Struggling to understand the Bible and its story in context? Here’s a quick guide on how to study every book in the Bible.

Struggling to Understand the Bible?

Imagine your school teacher wants to discuss a book you haven’t read. She tells you to open the book, point to a sentence, and read it. Now she asks you to discuss it in the context of the rest of the book. But how can you add anything to the discussion when you haven’t read the whole book yet?

Many of us grew up in church doing this. We grab a story here, a story there, make a craft, memorize scripture, listen to sermons, and attend Bible study classes. However, most Christians have not even read their entire Bible, and cannot tell you how the main characters in the Bible fit together.

For example, if you grew up in church you’ve probably heard the story of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet who was swallowed by a fish and told to go to Nineveh. You might know these facts, but not much else. Here are some things you might not know:

  • Where is Nineveh?
  • Why was this assignment important?
  • When and where did Jonah live?
  • Who was his audience?
  • What was his message?
  • Why didn’t he want to go to Nineveh?
  • And…Why is it important to know these things?

Well, if you know that Nineveh is the capital of Assyria, and Assyria is one of the most violent, aggressive, terrifying empires that ever existed (and this was after they had completely annihilated and exiled the kingdom of the Israelites), then you might have some context. Jonah loved the Lord, but when God told him to go to the capital of an evil empire and tell them they’re sinning, it was terrifying! To Jonah, this was a suicide mission!

Understanding the Why

As children, we learn the moral of the story is: Jonah was not a good listener. If that’s the only thing we get from this story, look at how much we’ve missed! Here are some real conversations you can have when you understand the context of Jonah:

  • What do you do when God calls you to do something that is dangerous?
  • What do you do when God calls you to do something that you disagree with?
  • What did you do with a God who forgives evil or has mercy on evil people?

Allowing ourselves to really dig into the context of these stories also helps us understand that they aren’t a collection of fairy tales, these stories are about actual people who lived in the past. These are the people who helped bring the good news to us today!

Why Reading the Bible Cover to Cover is Confusing

If you’ve ever tried to read the Bible in order, it might start out okay, but a few books in, you start to lose the storyline. Did you know the Bible was actually put together by genre, not in chronological order?

If you read Genesis to Revelation, you’ll jump back and forth between different time periods and you’re going to get very confused. It’s because it’s assembled out of order. Here are the genres of the books of the Bible:

The Basics to My Guide on How to Study the Bible

Let me walk you through the basics:

Genesis covers the founders: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Approximately 400 years later, we learn about Moses rescuing the Israelites in the book of Exodus. The Israelites wander the desert because of their disobedience from Leviticus to Deuteronomy.

Joshua picks up after Moses’ death and he leads the people into the Promised Land. Leadership gets passed on through several people called Judges (aka Samson, Deborah, Gideon) and after a while, the people ask for a king. A prophet named Samuel appointed the first king, Saul, followed by David and his son Solomon. Eventually, the Israelites went to civil war with each other and their kingdom split into a Northern (Israel) and Southern Kingdom (Judah). This is where the order of the books gets really confusing.

For example, Psalms is a book of poetry written mostly by David (whose life story is told in 3 other books). The second half of the Old Testament is about prophets sharing messages from God to the various Israelite kings and other nations who have overthrown them.

After the kingdom split, a king ruled over each kingdom. For centuries they lived this way, fighting with each other, mostly having evil kings between the two of them. Eventually, God gets so fed up with the Israelites, that he allows them to be taken over by other empires (such as Assyria, Babylon, and Greece).

After 70 years in exile, the Persian empire allowed them to return to their homeland to rebuild their temple. Fast forward 400 years, the Romans took over Persia, and now the Israelites are under Roman authority—enter Jesus Christ.

(If you followed all of that, good for you! It’s a lot!)

Why I Created a Guide on How to Study the Bible

A lot of us are afraid to study the Bible historically because we feel like we might turn our Bible study into a history lesson. However, if you avoid ever studying your Bible in this way, you miss out on genuinely discovering the God who created you and the reasons behind his actions. How can you grow closer to him if you don’t understand how far he’s gone for you? His love for you didn’t start with the birth of Jesus, it began in the Garden of Eden long before the Garden of Gethsemane! The God of Genesis is the same God in Amos, Malachi, Luke, and Philemon!

I encourage everyone (new Christians and seasoned Christians) to learn this information—you’ll only be better for it. I’ve seen it give others new insight and excitement about studying the Bible. This method allows personal transformation when you understand the context and the why behind events.

When I reached my 30s, I realized I still could not understand the basic historical context of the Bible even after growing up in church and attending a Christian college. I committed to doing the hard work and dug deep into my personal study.

Over four years, I created printable summaries of every single book in the Bible in a way that clarifies the historical context and maps out how everything fits together. I wanted the characters and the stories to be as real and tangible as the ones I studied in public school.

My printable guides to study the Bible are organized with dates, people, events, cross-references, genealogies, maps, and more, for each book of the Bible (it also includes a 2-page summary of how all the Bible books fit together in chronological order).

Order My Complete Guide on How to Study the Bible

While I originally created these for purchase individually, over time I bundled them together at a discount based on their genre (the organization style of the Bible).

Later I was able to compile the entire thing into one big bundle (also at a discounted price).

Depending on the length of the book, each one is summarized in 1-4 beautifully illustrated printable pages. Check out these 3 options I have available in my shop for purchasing these guides for your Bible study:

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