top of page

About the Bible

The word "bible" comes from the ancient Greek word for "book," but the Bible is actually a library of books. It contains history, poetry and songs, philosophy, testimony and letters. The Bible has two main parts. The Old Testament covers the long period from the creation to about 400 BC and largely tells the story of the people of Israel, the Jews. What Christians call the Old Testament is the same as the Jewish or Hebrew Bible, and it was originally written in ancient Hebrew (with a little bit in Aramaic). In summary, it relates the story of the creation and the disobedience of humanity, the call of the Israelite people to be God's special people, and God's dealings with them. The Old Testament is full of promises about a coming Saviour (the Messiah or Christ) who would reconcile not only Jews, but all peoples of the world to God their Creator. The New Testament is the story of the Christ, Jesus. It was written in ancient Greek and spans the first century C.E. (AD). The four gospels (according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus, from different perspectives.  Then follows the account of the Acts of the Apostles after Jesus' death and resurrection and the beginnings of the church. The remainder of the New Testament is a collection of letters by various apostles to other early Christians and they contain practical Christian teaching and pastoral concerns. The final book is not just a letter but an account of visions, called the Apocalypse or Revelation, which brings God's story to its amazing conclusion.

If you look at the contents page of a Bible you will see the 66 books grouped under the two testaments. Each book, except for a few very short ones, is divided into chapters, and each chapter into "verses." This was originally done in the 13th and 16th centuries, respectively, and has remained standardised since. A verse can be a sentence, clause or short paragraph. The very first verse of the Bible is Genesis 1:1, the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 1.

Christians hold the Bible to be uniquely the message of God and reliable and truthful in its teachings. God himself caused the many individual authors of the Bible to write the different parts, but he didn't just dictate. Each book is written in a style that reflects the human author, ranging from common, grass roots language, through poetry, to writing of high literary standard. The Bible shows us who God is and what he is like, most clearly by presenting Jesus, the Word of God made human; God with us. The Bible also shows us what we humans are like, warts and all.

download Bible

Suggested first readings

The gospel of Mark

Genesis chapters 1 to 3

Psalms 1 to 8

Exodus 20:1-21

The gospel of Luke

Isaiah chapter 40

Romans chs 1 to 8


Revelation chs 20 to 22

Don't have a Bible?

YouVersion is a free Bible app you can download.

I'd recommend starting with the NIV (New International Version) rather than the KJV.

bottom of page