Do you know the 66 books of the Bible? Most people know the hebrew Bible as a really big book that Christians read. Some people believe that every word written in it is true and helpful while others believe there are contradictions and fictional stories that make the Bible not credible. Learn more in this article, Can we trust the Bible.
Whatever your stance, it will be useful and possibly surprising to learn more about one of the most controversial books ever written. We will look at the 66 books of the Bible, who wrote each of the 66 books, how the 66 books of the English Bible were chosen, and then give a short overview of each of the 66 books of the Bible.
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Who Wrote the 66 Books of the Bible?
The authors of the 66 books of the Bible were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Second Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is God-breathed. Even though it was inspired by God, the human authors wrote using their own personalities, styles, and experiences.
Some books of the Bible will say who had written it within the book. Other books have clues within them that tell us who is the most likely candidate to have penned it. Here is an overview of the books of the Bible.
Of the 66 books in a protestant Bible, 39 of them are found in the Old Testament and 27 of them compose the New Testament. The Old Testament is comprised of the books written before Jesus came to earth in human form and the New Testament was written after his birth.
Most of the authors of the books of the Bible have fairly recognizable names if you have been in the Christian faith long enough. Some books, like Proverbs and Psalms, have multiple authors. And some authors like Moses, Solomon, Paul, and John, wrote several of the books of the Bible.
We will look more into the authors and the books they wrote later in this article. It is important to note that the roman catholic church recognizes several other books in their Catholic Bible commonly called the Apocryphal books. A catholic Bible consists of 73 books.
It’s important to note that the inclusion of these books in the Catholic canon is a point of disagreement between the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations. Protestant Bibles typically do not include these additional books in their Old Testament, considering them to be of lesser authority or not divinely inspired.
However, the Catholic Church considers them part of its sacred tradition and regards them as valuable for spiritual reading and instruction. The canon of scripture we will explore in this post are those found in a protestant Bible.
How Were the 66 Books of the Bible Chosen?
Canonization, or the process of choosing which books would and would not be a part of the Bible, was relatively easy for the books of the Old Testament.
There were five criteria for these collection of writings to abide by:
First, it had to be written by a prophet of God.
Second, the authority of the prophet had to be established by an act of God.
Third, the writings had to align with the other writings from God’s prophets.
Fourth, the writings had to display the power to transform the reader. And lastly, the book had to be accepted by God’s people as true. Even Jesus referred to some of the Old Testament scriptures.
For the New Testament books, there were four criteria that determined if a book was authoritative enough to be included in the New Testament. First, it needed to be written by an apostle or someone close to an apostle so that it was an eyewitness account.
Second, it needed to align with both the Old Testament writings and the teachings of the Apostles. Third, the books that were gaining popularity amongst the early Christian churches were ones to be considered as having divine authority and inspiration. And lastly, the book contained high moral and spiritual values that showed the work of the Holy Spirit.
It was not a single council or church that determined which books would be included in the Bible, but it was a collective effort of different scholars, churches, and councils over time. Although accepting which books would comprise the Bible was done by humans, ultimately it is God, through His sovereignty, that made the decision.
Snapshot of the 66 Books of the Bible and Their Authors
Although there are 66 books that compose the Bible, each one is unique and different. Some may be similar in narrative and topic, but each was written with a different perspective. We will take a look at the 66 books of the Bible and their meaning, what each book in the Bible is about and who wrote it along with the literary genre.
66 Books of the Bible List – The Pentateuch
Genesis is the first book of the Bible and covers early human history from the beginning. It shows how sin entered the world, God’s covenant throughout the generations of His chosen people, and His plan for redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ. Moses wrote Genesis for the people that he helped to lead out of slavery, the Israelites.
Exodus is the story of how God delivered the Israelites from slavery and made them His special people. He also provided the Law, the Ten Commandments, which would later be fulfilled by Jesus’ death on the cross in the New Testament. Moses is the author of Exodus.
Leviticus contains instructions by God on living a life that is holy and set apart for His purposes. After Israel had been redeemed by God, they were to continue being sanctified to become more like Him. Moses penned this book to teach the Israelites the proper way to worship and live right with God and each other.
Numbers includes extensive detail of the twelve tribes of Israel and instructions for the Ark of the Covenant and the tabernacle. It shows how the Israelites tested God’s patience while they wandered the wilderness, but He continued to show His faithfulness to them by leading them with His presence day by day. Moses wrote this book which contains many statistical and numerical details.
