Week Twenty-five, Day One
You know what to do. Let’s get started…
Use the CUT Method to study Colossians 3:18-4:18.
Congratulations! You just completed what is known as a “book study,” which simply means that you studied a book of the Bible from start to finish without interruption (or help!). Why is that such a big deal? It is perfectly acceptable to study a verse or a passage of scripture independent of its book as a whole, as long as you make sure that you are reading in context. However, when you study a book of the Bible from start to finish, it helps you get a better grasp on “the big picture,” of that book. Book studies deepen your understanding of words, phrases and references within the scripture that might otherwise seem random or confusing. It also increases the likelihood that you will take away from your Bible study what you were intended to take away from it.
There are 66 books in the Bible. Each of those books can be categorized into one of seven genres, or styles of writing. A book’s genre tells you how to study it and what to keep in mind as you read. There is a list of the genres found in the Bible in the paragraphs below. Next to each, you will find a brief description of the genre, tips for studying that particular genre, and a list of books that fall into that category. When you read a book, it is important to understand the genre so you will know how to read it. Just like the newspaper reads different than a math or poetry book; books of law read different than history, poetry or letters.
Genres of the Bible
Law— The first five books of the Bible are commonly called “the Law” or the books of Moses. It does not mean that they are just a list of laws (though many of the Hebrew laws are written here); they are historical books that tell the stories of Creation, the fall of man and the beginning of the nation of Israel. They reveal man’s sinful nature, the need for God-given laws and how God loves and interacts with His children. They focus on God’s design for people to live pure / holy lives. As you read the books of the law, you will see how impossible it was for people to keep every command of God. As they worked to follow the law, people learned how much they needed God and His forgiveness. The books of the law should be read like historical reference books to gain Biblical background while digging out principles that apply to your life.
History— These books describe events that took place within a given period of time, revealing the hand of God at work in those events. They are descriptive narratives, not instructional, and should be read as diaries preserved to illustrate God’s love and faithfulness, not step-by-step blue prints for our lives. They are more than just a simple telling of historical events though; they tell how God is involved in His creation.
Prophecy— These books deal with both the fore-telling and forth-telling of God’s truth. Fore-telling is what most people think of when they hear the word prophecy. To fore-tell is to tell people something they wouldn’t otherwise have known or could have known as a warning or a promise about the future. Sometimes the prophets, led by God, made amazing statements about future events.
However, most of the writings of the prophets deal with forth-telling. They call attention to and explain how God’s truth, love and justice relate to current or past events. They challenge the people of God to live for God in their families, work and faith. Many of the prophets are very bold in their statements about how the people of their time have walked away from God or they are pleading with people to trust God in the good times and in the difficult.
The book of Revelation is unique. It is Jesus’ revelation to John about the end times. It is a certain type of prophecy called “Apocalyptic.” It is not literal, but highly symbolic. Jesus’ return and victory over evil is very literal, but the images and stories of Revelation are not intended to be exact descriptions of future events, they are symbolic descriptions of future events.
*Note: The words “major” and “minor” have nothing to do with importance, but length. The major prophets are longer than the minor prophets.
Wisdom— These books are full of thoughts on God, life, and wisdom. However, each should be read and studied a little differently.
Job is the story of a man undergoing suffering and trying to figure out what he has done to deserve it and whether God has truly abandoned him. Ecclesiastes is the reflection of a wealthy King who has searched for the meaning of life by experiencing all that can be experienced, both good and bad. Both Job and Ecclesiastes must be studied as whole books in order for you to come away with the intended message. In both of these cases, context is everything. Many verses in Job and Ecclesiastes seem to direct people away from God, but they are actually statements of a person away from God. Once you get to the end of the book(s), the entire book makes more sense.
Proverbs is a collection of truth in the form of practical advice and quotable quotes passed down from a father to his son. Most verses stand alone, and almost every topic is covered in some way. Proverbs does not read like a story, it is a list of sayings of “the wise.”
Poetry— Like any poetry, these books deal with the most intimate of subjects on a very emotional level, expressing the hopes, fears, doubts, wants, etc. of the authors in raw form. Poetry is symbolic and beautiful. It is not intended to be history or prophecy; it is intended to be poetic. But, in that time, they did not use rhyme like English poetry, the Hebrews wrote poetry by re-stating or repeating phrases. In Biblical poetry you will see a phrase stated once, then stated again in a more beautiful or symbolic way.
The book of Psalms is a collection of song lyrics. Song of Solomon is the love story of a particular man and woman that follows their courtship, marriage, honeymoon, and first fight. Lamentations was written by a prophet mourning the destruction of Jerusalem. Because each of these books is a declaration of truth through the fragile medium of human emotion, you must pay careful attention to context as you read. Keep in mind the fact that you, too, have good days and bad days and experience a wide range of emotion. If you have ever written poetry yourself, you know that not everything you say is right, sometimes it was just how you felt at the moment.
Song of Solomon
Gospel — These biographical books contain the “good news” (Gospel) of Jesus birth, death, and resurrection and the eternal life available to all who believe in Him. The four gospel accounts tell the same story through different perspectives. Just like four cameras at a football game see the same event, but with different detail; the four gospel writers tell the story with unique detail to the same event.
The Letters (The fancy word is “Epistles”)— Read these books like you would read someone else’s mail, because they were written as a letter to a specific group of people at a specific time to deal with specific issues. They have different authors and are written to different individuals. Some were addressed to one person, while others were addressed to a group of people. Some were private, and some were circular (which means that they were written to be passed around to several people). They contain theological and doctrinal truth, address problems, encourage, and give practical advice on living out your faith in Christ. As much as possible, study these books as if they were addressed to you, knowing that they were actually written to someone else. Usually the letters are the easiest books to read because the genre is so familiar to us. It is easy to read a straight forward letter; it is harder to study poetry or history.
1 & 2 Corinthians
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
1 & 2 Peter
1, 2, & 3 John
It’s time to spend some time in prayer. We strongly recommend that you continue your weekly family/church/witness/lost/friends prayer rotation. But, look back over your notes and pray as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray… and don’t forget to listen!
Week Twenty-five, Day Two
Next, you will study the book of Acts. Before you begin, take a look at the list of genres in yesterday’s guide. What type of book is Acts? What do you need to keep in mind as you read it? What is the right way to study this book?
Use the CUT Method to study Acts 1.
Spend some time in prayer.
Week Twenty-five, Day Three
Use the CUT Method to study Acts 2.
Week Twenty-five, Day Four
“When I look at pictures of myself from years ago, back when I didn’t know Jesus, I don’t really recognize myself. I think I look scared in those pictures. I know I was lonely…but now I have the Holy Spirit in my heart. Even when I’m alone, I’m not really alone.”
Brittany, college student
Use the CUT Method to study Acts 3.
Week Twenty-five, Day Five
Use the CUT Method to study Acts 4:1-22.
Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 16-17
This is the beginning of the end of Saul and our first introduction to the famous (and sometimes infamous) David. Notice what an unlikely candidate for King young David is, just like the apostles, just like Matthias. God uses ordinary people to do incredible things!
New memory verse on Monday!