Summary of Bible Books

Old Testament books of the Bible


Genesis answers two big questions: “How did God’s relationship with the world begin?” and “Where did the nation of Israel come from?”
Author: Traditionally Moses.


God saves Israel from slavery in Egypt, and then enters into a special relationship with them.
Author: Traditionally Moses


God gives Israel instructions for how to worship Him.
Author: traditionally Moses


Israel fails to trust and obey God, and wanders in the wilderness for 40 years.
Author: Traditionally Moses


Moses gives Israel instructions (in some ways, a recap of the laws in Exodus–Numbers) for how to love and obey God in the Promised Land.
Author: Traditionally Moses


Joshua (Israel’s new leader) leads Israel to conquer the Promised land, then parcels out territories to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Author: Joshua (except the parts relating to his death)

Read more:


Israel enters a cycle of turning from God, falling captive to oppressive nations, calling out to God, and being rescued by leaders God sends their way (called “judges”).
Author: Nobody knows / Samuel, Nathan, Gad


Two widows lose everything, and find hope in Israel—which leads to the birth of the future King David.
Author: Nobody knows / Samuel, Nathan, Gad

1 Samuel

Israel demands a king, who turns out to be quite a disappointment.
Author: Nobody knows / Samuel, Nathan, Gad

2 Samuel

David, a man after God’s own heart, becomes king of Israel.
Author: Nobody knows / Samuel, Nathan, Gad

1 Kings

The kingdom of Israel has a time of peace and prosperity under King Solomon, but afterward splits, and the two lines of kings turn away from God. Written while the first temple was still standing (1 Kings 8:8).
Author: Traditionally Jeremiah. Modern scholarship assigns the authorship to “the prophets.”

2 Kings

Both kingdoms ignore God and his prophets, until they both fall captive to other world empires.
Author: Traditionally Jeremiah. Modern scholarship assigns the authorship to “the prophets.”

1 Chronicles

This is a brief history of Israel from Adam to David, culminating with David commissioning the temple of God in Jerusalem.
Author: Traditionally Ezra

2 Chronicles

David’s son Solomon builds the temple, but after centuries of rejecting God, the Babylonians take the southern Israelites captive and destroy the temple.
Author: Traditionally Ezra


The Israelites rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, and a scribe named Ezra teaches the people to once again obey God’s laws.
Author: Ezra


The city of Jerusalem is in bad shape, so Nehemiah rebuilds the wall around the city.
Author: Nehemiah


Someone hatches a genocidal plot to bring about Israel’s extinction, and Esther must face the emperor to ask for help.
Author: Nobody knows


Satan attacks a righteous man named Job, and Job and his friends argue about why terrible things are happening to him.
Author: Nobody knows


A collection of 150 songs that Israel sang to God (and to each other)—kind of like a hymnal for the ancient Israelites.
Author: So many authors—meet them all here!


A collection of sayings written to help people make wise decisions that bring about justice.
Author: Solomon and other wise men


A philosophical exploration of the meaning of life—with a surprisingly nihilistic tone for the Bible.
Author: Traditionally Solomon

Song of Solomon

    (Song of Songs)

A love song (or collection of love songs) celebrating love, desire, and marriage.
Author: Traditionally Solomon


God sends the prophet Isaiah to warn Israel of future judgment—but also to tell them about a coming king and servant who will “bear the sins of many.”
Author: Isaiah (and maybe some of his followers)


God sends a prophet to warn Israel about the coming Babylonian captivity, but the people don’t take the news very well.
Author: Jeremiah


A collection of dirges lamenting the fall of Jerusalem after the Babylonian attacks.
Author: Traditionally Jeremiah


God chooses a man to speak for Him to Israel, to tell them the error of their ways and teach them justice: Ezekiel.
Author: Ezekiel


Daniel becomes a high-ranking wise man in the Babylonian and Persian empires, and has prophetic visions concerning Israel’s future.
Author: Daniel (with other contributors)


Hosea is told to marry a prostitute who leaves him, and he must bring her back: a picture of God’s relationship with Israel.
Author: Hosea


God sends a plague of locusts to Judge Israel, but his judgment on the surrounding nations is coming, too.
Author: Joel


A shepherd named Amos preaches against the injustice of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Author: Amos


