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                              2. What is the history behind the Bible?
What is the history behind the Bible? (Printer friendly version)


Introduction to Bible History:

 The Plan of Redemption






To understand the story behind the Bible, we must know the historical context.  The message of the Bible is conveyed through the history of its written pages. 

The Bible traces the story of humanity, from beginning to the end.  The Bible in essence is Godís plan of redemption for fallen man, woven through the ages, projected forward to our eternal destiny. 

The Old Testament records the creation of the universe and life, manís perfection and fall. The Old Testament also reveals Godís plan of redemption through a descendent Adam, the Messiah[1].  The first eleven chapters trace the first part of human history, from Adam to Abraham.  In Chapter 12, God separates the man Abraham from his family and nation, and sends him to Moriah (Jerusalem). Through Abraham, God would complete his plan of redemption. 

Through Abrahamís offspring, Isaac and Jacob, God would redeem fallen man to Himself.  In rest of the Old Testament, from Genesis 12 to Malachi[2], God details the plan of redemption through the Messiah.  Through prophets, God delivers His message to a fallen world. Prophets establish the nature and character of the Messiah, who brings redemption.  Two pictures of Messiah emerge, one of a suffering ďRighteousĒ servant (Isaiah 53) and the other of all-powerful ruling king (Psalm 2). 

In the Old Testament era, God demonstrated manís inability for self-redemption, showing the depravity of fallen human nature. Only through Godís intervention, humanity could salvation come, not self- effort.

In the New Testament, the details of Messiah, foretold by the prophets reach fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.  The rejection and death of the ďRighteousĒ servant, who pays for sin, fulfills the words of Isaiah written 700-years before his birth.  Jesus becomes Godís sacrifice for humanities sins.  The Gospels record the life and teachings of Jesus, as Godís offer of redemption is made available to the Gentile nations after Israelís rejection.  The book of Acts and the Epistles (letters) record the advance of the good news (Gospel) of redemption as it spreads abroad from Jerusalem.  Finally, the book of Revelation[3], looks forward to the completion of Godís plan following the return of Messiah, at the Second Coming, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God and eternal state of humanity.

 The Plan of Redemption

 How are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose and future?  These are the questions, which plague humanity.  Both science and religion attempt to answer these questions, creating a diverse view of the universe from manís perspective. The Bible however, is Godís answer, to  a hopeless world trying to find its purpose.  The Bible is Godís love letter to humanity, His plan for our salvation, and the final destiny of the saved. 

The words in the Bible, Godís revelation to man define our being, letting us understand the meaning to our existence.  Without Godís revelation, we would have no way of knowing who we are, where we came from or where we are going?

The Old Testament records the history of humanity and Godís plan of redemption, the New Testament records, Godís fulfillment and completion of His plan.

 The history of the Bible

 The are many ways the history of the Bible can be divided, one method is dividing the periods according to the methods of atonement. Six periods of history can be distinguished in the Bible, which allows us to divide scripture into understandable sections.

         Adam to Exodus: Before the Tabernacle

         Moses to David: The Tabernacle

         Solomon to the captivity: The First Temple

         Zerubabel to Jesus: The Second Temple

         The New Testament: Jesus Godís sacrifice

         The Early Church: Redemption offered to the world


The Mosaic Covenant[4], established sacrifice in the law, to demonstrate the righteousness required to be part of the Abrahamic Covenant[5], these sacrifices pointed to the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of Godís son, the Messiah, who would die for the sins of the world. Both the Tabernacle and the Temple illustrated the holiness of God and the need for redemption.




Adam to the  Exodus


Book of the  Bible


To 1450 B.C.

The Fall of Man

God created the heavens, the earth and mankind in 6-days and rested on the 7th day. God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.  They had ďFree WillĒ to obey or disobey God.  They choose to reject Godís command and listen to Satan, a fallen angel. By rejecting Godís command, humanity became fallen and corrupt.  God however promised a Messiah who would redeem man and restore him. (Genesis 3;15). 

 15 And I will put enmity Between you (Satan) and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."  Genesis 3;15

      Manís corrupt nature caused God to bring an overall judgment on the human race, causing a flood to kill both human and animal life.  Noah, his family and all the living animals that entered the arc (the boat Noah built) were spared from Godís judgment.


12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:12-13


      Everybody alive today is a descendent of Noah and his family.

       Following the flood, The arc landed in the mountains of Ararat (Armenia), in modern day Turkey, from there man as one tribe traveled to the lands of the future Babylon,( Shunar, Summer).  As one people, humanity again began to rebel against God, building the tower of Babel, so God caused a confusion in language between Noahís descendents.  This confusion caused humanity to be dispersed over the earth forming the different nations.

6 And the Lord said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."  8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Genesis 11:6-8


Abraham called

    Abraham, a descendent of Shem, the second son of Noah, left Ur, a city in Babylon, for Mt. Moriah (Jerusalem) at Godís instruction.  God promised Abraham, to make him into a great nation.  Isaac, Abrahamís son, had two sons Jacob and Esau.  Jacob had 12 sons, who would later become the nation of Israel.  Jacob lived in the land of current day Israel, but would live in Egypt for a time, before being buried in Hebron with Abraham and Isaac. Godís covenant would be transferred to Isaac and then to Jacob. Jacob had twelve sons who would form the tribes of Israel.

