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We All Struggle to Read the Bible

By R.C. Sproul -August 30, 2021

struggle to read the Bible

Virtually every Christian at some point has resolved to read the entire Bible. If we believe the Bible is the Word of God, it’s natural not to want to miss a word of it. If God delivered a letter to your mailbox, I am sure you would read it. But the Bible is a pretty big letter, and its sheer bulk is somewhat daunting, even to the person with the best of intentions. Therefore, few Christians actually keep a resolution to read through the Bible.

At seminars, I often ask for a show of hands indicating how many people have read the entire Bible. Rarely do even 50 percent of the people answer “yes.” I ask, “How many of you have read the book of Genesis?” Almost everyone raises his hand. Then I say, “Keep your hand up if you’ve also read Exodus.” Only a few hands are lowered. “Leviticus?” That’s when hands start dropping quickly. With Numbers it’s even worse.

Why Do Many Christians Struggle to Read the Bible?

Reading Genesis is almost like reading a novel. It is mostly narrative history and biography. It tells of important events in the lives of important people such as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. Exodus is likewise gripping, as it tells the poignant story of Israel’s enslavement in Egypt and of its liberation under the leadership of Moses. The contest with Pharaoh is exciting. But when we get to Leviticus, everything changes. It’s difficult reading about the ceremonies, the sacrifices, and the cleansing rituals because they are foreign to us today. We lack a road map to help us through these difficult portions of the Bible.

Begin with an Overview of the Bible

Here’s my recommendation: begin with an overview of the Bible. Get the basic framework first. If possible, enroll in a Ligonier Connect course online that will give you such an overview. We have also produced an audio and video series titled Dust to Glory. It gives the basic structure of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It does not go into details, but it covers the high points of redemptive history. In addition to this series, I collaborated with Robert Wolgemuth to produce What’s in the Bible? The goal of this book is to help the person who has never had a simple introduction to the Bible. In 1977, I published a book titled Knowing Scripture, which is designed to help people master the basic rules of biblical interpretation. I frankly think this book is one of the most important helps that I’ve ever been able to provide for people in studying the Bible, because it provides basic, foundational principles of biblical interpretation to keep people from falling into errors that would lead to distortions of the teaching of Scripture.

Once you understand the basic framework, you are much better equipped to overcome the struggle to read the Bible. Here is a pattern I recommend for people who have never read the Bible.

The Old Testament Overview:

  • Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
  • Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
  • Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
  • Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
  • 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
  • 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
  • 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
  • 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
  • Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
  • Nehemiah (the restoration of Jerusalem)
  • Amos and Hosea (examples of minor prophets)
  • Jeremiah (an example of a major prophet)
  • Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)
  • Psalms and Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)

The New Testament Overview:

  • The Gospel of Luke (the life of Jesus)
  • Acts (the early church)
  • Ephesians (an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
  • 1 Corinthians (life in the church)
  • 1 Peter (an introduction to Peter)
  • 1 Timothy (an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
  • Hebrews (Christology)
  • Romans (Paul’s theology)

By reading these books, a student can get a basic feel for and understanding of the scope of the Bible without getting bogged down in the more difficult sections. From there, he or she can fill in the gaps to complete the reading of the entire Bible.

We have compiled a thorough list of various Bible reading plans to help you develop a regular habit of reading through the Bible.

This excerpt about the struggle to read the Bible is adapted from Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow by R.C. Sproul.

Three Keys To Overcoming Barriers To Bible Engagement In The Church

By Paul Caminiti on Mar 16, 2018

“Do you know what your problem is?” the business consultant we had hired asked me. “You’re lazy.”

At the time, I was running a successful Bible division for a well-known publishing company. Before that, I had been a pastor for 15 years. “Lazy” was not one of the words I would have chosen to describe myself.

“You’re not lazy when it comes to creating and selling more Bibles,” the consultant continued. “But what are you doing to help people engage their Bibles once the cash register has rung?”

I didn’t have a good answer.

Like many in the church, I had come to assume that if we simply got the Scriptures out there—that if we translated, published, and sold enough Bibles—then we’d done our job. God would take it from there.

Since then, I’ve learned the unvarnished reality: in North America, we have more Bibles than ever, but less and less real engagement.

Bibles, Bibles Everywhere

Americans buy 25 million new Bibles every year—and that’s not counting the millions that are given away by churches, Bible societies, and other ministries. The Bible is not only the best-selling book of all time; it’s the best-selling book every single year!

Yet we all know that the incidence of Bible reading is going down, not up. In the last few decades, one in five Bible readers has given up on Scripture. Today, twice as many people think the Bible is a fairy tale as did when I started in ministry.

The problem isn’t just outside the church, either. Willow Creek’s groundbreaking REVEAL study uncovered a surprising hunger for God’s Word among our congregations: 87 percent of churchgoers identified in-depth Bible study as “very” or “critically” important. No other spiritual need scored this highly.

