of the nation – the purging of the land and their persistence in recovering it.

Similarly, the New Testament divides into history (Matthew to Acts), writings (Romans to Jude), and prophecies (Revelation). The first gives the raising up of the Heir, the second, the riches of the Heir, the third, the return of the Heir.

The first grouping (Matthew -Acts) records Abraham’s natural sons’ (the nation) rejection of the Heir and ceding their earthly possession (the land) and prospects; yet it tells of his spiritual sons’ (believers) reception of the Heir and claiming heavenly possessions and prospects. The second grouping deals with the spiritual sons’ relationship to the Heir. The first two divisions (“Pauline Epistles,” Romans to Philemon – 10, joining 1st and 2nd epistles as one) contrast the spiritual sons’ heavenly possessions and prospects to the natural sons’ earthly possessions and prospects. The third division (“General Epistles,” Hebrews to Jude -5, joining 1st, 2nd, and 3rd epistles as one) compares our heavenly possessions and prospects with theirs on earth.

The final grouping (Revelation) divides into 5. The inspired division is “the things which thou hast seen (chapter 1), and the things which are (chapters 2-3), and the things which shall be hereafter (chapters 4-22)” (Revelation 1:19). This later section covers 7 years (chapters 4-19), 1000 years (chapter 20), and an eternal day (chapter 21a), thus forming five divisions. It brings together Abraham’s sons, both the heavenly and earthly, in their rejoicing with the Heir and culminating both the heavenly and earthly possessions and prospects “through God’s endless day of days.”

D. Oliver


Are the Bible’s books interrelated?

Dates, themes, and settings of A books help in relating them. Two examples might suffice.

Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther close Israel’s Old Testament history, following the exile, and foreshadow events yet future. Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the spiritual and national recovery of a faithful remnant in the land, although both recoveries are somewhat limited. But what about other Jews who will remain scattered among the Gentiles? As in Esther, God will sovereignly preserve those who respond to His Word; they’ll also come into joy and blessing.

Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians emphasize teaching regarding the Church, the Body. Ephesians focuses on our relationship with one another; we are one in Christ. Colossians focuses on our relationship with Christ; we are complete in Him. Philippians shows how right relationships with one another are maintained by a devoted appreciation of our relationship with Christ.

D. Oliver


How are the written and the Incarnate Word related?

John’s gospel begins with e Word,” who “became flesh” (1:1, 14). John concludes his treatise with the Lord’s blessing on those who believe His words, rather than, like Thomas, depending on sight (John 20:29). Faith in the written Word is the purpose (20:31) and theme of John’s gospel. The miracles developed the disciples’ faith (2:11; 20:30); all were through His word. The Lord taught His own that His words afforded them the same sufficiency as His person.

In 18:9, John notes the fulfilling of the Lord’s sayings with the same expression He uses regarding the fulfilling of Scripture (12:38; 15:25). The incarnate Word and the written Word are equally authoritative; their sayings both must be fulfilled.

Only John tells us the Lord is “the true Bread”(6:32), the Bread of which manna was typical. Manna, then, typifies the Incarnate and the written Word (Deut. 8:3). The written Word is as life-sustaining, sufficient, and authoritative to us as the Incarnate Word was to the disciples.

D. Oliver