Just Skip The Labor Pains And Give Me The Bible, Baby!


I’ve mentioned Dr. Eric Thomas in a prior writing. I’m a fan of his work because his work ethic is second to none. One of his teachings, which I embrace and teach, is that “You can’t cheat the grind”. I agree. There are no shortcuts in life, and in order to get from where you are to where you want to be, you will have to take the full journey, not the abbreviated tour.

I think, though, that most people don’t know what each of the 66 chapters of The Bible are about in a general sense. It’s a big book.  The e-copy of The Message I work from is 4,913 pages. An average reader reads at a rate of about two pages per minute, making The Message a 9,826-minute read from cover-to-cover. That breaks down to 163 hours of reading time. That’s a lot, ain’t it? It takes quite an effort to read the whole thing. It’s a lifetime, ongoing effort, and one well-worth the investment of time and energy.

As I thought about the task of reading and internalizing The Bible, I thought about how helpful it would be to have a simple understanding of each chapter in its most basic form. That’s what I’ve done here. I’ve put together a short summary of each chapter of The Bible that gives you some perspective about what each is about.

How short? Let me tell you a story first (ok, it’s really a joke). A wise king in the old days told his subjects, “Go out and gather all of the knowledge of the world and compile it in written form for me.” They went out and collected the knowledge of the world, and came back with 20 volumes of written information. The king said, “That’s too many volumes. Nobody will ever read it all! Condense it down some more and bring it back to me.” They did, and came back with one volume of information. The king said, “Still too much; nobody will read it. Condense it more and come back.” They got back to work, and condensed it to one chapter. “Better”, said the king, “but still too long.” Back to work they went, this time condensing it to one paragraph. “I think you’re close”, said the king, “but it can be condensed more.” Back to work they went, one last time, and came back with one sentence. “Wonderful!”, said the king. He took the piece of paper with the one sentence and read it, which said, “There ain’t no free lunch.”

So, here it is: all of the books of The Bible, condensed down to one sentence. Here we go:

  1. Genesis: Where the world came from and where people came from, along with a big flood.
  2. Exodus: God saves Israel from slavery, then makes them his special people.
  3. Leviticus: God teaches Israel how to worship him.
  4. Numbers: Israel doesn’t follow God’s teachings, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
  5. Deuteronomy: Moses teaches (reiterates) the lessons of how to obey and worship God.
  6. Joshua: New leader of Israel, Joshua, leads them to conquer the Promised Land and divvies out the land.
  7. Judges: Israel falls from God’s grace, and God sends leaders called “Judges” to save them.
  8. Ruth: Two widows lose everything and move to Israel, culminating in the birth of future King of Israel David.
  9. 1 Samuel: Israel gets a King, Saul, who sucks.
  10. 2 Samuel: David beats Goliath, later becoming King of Israel and having God’s favor.
  11. 1 Kings: Israel has peace under King Solomon, but later splits into two kingdoms.
  12. 2 Kings: Both kingdoms turn their backs on God until captured, where they return to God for help.
  13. 1 Chronicles: The history of Israel from Adam to David.
  14. 2 Chronicles: David’s son, Solomon, builds the Temple of God, but the Babylonians destroy it.
  15. Ezra: The Israelites rebuild the temple, and Ezra teaches them to obey God (again).
  16. Nehemiah: Jerusalem is in bad shape, so Nehemiah rebuilds the wall around it.
  17. Esther: Esther goes to the emperor to ask for help with avoiding the genocide of Israel.
  18. Job: Satan makes Job sick, and three of Job’s not-so-helpful friends try to help him understand why.
  19. Psalms: 150 hymns sang by the Israelites.
  20. Proverbs: Wisdom of King Solomon and others for good living on Earth.
  21. Ecclesiastes: A look at the meaning of life, with a skeptical viewpoint.
  22. Song of Songs: Songs celebrating love and marriage.
  23. Isaiah: God sends Isaiah to Israel to warn them of judgment and that a king is coming to bear their sins.
  24. Jeremiah: God sends Jeremiah to warn Israel about Babylonian invasion.
  25. Lamentations: Writings lamenting the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.
  26. Ezekiel: God sends Ezekiel to educate the Israelites on their mistakes and on justice.
  27. Daniel: Daniel becomes a high-ranking Babylonian and has visions of Israel’s future.
  28. Hosea: Hosea is forced to marry and have children with a prostitute, becoming a lesson in love from God.
  29. Joel: God sends a plague of locusts to judge Israel, with more to come to the surrounding nations.
  30. Amos: Amos preaches against injustices by the Northern part of Israel.
  31. Obadiah: Obadiah warns Edom, a neighbor of Jerusalem, that they will be judged for ravaging Jerusalem.
  32. Jonah: Jonah disobeyed God, got swallowed by a whale, and became a preacher.
  33. Micah: Micah confronts leaders in Israel and Judah and tells them God will rule them one day.
  34. Nahum: Nahum predicts God’s judgment on the capital of Assyria, Nineveh.
  35. Habakkuk: Habakkuk begs God to stop violence in Judah, then learn God will do so with the Babylonians.
  36. Zephaniah: God says he will judge Israel and its neighboring nations, but says he will restore peace.
  37. Haggai: People stop working on the Temple of God, and Haggai challenges them.
  38. Zechariah: Zechariah asks Israel to return to God (yes, again), and makes prophetic about underlying issues.
  39. Malachi: Israel lives unfaithfully to God, so he sends Malachi to minister to them.
  40. Matthew: Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, and his role as King of the Jews.
  41. Mark: Record of Jesus’s early ministry and his faithfulness and servanthood.
  42. Luke: Adds eyewitness testimony to the story of Jesus’s life on Earth.
  43. John: Stories of miracles and signs to help readers believe in Jesus.
  44. Acts: Jesus returns to God and his Gospel spreads around the world.
  45. Romans: Paul writes a summary of how the Gospel of Jesus works.
  46. 1 Corinthians: Paul admonishes a church in Corinth and answers questions about what they should be doing.
  47. 2 Corinthians: Paul reconciles with the church in Corinth and answers more questions.
  48. Galatians: Paul writes to Galatian churches that salvation doesn’t come from the law of Moses and corrects them.
  49. Ephesians: Paul teaches the church in Ephesus how to live and love gracefully.
  50. Philippians: Paul sends a letter to the church in Philippi and encourages them to be joyous in Jesus.
  51. Colossians: Paul writes the church in Colossae to educate them on Christian principles.
  52. 1 Thessalonians: Paul writes the church in Thessalonica because they’ve done great work and encourages them to do even better.
  53. 2 Thessalonians: Paul encourages the Thessalonians to stay strong in their faith in Christ until he returns.
  54. 1 Timothy: Paul mentors Timothy on how to run a church and be a pastor.
  55. 2 Timothy: Paul is close to dying and encourages Timothy to keep spreading the Gospel.
  56. Titus: Paul teaches Titus how to lead a church on Crete.
  57. Philemon: Paul encourages Philemon to accept his runaway slave as a Christian brother.
  58. Hebrews: A letter encouraging Christians to stay faithful to Jesus in spite of persecution.
  59. James: A letter encouraging people to live through Christian values and principles.
  60. 1 Peter: Peter writes to persecuted Christians encouraging them to be faithful.
  61. 2 Peter: Peter writes a letter reminding Christians about the truth of Jesus and that false profits will be coming.
  62. 1 John: John writes a letter encouraging people to follow Christian principles and love one another.
  63. 2 John: A short letter about love, truth, and obedience.
  64. 3 John: John writes a very short letter about Christian fellowship.
  65. Jude: A letter encouraging Christians to remain faithful in spite of opposition.
  66. Revelations: John sees visions of the past, the present, and the future.

There it is! The 66 chapters of The Bible, summarized in one sentence each. I think this will help you as you study The Bible by helping you remember where you can find specific topics in The Bible. When you think of The Bible as 4,913 pages of reading, it seems unmanageable. When you break it down into concepts, it becomes manageable. You know the old adage about how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. When you break down your studies of The Bible into manageable parts, you’ll be successful in not just reading it, but retaining it. Keep this list around when you read The Bible and you’ll also soon memorize the books and what they are about. It will make you mentally well-organized in your efforts and give you greater satisfaction in your studies.

May God bless you, now and always.

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