But the REVEAL study also contained more sobering news: Only one in five churchgoers says their church offers in-depth Bible engagement.

For me, there is a compelling sense of opportunity and urgency in these numbers. As the authors of the REVEAL study concluded, “The Bible is the most powerful catalyst for spiritual growth. [Its] power to advance spiritual growth is unrivaled by anything else we’ve discovered.”

But how many of us have figured out how to unleash this power in ourchurch communities? And if we don’t find a way to better Bible engagement, how much longer before our parishioners start looking outside the church for spiritual direction?

This question prompted a two-year journey at Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). For more than two centuries now, we’ve translated and distributed Bibles all over the world. We’ve been privileged to serve as stewards of the NIV, the most widely read contemporary English version of the Bible.

But we’ve come to realize that translating, publishing, and distributing Bibles—while important—isn’t enough. It’s not good enough to ask, “Do people have the Bible?” We also have to ask, “What kind of experience are they having with the Bible?”

Three Barriers to Engagement

Today, it’s safe to say that our congregants’ Bible experience isn’t always everything it could be. What’s getting in the way of meaningful engagement? I propose the existence of three barriers:

  1. Too many of us read Scripture in fragments.
    From topical reference Bibles to verse-of-the-day emails, we tend to parcel Scripture into bite-sized fragments. Even the modern verse divisions in our Bibles—which weren’t added until the mid-1500s—encourage fragmented reading. We’ve made the Bible feel more like a reference book than a story.

    For the most part, biblical books were meant to be read as whole units, from beginning to end. Yet if we engage the Bible at all, we’re more likely to do so in a verse here or a chapter there. We’ve refashioned God’s Word in the image of our sound-bite culture; as a result, readers can lose sight of the bigger story.
  2. Too many of us read Scripture without a sense of context.
    We all know the Bible is an ancient book written by ancient scribes. We all know it’s the product of a world vastly different from our own. But if we are to discover the Bible’s implications for our lives today, we have to bridge the gap between its world and ours.

    Let’s face it—that’s easier said than done. More often than not, we’ve soft-pedaled the Bible’s foreignness. We haven’t fully come to grips with the reality that the Bible was written for us, but not directly to us. In the words of N.T. Wright, we have to learn to read it “with first-century eyes.”
  3. Too many of us read Scripture in isolation.
    Many treat Bible reading mainly as a private discipline. We have private devotions and personal quiet times. We’ve been taught to ask questions like, “How does this verse apply to me?”

    Personal Bible study is a wonderful thing. But in prioritizing individual experience over that within the community, we may have been unwittingly influenced by our Western, me-centric culture—more so than we care to admit.

    The Bible was originally the product of a very different mindset. Its books were written, first and foremost, to whole communities. They were composed, for the most part, to be read during public gatherings. Think of the many times Israel assembled to listen to the Law—or when Paul instructed that his letters be read aloud to the entire local church.

    We need a Bible experience that doesn’t just begin and end with “me.”

Three Cs of Engagement

These barriers to engagement are not inconsequential. But I believe they can be overcome by focusing on the three Cs of engagement:

The complete Bible . . .
For starters, we need to clear away some of the clutter that’s collected around the Bible. Study notes, cross-references, and verse numbers have a role to play, but let’s be honest about the fact that they encourage us to read in fragments rather than whole books. We need a panoramic view of the entire story.

Understood in context . . .
Before we can ask (much less answer) the question, “What does this passage mean to me?” we need to ask, “What did it mean to the original audience?” We need to go back in time and step into the world of the Bible’s writers and recipients.

Experienced in community. . .
Recovery movements understand what many of us in the church have missed: Great undertakings are far more likely to succeed when they are group efforts. Smokers, for example, are six times more likely to quit if they are part of a support group.

Bible engagement is no easy task, so individuals shouldn’t be left to go it alone. Our Bible experiences will be richer and more meaningful when we share them with the whole community of faith.

Community Bible Experience: A Step Toward Better Bible Engagement

We live in interesting times. There is a window of opportunity—one that will not last indefinitely—to really engage people in the Scriptures. Our parishioners are hungry to hear God speak—as hungry as they’ve ever been. Many churches, publishers, and Bible societies are finding innovative new ways to address this need.

At Biblica, we’ve spent the last couple years turning our vision for Bible engagement into concrete reality. We started by designing a different kind of Bible—one that presses the “undo” button on much of the artificial formatting that’s been added to Scripture over the years. We have given the Bible an un-makeover.

We published this new edition, called The Books of the Bible, without chapter and verse numbers, cross references, or study notes. We restored the natural section breaks within each book and arranged the books in a more natural order. (For example, instead of arranging Paul’s letters from longest to shortest—as they are in most Bibles—they appear in chronological order.) We included introductions that reveal the context and literary structure of each book. In short, we designed The Books of the Bible to be read from beginning to end.

But we didn’t stop there, because we believe that a better Bible experience demands more than just another Bible product. It takes a whole different approach to the Bible, the whole community of faith experiencing the whole story of redemption.