Deuteronomy outlines the two-way covenant that God made with His chosen people, the Israelites, that obedience yields blessings and disobedience yields curses. It was written towards the end of the 40-year wandering period and is an encouragement to Israel to keep united in the worship of their one God, Yahweh. Moses wrote this book, restating the Law for the generation that would be entering the Promised Land.
66 Books of the Bible List – Historical Books
Joshua is the finale of Israel’s 40-year wandering to the Promised Land. God’s promise had finally been fulfilled as we see Him as the Israelite’s provider, defender, and king if only they would continue to trust and obey Him. The author Joshua’s name means “Yahweh saves,” which is an appropriate meaning for the story.
Judges was written during the period of time when there was much political and religious turmoil due to the apostasy in Israel from when they settled in Canaan to Samuel’s birth. God will not allow sin to go unpunished and wants to deliver people from this oppression, but it is up to us to repent and turn our hearts to Him. The author of Judges is unknown but some believe it to be Samuel.
Ruth is about a woman’s faithfulness to her mother-in-law, Naomi, after death in their family leaves all the women widows and without children. Ruth’s sacrifice and hard work to support Naomi shows God’s faithful love, and Boaz’s marriage to Ruth shows God’s redemption when we are faithfully obedient to Him. The author of Ruth is unknown, although some believe it to be Samuel.
1 Samuel records the beginning of Israel’s monarchy with the prophet Samuel, King Saul, and King David. It reveals God’s providence through everyday events and how God chooses and works through the most unsuspecting people. It is unknown who authored this book, but Samuel may have given some information for the writing of this book.
2 Samuel shows David praising God for His faithfulness as God’s unconditional promise would be fulfilled through one of his descendants. Although David was a great king, he was not a perfect king, and we see God’s forgiveness and restoration as David repents and acknowledges his failures. Although the exact author is unknown, documents for this book may have been written and compiled by the prophets Nathan, Gad, and Samuel.
1 Kings includes the death of King David, the rule of his son Solomon, and the many kings who did not follow the Lord. It shows that the kings who remained faithful to the Law received God’s blessings and those who were unfaithful experienced curses and tragedy. Because the time period of this book spans over 400 years, the exact author(s) are unknown, but some scholars suggest Ezra, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah as possible writers.
2 Kings focuses on the successes and failures of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah in regards to them obeying God or disobeying Him. Just like 1 Kings, the author(s) of 2 Kings is unknown.
1 Chronicles is a genealogical book that documents family descendants as well as other leaders of various ministries. The focal point of this book is about blessing through obedience, the rebuilding of the temple, and God’s faithfulness to the promise He made to David. Many speculate that the author of this book is Ezra, who tells the history of Israel from a priestly viewpoint.
2 Chronicles speaks more about Judah and David’s descendants. The majority of the book is about King Solomon and his task of rebuilding the temple, but it is also a reminder to the post-exilic Jews of who God is and how He works. Although it is not certain, Ezra is most likely the author of this book.
Ezra – The book of Ezra is divided into two separate time periods: the first being the leading of the Jews from exile by Zerubbabel, and the second being more than 60 years later with Ezra leading them. It contains reminders that the Israelites were still God’s chosen people with the purpose and the promise that He would still fulfill. Ezra, the scribe and scholar, wrote this book.
Nehemiah led a group of Jews to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, taking only 52 days to rebuild it while defending themselves from enemy opposition. It is a great example of godly leadership and how God works through those who are willing to trust and obey. Nehemiah penned this book from a first-person perspective.
Esther is about a young Jewish girl and her adopted guardian Mordecai after Esther is crowned the queen of King Xerxes. God’s sovereignty and faithfulness are seen throughout this book as the lives of the Jewish people and Mordecai are saved through the courageous acts of the queen. The writer of Esther is unknown, but it is believed to be someone that is close to the royal Persian court.
66 Books of the Bible List – Poetry & Wisdom
Job is a book about a man, with the same name as the title, and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. After God allows Satan to test him, we see the human response to suffering through these characters in the book. Most believe this book to be written by Moses, although some are unsure of the book’s authorship, even crediting some of the book to have already been written by Job himself.
