So…summarize the book of Obadiah for me. (Wait! What? There’s a book in the Bible called Obadiah?!) Yup. The Bible includes a lot of individual books (66 to be exact), looks at the lives of a lot of people, spans a lot of years, and covers a lot of ground. Sometimes you want to go up 40,000′ and get an overview of a book of the Bible. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to get that high-level overview. Today we’re going to look at my five favorites.
Speaking of a high-level overview, here is where we are headed today:
- The first way is something you probably already own. (And the other four are free.)
- The second way is my favorite. (It’s for you visual learners out there.)
- The third way is a VERY-high-level overview. (This has a 3a and a 3b.)
- The fourth way is for people who want the high-level AND the next level rolled into one. (In fact, this one will let you start high and go as deep as you want!)
- The fifth way isn’t so much a “book summary” as much as it’s how to see Jesus and His gospel in every book of the Bible. (Kind of important, don’t ya think?)
Simple Way #1: Your Study Bible
Do you own a study Bible? You know, the ones with more notes on the page than actual Scripture! If you do, flip to the beginning of any book of the Bible. Depending on the study Bible, you might find a 1-page summary. Or you might find 5-10 pages filled with timelines, author bios, maps, themes, and outlines.
Every study Bible I have ever seen has some sort of summary or overview at the beginning of each book.
Quick Note: With the wealth of resources online, I do not believe every Bible reader has to have a study Bible. However, if you prefer physical books (like I do), here are a few study Bibles you might want to check out:
- ESV Study Bible (At 21,000+ reviews and 4.5 stars, that’s saying something!)
- CSB Study Bible (This is a newer – and really good! – study Bible on my new go-to translation.)
- NIV Life Application Study Bible (This one’s been out for a while and is extremely popular…for good reason.)
- ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible: Christ in All of Scripture, Grace for All of Life (You’ll hear more about this one in #5.)
Simple Way #2: The Bible Project Videos
If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know I am a huge fan of The Bible Project. Their site is filled with an unbelievably robust collection of resources from posters, to Bible studies, to video themes, series, and studies.
For the purpose of this blog post, I will go so far as to say this…
When someone is looking for a well-done, easy-to-understand, accurate, and helpful overview of a book of the Bible, there is no resource I recommend more frequently or highly than the videos from The Bible Project!”
(And no…they did not pay me to say that.)
Here’s a link to the videos section of The Bible Project website. You can also check out their videos directly on their YouTube channel. So you can get a taste of what they’re like, here’s the video for the Gospel of Mark.
Simple Way #3: The Super-Short Overview
If you’re looking for an overview in a couple sentences or paragraphs, there are a couple options for you. (Actually, there are a lot more than a couple options. These are just the two I would bookmark if I were you.)
- What Every Book of the Bible Is About – This is a series from Crossway, the publisher behind the English Standard Version (ESV). These summaries are really short. Think 2-4 sentences. There are separate pages for the Old Testament and the New Testament.
- Blue Letter Bible Intros – This is a specific section of a robust Bible study website. You’ve probably heard me recommend Blue Letter Bible before. While you can read commentaries, do word studies, compare translations, and a whole lot of other deeper-study-things, the 1-paragraph intro to each book is a terrific place to start.
Simple Way #4: Bible Hub Book Summaries
If you want a bit more than a couple sentences or paragraphs, this is the best online summary I have found. As with Blue Letter Bible, BibleHub is an extremely robust Bible study site. You can spend hours diving as deep as you want to go.
However, their one page summary for each book is really, really good. It will probably take you about 5-10 minutes to read through it. Think of it as a free, online version of what you’d find in a good study Bible.
BibleHub Summaries cover items like:
- A 1-paragraph overview of the book
- Author Background
- Key Events
- Key People
- Key Places
- Unique Features of the book
Here is the link to the BibleHub summary for Genesis. Bookmark that page and then use the dropdown menu at the very top to switch to whichever book you want.
Simple Way #5: Christ in All of the Scriptures
As I mentioned at the start of this post, this one isn’t actually a “summary” of the books of the Bible. I wanted to include it because it is a good one to read along with any of the other options.
Seeing where and how Jesus “shows up” in every book of the Bible is really helpful. It gives you a lens to read through. Each post in this series is adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible: Christ in All of Scripture, Grace for All of Life and it’ll take you about 3-4 minutes to read.
Where have you found good overviews of books of the Bible?