Last year we began testing this approach we call a Community Bible Experience. For approximately eight weeks, the whole church reads a section of Scripture (starting with the New Testament) from beginning to end using The Books of the Bible. Participants share the experience with one another through small groups that are deliberately more like book clubs than traditional Bible studies.

This experience isn’t about mining all the right answers from Scripture; it’s about helping people experience God’s Word on its own terms. It’s about whole communities immersing themselves in God’s story.

Already Community Bible Experience is generating powerful stories of transformation—new believers reading the New Testament for the first time, entire youth groups rallying around the Bible, and churches reaching out to the surrounding community through Scripture.

“We’ve never engaged so much of the Bible at one time,” said Brad Gilliland, pastor of Immanuel Community Church in Colorado, one of the first churches to hold a Community Bible Experience. “In terms of what God is doing, I feel like we’re the strongest we’ve been in a long time.”

An Invitation

As a pastor, you already know the importance of Bible engagement. We at Biblica would like to be your fellow travelers on the road toward a better Bible experience.

Community Bible Experience officially launches this fall, but we’re holding one more “test run” with a number of churches this spring, during Lent.

We are offering you the free opportunity to gather a small group of 10 leaders from your church—it could be your staff, your elder board, or other members of the congregation—and commit to journeying through the New Testament as a group this Lent.

Biblica will provide up to 10 free copies of The Books of the Bible, New Testament edition, to each of the first 100 churches who respond. (The cost to participate in a Community Bible Experience, normally $5 per person, will be waived.) We will also provide online access to a downloadable audio version of The Books of the Bible and other resources, including:

  • Promotional video
  • Reading plan
  • Discussion guide

Because this is a test run, we’re asking you to help us refine the experience for others, by telling us what works and what doesn’t. But we’re also asking you to consider sharing the experience with the whole congregation by holding a church-wide Community Bible Experience this fall.

A better Bible experience is possible, but it starts with the complete Bible understood in context and experienced in community. My prayer is that engaging the Bible in this way will be as life-changing for you and your church as it has been for me.

To learn more or to sign up for a free Community Bible Experience, please visit

Correct Motives For Bible Study

Posted by God’s Gift

Bible study is the natural habit of those who love God, and thus, hunger and thirst after His will. True disciples are those who continually seek for God’s directions in the Bible in order to pattern their behavior after His will.

  • Motivated to know the truth.

Matthew 5:3 (KJV)Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

John 7:17 (KJV)If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 

John 8:32 (KJV)And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

  • Motivated to obey God.

John 15:14 (KJV)Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 

James 1:22-25 (KJV)be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 

  • Motivated to war against Satan.

Ephesians 6:10-18 (KJV)Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 

2 Timothy 2:14-15 (KJV)Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (KJV)I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 

  • Motivated to save one’s self.

John 6:63 (KJV)It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 

1 Timothy 4:16 (KJV)Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. 

James 1:21 (KJV)Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 

  • Motivated to teach.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

Hebrews 5:12 (KJV)For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 

1 Peter 3:15 (KJV)But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 

  • Motivated by Paul’s example.

2 Timothy 4:13 (KJV)The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. 

  • Motivated to grow in knowledge.

Colossians 1:10 (KJV)That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 

1 Peter 3:18 (KJV)For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 

  • Motivated by thirst for righteousness.

Matthew 5:6 (KJV)Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 

1 Peter 2:2 (KJV)As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 


VIDEO Chuck Missler Genesis Session

This is session 01 of 24 all of which are a in-depth bible study on “genesis”

Book of Genesis




Summary of the Book of Genesis

This summary of the book of Genesis provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of Genesis.


The first phrase in the Hebrew text of 1:1 is bereshith (“in [the] beginning”), which is also the Hebrew title of the book (books in ancient times customarily were named after their first word or two). The English title, Genesis, is Greek in origin and comes from the word geneseos, which appears in the pre-Christian Greek translation (Septuagint) of 2:45:1. Depending on its context, the word can mean “birth,” “genealogy,” or “history of origin.” In both its Hebrew and Greek forms, then, the traditional title of Genesis appropriately describes its contents, since it is primarily a book of beginnings.


Chs. 1-38 reflect a great deal of what we know from other sources about ancient Mesopotamian life and culture. Creation, genealogies, destructive floods, geography and mapmaking, construction techniques, migrations of peoples, sale and purchase of land, legal customs and procedures, sheepherding and cattle-raising — all these subjects and many others were matters of vital concern to the peoples of Mesopotamia during this time. They were also of interest to the individuals, families and tribes of whom we read in the first 38 chapters of Genesis. The author appears to locate Eden, humankind’s first home, in or near Mesopotamia; the tower of Babel was built there; Abram was born there; Isaac took a wife from there; and Jacob lived there for 20 years. Although these patriarchs settled in Canaan, their original homeland was Mesopotamia.

