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Lesson 21: The Bible Is Unique In Its Story

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The Bible’s story is unique in that it spans from before creation to the eternal state. Its story has been summarized in several helpful ways—a two-part model, a three-part model, a seven-part model, and a twelve-part model. The two-part model is called Promise-Fulfillment. The Old Testament promises the coming of a Redeemer (Christ), and the New Testament is the fulfillment of that promise, as Christ is introduced in the Gospels, dies and resurrects, and will return to fully establish his kingdom in the book of Revelation. In addition, there is a three-part model which includes: Creation, Fall, and Salvation. Genesis 1-2 documents how God created the earth. Genesis 3 documents how Adam and Eve fell into sin which brought about sin’s consequences. And Genesis 4 through Revelation 22 document salvation history—how God moves in history to restore people and the earth.

A more thorough summary is the seven-part model:

  1. Creation: God creates a perfect world with humanity as the chief of creation.
  2. Fall or Origin of Sin: Humanity falls into sin when tempted by the devil, leading to death and many other consequences for creation.
  3. Israel: Through the patriarchs and prophets, God calls Israel to be witnesses to the world and for the messiah to come through them.
  4. Jesus: The messiah is born, lives a perfect life, is crucified by the Jews, rises again, and commissions his apostles to preach the gospel to the entire world so that people might be saved.
  5. Church: Jesus’ followers travel throughout the ancient world preaching the resurrected Christ and salvation by faith in him. As they do so, the church is formed, persecuted, and spread throughout the ancient world.
  6. Defeat of Sin: When Christ returns to the earth, he judges the devil and the unrighteous and breaks the curse on creation.
  7. New Creation: Christ ushers in the eternal state including a new heaven and earth, and he reigns with a righteous, benevolent rule throughout eternity with his saints.1

Another summary is a twelve-part model, which focuses on the stages of biblical history:

  1. Creation: This details the creation of the world and early events such as the fall, the flood, and the Tower of Babel.
  2. Patriarchs: This details God’s promise to the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to bless the world through their descendants (Israel) and ultimately through the messiah.
  3. Exodus: This details Israel’s slavery in Egypt for 400 years, how God delivers them through Moses, how God establishes a covenant with Israel and their time in the wilderness, as they prepare to cross into Canaan.
  4. Conquest: This details Joshua’s commission after the death of Moses, and how he leads Israel to conquer and settle in Canaan.
  5. Judges: This details a period of around 300 years in Canaan after Joshua’s death where Israel continually rebels against God and receives divine chastisement through foreign oppressors.2 This causes Israel to continually cry out to God, and God continually delivers them through leaders called judges.
  6. United Kingdom: This details the reign of the first king in Israel, Saul, and the reign of the next two kings, David, and his son, Solomon.
  7. Divided Kingdom: This details Israel’s split into two kingdoms—the Northern Kingdom called Israel, and the Southern Kingdom called Judah. It also describes the good and bad kings during this time, the often-antagonistic relationship between the kingdoms, and their ultimate defeat and exile by Assyria and later Babylon.
  8. Exile: This details the time period of Israel’s exile in Babylon for seventy years, including prophecies about their future return to Canaan.
  9. Return: This details Israel’s return from exile in three different stages under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It also describes the rebuilding of the temple, the wall around Jerusalem, and Jerusalem itself.
  10. Gospels: This details Jesus’ birth, ministry to Israel and his disciples, crucifixion, resurrection, and commission of his disciples.
  11. Early Church: This details Christ’s ascension to heaven, the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples, the founding of the early church, the persecution of the church, and the spreading of the gospel throughout the ancient world.
  12. Epistle Stage: This details the writings of Paul, the other apostles, and their associates to early churches and individuals to instruct, encourage, and protect them from false teaching. It also gives prophecies about God’s judgment during the end times and Christ’s return and eternal rule in the new heaven and earth.

Reflection

  1. In the reading, which of the Bible story summaries stood out most to you and why?
  2. How would you summarize the Bible to an unbeliever or a new believer?
  3. What are some other helpful Bible summaries?
  4. What other questions or applications do you have from the reading?

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

BTG Publishing all rights reserved.


1 “Putting the Bible together” accessed 8/13/19 from https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/09/08/putting-bible-together/

2 McMath, J. T. (2014). Judges. In The moody bible commentary (p. 355). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Bibliology (The Written Word)

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