Frequently Asked Questions

The Bible and other religious and philosophical questions

Chronological Bible Questions

 

1. What is so different about the Chronological Bible? The normal arrangement for the Bible's sixty-six books is divided into groups according to types of literature: books of history, poetry and wisdom, prophecy and apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament; and books of history, doctrine, letters, and apocalyptic literature in the New Testament. These categories of literature are not always chronological, but each Bible book has its own theme or purpose. For this reason a Bible that you would normally carry to church or to a Bible study should never be replaced by a Chronological Bible. A Chronological Bible, however, is a helpful tool for understanding how the events, people, and writings of the Bible fit together in their probable (or at least possible) chronological sequence. This tool also helps us to understand why the authors of the Bible wrote what they did. Appropriate maps and timelines have also been included with each day's study so that the reader can, at any time, check where and when events occurred.

2. How did we decide the chronological order of Scripture passages? Sometimes the chronological order and or the date is stated by the author of the Bible book, making our job easy. Other times the people, events, and other internal evidence in the Scriptures help us determine the likely chronological sequence. Sometimes we must admit (especially with some of the Psalms and some minor prophets like Joel) that it is not possible to positively identify where a particular passage belongs, so we consult commentators and make our best guess. In such cases there are differences of opinion. Nevertheless, this small concession does not take away from the value of studying the Bible chronologically.

3. Why does the Bible repeat itself so often? The reader will notice a lot of repetition, especially in the section of the Kings, Chronicles, the prophets, Isaiah-Malachi, and in the gospels, Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John in Chronological Bibles. In the case of the Kings and Chronicles the written record was meant for different audiences, but some of the records are exactly the same. It is seems obvious that some scribes simply copied the records from one scroll onto another scroll. If they did not do that the record would be incomplete. Sometimes there are slight variances and additions. This makes it interesting because one record reveals details that another record omits. In the case of the prophets, many of them ministered in the same time period and basically had the same message. Why? Jesus himself gives an answer in a parable recorded in Luke 20:9-16. The vineyard was Israel, the farmers and tenants were the religious leaders of various generations, and the servants sent to collect fruit from the vineyard were prophets that God, the owner of the vineyard, had sent. The prophets were often abused, and finally God sent his own Son, but they would not listen to him either; they killed him so the religious leaders could rule Israel. God sent prophets over and over with the same messages: repent and live, or suffer the consequences. We do the same thing when we are distraught over someone we love who is ruining his life. We plead with him over and over, and we send trusted friends or spiritual leaders to him with hopes that they might say or do something that will make a difference with our loved one. Jesus loved Israel that much, and he also loves us too much to let us ruin our lives (Hebrews 12:5-11).

Repetitious messages given by different spiritual leaders in various venues is also another way to help us remember. Like a teacher using words one time and object lessons another time in different situations and applications, God also uses repetition as a memory tool in his Word.

4. Why are the gospels so similar but sometimes different if they are describing the same event? Shouldn't they all be the same? Would we say that eyewitnesses to a traffic accident viewed from different vantage points would be exactly the same? No. Actually, the fact that there are differences lends credibility to the gospels being written by four different authors. If they were all the same we would say they copied from each other. Instead, we have four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ and all from different vantage points. Matthew's record appeals to the Jews, showing them how Jesus fulfills the Scriptures and is therefore the Messiah for which they were looking. Mark appeals to the Gentile Christians in Rome, showing Jesus as the servant of God and man. Luke provides a largely chronological account of Jesus' life as the Son of Man, i.e., his humanity. And, John writes of many miraculous accounts not covered in the other gospels and presents Jesus as the Son of God, thereby being equal in nature with God. All four perspectives are true; Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, he is a servant of Almighty God and man, and Jesus is the Son of God.

5. It appears that there are many contradictions in the Bible. Yes, and that is especially noticeable in Chronological Bibles, which place parallel passages of Scripture side by side. There are many logical explanations for these supposed contradictions and I have given some in the Chronological Bible studies as we come to them. Sometimes careful reading of the text and context of each is all that is needed to resolve an issue. Other times we must look at the purpose of each author or when and where he wrote. You may wish to consult gotquestions.org to give you answers we do not provide. While we may not have all the answers, we know we can trust God.

6. Why are we using the New International Version of the Bible for our daily Bible readings and reference verses? Bible quotations used in the text, unless otherwise noted, have been chosen from the New International Version of the Bible, by the International Bible Society, © 1984 and special permission has been granted to copy them (see credits). This version was chosen simply because it has been proven as a reliable and popular translation of the Bible in the modern day English language (no offense to anyone who prefers another translation). Because this translation and more newer translations are based on older copies of Biblical manuscripts, occasionally the reader will notice Scripture verses that are missing. In no way does this imply that it is deficient or incomplete, and in no way does it affect the teachings of the Bible. It is believed that the older the copies are, the closer the copies are to the original source. The differences between the manuscripts by which the newer translations and the older translations are based on, however, are miniscule and should not cause the reader any serious concern.

7. Why are some Bible studies long and others short? I have tried to keep the theme of each Scripture passage in each Bible study, instead of breaking it up because of length. When the Bible passages are long I have oftentimes made them into two day Bible studies. In such cases I encourage the reader to complete today's Bible reading on day one and read the Bible study on day two. Thank you for reading the chronological Bible studies. I know you will be blessed.

Got Other Bible Questions?

Some good resources for Bible and other religious and philosophical questions are gotquestions.org and answersingenesis.org

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