The closest ancient literary parallels to Ge 1-38 also come from Mesopotamia. Enuma elish, the story of the god Marduk’s rise to supremacy in the Babylonian pantheon, is similar in some respects (though thoroughly mythical and polytheistic) to the Ge 1 creation account. Some of the features of certain king lists from Sumer bear striking resemblance to the genealogy in Ge 5. The 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh epic is quite similar in outline to the flood narrative in Ge 6-8. Several of the major events of Ge 1-8 are narrated in the same order as similar events in the Atrahasis epic. In fact, the latter features the same basic motif of creation-rebellion-flood as the Biblical account. Clay tablets found in 1974 at the ancient (c. 2500-2300 b.c.) site of Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh) in northern Syria may also contain some intriguing parallels.

Two other important sets of documents demonstrate the reflection of Mesopotamia in the first 38 chapters of Genesis. From the Mari letters, dating from the patriarchal period, we learn that the names of the patriarchs (including especially Abram, Jacob and Job) were typical of that time. The letters also clearly illustrate the freedom of travel that was possible between various parts of the Amorite world in which the patriarchs lived. The Nuzi tablets, though a few centuries later than the patriarchal period, shed light on patriarchal customs, which tended to survive virtually intact for many centuries. The inheritance right of an adopted household member or slave (see 15:1-4), the obligation of a barren wife to furnish her husband with sons through a servant girl (see 16:2-4), strictures against expelling such a servant girl and her son (see 21:10-11), the authority of oral statements in ancient Near Eastern law, such as the deathbed bequest (see 27:1-4,22-23,33) — these and other legal customs, social contracts and provisions are graphically illustrated in Mesopotamian documents.

As Ge 1-38 is Mesopotamian in character and background, so chs. 39 – 50 reflect Egyptian influence — though in not quite so direct a way. Examples of such influence are: Egyptian grape cultivation (40:9-11), the riverside scene (ch. 41), Egypt as Canaan’s breadbasket (ch. 42), Canaan as the source of numerous products for Egyptian consumption (ch. 43), Egyptian religious and social customs (the end of chs. 4346), Egyptian administrative procedures (ch. 47), Egyptian funerary practices (ch. 50) and several Egyptian words and names used throughout these chapters. The closest specific literary parallel from Egypt is the Tale of Two Brothers, which bears some resemblance to the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (ch. 39). Egyptian autobiographical narratives (such as the Story of Sinuhe and the Report of Wenamun) and certain historical legends offer more general literary parallels.

Author and Date of Writing

Historically, Jews and Christians alike have held that Moses was the author/compiler of the first five books of the OT. These books, known also as the Pentateuch (meaning “five-volumed book”), were referred to in Jewish tradition as the five fifths of the law (of Moses). The Bible itself suggests Mosaic authorship of Genesis, since Ac 15:1 refers to circumcision as “the custom taught by Moses,” an allusion to Ge 17. However, a certain amount of later editorial updating does appear to be indicated (see, e.g., notes on 14:1436:3147:11).

The historical period during which Moses lived seems to be fixed with a fair degree of accuracy by 1 Kings. We are told that “the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel” was the same as “the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites had come out of Egypt” (1Ki 6:1). Since the former was c. 966 b.c., the latter — and thus the date of the exodus — was c. 1446 (assuming that the 480 in 1Ki 6:1 is to be taken literally; see Introduction to Judges: Background). The 40-year period of Israel’s wanderings in the desert, which lasted from c. 1446 to c. 1406, would have been the most likely time for Moses to write the bulk of what is today known as the Pentateuch.

During the last three centuries many interpreters have claimed to find in the Pentateuch four underlying sources. The presumed documents, allegedly dating from the tenth to the fifth centuries b.c., are called J (for Jahweh/Yahweh, the personal OT name for God), E (for Elohim, a generic name for God), D (for Deuteronomic) and P (for Priestly). Each of these documents is claimed to have its own characteristics and its own theology, which often contradicts that of the other documents. The Pentateuch is thus depicted as a patchwork of stories, poems and laws. However, this view is not supported by conclusive evidence, and intensive archaeological and literary research has tended to undercut many of the arguments used to challenge Mosaic authorship.

Theological Theme and Message

Genesis speaks of beginnings — of the heavens and the earth, of light and darkness, of seas and skies, of land and vegetation, of sun and moon and stars, of sea and air and land animals, of human beings (made in God’s own image, the climax of his creative activity), of marriage and family, of society and civilization, of sin and redemption. The list could go on and on. A key word in Genesis is “account,” which also serves to divide the book into its ten major parts (see Literary Features and Literary Outline) and which includes such concepts as birth, genealogy and history.