     His brothers into Egypt sold Joseph, Jacobís second youngest son.  In Egypt, he became prime minister.  Famine struck the land of Canaan (Israel) forcing his brothers to come to Egypt for food. There, they met their brother who they sold as a slave years earlier.  Joseph forgave his brothers and they settled in the land of Egypt in an area known as Goshen with Joseph.

     Over the next 400-years, the descendents of Jacob multiplied. They numbered over 1,000,000, and subsequently they became oppressed in the land of Egypt, as slaves of a new Pharaoh. They cried out to God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for rescue, and God sent them Moses, a Hebrew raised in Pharaohís house.





Moses to David: The Tabernacle Period


1450 B.C.




975 B.C.

     Moses, representing God to Pharaoh, delivered plagues on Egypt, until Pharaoh freed the children of Israel from captivity.   Moses led the descendents of Jacob (Israel) back toward the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.  God established the Mosaic Covenant with the Tabernacle, as a picture of the coming redemption through the Messiah, who would die for the sins of the world. (Hebrews 9, 10) The Messiah was Godís sacrifice for our sins.

     On the way, Israel rebelled against Moses and wanted to return to Egypt. Because of rejecting Godís leadership, at the hand of Moses, Israel wandered the wilderness of Sinai for 40-years until the rebellious generation died.

 11 Then the Lord said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? Numbers 14:11 

        Joshua succeeded Moses, he lead Israel into Canaan.  Israel conquered and settled a portion of land and established a confederacy of tribes after the 12 sons of Jacob.  God ruled the tribes through judges.  Over the next 400-years, judges such as Samson, Gideon, Jephthah, and Deborah would lead the tribes of Israel against their enemies.

     In the course of time, the people requested a king like the other nations, and God gave them Saul as their first king in 1050 B.C., followed by David 1017 B.C.

     David conquered the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites, a Canaanite tribe, making it the City of David. Through prophets, God established Davidís throne as an eternal throne later to be ruled by his descendent, the Messiah, who would one day rule the world with Jerusalem as the capital city of the earth.  

12 "When your (David) days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 "He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.16 "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever." ' " 2 Samuel 7:12-13,16


























I & II Samuel





Solomon to the Captivity: First Temple Period


975 B.C.


536 B.C.

      Solomon, Davidís son succeeded his father as king over Israel. He was permitted to build the Temple on Mt. Moriah, which later became known as Solomonís Temple.  The Temple site was the same location, where over 1000-years earlier, Solomonís forefather Abraham was tested by God (Genesis 22, I Kings 8)    


    After Solomon, Israel became a divided kingdom, the northern kingdom, known as Israel (10-tribes) and the southern as Judah (Judah and Benjamin).

     Eventually Israel and Judah tuned away from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and started worshipping the idols in the land of Canaan, Baal, Ashtorah, Chemosh, etc.  God warned Israel through prophets, letting Israel know these practices would result in their destruction.  The people rejected the messages of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Micah and others, and continued their idol worship.

   Using Godís pronouncements on Israel and Judahís apostasy, through the prophets, the day of Godís salvation was proclaimed,  the coming Messiah, who would redeem the sins of the world.


13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. 14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men; 15 So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, And what they had not heard they shall consider.  Isaiah 52:13-15 

            God responded by sending the armies of Assyria in 722 B.C. to take the northern part of Israel captive to the lands of Assyria.   In 586 B.C. the Babylonians, destroyed Jerusalem and Solomonís Temple taking those left into Babylon for a period of 70 years. Among the captives were the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel.

     At the end of 70 years, the Persians defeated Babylon under Cyrus the Great, he allowed the Jews to return to the land of Israel.  Cyrus also allowed the Jews to begin reconstruction of their Temple in 536 B.C., construction was completed in 516 B.C., exactly 70-years after the Temple was destroyed.

     The Temple like the Tabernacle was a picture of Godís redemption, through the coming sacrifice of Messiah, who would atone for the sins of the world. 

9 And they made His grave with the wicked-But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.  11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.  Isaiah 53:9-11




I & II Kings

I & II















Zerubabel to Jesus; 2nd Temple Period, Inter-Testament Period


536 B.C.


 4 B.C.

     In Babylon, Israel was humbled becoming servants of the Babylonians. However, in Babylon God raised prophets like Daniel who became the prime minister of Babylon under king Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel chapters 1-4). Through Daniel, God revealed his plans for Israel and the world, and the coming of His Messiah.  Giving the exact month, year and day of Messiahís  death (Daniel 9;24-27) 

"And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Daniel 9:26a 

            In 539 B.C. Cyrus the Great, head of a Persian-Median kingdom defeated Babylon.  He allowed the Jews to return to the land of Israel and rebuild their Temple.  In 516 B.C., seventy years after the Temple was destroyed, the Second Temple was completed.  During this period, God spoke through the prophets, Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi to encourage Israel about the coming plan of redemption through the Messiah.  Malachi was the last prophet of the age, writing about 425 B.C. 