Psalms is a collection of poetry, songs, and prayers that all encourage the reader to praise God for who He is and what He has done. Although it contains real and raw emotions from the writer, it constantly reminds us how faithful and loving God is through life’s ups and downs. David wrote 73 (some say 75) of the 150 psalms, while the others were anonymously written or written by Asaph, Sons of Korah, Solomon, Ethan, and Heman, and some say Psalm 90 was written by Moses.
Proverbs is a book comprised of short sayings of wisdom that teaches us how to fear God and live an effective life on earth. It encourages the reader to live a life of willful obedience to God and to also listen to the advice of others. Most of the proverbs are written by Solomon, but there are also multiple authors that contributed, including Agur and Lemuel.
Ecclesiastes emphasizes that everything in this life is meaningless except for one thing: to fear God and keep His commandments. It reminds us to refocus on what really matters. King Solomon is the author of this book.
Song of Solomon is an open dialogue between a young woman and her lover, who eventually end up getting married. It reveals the real temptations, struggles, and high points of a romantic relationship. Solomon penned this book, who interestingly had many wives and concubines.
66 Books of the Bible List – Major Prophets
Isaiah – The book of Isaiah prophesied judgment against Israel and also contains the most references to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, than any other book in the Old Testament. Even to unrepentant people, God still shows His kindness, patience, and love. The author, Isaiah, was married to a prophetess and lived in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah prophesied to the Jewish people who ran away to Egypt, but he did so in a way that was compassionate and caring to God’s chosen ones. Even though the Jews were facing judgment for their disobedience, there was still grace and hope available. The author, Jeremiah, was a humble and courageous servant of God, although his message was not received.
Lamentations is a collection of poems that expresses the grief over Jerusalem’s pain and suffering under the Babylonian invasion because of their continued disobedience. Even though the author Jeremiah saw the gloomy state of Jerusalem, he still had hope in the Lord.
Ezekiel contains visions and prophecies for the Jewish captives in Babylon in order to bring them to repentance and humility so that they could experience the blessings of God by turning back to Him. The writer Ezekiel prophesied for at least 22 years.
Daniel – The book of Daniel is a historical and prophetic book during the time of the Babylonian exile. It includes the theme of the sovereignty of God as seen in Daniel’s deliverance from the lion’s den and his friends’ rescue from the fiery furnace. Daniel, the author, was a faithful servant who chose to set himself apart in a very pagan environment.
66 Books of the Bible List – Minor Prophets
Hosea is a story about a man marrying an unfaithful wife but continuing to pursue and love her despite her infidelity. It is a picture of God’s judgment of sin, but also His redemptive and restorative love for His chosen people. The prophet Hosea, meaning “salvation,” wrote this book in hopes of people turning from their sin and turning to God.
Joel is a book about the judgment of God’s people and foreign nations, and repentance and restoration through suffering. It mentions the final judgment and emphasizes the seriousness of God’s judgment on sin. The prophet Joel who authored this book had an interest in Jerusalem and also preached to those in Judah.
Amos was written during a time when the Israelites were in a moral decay of pride, selfishness, greed, and lawlessness. It shows that even though you can be prospering outwardly, inwardly you can be deteriorating if these things turn your heart away from God. The author, Amos, was a humble prophet and shepherd
Obadiah is written as a judgment against Edom for going against God’s people. It is a stark reminder that pride comes before destruction. Obadiah, meaning “worshipper of Yahweh,” most likely penned this book.
Jonah had to be broken in order to obediently deliver the message of mercy to the people of Nineveh. Not only does this book show us that God shows mercy to whomever He chooses, but Jonah staying in the belly of a fish for three days was a foreshadowing of Christ’s death and resurrection. Although Jonah is written in the third person, it is most likely written by Jonah himself.
Micah is a book that tells of the judgment on Israel and Judah but also the restoration of God’s people. It also prophesies about Jesus’ birth and directs us to repent. The author Micah had a heart for the outcasts and less fortunate in society.
Nahum includes another judgment against Nineveh after Jonah’s journey there. Although this book speaks a lot about sin and punishment, it also recalls how God is full of justice, mercy, and goodness. Nahum wrote this book, whose prophecy was an encouragement for the people of Judah.
Habakkuk is a conversation between the prophet and God, with him lamenting over what seems to be God’s inaction with those who do evil. It reminds us that God works everything together for His purposes. The author, Habakkuk, may have been a “professional prophet” and priest.