The book of Genesis is foundational to the understanding of the rest of the Bible. Its message is rich and complex, and listing its main elements gives a succinct outline of the Biblical message as a whole. It is supremely a book that speaks about relationships, highlighting those between God and his creation, between God and humankind, and between human beings. It is thoroughly monotheistic, taking for granted that there is only one God worthy of the name and opposing the ideas that there are many gods (polytheism), that there is no god at all (atheism) and that everything is divine (pantheism). It clearly teaches that the one true God is sovereign over all that exists (i.e., his entire creation), and that he often exercises his unlimited freedom to overturn human customs, traditions and plans. It introduces us to the way in which God initiates and makes covenants with his chosen people, pledging his love and faithfulness to them and calling them to promise theirs to him. It establishes sacrifice as the substitution of life for life (ch. 22). It gives us the first hint of God’s provision for redemption from the forces of evil (compare 3:15 with Ro 16:17-20) and contains the oldest and most profound statement concerning the significance of faith (15:6; see note there). More than half of Heb 11 — a NT list of the faithful — refers to characters in Genesis.

Literary Features

The message of a book is often enhanced by its literary structure and characteristics. Genesis is divided into ten main sections, each beginning with the word “account” (see 2:45:16:910:111:1011:2725:1225:1936:1 — repeated for emphasis at 36:9 — and 37:2). The first five sections can be grouped together and, along with the introduction to the book as a whole (1:1 — 2:3), can be appropriately called “primeval history” (1:1 — 11:26). This introduction to the main story sketches the period from Adam to Abraham and tells about the ways of God with the human race as a whole. The last five sections constitute a much longer (but equally unified) account, and relate the story of God’s dealings with the ancestors of his chosen people Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and their families) — a section often called “patriarchal history” (11:27 — 50:26). This section is in turn composed of three narrative cycles (Abraham-Isaac, 11:27 — 25:11; Isaac-Jacob, 25:19 — 35:29; 37:1; Jacob-Joseph, 37:2 — 50:26), interspersed by the genealogies of Ishmael (25:12-18) and Esau (ch. 36).

The narrative frequently concentrates on the life of a later son in preference to the firstborn: Seth over Cain, Shem over Japheth (but see NIV text note on 10:21), Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Judah and Joseph over their brothers, and Ephraim over Manasseh. Such emphasis on divinely chosen men and their families is perhaps the most obvious literary and theological characteristic of the book of Genesis as a whole. It strikingly underscores the fact that the people of God are not the product of natural human developments, but are the result of God’s sovereign and gracious intrusion in human history. He brings out of the fallen human race a new humanity consecrated to himself, called and destined to be the people of his kingdom and the channel of his blessing to the whole earth.

Numbers with symbolic significance figure prominently in Genesis. The number ten, in addition to being the number of sections into which Genesis is divided, is also the number of names appearing in the genealogies of chs. 5 and 11 (see note on 5:5). The number seven also occurs frequently. The Hebrew text of 1:1 consists of exactly seven words and that of 1:2 of exactly 14 (twice seven). There are seven days of creation, seven names in the genealogy of ch. 4 (see note on 4:17-18; see also 4:15,245:31), various sevens in the flood story, 70 descendants of Noah’s sons (ch. 10), a sevenfold promise to Abram (12:2-3), seven years of abundance and then seven of famine in Egypt (ch. 41), and 70 descendants of Jacob (ch. 46). Other significant numbers, such as 12 and 40, are used with similar frequency.

The book of Genesis is basically prose narrative, punctuated here and there by brief poems (the longest is the so-called Blessing of Jacob in 49:2-27). Much of the prose has a lyrical quality and uses the full range of figures of speech and other devices that characterize the world’s finest epic literature. Vertical and horizontal parallelism between the two sets of three days in the creation account (see note on 1:11); the ebb and flow of sin and judgment in ch. 3 (the serpent and woman and man sin successively; then God questions them in reverse order; then he judges them in the original order); the powerful monotony of “and then he died” at the end of paragraphs in ch. 5; the climactic hinge effect of the phrase “But God remembered Noah” (8:1) at the midpoint of the flood story; the hourglass structure of the account of the tower of Babel in 11:1-9 (narrative in vv. 1-2,8-9; discourse in vv. 3-4,6-7; v. 5 acting as transition); the macabre pun in 40:19 (see 40:13); the alternation between brief accounts about firstborn sons and lengthy accounts about younger sons — these and numerous other literary devices add interest to the narrative and provide interpretive signals to which the reader should pay close attention.

It is no coincidence that many of the subjects and themes of the first three chapters of Genesis are reflected in the last three chapters of Revelation. We can only marvel at the superintending influence of the Lord himself, who assures us that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2Ti 3:16) and that the men who wrote it “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2Pe 1:21).


