The CGW’s Guide to Studying The Bible (Part One): The Bible and Its Divisions

As a series for the Bible study group on Exodus I’m teaching this month, I am writing these posts for students to delve deeper in understanding and appreciation of the greatest book ever written.

My trusty NIV84 Bible.

Did you know that the word “Bible” comes from the Greek word, biblos, which literally means “book”? So profound were the God-inspired Scriptures to the Greeks that THIS is the Book that started it all! Truly, there is only one book in the world that can be called “The Book.”

Also known as “The Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) and “Scriptures” (Matthew 21:24, John 5:39, Acts 17:11, and 2 Timothy 3:15), the Bible is divided into two parts: Old Testament and New Testament. There are 66 books of the Bible written by 40 divinely-inspired writers.

What’s A Testament?

Paul talks of the old and new covenants in 2 Corinthians 3:14 and 3:6. The Latin rendering of the Greek word for covenant, diathēkē, is testamentum, from which we get the word “testament” in English. A testament is a testimony, a witness to, evidence, or proof of something.

What Are The Main Parts Of The Bible?

As mentioned, in the Bible there are two major parts. The Old Testament is the foundational support for the advent of Jesus Christ, for His entrance onto the scene of human history. The New Testament is the fulfillment of everything from the Old; it’s how everything in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus and also to when He will come again.

Let’s Talk Old Testament.

The Old Testament is divided into five sections: The Law, History, Devotions, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets.  It has 39 books. (Remember: O-l-d: 3 and  T-e-s-t-a-m-e-n-t: 9 makes “39.”)

The Law has five books.
History has twelve.
Devotion has five.


There are five Major Prophets.
There are twelve Minor Prophets.


Okay, Cool? Let’s Talk New Testament.

There are also five sections of the New Testament: Biography, History, Special Letters, General Letters, and Prophecy. It has 27 books. (Remember: N-e-w: 3 and T-e-s-t-a-m-e-n-t: 9; 3 x 9 = 27.)

Biography has four books–The Gospels.
History has one–Acts of the Apostles.
Special Letters has fourteen.
There are seven General Letters.
Revelation is the only book of Prophecy of the New Testament.

Now, Let’s Put Them Both Together And We Get The Perfect Book.

We can see there are five divisions of both the Old and New Testaments – ten total in the Bible. Consider: On one hand, we have the Old Testament and on the other, we have the New. If you put your hands together and interlace your fingers, what happens? They fit perfectly, don’t they?

In the Old Testament, there are seventeen books of prophecy pointing to the coming of the Messiah, but every Old Testament story and book point to the need of a savior for a fallen world and the coming fulfillment of Jesus:

“In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…”
(Hebrews 1:1-2a, NIV84) 

God reveals Himself to all humanity through the trustworthy, inerrant (without error) writings of the complete Bible (and no other book source).  It is the supreme source of Truth as the center of Christian faith and unity. The Bible is powerful and it is a living, relevant book capable of changing a person’s actions, character, and eternity. It is the supreme source of authority for our beliefs and conduct as Christians.



  1. What does the word “Bible” mean?
  2. What are two names do we use synonymously to mean “Bible”?
  3. What are the two divisions of the Bible?
  4. How many books are in the Old Testament? (Remember…)
  5. How many books are in the New Testament?
  6. How many books in the entire Bible?
  7. What are the divisions of the Old Testament and how many books are in each?
  8. What are the divisions of the New Testament and how many books are in each?