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An Argument of the Book of Job

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The reasons for suffering in a person’s life are not necessarily related to human explanations of personal unrighteousness, but are within the scope of God’s good and powerful providence resulting in the defeat of evil and glory to himself

I. Introduction--Job’s Former State of Integrity:2 1:1-5

A. Job’s Piety: 1:1

B. Job’s Prosperity: 1:2-3

C. Job’s Posterity: 1:4-5

II. Speeches & Dialogues--The Problem and Proposed Solutions:3 1:6--42:6

A. Two Interviews of Yahweh with Satan--The Presenting Problem:4 1:6--2:13

1. First Interview of Yahweh with Satan, a Test and Reaction: 1:6-22

a. Interview with Satan: 1:6-12

b. The Disasters: 1:13-12

c. Job’s Reaction: 1:20-22

2. Second Interview of Yahweh with Satan, a Test and Reaction: 2:1-13

a. Interview with Satan: 2:1-7a

b. Job’s Affliction: 2:7b, 8

c. Job’s Second Reaction: 2:9-10

d. Transition--The Arrival of Job’s Friends: 2:11-13

B. Dialogue of Job with His Friends--The Solutions of Job’s Three Friends and Elihu: 3:1--37:24

1. Three Cycles of Debate with Job 3:1--31:40

a. Job’s Opening Lamentation: Job wished that either he had not been born, died at birth, or would have died then 3:1-26

1) Desire Not to Have Been Born: 3:1-10

2) Desire to Have Died at Birth: 3:11-19

3) Desire to Die: 3:20-26

b. Dialogue/Debate in Three Cycles:5 4:1--27:23

1) Cycle One of Speeches and Job’s Response--God Punishes the Wicked and Blesses the Good: 4:1--14:22

a) Eliphaz & Job--Principle Stated: 4:1--7:21

(1) Eliphaz: Eliphaz accused Job of being inconsistent since suffering results from sin and no one is pure before God; thus he urged Job to ask God to help him and affirmed that God would deliver him after He had disciplined him 4:1--5:27

(2) Job: Job responded by affirming that his suffering was causing his rash desire to die, Eliphaz’s response has disappointed him, and by asking for forgiveness if he has sinned 6:1--7:21

b) Bildad & Job--Principle Illustrated: 8:1--10:22

(1) Bildad: Bildad affirmed that history has confirmed that if Job is righteous God will restore him, unlike the ungodly who parish 8:1-22

(2) Job: Job responds by affirming God’s wisdom and power, asking why He is against him, and requesting to die 9:1--10:22

c) Zophar & Job--Principle Applied to Job: 11:1--14:22

(1) Zophar: Zophar rebukes Job by affirming that God should show him true wisdom and by affirming that if he would turn to God, he would be blessed 11:1-20

(2) Job: Job responds by criticizing Zophar for not telling him anything new, not helping him, and not representing God well, whereupon, he again asks God to let him die 12:1--14:22

2) Cycle Two of Speeches and Job’s Response--The Wicked Suffer and Perish because They Are against God: 15:1--21:34

a) Eliphaz & Job II: 15:1--17:16

(1) Eliphaz: Eliphaz affirms that Job’s words are meaningless, that he is guilty, and that he is like the wicked because he is in distress 15:1-35

(2) Job: Job responds rebuking his friends for being no help, desiring to plead his case with God, and affirming is situation of despair 16:1--17:16

b) Bildad & Job II: 18:1--19:29

(1) Bildad: Bildad rebukes Job for his arrogant words about them, and affirms that the wicked, like he, are weakened, ensnared, diseased, insecure, forgotten, hated, and alone 18:1-21

(2) Job: Job rebukes his friends for tormenting and insulting him, affirms that God has wronged him, urges his friends to have pity on him, and affirms that God will prove his innocence after his death and judge his friends 19:1-29

c) Zophar & Job II: 20:1--21:34

(1) Zophar: Zophar accuses Job of insulting him and reminds him that the wicked may be blessed, but they will then loose their riches 20:1-29

(2) Job: Job retorts that his impatience is excusable and reminds Zophar that the wicked prosper and live (unlike he) 21:1-34