Literary Outline:

  • Introduction (1:1 — 2:3)
  • Body (2:4 — 50:26)
    • “The account of the heavens and the earth” (2:4 — 4:26)
    • “The written account of Adam’s line” (5:1 — 6:8)
    • “The account of Noah” (6:9 — 9:29)
    • “The account of Shem, Ham and Japheth” (10:1 — 11:9)
    • “The account of Shem” (11:10-26)
    • “The account of Terah” (11:27 — 25:11)
    • “The account of Abraham’s son Ishmael” (25:12-18)
    • “The account of Abraham’s son Isaac” (25:19 — 35:29)
    • “The account of Esau” (36:1 — 37:1)
    • “The account of Jacob” (37:2 — 50:26)

Thematic Outline:

  • Creation (1:1 — 2:3)
  • Primeval History (2:4 — 11:26)
    • Adam and Eve in Eden (2:4-25)
    • The Fall and Its Consequences (ch. 3)
    • Sin’s Progression (4:1-16)
    • The Genealogy of Cain (4:17-26)
    • The Genealogy of Seth (ch. 5)
    • God’s Response to Human Depravity (6:1-8)
    • The Great Flood (6:9 — 9:29)
      1. Preparing for the flood (6:9 — 7:10)
      2. Judgment and redemption (7:11 — 8:19)
        • The rising of the waters (7:11-24)
        • The receding of the waters (8:1-19)
      3. The flood’s aftermath (8:20 — 9:29
    • The Spread of the Nations (10:1 — 11:26)
      1. The diffusion of nations (ch. 10)
      2. The confusion of languages (11:1-9)
      3. The first Semitic genealogy (11:10-26
  • Patriarchal History (11:27 — 50:26)
    • The Life of Abraham (11:27 — 25:11)
      1. Abraham’s background (11:27-32)
      2. Abraham’s call and response (chs. 12 – 14)
      3. Abraham’s faith and God’s covenant (chs. 15 – 22)
      4. Abraham’s final acts (23:1 — 25:11)
    • The Descendants of Ishmael (25:12-18).
    • The Life of Jacob (25:19 — 35:29)
      1. Jacob at home (25:19 — 27:46)
      2. Jacob abroad (chs. 28 – 30)
      3. Jacob at home again (chs. 31 – 35)
    • The Descendants of Esau (36:1 — 37:1)
    • The Life of Joseph (37:2 — 50:26)
      1. Joseph’s career (37:2 — 41:57)
      2. Jacob’s migration (chs. 42 – 47)
      3. Jacob’s final days (48:1 — 50:14)
      4. Joseph’s final days (50:15-26)

From the NIV Study Bible, Introductions to the Books of the Bible, Genesis
Copyright 2002 © Zondervan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Dozens of Chinese Authorities Interrupt Bible Study, Detain Pastor, 5 Members

China would like this instituted in the USA

By Jessica Lea -January 4, 2021


The pastor of a house church in Taiyuan city in China and five female church members were arrested after authorities raided a Bible study on Dec. 30. While the women were released the next day, Xuncheng Church pastor An Yankui was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention.

“Please pray for [Pastor An] and his church as they take up their crosses for Christ,” said a post on the Pray for Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) Facebook page. Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC), whose members have faced extensive persecution themselves, planted Xuncheng Church in 2008 in the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi province.

Pastor of Taiyuan Church Arrested a Second Time 

According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Pastor An and several Xuncheng Church members were holding a Bible study Wednesday in the pastor’s home when nearly 40 officials interrupted them. In addition to arresting five women and the pastor, authorities seized the church’s choir robes and books. They did not arrest Pastor An’s wife, Yao Conya, so that she could be free to look after her children. Authorities held the women for about a day and released them around midnight on New Year’s Eve. Pastor An, however, will be detained for 15 days.

This is not the first time that officials have targeted Xuncheng Church or Pastor An Yankui. The pastor and his wife were among seven people arrested on Nov. 15 when Chinese authorities raided a Sunday morning service at Xuncheng Church. You can see footage of that raid below.

Why Retirement Is The Perfect Time To Build On Your Faith

by Lucy Wyndham

Why Retirement Is The Perfect Time To Build On Your Faith

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord,” says the words of Leviticus.

When it comes to retirement, it’s likely that most people will have more spare time – and money – than ever before. People are retired for longer than ever – but no matter what stage of retirement you’re at, you’re never too old to devote this new-found spare time to Jesus. Many older Americans are already religious, and there’s a 17% spike in religious affiliation among older people compared to those under 40. It’s not uncommon for churches and other religious establishments to be heavily populated by older people. But there’s still plenty for those in retirement to do to devote their time to God: helping in the community is one such way, while studying the Bible is another.

Bible study

Partly, opportunities for religious exploration as a senior are due to demographic trends. Retirement now is longer than it ever has been before: the average life expectancy in the US is now around 80, and many people are not called to Heaven until they are in their nineties – meaning that some spend almost as much time retired as they do in work. Also, there are some that can leave their career early, as they’ve accumulated enough savings to enjoy early retirement. But what’s a useful, and holy, way to spend all of that new-found free time? The option many people choose is Bible study. As you may already know, it’s one of the best ways to fall deeper in love with God’s word, and learn more about His creation. And one very interesting detail about studying the Bible during the golden years is the ability to understand it from an angle that you couldn’t have been able to in a younger age. In other words, with all your past experiences, you get to analyze the scripture with a new perspective, filled with seasoned wisdom that you didn’t have in your 20s and 30s.