1 "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," Says the Lord of hosts. 2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap.  Malachi 3:1-2 

Inter-Testament Period

     Malachi wrote during the period of the Persian control of Jerusalem, less then 100-years later, the Persians were defeated by the rising power to the west, the Grecian kingdom led by Alexander the Great.  In 331 B.C., Alexander defeated Persian control of Judea. 

     Alexander allowed the Jews to maintain their worship and sacrifice as he went on to fight Persia in the east.  In 323 B.C., Alexander the Great died in city of Babylon, and his kingdom was divided between his four generals.

    Two of his generals, Seleucid and Ptolemy and their descendents, would fight over the land  of Jerusalem and Judah for the next 200-years.  Then in 168 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes decided to unify his Seleucid Greek Kingdom, under the Greek religion, meaning the Jewish faith was to be eliminated.  This caused a Jewish revolt known as the Maccabean War, which ended in the creation of an independent Jewish Kingdom for about 100-years, and the celebration of Hanukah.

    The kingdom came to an end when, two brothers Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II requested Romans help to settle their dispute.  Pompey the Roman general stepped in, conquered Jerusalem and established Roman control over Judah in 63 B.C.

     Later Herod the Great, a friend of Rome, was installed on the Jewish throne until his death in 4 B.C., establishing the Herodian dynasty in Judea/Palestine.









New Testament Period


4 B.C.




A.D. 95

     The New Testament records the life, teachings and commands of Jesus Christ and His church.  Jesus fulfilled the prophecies regarding the suffering Messiah, in the Old Testament.  The Messiah, would suffer for the sins of the world, paying the penalty of sin, as foreshadowed in the Mosaic Covenant. (Hebrew 9,10)

   Two portraits of Messiah emerge in the Old Testament, one is the picture of a ďRighteousĒ suffering Servant, who dies for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53).  The other is King Messiah who rules over the earth (Psalm 2).  The death of Jesus in A.D. 33, fulfilled the prophecies regarding the suffering servant.  At His Second Coming, he will fulfill the prophecies regarding King Messiah, who reigns over the earth.

    His death brought redemption to humanity, and the mission of the church was to proclaim salvation and redemption to the fallen world.  The Gospels were the written record of the life and teachings of Jesus the Messiah.

The Acts of the Apostles record the history of the early church and its establishment in the Gentile nations.  The Epistles record the teachings of the apostles and instructions to the church.  The book of Revelation records Christís instructions to the church, events leading to the return of Christ and the eternal state of humanity. Revelation completes the picture of Genesis, which records the beginning; Revelation reveals the end of all things.












Early Church Period


95 A.D.


325 A.D.


As recorded in the book of Acts, the church began to spread throughout the Roman world.  The spread of the church caused many to turn from their Greek and Roman gods and goddess.   An early example of their success is illustrated in Acts 19 as the men of Ephesus become alarmed at their loss of goddess business.


24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: "Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 "Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 "So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship." 28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"  Acts 19:24-28 a @ 51-52 A.D.


    The spread of Christianity caused greater persecution, John one of the last remaining disciples was the bishop of Ephesus, when he was exiled to Patmos during the persecution of Domitian.  On Patmos, John received the Revelation of Jesus Christ, a letter to the seven churches foretelling a period of persecution and apostasy within some of the churches.  Jesus however declared the events leading to the Second Coming, and the eternal state of humanity despite the persecution and apostasy.

    After John there were periods of persecution where Roman officials sent Christians to the arena to be torn apart by lions and burned copies of the scriptures.  This persecution reached a climax during the reigns of Diocletian 303-305 and Galerius in 303-311 A.D.

      In 312 A.D., Constantine came to power, after the Battle of Milvian Bridge, seeing a vision of the cross, he later proclaimed himself a Christian, and issued the Edict of Milan ending legalized persecution of Christians.

Thus Christianity became established as the religion of the Roman Empire by the beginning of the fourth century.




[1] The term Messiah, comes from the Hebrew  word, xyXm Mashiyach meaning anointed, or chosen.  This term applied to kings and priest, however scripture points to an ultimate Messiah, who would rule the nations for eternity (Isaiah 9:6-7, Psalm 2). The Greek word for Messiah is Christ, hence Jesus Christ refers to Jesus the Messiah.

[2] Malachi was the last book of the Old Testament chronologically, written about 425 B.C.

[3] Revelation was the last book of the New Testament, both chronologically and by order, written during the reign of  the Roman Emperor Domitian about A.D. 95

[4] The Mosaic-Covenant was the agreement God made with the descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, after they left Egypt. God established the sacrificial system to atone for sins.

[5] The Abrahamic-Covenant was the agreement God made with Abraham, which stipulated Godís blessing on Abraham and his descendents, and that through him the nations of the earth would be blessed.