Zephaniah focuses on the pending judgment of the people of Judah and the future restoration of Jerusalem. Like the other minor prophetic books, it contains the theme of God’s love and justice working together and the hope of restoration. The author Zephaniah most likely had close relations with people in power during this time.
Haggai is the only book where the people of Judah humbled themselves and listened to God’s command of rebuilding the temple. Once the temple was reconstructed, the Jews shifted from focusing on themselves to focusing on God and found a vast improvement in their spiritual lives. The author Haggai was more than 70 years old when he conveyed these prophesies.
Zechariah includes the most references to the coming Messiah, Jesus. It also contains much-needed hope that God would remember His promises to His people even though they were disobedient. The writer’s name, Zechariah, means “Yahweh remembers” and it is a fitting description for the purpose this book was written.
Malachi is the last book that looks into the hearts of the Israelites before the Messiah comes and shows us that God’s people were not able to remain faithful to the covenant. It reminds us that we are accountable for our actions, we need to remember who God is even during difficult times and that we are truly in need of a Savior. The writer of this book is Malachi, whose name means “messenger.”
66 Books of the Bible List – The Gospels
Matthew made many connections with Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies. This gospel book emphasizes Jesus as King and how God is accomplishing His purposes through the building up of Christ’s church. The author Matthew was a Jew and one of the original disciples of Jesus.
Mark highlights Jesus as God’s servant being both fully human and fully God and full of power and compassion. It is forward-looking to Jesus’ walk to the cross and the cost of sacrifice. The author Mark was very active within the early church.
Luke calls attention to Jesus’ interactions with those around him and reveals Jesus as the Son of Man. It shows how personal and loving God is. The writer Luke was a physician and a Gentile.
John makes the link between Jesus as existing from the very beginning and being the incarnated Word of God, calling attention to his deity. As the Son of God, Jesus has the authority and power given to him to be the final sacrifice for all our sins, worthy of being called our Lord and Savior. The writer John is one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus and identifies himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. The gospel accounts gives a good overview of the birth of Christ as well as a good chunk of the life of Jesus.
66 Books of the Bible List – Church History
Acts – The book of Acts documents how the early church began after Jesus ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit now became available to those who believe and was given to the apostles who continued to spread the Gospel and do miraculous things. This is the second book that Luke authored.
66 Books of the Bible List – The Epistles
Romans is hailed as one of the most systematically written books of the Bible that clearly explains the Gospel message. It focuses attention on justification through faith in Jesus Christ and how to create a unified body, the church. The apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans before the end of his third missionary journey, around A.D. 57-59.
1 Corinthians is a letter to the church in Corinth giving them instructions on how to live a holy life set apart from the pagan culture they were living in. It encourages believers to view issues that can cause division through a Christ-centered worldview. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Corinth, Greece around A.D. 56-57.
2 Corinthians commends the church in Corinth for repenting of their sins, but it was also written to defend Paul’s position of his apostleship and message as some members of the church were questioning his morality and authority. This book encourages us to live like Jesus who embraced humility, generosity, and weakness. Paul the apostle wrote this book from Macedonia about a year after writing 1 Corinthians.
Galatians focuses on the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus alone as the way to be justified with God. It is a warning and an encouragement to not fall back into legalism but to continue in the gospel message. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church he founded in Galatia.
Ephesians talks about your identity in Christ, how to live out the Gospel, and standing firm in times of spiritual oppression. It teaches how to become spiritually mature by being united in truth and love. The apostle Paul wrote this book around the same time he wrote Colossians and Philemon.
Philippians is a book about finding joy and freedom in the new life that Christ offers despite hardship and suffering. It highlights Jesus as the humble servant that we are to follow as the forerunner of our faith. The apostle Paul wrote this book with much appreciation and affection to the believers in Philippi for their support in his ministry.
Colossians emphasizes the deity of Jesus as this book was written in response to dangerous teachings that infiltrated the church. It also challenges us to examine our lives and to be transformed by the love of Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote this letter while imprisoned in Rome.
1 Thessalonians commends the church in Thessalonica for remaining faithful to Jesus despite persecution and how to continue remaining steadfast. It encourages us to continue growing in godliness as the return of Jesus Christ will come one day. Paul wrote this letter just a few months after leaving Thessalonica.