Work in the community

For those who are either already conversant with the Bible or who feel that their vocation is something a little more practical, meanwhile, spending your new-found spare retirement time on helping your community is also a sensible choice. “And let us not grow weary of doing good,” says Galatians – and working in the community during retirement is a great way to achieve this end. You may want to volunteer to lead some groups in your church, or perhaps to become a reader at services. If you have specific skills such as fundraising or the law, you may find that you’re in high demand as a practitioner – and that church could be a good way to stay in touch with your workplace skills.

“Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone,” read the words of Deuteronomy 34:7. Retirement may seem like a long way off to you, or perhaps it’s right around the corner as it is for an increasing number of Americans. But no matter what retirement looks like to you, one thing’s for sure: using it to follow in Moses’ path and for holy purposes is a good idea, and it’s one that will stand you in good stead as you move from this life to the next.


Original here

Tell Me What You See



When I was a senior in high school, my church’s youth group was asked to lead an evening service for the annual Youth Sunday celebration. The adult in charge of our group recruited volunteers to be ushers, song leaders, and Scripture readers. But when he came to the role of preacher, everyone looked to me, even though we belonged to a small church that didn’t allow women pastors. I’d been mentored as a leader in the group and had been growing in my knowledge of the Word. Not one to shrink back from a challenge, I accepted the role and began preparing my lesson.

The evening went as well as we had hoped. But before I could make it into the fellowship hall for punch and cookies, one of the elders—not by title but simply by age and experience—approached me. I’ll never forget seeing Alva Cash walk my way. I’d been warned that some members of the church might not be happy with me teaching, and I fully expected Mr. Cash to tell me that girls weren’t supposed to be in the pulpit. Instead, he shook my hand and said, “Young lady, you did a fine job.”

I fully expected Mr. Cash to tell me that girls weren’t supposed to be in the pulpit. Instead, he said, “Young lady, you did a fine job.”

Maybe I do have the gift of teaching, I thought, remembering how a Sunday school teacher had spoken that encouragement over me years earlier. Shortly after committing my life to Christ and being baptized at 13, I’d begun attending a congregation with my mom and brother and found myself in the high school class taught by Harry Durbin, a deacon in the church and the father of kids I went to school with. I don’t remember exactly how Harry led the discussions or what curriculum we used, but a few months after I started attending, he pulled me aside after class one Sunday.

“You know, I think you might have the gift of teaching,” he told me.

As a new Christian, I was confused. When did I receive the gift? How did he know I had it when I myself didn’t know? And how could I be a teacher if I was just a kid? True, I’d always wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, but I’d also wanted to be a meteorologist and an archaeologist and—more recently—a journalist. Did I have those gifts, too? Harry explained that spiritual gifts were particular skills and talents given by the Spirit for the church. He told me that after observing me in class, he saw evidence of this gift God had given me. I didn’t fully understand, but I did hold on to the encouragement. Like Paul’s investment in Timothy, Harry helped me “fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV).

After I graduated high school and enrolled in a Christian college, I learned more about the gifts of the Spirit, how they are sometimes referred to as grace gifts (Rom. 12:6) and how they have equal value though some are more visible (1 Cor. 12:14-26). I found that most people don’t have a Harry in their life to help them figure out what their gifts are. Instead, they believe they have none, or they take spiritual gifts inventories and personality tests to try to determine the Spirit’s gifting. I wondered myself whether teaching was really a spiritual gift or just something I enjoyed, maybe a natural-born talent. Over and over, I’d take the quizzes just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. But while the tools I was using often did confirm my gift, I became convinced when, time after time, someone from a church I was attending—often a pastor or Bible study leader—would confirm it, too.

Over the years, I’ve changed churches a few times as I’ve moved to different cities for work or family reasons. And in each case, the question would arise: So how will I let them know what I can do? Some spiritual gifts are easier to “transfer” in such situations. Those who feel gifted to work with children are usually quickly plugged into a new role, as are those who feel gifted in what is sometimes called “helps” or behind-the-scenes work. They can easily find opportunities for setting up chairs or bringing food to those who are sick. So I’d get involved in all the ways I could: stuffing envelopes, changing diapers, and making meals.

While I valued those jobs and knew they needed to be done, I felt I was operating outside of my spiritual giftedness. The problem is that though churches need godly teachers as much as they need people to help in the nursery, they’re not often quick to appoint someone new, or at least unknown to the leaders, for roles like these. And it makes sense. Teaching comes with more responsibility (James 3:1) and authority (1 Timothy 2:12). The Bible sets the qualifications high for teachers, taking into account not only gifting but also spiritual maturity and impeccable character. I couldn’t just volunteer to be in a role that held such weight. It would be like volunteering to be the manager of a company on my first day at work.

