Bible Basics 101 -

Bible Basics 101

This article is part of a short series called Bible Basics.

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The Bible is divided into the Old Testament (OT) & the New Testament (NT). It contains a total of 66 Books (39 in the OT, 27 in the NT). Each “Book” is divided into “Chapters” and then into “Verses.” Look at the following picture from the Book of John (from the New Testament):

Pictured is the beginning of Chapter 1 of the Book of JOHN. You see the large “1” off to the side – these “large numbers” show the start of a new “chapter.” So the first verse in John is:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

Book #: # (John 1:1) – shows the location of the verse in the Bible:

  • John – the Book of John
  • 1: – the 1st Chapter (the numbers in front of the colon)
  • :1 – the 1st Verse (the numbers after the colon)

The “verse numbers” are the smaller numbers typically added at the beginning of a sentence or phrase. Ironically, the first verse of each chapter is typically not “numbered” since there is not room due to the “chapter number.” To make this clear, see the picture above and see if you can find verse 4. If you found the following, we’re literally on the same page:

In him was life, and that life was the light to all mankind.” – John 1:4, NIV

Notice the “NIV” placed at the end of the verse. That stands for “New International Version,” which happens to be the particular English translation of the Bible used in the picture and quoted from.

I also want to point out that many people get John confused with 1 John, 2 John, & 3 John. There are 4 books called John in the New Testament. The Book of John, is the plain John or Gospel of John located near the beginning of the New Testament. 1 John/”First John,” 2 John/”Second John,” & 3 John/”Third John” are shorter and located near the back of the New Testament. For instance here is the first verse from 1 John/”First John”:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” – ….1 John 1:1, NIV

The Books of the Bible

Christians typically group the books of the Bible into like categories, which you can see in the picture below. This can also help your learn and remember the Books of the Bible easier. If you click on the picture below you can use the PDF to make double-sided bookmarks to use in your Bible for FREE.

The Torah / Pentateuch / Law:

The first 5 books of the Bible are collectively referred to as the Torah, the Pentateuch, the Law, or Books of the Law. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy cover God and His creation. God’s Chosen People, the Israelites, and their history and journey with God. It lists the Ten Commandments along with other laws that pertain to everyday living and community.

History – Old Testament

History is simply that…the History of God’s people: the Israelites and their journey into the Promised Land of Milk & Honey (a.k.a Canaan). The next 12 books show how the Israelites constantly struggle with self-reliance (man’s ways) and their return to God (& His ways). You will learn about how the tribes move from chosen leaders, called Judges, to the people wanting to be like all the surrounding tribes and countries who had kings. God allowed kings and choose who would become the King of Israel. You will also learn about how the Kingdom of Israel divides – YEP 2 separate nations, with 2 separate kings: the Northern Kingdom (called Israel) & the Southern Kingdom (called Judah). As you read you will learn of these kingdoms and their captivity by surrounding countries and how God, in His perfect timing, saves His people and returns them back to their original lands.

FYI: The Book of 2 Samuel covers the reign of David from start to finish, but so does 1 Chronicles. You can think of 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings as one continuous chronology of historical events. Then 1 & 2 Chronicles cover basically the same time period. The main difference is that Chronicles focuses on the religious history of the time period, while the books of Samuel & Kings focus on the political history.

Major & Minor Prophets

God also provided Prophets, men (& women) chosen by God to advise kings and deliver messages from God to his people. They were “God’s spokesmen,” who were also given supernatural abilities (as needed) to draw attention back to God. The only difference between Major & Minor is the length of the book – Major Prophets books are a lot longer.

The Gospels

Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John comprise the 4 Books of the Gospel. Written by 4 men during the First Century, they each write about Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. You may feel as if you are reading the same story over & over, and to a certain extent you are. From different Point-of-Views we learn about the Love and Teachings of Jesus. Not only does Jesus share with everyone the Great Commission and how to live as Christians, but also how to live according to his will and receive eternal life. Matthew tends to show more detail and adds more about Jesus in general, while Mark tends to show what Jesus did in chronological order. John takes this a step further and shows us what Jesus said and gives more details about the weeks leading up to his crucifixion.

History – New Testament

However, we cannot overlook the book of Acts. Written by the same author of Luke, both books give us a continuous chronological story of Jesus, his life & ministry, as well as the beginning of the early Christian church after Jesus’ ascension. Luke is known to be the companion of Paul – one of the first Christian missionaries to the world.

Paul’s Letters

The Epistles or Letters of Paul make up the next 13 books of the Bible. He writes to the early churches and Christians with guidance and reminders on how to live an upright life – a life pleasing to the Lord.

General Letters

Except for Hebrews, the remaining 7 books of the Bible were not written to any specific church or person. They were written to a “General Audience” of Christians (including modern-day Christians!) The authors were all close to Jesus himself – 2 of his brothers (James & Jude), along with 2 disciples (Peter & John). Hebrews is one of those books that no one knows who wrote it. Some claim it was Paul, but most modern biblical scholars do not agree with this view. In any case, it is one of the most cherished books by modern-day Christians for it shows Christ’s superiority in all things, including our example of how to live a Christian life.


The last book of the Bible, Revelation, is just that – a revelation of things to come. Written by John of prophetic visions of things to come. It shows the return of Jesus to earth, as well as glimpses of heaven. It describes the Apocalypse, or the destruction of the world. It tells of the coming battle between God & the Devil and reveals the victor. Spoiler alert: Jesus wins!

Ryan Stevenson ~ The Gospel
KJV Songs – Books of the Bible Song