Summary of Bible Books

Old Testament books of the Bible

Genesis

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.

Exodus

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

Leviticus

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

Numbers

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

Deuteronomy

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

Joshua (Israel’s new leader) leads Israel to conquer the Promised land, then parcels out territories to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Author: Nobody knows

Judges

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

Ruth

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

1 Samuel

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

2 Samuel

    David, a man after God’s own heart, becomes king of Israel.

Author: Nobody knows

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.
Author: Nobody knows

2 Kings

Both kingdoms ignore God and his prophets, until they both fall captive to other world empires.
Author: Nobody knows

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

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

Nehemiah

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

Esther

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

Job

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

Psalms

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!

Proverbs

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

Ecclesiastes

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

Isaiah

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)

Jeremiah

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

Lamentations

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

Ezekiel

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

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

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

Joel

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

Amos

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

Obadiah

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

Jonah

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

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

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

Habakkuk

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

Zephaniah

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

Haggai

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

Zechariah

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

Malachi

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

Matthew

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

Mark

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

Author: John Mark

      The Gospel of

Luke

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

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

Acts

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

Romans

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

Galatians

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

Ephesians

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

Philippians

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

Colossians

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

Titus

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

Philemon

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

Hebrews

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

James

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

Jude

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

Revelation

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