2 Thessalonians was written amidst the persecution of false teachers and encourages the believers to continue standing firm in the faith as the time of tribulation had not yet come. Our hope in Christ’s future return is the fuel to persevere through times of suffering. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the believers who were new in the faith.
1 Timothy exhibits instructions for church leadership and organization. It also has advice on how to avoid false teachings and inspires the reader to live a life above reproach. Paul the apostle wrote this letter to his young disciple, Timothy, to encourage him in his role as a pastor despite his age.
2 Timothy is written to continue encouraging Timothy in his faith and role as a pastor. It also contains warnings about the last days. This letter was written by Paul just before he was executed by Roman officials.
Titus urges a pastor discipling a church at Crete to appoint worthy leaders to positions of leadership to replace the corrupt ones. It promotes teachings of sound doctrine, one of which is the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Paul authored this letter to his friend Titus who also accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey.
Philemon is addressed to one of the leaders of the Colossian church in regard to his runaway slave, Onesimus. It contains themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, reminding us to show the same love to others as God has shown us. Paul wrote this letter to his beloved brother and fellow worker, Philemon. The name Philemon comes from the Greek word philema which means kiss.
Hebrews emphasizes the priesthood of Jesus and how he is far superior above any created thing. It aimed to persuade those who used to practice Judaism why Jesus is a better covenant, hope, priest, and sacrifice. Some say the apostle Paul wrote Hebrews while many believe the author remains unknown.
James stresses the importance of gaining wisdom to live a fruitful Christian life. It shares practical principles of walking in the faith. Although the book does not specify which James authored this letter, it is mostly believed to be the half-brother of Jesus.
1 Peter exhorts believers in unjust suffering to continue living well for the sake of the Gospel. When you keep your focus on Jesus, you can continue having hope through pain and persecution. The apostle Peter writes this letter to both Jews and Gentiles scattered across Asia Minor as they were facing mistreatment under Nero’s reign.
2 Peter is a follow-up to the first letter, but now includes the instruction to continue clinging to the faith despite heresy and false teachers that caused strife and dissension within the church. It affirms the signs of the last days and Jesus’ return and teaches that spiritual maturity through God’s Word is the shield against false teaching. Peter writes this letter immediately after hearing the reports of trouble in the churches.
1 John encourages believers to continue having a zeal for Christ and to love one another so that they would have true fellowship with God and each other. It reminds us that Jesus was human as well as divine. Although the author is not named within the book itself, many believe it was written by John the apostle.
2 John tells us how to have fellowship with God and how to protect that fellowship from falsehood and deception. Walking in truth means loving one another and being obedient to God’s commands. John the apostle wrote this letter to “the chosen lady and her children,” a mysterious phrase that either means an unknown person or the church.
3 John is a personal letter written with an emphasis on hospitality, especially for those working for the Kingdom of God. It continues to follow the theme of loving one another so as to have fellowship with God and with one another. The apostle Peter wrote this letter to a Christian named Gaius who was having trouble with one of the church leaders.
Jude warns of the importance of exposing and removing false teachers from the church. Fighting for the truth involves sticking to the teachings of the apostles, building one another up in it, praying in the Spirit, and keeping oneself in God’s love. Jude, the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus, wrote this book.
List of 66 Books of the Bible
Revelation – The book of Revelation showcases the end times of the final judgment during the period of tribulation. It is a book of prophecy. It is the last book of the Bible and even though the events are dismal for those who refuse to believe in Jesus, there is a beautiful ending for those who were faithful until Jesus’ return. Four times throughout the book John is mentioned as the author.
How Can I Learn The List of Books of the Bible?
It is nothing short of amazing that even though the entire Bible was written a long time ago by many different authors, in many different places, to many different people groups, it still speaks to us today.
There are a few different ways you can learn the 66 books of the Bible. You can watch videos online ( this is my favorite) that will help to verbally explain the different books or even learn them through song ( love this one, but are their tons of others you can find online). You can also look for different Bible studies that cover the basics of each book, giving a Bible overview.
The Bible is the only book that is living and active and no matter how many times it is read, something new can be learned. Second Timothy tells us that His Word is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Although it has become relatively easy to obtain a Bible nowadays, may we always be grateful to God for giving us the 66 books of the Bible.
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