Obadiah warns the neighboring nation of Edom that they will be judged for plundering Jerusalem.
Author: Obadiah


A disobedient prophet runs from God, is swallowed by a great fish, and then preaches God’s message to the city of Nineveh.
Author: Traditionally Jonah


Micah confronts the leaders of Israel and Judah regarding their injustice, and prophecies that one day the Lord himself will rule in perfect justice.
Author: Micah


Nahum foretells of God’s judgment on Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.
Author: Nahum


Habakkuk pleads with God to stop the injustice and violence in Judah, but is surprised to find that God will use the even more violent Babylonians to do so.
Author: Habakkuk


God warns that he will judge Israel and the surrounding nations, but also that he will restore them in peace and justice.
Author: Zephaniah


The people have abandoned the work of restoring God’s temple in Jerusalem, and so Haggai takes them to task.
Author: Haggai


The prophet Zechariah calls Israel to return to God, and records prophetic visions that show what’s happening behind the scenes.


God has been faithful to Israel, but they continue to live disconnected from him—so God sends Malachi to call them out.


New Testament books of the Bible

      The Gospel of


This is an account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, focusing on Jesus’ role as the true king of the Jews.
Author: Matthew

      The Gospel of


This brief account of Jesus’ earthly ministry highlights Jesus’ authority and servanthood.

Author: John Mark

      The Gospel of


Luke writes the most thorough account of Jesus’ life, pulling together eyewitness testimonies to tell the full story of Jesus.
Author: Luke

      The Gospel of


John lists stories of signs and miracles with the hope that readers will believe in Jesus.
Author: John


Jesus returns to the Father, the Holy Spirit comes to the church, and the gospel of Jesus spreads throughout the world.
Author: Luke


Paul summarizes how the gospel of Jesus works in a letter to the churches at Rome, where he plans to visit.
Author: Paul

1 Corinthians

Paul writes a disciplinary letter to a fractured church in Corinth, and answers some questions that they’ve had about how Christians should behave.
Author: Paul

2 Corinthians

Paul writes a letter of reconciliation to the church at Corinth, and clears up some concerns that they have.
Author: Paul


Paul hears that the Galatian churches have been lead to think that salvation comes from the law of Moses, and writes a (rather heated) letter telling them where the false teachers have it wrong.
Author: Paul


Paul writes to the church at Ephesus about how to walk in grace, peace, and love.
Author: Paul


An encouraging letter to the church of Philippi from Paul, telling them how to have joy in Christ.
Author: Paul


Paul writes the church at Colossae a letter about who they are in Christ, and how to walk in Christ.
Author: Paul

1 Thessalonians

Paul has heard a good report on the church at Thessalonica, and encourages them to “excel still more” in faith, hope, and love.
Author: Paul

2 Thessalonians

Paul instructs the Thessalonians on how to stand firm until the coming of Jesus.
Author: Paul

1 Timothy

Paul gives his protegé Timothy instruction on how to lead a church with sound teaching and a godly example.
Author: Paul

2 Timothy

Paul is nearing the end of his life, and encourages Timothy to continue preaching the word.
Author: Paul


Paul advises Titus on how to lead orderly, counter-cultural churches on the island of Crete.
Author: Paul


Paul strongly recommends that Philemon accept his runaway slave as a brother, not a slave.
Author: Paul


A letter encouraging Christians to cling to Christ despite persecution, because he is greater.
Author: Nobody knows


A letter telling Christians to live in ways that demonstrate their faith in action.
Author: James (likely the brother of Jesus)

1 Peter

Peter writes to Christians who are being persecuted, encouraging them to testify to the truth and live accordingly.
Author: Peter

2 Peter

Peter writes a letter reminding Christians about the truth of Jesus, and warning them that false teachers will come.
Author: Peter

1 John

John writes a letter to Christians about keeping Jesus’ commands, loving one another, and important things they should know.
Author: John

2 John

A very brief letter about walking in truth, love, and obedience.
Author: John

3 John

An even shorter letter about Christian fellowship.
Author: John


A letter encouraging Christians to content for the faith, even though ungodly persons have crept in unnoticed.
Author: Jude


John sees visions of things that have been, things that are, and things that are yet to come.
Author: John