The Bible is actually not one book, but a collection of sixty-six individual books and letters. These books and letters were written by fifty separate authors, of various occupations, from many countries, in three languages.  The dates of authorship span a period of time exceeding 1,500 years. The literary forms employed include diaries, biographies, history, law, poetry, and parables.

The biblical authors were largely isolated from each other by centuries, cultures, and continents. Yet all the books of the Bible relate their teachings with perfect consistency of viewpoint and accuracy. Christians believe that those teachings on knowing God and knowing about love, ethics, and a coming judgment are relevant to all cultures for all time.

The writings collectively tell the continuous story of God’s redemption of mankind. The Bible and Jewish tradition record that in the beginning of human history, God communicated directly with individuals. As time progressed, God divinely inspired persons to write down that which was to serve to edify future generations. Ever since the first century AD, when Christ completed his ministry on earth and Jerusalem was shortly thereafter destroyed (subsequently dispersing Christ’s followers across the world), those inspired writings have continued to serve as God’s voice on earth.

The collection of inspired writings is referred to as the Bible, Scripture, the scriptures, the message, God’s Word, or simply the Word. God’s Word exists to serve as humanity’s God-given moral authority over our dealings with both God and with each other.

The Bible is divided into the books of the Old Covenant or Old Testament (O.T.) and the New Covenant or New Testament (N.T.). The O.T. documents were written before Christ’s birth and the N.T. afterwards.  F. F. Bruce summarizes:

“The books of the Old Covenant, then, tell how God made necessary preparation for the sending of his Son to inaugurate the New Covenant. The books of the New Covenant tell how the Son of God came to do this and set forth the implications of this New Covenant. Both collections speak alike of Christ; it is he who gives unity to each and to both together. The former collection looks forward with hope to his appearance and work; the latter tells how that hope was fulfilled.”

A major emphasis of the Old Testament is the special setting apart of God’s people. God matured a group people for his use in the form of the nation of Israel. They were intended to be his spokespersons to the world, and their nation purposed to produce God’s holy Messiah. It was while they, Israel, were being held in subjection to Roman forces that Christ was born. Not long after Christ’s ministry and atoning death outside Israel’s capitol of Jerusalem, Rome utterly destroyed the city.

The destruction of Jerusalem had the effect of forcibly dispersing the many witnesses to Christ’s ministry and miracles, into and throughout the entire world. The effective dissolution of the nation of Israel at this opportune time, and in this particular manner, was like scattering the seeds of a head of wheat into the wind. Jewish and Gentile (non-Jewish) believers spread out across the globe taking with them the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ.

The emphasis of the New Testament is Jesus Christ, who was the promised Messiah (or Christ) of the Old Testament. These books and letters document Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They exist to tell successive generations about Jesus, and to guide them by his teachings. These writings also include Christ’s promise to physically return to the earth. This event the Bible often refers to as the last day.

The arrival of the last day will be in an era the Bible describes as increasingly wicked and full of people who are lovers of pleasure, money, and themselves rather than lovers of God. His return will then precipitate a physical resurrection of the dead, the destruction of the earth, the judgment of every person, and a restoration of a new heaven and a new Earth.