3) Cycle Three of Speeches and Job’s Response--God Is Majestic, but Job is Wicked: 22:1--27:23

a) Eliphaz & Job III: 22:1--24:25

(1) Eliphaz: Proclaiming God’s disinterest in Job for his social deviations and spiritual defiance, Eliphaz urges him to repent for God is great 22:1-20

(2) Job: Job longs to plead his case before God 23:1--24:25

b) Bildad and Job III: 25:1--27:23

(1) Bildad: Bildad affirmed that because God is great and man is small and impure there was no hope for Job to be just and clean 25:1-6

(2) Job: Job affirms that his friends are not help to him since he knows that God is great and powerful over nature 26:1-14

(3) Job’s Conclusion: Job concludes the discussion by continuing to proclaim his innocence and the hopelessness of the wicked 27:1-23

c. Job’s Closing Affirmations: 28:1--31:40

1) Transitionary Discourse on God’s Wisdom: Job affirms that although man is skillful in mining, wisdom is harder to find for it is God who knows where wisdom is 28:1-28

a) The Skill of Man in Mining: 28:1-11

b) Hidden Wisdom: 28:12-22

c) The Ability of God: 28:23-28

2) Job’s Desire for His Former Estate of Glory: Job wishes that he was in his former days of spiritual blessing, material prosperity and social prestige which occurred because he helped the needy, exercised justice and counseled others 29:1-25

a) Job’s Wish: 29:1-11

b) Reason For Job’s Former Prosperity: 29:12-25

3) Job’s Lament of His Present Miserable Humiliation: Job proclaims his misery as he is mocked by poor young men and vagabonds, and his humiliation as he is in pain and nobody helps him 30:1-31

a) Mocked by Poor Young Men and Vagabonds: 30:1-15

b) Helpless Pain: 30:16-31

4) Job’s Ultimate Challenge--An Oath of Innocence which ‘Legally’ Calls God to Answer” 31:1-40

a) Job Has Not Lusted: 31:1-4

b) Job Has Not Lied or Deceived: 31:5-8

c) Job Has Not Committed Adultery: 31:9-12

d) Job Has Not Failed to Help His Slaves: 31:13-15

e) Job Has Not Failed to Help the Poor and Needy: 31:16-23

f) Job Has Not Trusted in His Wealth: 31:24-25

g) Job Has Not Turned to Idolatry: 31:26-28

h) Job Has Not Treated His Enemies Unfairly: 31:29-30

i) Job Has Not Been Stingy: 31:31-32

j) Job Has Not Hidden His Sins: 31:33-34

k) Job Wishes God Would Hear Him: 31:35-37

l) Job Has Not Been Unfair to His Farm-workers 31:38-40

2. Four Speeches by Elihu: 32:1--37:24

a. Introduction of Elihu: 32:1-5

b. Elihu’s First Speech--God’s Instruction to Man through Affliction: 32:6--33:33

c. Elihu’s Second Speech to the Three Friends and Job--God’s Justice and Prudence Vindicated: 34:1-37

d. Elihu’s Third Speech to Job--The Advantages of Piety: 35:1-16

e. Elihu’s Fourth Speech to Job (and Friends)--God’s Greatness and Job’s Ignorance: 36:1--37:24