Once, I took a job in a new city and began attending a new church. I really liked the pastor and all the people I’d met, and I was ready to dive in after attending for four or five weeks. I had such fond memories of being in youth group myself and had loved working with middle school students when I was in college, so I arranged to meet with the youth pastor and offered to help with the church’s teenagers. He told me they didn’t really have any openings and suggested I get involved in the women’s ministry or singles group. I thought it was odd that they didn’t need more volunteers, but I took him at his word.

Later, after I’d been at the church for a while, the youth pastor approached me. “You know, we could really use your help in the youth ministry,” he said. I was thrilled to be asked, and before long, I was even team teaching a Sunday school series for the teen girls as he taught the boys. When I asked him what had changed, he said the church took teaching very seriously, and until they’d had a chance to get to know me and discern whether or not I had the gift of teaching, they weren’t going to just dump me into the role. It was a perspective I came to value.


Over the past couple of years, my husband and I began attending a church about 35 minutes from our home. This time, I knew better than to try to jump into a position in a place where I was mostly unknown. Instead, I just started participating in Bible studies, serving where I could, and getting to know people. Once again, a leader pulled me aside.

“Have you ever thought about teaching?”

“Funny you should ask.”

Not only have church leaders identified my gifts and encouraged me to use them, but they’ve also helped me develop and grow. One pastor led an “incubator” group for men who felt called to the ministry. It was called “Faithful Men,” yet because that same pastor also identified and wanted to help me develop my gift of teaching, he let me be the only female member. It wasn’t because he thought I’d go on to be a pastor; he just saw that there weren’t other opportunities for me at that time.

I wonder whether I would have understood or used my spiritual gifts as much over the years if I hadn’t had the continued encouragement of the church—if godly men and women hadn’t encouraged me to “fan into flame the gift of God.” What if Harry Durbin or Alva Cash hadn’t taken notice of this new believer all those years ago? What if that youth pastor had kept his “no” a “no” and not bothered to discern whether the Spirit really had gifted me? What if the leader of “Faithful Men” hadn’t taken the risk to invite a woman into the group? And what if that Bible study leader hadn’t pulled me aside just last year to tell me she saw God at work in me? Maybe more importantly, what gifts in others are going unused and maybe even unidentified because I’m not doing the same for them?

I’m thankful for the older believers and church leaders who’ve mentored me, taught me how to study the Bible and memorize Scripture, prayed for me, allowed me to write Bible study curriculum, or invited me to speak in front of the congregation. Though I’ve read and studied on my own to improve my skills as a teacher, my gift—given for the common good of the church—has been developed by the church. As it should be.


Illustrations by Michael Kirkham

VIDEO Tim Tebow: ‘What God Says About Me’ Is What Defines Me

April 12, 2019 By Michael Morris

Former NFL QB and college Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (Screenshots)

When asked how he is able to block out the naysayers in his career in an interview yesterday, former college football Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterbackTim Tebowresponded that he’s had a lot of practice and further stated that “what God says about me” is what defines him.

“[R]egardless of what everyone here says about me, that doesn’t define me,” stated Tim Tebow during an interview. “And I’m so grateful that doesn’t define me. There’s one thing that defines me, and that’s what God says about me.”

The interview came after Tim Tebow and the New York Mets Triple-A Syracuseaffiliate this week drew a “crowd of only 1,200” on Tuesday, according to ESPN, “on a chilly afternoon in upstate New York, where Tebow arrived at the ballpark at 8 a.m. — five hours before the scheduled 1:05 p.m. first pitch — to lift weights, study video, take indoor batting practice, review scouting reports, conduct a team Bible study and talk a little football with his new Syracuse Mets manager.” It was reported that Tebow would be called up to Triple-A Syracuse back in Nov. 2018, Mike Golic saying, ““Good for Tim and the opportunity he’s going to get.”

Tebow, responding to how he handles naysayers, suggested that it’s about keeping perspective and “not letting other people define you because they sure do want to.” Tebow says he tries to encourage young people to “not let the world or other people, outside sources, define you.”

Below is a transcript of Tim Tebow’s comments regarding how he handles naysayers:

“[Y]ou’re always going to have critics and naysayers, and people that are going to tell you that  you won’t, that you can’t, that you shouldn’t. Most of those people are the people that didn’t, that wouldn’t, that couldn’t.

“And don’t be defined by outside sources. You go after your dreams.

“Succeeding or failing is not making it to the bigs or it’s not necessarily fulfilling that, it’s having to not live with the regret because I didn’t try.

“And you know, I just feel for all the young people out there that don’t go after something because they’re so afraid of failing that you’re going to live with a lot more regret than you would have if you tried and you failed. And I’m very passionate about that.

“And I think the reason that a lot of people don’t go after things is because how much you will be criticized. And what if I fall flat on my face? And so, fear and doubt and all these things creep in, and I just don’t believe that’s the healthiest way to live. I don’t want to have to live with fear or doubt every day.

“And you know, regardless of what everyone here says about me, that doesn’t define me. And I’m so grateful that doesn’t define me. There’s one thing that defines me, and that’s what God says about me.”

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