C. Two Interviews of Yahweh with Job--Yahweh’s Solution: 38:1--42:6

1. First Interview with Yahweh and Job--Limits in Knowledge: 38:1--40:5

a. Yahweh: 38:1--40:5

1) Yahweh Challenged Job: 38:1-3

2) Yahweh Questioned Job Regarding Two Areas of Creation:6 38:4--39:30

a) Yahweh’s Questions Regarding the Physical World: 38:4-38

b) Yahweh’s Questions Regarding the Animal World: 38:39--39:30

3) Yahweh Challenged Job to Reply to His Questions: 40:1-2

b. Job Replied in Silent Humility:7 40:3-5

2. Second Interview with God and Job--Limits in Power:8 40:6--42:6

a. Yahweh: 40:6--42:6

1) Yahweh Challenged Job to Listen: 40:6-14

2) Yahweh questioned Job Regarding Two animals of Creation:9 40:15--41:34

a) Yahweh Questions Regarding the Behemoth: 40:15-24

b) Yahweh Questions Regarding the Leviathan: 41:1-34

b. Job Replied with Repentance:10 42:1-6

III. Conclusion--Job’s Latter State: 42:7-17

A. Yahweh’s Verdict on Job’s Friends: 42:7-9

B. Yahweh’s Restoration of Job’s Fortunes: 42:10-17

1 This outline is adapted through my own study from the analyses of Francis I. Anderson, Job: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1976, 1980); Marvin Pope, Job, 3rd ed. The Anchor Bible, (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1973); David J. A. Clines, Job 1--20, Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 17, (Waco: Word Books, Publisher, 1989); N. H. Tur-Sinai, (H. Torezyner), The Book of Job: A New Commentary, Revised edition, (Jerusalem: Kiryath Sepher, 1967); Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament, 267-68; Gleason L. Archer, Jr. A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 463); Roy B. Zuck, The Book of Job, and Paragraph Summaries of Job 4--31, (unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981).

2 Concerning the overall structure of the book, Anderson writes, The Introduction shows Job in his original happiness; the Conclusion paints a similar picture of his final contentment. All of the action in between takes the form of words rather than deeds. The speeches have the same kind of architectonic balance (Francis I. Anderson, Job: An Introduction and Commentary, 20).

3 Anderson writes, The similarity in form between the opening scene, in which God talks twice to the Satan, and the closing scene, in which God talks twice to Job, is important as a mark of the artistic integrity of the treatment. It suggests deliberate planning and unity of authorship (Francis I. Anderson, Job: An Introduction and Commentary, 20-21).

4 Anderson writes that many scholars assign these episodes to the 'Prologue (identified as 1:1--2:13) and 'Dialogue' (3:1--42:6) respectively, and ascribe them to different authors. We admit that the inner structure of these two double interviews is different. The final confrontation between Yahweh and Job is quite simply recounted. It consists of two cycles in each of which the Lord makes a long speech and Job makes a brief reply. But this part of the story is told in the same epic style as 1:6--2:13, but using the same stereotyped formula to introduce the speakers in each round. Thus, both speeches of Yahweh are made 'out of the whirlwind', just as each interview with the Satan takes place in the divine assembly with almost identical introductions to each occasion (Francis I. Anderson, Job: An Introduction and Commentary, 21).

5 Each particular round increases in intensity: (1) round one is general affirming that God punishes the wicked and blesses the good, therefore, Job should repent, (2) round two is more specific affirming that the wicked, and thus Job, suffer and will perish, (3) round three is even more intense affirming that God is majestic, but Job is wicked! (Roy B. Zuck, Emphasis of the Three Rounds of Speeches to Job, (unpublished class notes in 303 Old Testament History II. Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1981), 1-4.

6 The questions are designed to demonstrate the limits of Job's knowledge. The subject of the questions does not concern the topic of suffering, or even the cause of suffering, but the world in which Job lives. The questions are framework kinds of questions. If they cannot be answered, than one cannot discuss derived questions. The implied logic in this unit is that the limits of Job's understanding limits his right to judge the purposes of life.

Job's grade on this exam is not a 90%, or 50% or even a 5%, but a 0!

God never answers Job. Job is expected to have respect for God like a child for his parent even though he, Job, does not understand.

7 This forfeited Job's right to criticize.

8 The first round dealt with Job's limits of understanding. The second round deals with Job's limit of power. The right to judge righteously is expressed in the power to judge righteously.

9 These animals display Job's limits to do what is right because the animals are so powerful. They are symbols of the power of evil which are greater than Job's capacity. Job is thus introduced to a realm of providence of which he is powerless. Note that Christ confronts evil in the power of God.

10 The power of God alone matches His will, therefore, He alone has the right to rule. Job learned that he acted foolishly by challenging God.

The presenting problem of the book was why do the righteous suffer. God's defense did not concern a vindication of His justice in permitting evil to exist. Therefore, the realized problem of the book was: (1) who controls evil and suffering, (2) how can I be right before this God, and (3) how can I fellowship with this God?

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

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